….Lemme just…dust this off, and, uh…post something…
Why, yes, it’s been almost three months since an update. Hi. How ya doin? I’m good, I’m good, danke…ahem. Right, the post. I’ll get right on that. Finally.
Classes and internship continued as usual. The 28 AJY kids who were not Full Year began frantically preparing for the end of their semester, finishing last minute Hausarbeite, cramming for Klausuren, and squeezing in as much time for fun and the Last Pub Quiz Night as possible.
Katie and I went to the Weihnachtsmarkt many, many times. Hard to avoid the alluring scent of Kartoffelpuffer, Winzersteaks, and chocolate. What, that doesn’t sound like an appealing scent combination? Clearly you have never been to a real German Weihnachtsmarkt.
Ah, don’t forget the Glühwein. It ain’t the holiday season in Deutschland until you’ve got a steaming cup of the spiced, mulled wine warming your hands. If the realwine isn’t to your taste, you can do what Katie and I did and drink Kinderpunch (for children, sans alcohol) or APFELGLÜH, hot apple cider! That’s ambrosia, right there, lemme tell ya.
Katie and I made our choir directors proud as we sang Bach’s Christmas Oratorium in concert with the choir from Handschuhsheim. We stood for two plu hours and sang out lungs out. And it rocked.
AJY threw a goodbye party for everyone who was leaving. It was nice to have one last Vollversammlung and all hang out and eat pizza just like our first night here and remember all the mischief we got into this semester. It was, of course, saddening, because they were leaving this pretty little city on the Neckar and going their separate ways. Who knows if we’ll ever meet up again? I hope we do. Viele Liebe to my buddies from AJY Winter Semester 2013. Prost to you!
Holiday break came around, and my mom and brother hopped a big ol‘ plane and suffered a screaming baby on the ride to come see me. I picked them up at the Frankfurt Airport and lead them back to home base.
After brief issue with mom’s card and money, we enjoyed the evening. I stayed with them at the hotel instead of in my room in Neuenheimer Feld. We ate in a pretty snazzy place called Palmbräu Gasse, in the Hauptstraße. The ‚meat disks,‘ as my mother named them, were slavered in gravy and quite tasty, if unhealthy.
The thing, however, about Christmas eve/day in Germany is that everything closes. No, really. E’ERTHANG. I had been clever enough to find a Japanese restaurant that was open on Christmas eve, however, so we dined on sushi. Sushi for Christmas eve…yeah, cool, why not! We ran into one of my teachers in the street, and I was thrilled that mom got to meet him and proud of Emory for using a bit of German. It was also just great to see Herr Dörr again…without fearing for my head in his grammar class…
Mom went to the service at the Heiliggeistkirche that night. Although I don’t do the whole religion thing, I wanted to go but ended up making and uploading a video for the Youtube Channel Polyglots of the Week instead. (Oh, yeah, that’s a thing I do now. Go check me out…if you want…)
Ah, ahha…back on track…Christmas day lunch was the funny part of the story, though. Hotel zum Ritter is the schmanciest, fanciest, oldest hotel/restaurant in the Altstadt. I, however, was unaware of this, as I had never been inside before. Mom wanted to eat there. I asked for a table, which we were given. And that’s how we ended up eating Christmas lunch at the hoity-toitiest place in Heidelberg in jeans and hoodies.
…Merry Christmas! The food was really good—I mean, it had to be, the plates had little domes and the waiter took them off for us and everything!–and it was funny, in the end.
Unfortunately, it rained on most of my plans (going to the public park in Mannheim, which is open even on Christmas) and shops were closed until the 27th. The castle, however, was open on the 26th, as promised. I had been saving it for when mom’s boyfriend, Bob, and his son, Erik, came over. We trailed along after the English-speaking tour of the castle and I told my four wide-eyed tourists the myths about the castle (the ones from the first blog post, involving witches and knights and dwarves, oh my!).
München greeted us the next day, and although the infamous Hofbräuhaus was full, we ate like Bavarians in another up-scale beer house in the same square. I did not go with the others to Dachau the next morning, as I’d been there previously. I wandered around the Fußgängerzone and regrouped with them to hop the train to Frankfurt. Bob and Eric parted ways, going further to Köln, and we found our hotel with relative ease.
…finding a restaurant, however, was, ah, a different story. A story involving accidentally walking through the Frankfurt red light district full of sex shops, staring men, and people smoking questionable substances on the street. We ducked into an Asian restaurant at Emory’s insistence and survived the walk back without further incident.
After waving goodbye to them at security the next day, I went on my own mission: I paid more euro than I really should have to take a taxi from the airport back to the area of the train station with the intention of finding the only Chipotle in Germany.
I found it, and paid nine euro for a burrito and another three for guacamole. ABSURD! You say. No burrito should cost that much! You’re right, of course, my friend…but Mexican food is most definitely NOT an established institution in this country. I leapt at the chance of hot sauce and barbacoa. I regret nothing.
Wanna talk about New Year in Germany? I’m gonna talk about New Year in Germany.
Fireworks. Everywhere. I enjoyed a small raclette party with friend’s of Isa before meeting up with a friend at a club and waiting for the stroke of midnight to run outside and whoop and holler and set off sparklers as fireworks went off for a solid hour from every corner of the city. What an atmostphere. What a moment to be alive. I’ve never been so high on life as in that moment. I won’t ever forget it. Ever.
It was eerily quiet in AJY without the rest of them there, playing games, eating, working, or wondering why the WIFI was still busted. (That’s code for WE MISS Y’ALL).
However, time goes on, with or without comrades. The five of us left—myself, Katie, Sam, Lizzy, and Hannah Long-Higgins—spent some time together. Katie and I took a mini-day-trip to Wissembourg, France, on the border…like, literally, two minutes over the border. Thank god they all speak German there, because my brain panicked when I tried to use my French. I wanted to aske for the bathroom once and all that came out was “Toilette?” before I got a grip on myself and managed to ask in a full sentence (German, not French) where it was. I don’t think the lady judged me. Or at least not too much.
Afew days later, I got back on a plane, this time to the United Kingdom. Excitement to meet up with some of my theatre friends and theatre tech professor, Ira, made it so that I didn’t stop grinning the whole time. The flight was uneventful in a small plane with a layover in Amsterdam. The view was pretty bangin‘ and I was awarded the most interesting spelling of my name ever by the airport Starbucks workers. I kind like it, eh?
FYI, pound to dollar ratio? The root of all evil. Money qualms aside, I was taken from the airport to my hostel by the friendliest taxidriver ever. The Clink78 hostel is really too far away from the airport (80 pounds by taxi to get there, hot damn) but, should you want to bunk in the area of King’s Cross Station, I highly recommend it. It used to be a justice building and, tiny bathrooms not considered (is that a European thing, or what?), it was a damn cool hostel. Friendly workers and great atmosphere. Give it a shot if you find yourself so needy.
Hopefully my crack of dawn wake up didn’t disturb my Australian roommates too much as I readied to meet with Ira and his Janterm back at the airport. Having learnt my lesson the night before, I took a train back in. Much cheaper.
The reunion with Sammy, Matt Baldwin, Cait, Ashley, Jen, Daniel, Ira, Patty, and Chaz was quick but sweet. Our coach bus awaited to take us to Stonehenge. I managed to be excited by myself as the rest of them passed out on the bus ride.
STONEHENGE! Cross that off my bucket list. What a wonderful, windy, excellent day.
We were shown around the remains of the Glastonbury Abbey by a dude dressed a monk. How neato is that?!
A kindly old adorable British man told us all about the large catherdral we visited, and a small pack of us decided to climb the biggest hill I’ve ever been on to make it to the top of the Tor (meaning gate, kinda like in German!). The view was SO worth it. Ooooh man.
I got my first taste of panto when we went to see a production of Peter Pan. I enjoyed it but wasn’t OVERLY impressed. It made me smile, though, and that’s the winner.
Bath was a bit, well, dirty, for my taste, but it was cool to finally fulfill the stories of two years of high school Latin and visit the Roman Baths. Don’t go swimming in the lead-green water, though…
Holy crow, Cardiff! Or Caerdydd. Now THAT’S a city I can love. The weather stayed perfect for us as we got hit full in the face with the beauteous thing that is the Welsh language, an old keep, and the most spectacularly spectacular piece of theatre I’ve ever seen: the Cardiff Panto, Jack and the Beanstalk. It was overdone. It was sparkly. There was pop music. And I LOVED every second. Now THAT’S comedy for kids and adults of all ages!
We got a tour of the Millenium Stadium, which is one damn impressive sports arena, I promise you that. Apparently they use hawks to keep the pigeon population down. How metal is that?!
I left the group before they saw Les Mis on the West End and got a backstage tour (yes, I was sad. Very, very, very sad.) It turned out to be a good idea, because in the class I came back for, my ultra difficult history class, the professor chose that day to impart to us the secret to the finalexam: what time periods to study. Booyah.
My students charged through the end of the book before Albrecht retired. I was privelged enough to see a native Aztec man dance for German fifth graders. His name was Anselmo and he was super nice and encouraging as he got us all to clumsily imitate his light-footed steps. I wish my ninth graders had been able to see it as we wrapped up the book in Albrecht’s last week. We had a good time, though, making sure to take a class period to go to a nearby cafe together to toast my mentor. It will be very odd going back to teach English in April without him. Thank you, sir, for all you did and do!
I made a new friend! No, not a bedazzled pig this time. A student from Gettysburg, who is here for AJY Spring Semester 2014, arrived early. Kurt’s his name and anything adventurous is his game. We took a trip to the top of the mountain on a whim, ran into one of my students, who lives there, and were treated to a tour and tea. What a great start to a friendship! I’m psyched to go to Istanbul with him and Lizzy. Briiing on the travel!
Travel? A day trip to Strasbourg counts. Katie and I ditched the tour—this time on purpose—and wandered about in the drizzling rain. I managed to use some French in a restaurant, and we miraculously found the Museum of Modern Art and eventually our way back to the bus. Successful day….even if the art itself was pondersome.
So. I wanted to bring this up to date before REALLY getting underway with travelling. I’m on break until April 14th, with trains and buses and planes booked all over the place. The next episode of this blog will be that of me traipsing about Europe. Are you excited?
Because I can’t wait.