A meeting with some expats in Heidelberg

A while ago, Charlotte from Sherbet and Sparkles suggested that the English-speaking bloggers in Germany should arrange a meet up (that’s a long-winded way of saying expat bloggers purely so that I can avoid referring to myself as such ;-)). The meetup location was Heidelberg – which I was happy about because it’s incredibly easy for me to get to – and the chosen date was Saturday 26 April.

Before I left, I was both excited and nervous. What if I couldn’t find everyone? And what if nobody liked me when I did? Luckily, my fellow bloggers were all just as lovely in person as online and I managed not to make a fool of myself or accidently say anything weird or offensive… at least I don’t think I did. And if I did, then I apologise!
Despite the weather forecast’s claims that it would be cold and cloudy, it actually turned out to be a lovely day. My raincoat was quickly relegated to my handbag as we enjoyed a lovely walk up to the castle and then around its grounds.

Having seen all the castle had to offer (including the giant wine barrel, which claims to be the world’s largest… as does the one in Bad Dürkheim. I shall refrain from hazarding a guess as to which one’s lying, but will say that the one in Bad Dürkheim has never actually contained wine…), it was time to head into town for lunch. We ended up going to Café Knösel, mostly because we happened to be near it at the time and it had a decent choice of food (including a few vegetarian items). Also, those with access to TripAdvisor were able to find out that it had good reviews. Steven has since discovered that it’s actually the oldest café in Heidelberg, so it seems we accidently picked something traditional 😉 I had the Flammkuchen with spinach and goat’s cheese, which was delicious. I loooove goat’s cheese! No photo for you because I’d eaten it all before the thought even occurred to me…

After lunch, we headed down to the bridge – the Karl-Theodor-Brücke (also known as the Alte Brücke, Old Bridge) – which was just around the corner. Steven discovered these cute little metal mice that I had never noticed before in all my visits to Heidelberg. Thanks Steven!

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On the bridge, a group photo was taken and we all admired the view of the castle. We also spotted some ducklings down on the riverbank, but my zoom didn’t stretch far enough to get a photo of them. Never mind, here are some shots of the castle and bridge:

Sadly, Frau Dietz and her gorgeous baby son had to leave us after the bridge, but the rest of us continued on to the Studentnkarzer – student prison. This was another thing that I did not know was in Heidelberg! How do I miss these things? The prison is unique to the University of Heidelberg and was in use from 1823–1914. Students could be sent to prison for offences such as being drunk and disorderly, messing with the police or fighting. Many o the prisoners documented their “crime” on the walls… for example, one rhyme told of how a student being “concerned about the police getting their rest” snuck into the guard room at the poolice station and switched off the gas lamp. You could be sent to prison for anything from a few days to several weeks – the writing on the wall in one room told of how a student had been sentenced to four weeks! There was no mention of what he had done though. (All the prisoners were male by the way – the first females were admitted to Heidelberg University in 1900, but apparantly they managed to behave themselves for the next four years until the prison closed). The prison has been preserved in pretty much its original state, with all the old graffiti on the walls and the original furniture – although the straw mattresses that would probably have been on the beds are no more.

The ticket for the student jail also includes the University Museum and the Große Aula (Great Hall). There were no halls at my university that looked like this, I can tell you!

Heidelberg

With the sun now firmly out, our final stop of the day was for frozen yoghurt… or FroYo. I had never tried it before and I must say I’m grateful to everyone for introducing me to this delicious treat!

Frozen yoghurt

Yoghurt eaten, the group slowly strolled down Hauptstraße (the main street) to Bismarckplatz (Bismarck Square) where we caught a tram back to the main station then carried on back to our final destinations. I can’t speak for the others, but I certainly thought the day was a success, and I hope we can do it again some time.

The other bloggers I met up with were (in no particular order):
Charlotte from Sherbet and Sparkles
Frau Dietz from Eating Wiesbaden
Kathleen from Leher Werkstatt
Steven from Doin’ Time on the Donau
Jordan from Beer time with Wagner
Nina from Indie Rock Kid

Go check out their blogs and say hi to them… they’re a fantastic bunch.

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Travel theme: Multi-coloured

Another fun travel theme from Ailsa this week… multi-coloured. There are so many photos I could have used for this that I didn’t know where to start, but eventually I managed to narrow it down to the following few. A very Germany-centred travel theme this one, with only two shots taken elsewhere…

My first photo is from Dublin. We spotted this pre-school down by the river and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of it. It looks so cheerful!

Dublin preschool

This colourful bear is just one of many you can find dotted around Berlin:

Berlin bear

I love rows of buildings painted in different colours and almost always take photos of them when we visit somewhere. These ones are in Würzburg.

Würzburg

Staying in Germany, but switching towns… I’ve posted this colourful lantern on the blog before but it fits so well with the theme that I wanted to include it here. I spotted it in Heidelberg when my sister came to visit.

My next photo was taken in Sweden – this colourful Dala horse stands outside the City Hall in Stockholm.

Dala horse

And finally, I would like to end my post the same way Ailsa started hers… with a rainbow. I didn’t have to travel very for for this photo… it was taken right here in Karlsruhe, next to the train station.

rainbow

To see how other people have interpreted the theme (including some much more impressive photos of rainbows!) and to join in yourself, check out Ailsa’s blog post.

Heidelberg

I did not enjoy work at all today. It was between 29 and 33°C all day (roughly between 84 – 91.5 °F if you prefer) and we have no air conditioning. Also, I work upstairs and you could literally feel the air getting hotter with every step you walked up. I was aware that heat rises but unti, I started working here had no idea of the extremes. Also, I ended up working on a financial translation pretty much all day, which is not exactly my favourite type of text at the best of times. And on top of that, a customer had complained about one of my translations while I was off, so I had a lovely e-mail to come back to as well. Cue hot, bored and grumpy Bev. Ugh. But enough about that. I am now going to cheer myself up by reliving my sister’s visit, starting with day one.

So my sister and her boyfriend arrived on Wednesday evening. I went to pick them up from the airport straight after work, then we went to get a train home… which turned out to be 50 minutes delayed. So much for German efficiency… We did, however, arrive home eventually where we immediately opened a few bottles of beer and set about making our evening meal: Chicken enchiladas. Or it may have been turkey. Some kind of bird. Either way, they were delicious.

The next morning (the first of my days off), we were up bright and early for breakfast before heading off to Heidelberg. I’ve been there many times before, but it’s pretty, it has an English shop, which I never have any objections to checking out, and it was one of the places my sister wanted to see, so off we went.

If you ever decide to visit Heidelberg, there are two things you should know:

  1. It is absolutely beautiful
  2. It is incredibly – and I mean incredibly – touristy, to the extent that they actually sell T-shirts with the slogan “I’m not a tourist – I live here”.

The first thing we did on arrival in Heidelberg was go to the English shop, because it’s opposite the train station and I needed proper English gravy and crumpets. Unfortunately, they are currently getting ready to close down for a while for refurbishment and had almost nothing in. I managed to get some gravy granules for chicken (I actually wanted ordinary granules), but there was no self-raising flour, no crumpets… basically no anything. A (the sister’s boyfriend) then went into the Jack Wolfskin store and after much umming and aaahing decided to buy a rain coat, then we finally managed to get round to taking a tram into Heidelberg proper. Our guests requested that we stop for lunch before doing anything else, so we took a walk down the main shopping street on the look out for something suitable. I don’t remember the name of the place we decided to stop, but the entire menu was translated into English (see, touristy!) making it the first and only menu that we didn’t have to translate. Our guest then got to try their first taste of German food (my Enchilidas may have been delicious, but traditional German they were not!). I had Wiener Schnitzel, which is technically Austrian (Wiener = Viennese) and the other three all had a platter of various goodies including potato fritters (which the menu called fried potatoes), Nürnberger sausages and Pfälzer Saumagen (Sow’s stomach – it tastes better than it sounds – honest!). And we all tried a glass of Heidelberger beer. When in Rome and all that… Suitably stuffed we then went off to explore the town and work off some of the food we had just eaten…

We looked at the castle from down below…

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Walked down to the river and took photos of the old bridge…

Heidelberg bridge

Then crossed the river and walked up Schlangenweg (Snake’s Way) to Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Way). I had never been up there before and Jan chose not to tell us just how looooong the Schlangenweg actually was! I certainly worked off my beer… and then some! Apparantly up on that hill is where the photos for most postcards of Heidelberg are taken, so we took some too:

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Heidelberg

Also, on the way up we spotted an East-German style Ampelmann, which I got slighted excited about.
I think my sister may have thought I’d gone insane, but I don’t care. I took photos anyway 😉 Isn’t he cute in his little hat

Then we took the long walk back down into town and rewarded ourselves with a nice cold beer before taking the train back to Karlsruhe.
The evening was spent meeting friends and eating delicious food at Marktlücke in Karlsruhe, until we were asked to leave because it was 1 a .m. and, it being a week night, they wanted to close.

… and that was day one of our adventures. For the rest, you will have to wait.

Little snippets

We have been doing stuff recently, but not enough to make up a whole blog post. Nevertheless, I promised to post more this year, so here are some little snippets from my life for you.

First of all, to the person who found my blog yesterday by searching for the term “German shopping blog”… sorry, but you’ve definitely come to the wrong place. Can you imagine anything further removed from my ramblings than a shopping blog? 😀 And now to the snippets…

Yesterday we came third in the pub quiz. At the last one, three weeks ago, we were first. Go us! The team that usually come first did really badly last time and left before the results were announced, knowing they weren’t getting a prize anyway. Talk about sore losers! This time they came second and didn’t seem happy about it at all. I would never have thought someone could pull such a long face after winning a round of drinks!

Jan’s dad turned 60 last Thursday, so at the weekend we headed up to Lower Saxony for his birthday party. It was a bit weird at first seeing as I barely knew anybody (only the 3 or 4 family members who were there), and Jan kept going off to talk to family friends he hadn’t seen in years, but I ended up having a great conversation with his dad’s neighbour, so that was nice. Also, Jan’s cousin brought her daughter along, who is almost one and who we had only seen in photos until now. She’s incredibly cute and was so well behaved! Even when she was getting tired there was no major tantrum – she just cried briefly, then as soon as she was in the sling on her mother’s front she went to sleep. If I ever have children, I hope they’re just as lovely.

At the end of April, Jan and I went to Ettlingen (next town over) to se some English folk music. A duo called Broom Bezzums was playing, who we had seen by complete coincidence in Ludwigshafen a couple of years ago. One of them is from the same area of England as I am, so it was nice to have a bit of a chat with him when he was signing my CD during the interval. They were followed by a second act – an Irish group called Beoga – who I didn’t enjoy as much (they were good musicians, but after a while everything started to sound the same), but we were only there for Broom Bezzums really so that was okay. The second act was just an added bonus.

On 1 May (which was a public holiday in Germany) I met up with some colleagues to go to a performance by the University of Mannheim’s English Theatre. They put on Black Comedy, which was hilarious and very well acted (in my opinion). We also went to Heidelberg to see the King’s Singers in April  (apparantly the best A Capella choir in the world – says the boyfriend who is into that kind of thing and who I bought the tickets for as an anniversary present) so I’ve been very cultural recently. And I bet you’re all really impressed 😉

And just generally, life is good at the moment. Jan and I are getting on really well and have been enjoying spending time together just doing nothing (almost unheard of for Jan – he usually wants to watch a film, play Scrabble, read a book… anything but just sit and have a cup of tea and not have to be involved in any other activity). And I’ve been able to (almost) stop worrying about doing/saying the wrong thing and causing an argument. Strangely, knowing that our relationship could be over by January has made me less afraid that it could end suddenly the minute I do something Jan doesn’t like. I’m sure a psychologist would be able to give me a really good explanation for that, but honestly I’d prefer not to go there. I’m just enjoying being happy while it lasts.

Taking multi-tasking to the extreme

I’ve been busy, busy, busy for the past few days, which is why I didn’t blog over the weekend or get round to replying to all the comments on my last post (bear with me, I will get there!) The weekend was fun, with a trip to Heidelberg and me cooking dinner for friends… one of whom I hadn’t seen for 5 years. I will tell you aaall about it soon, but right now I am trying to cook, hand wash some clothes and do the dishes all at the same time. I just wanted to leave a quick note to let you know I’m still alive and that the new job is still going well. I will return to the blogosphere as soon as I can, but not before the end of this week…