Germany; you’re bad for my waistline!

So, somehow it’s already been more than a month since I moved back to Frankfurt…!

It’s been a busy month- full of work and adventures, paperwork and sunshine- but the one constant in this period of change has been… food.

I, as a self confessed foodie, am one of those people who eats because I love eating. Not always because i’m hungry (though I often am), but because something looks delicious, or I get a craving… or i just want to enjoy the deliciousness for its objective merit. I’ve always been this way. For as long as I can remember. There’s a VCR of me on my first birthday, tearing a fistful of icing from my birthday cake and shoving it directly into my greedy toddler face. Since that video was taken… some things have changed… but some haven’t!

I love cooking and trying new food- so moving abroad has brought so many exciting and different new culinary possibilities, I’ve been finding it hard not to over- indulge! And the supermarket is so stupidly exciting- shopping is an adventure in itself.

My boyfriend is also a food person… which means we have spent the last month *egging each other on* when it comes to consuming tasty food. We eat out together quite a lot (it’s not too expensive here, generally a bit cheaper than at home) and cook for each other very often too.

But my love of Brezeln (Pretzels, the big bready kind), Hefeweizen (Wheat beer), Kartoffeln (potatoes), Würste in all incarnations (sausages) and nudeln (pasta/noodles) has begun to have a noticeable impact on my waistline. Another culprit has been CHEESE. I love cheese… and there is just so so much of it here. So of course i’ve been gradually working my way through all of it.

Apfelkuchen…. Flammkuchen… all manor of deliciousness…

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German food gets a bad rap internationally; certainly from a British perspective atleast, it’s a common perception that German cuisine consists solely of meat and potatoes. OH, and Sauerkraut, of course. I can’t deny it; meat and potatoes are staples of the average German’s diet… but there’s certainly a lot more to it than that.

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The title of this little ramble wasn’t a gripe- in fact, quite the opposite. I love german food so much (well, most of it) that it’s giving me a little extra Hüftgold (literally means, ‘hip gold’… lovehandles!)

I’ll definitely go running soon… and will be picking up my climbing shoes and harness from my parents’ place when i’m back in England next week (for my graduation), in the hope to counteract the slow and steady crawl towards irreparable bodily damage…!

I’d love to be around for a while yet… to enjoy more delicious foo, drinks and adventures of course!

 

Spontaneous Alsatian mini-break!

Just like most spontaneous trips, this one started out (about 10 days ago) with the simple desire for a little escapism…

We had already decided on the Thursday evening before last weekend that we wanted to drive somewhere nice for the weekend… On the Friday after work we picked a gorgeous house on Airbnb, the whole thing for a better price than most hotels in the region… and hatched a plan to wake up early and drive to Alsace.

To a little town called Hattmatt, actually- to be precise.

Population: 641.

Location: North East France.

Arrondissement: Saverne

The journey was smooth and rather enjoyable… sunshine present, radio blaring and of course, plenty of excitement in tow!

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We very quickly settled into our gorgeous ‘home’ for the weekend- a detached, idyllic traditional Alsatian beamed house… complete with everything one could possibly need; 2 pet kitties, Barbecue, huge garden, terrace… We really felt as though we’d hit the jackpot with this last minute Airbnb pick!

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Our lovely Airbnb ‘Das Rosehuss’ in Hattmatt

We went to a nice big supermarket in nearby Saverne to pick up supplies for a barbecued feast for the evening. Then, we set off on a 3.5 hour hike in the hot afternoon sun… we headed from Hattmatt over to St. Jean Saverne into the Réserve Nationale de Chasse de la Petite-Pierre,  and the beautiful, almost untouched northern French forest.

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Lots of lovely wine and cheese and meat was enjoyed as a much-needed reward after our lovely long hike.

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The kitties seemed to enjoy the feast too! (Especially Wolli, pictured above, who we renamed fatty! She flicked a steak off the table whilst we were up the garden exploring!)

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Hattmatt was the perfect base for our Saturday night stay & springboard for another little Alsatian adventure. We drove back to Frankfurt Via Haguenau, where we enjoyed a nice iced coffee!

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Catching some rays in Haguenau

More importantly though… we went lake swimming in the Bassin des Mouettes in Lauterbourg (near the German border) and soaked up some sun!

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On the whole, it was a really fantastic weekend. I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you get the chance… jump in the car with a map and a plan… (you don’t even need much of a plan!)

Ciao for now

Han

 

Wiesbaden/ Neroberg & Hessentag in Rüsselsheim

Hello, world!

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks!

I wrote most of this post almost a fortnight ago now, but have been up to my eyeballs with life… so here it is, at last!

Thursday (15th) was a German national bank holiday (Corpus Christi)- though a Christian holiday, it’s not one we have at home, so that came as a nice surprise to me, as it meant a free day for exploring!

After a lazy start, Felix and I drove to Wiesbaden, the state capital of Hessen- somewhere near Frankfurt I had never been before! We had a really lovely afternoon in the scorching heat (it reached 31 degrees centigrade by around 3pm… too hot, if you ask me!) Our ice lollies and cold drinks were very welcome!

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I thoroughly enjoyed admiring some of the beautiful old buildings and houses which the city boasts. We took the Nerobergbahn (a funicular railway) up from the level of the main town to hilltop Neroberg. We visited the stunning Russian Orthodox church, looked down over vineyards, churches and houses, and green that seemed to stretch for miles and miles the other side of the city.

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We had a really nice mini-visit, and after Neroberg we drove and walked around and saw a few of the sights of Wiesbaden in a whistle-stop manner.

Then… on Friday I went to the annual state festival here in Hessen, the ‘Hessentag’, which is hosted by a different city in the state every year.  The host city is transformed for 10 days, with roads closed, stands, rides and stalls erected and entertainment set up. This year it was in Rüsselsheim.

I went with friend (and former school exchange partner) Lara, and her parents, and enjoyed some really different German delights…. Bowle, Flammkuchen… the lot!

 

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Lara and I enjoying some Erdbeerbowle

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We took a ride on the Riesenrad (big/ ferris wheel) and enjoyed a gorgeous view over Rüsselsheim to one side (pictured below) and up along the Main/Rhine valley to the other side.

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The day ended up being a real scorcher and despite plenty of factor 50 I got thoroughly sunburnt!

The Hessentag was nothing like I’ve ever seen before- the main streets of the town were all closed and lined with food stalls, entertainment stages and advertising/ sponsored areas. It was well worth a visit on a lovely sunny day!

On the whole, it was a really lovely couple of days of local exploration!

Ciao for now- more news soon!

Han

Sunshine am Main 🌞

The weather the past few of days here has been glorious; blue skies, sunshine and daylight until gone half 9pm.  Yesterday there was a wild, mildly tropical thunderstorm (but yesterday was a duvet day for me- so I’m not going to count that!)

On Thursday, I enjoyed a really wonderful evening in Frankfurt- spent strolling over the Eisener Steg towards Sachsenhausen, stopping for a relax on the Riverside grass along the Schaumainkai with a couple of beers.  Afterwards we headed towards Sachsenhausen in search of grub.

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I just wanted to take a picture of the bridge and Felix said I should be in it too!
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Worse light this side, but the other side of the same stretch of skyline. The contrast is so cool.
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I told Felix to smile into the skyline… But his grin wasn’t cutting the mustard so I coersed with a little tickle…
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The view as you walk over Eisener Steg… Look at that sky! 
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Totally epic dinner eaten at Struwwelpeter in Sachsenhausen. I went for the Grüne Soße (as I thought it was about time) and F had mushroom sauce
The Grüne Soße was not bad at all but also not what I had been expecting! Give it a go.

 

Settling in…

For a long time, I thought this time would never actually arrive.

For months it has remained a distant ink blot on my calendar and a red underlined date in my diary. But it did arrive.

And now i’m here- officially back in Germany… not far away from starting my new job. And living with my boyfriend. This is, in fact, my first proper grown-up venture into cohabitation- in the couples sense atleast.

It’s only day 3, but i’m very much enjoying things so far.

Of course, it’s wonderful to be reunited (after our longest ever long-distance stint of just over 6 weeks last time) but it’s also so exciting to be living somewhere new. Sure, I lived in Frankfurt last summer, but that felt like, at times, one big long wild working holiday. This time… I even brought some crockery with me. Shit’s got serious.

I was thrown a wonderful going away party by my family on Saturday, before my departure on Sunday- it was part surprise/ part poorly kept secret (i am impossibly nosy and really hard to keep surprises from!) and it was lush.Family and family friends came round for a big barbecue with plenty of meat, delicious salads, drinks and desserts and the luckiest ever helping of English sunshine. I was showered with thoughtful, quirky and useful gifts- and I had not been expecting the send off I received.

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On Sunday night, my parents travelled up to Victoria with me- for several reasons really. First and foremost, it was a real challenge for me to walk anywhere with the amount of luggage I had… let alone ascend the currently stairs-only Victoria tube station up towards the coaches. Secondly, for emotional reasons… my mum wanted to ‘wave me off’- which was lovely of course. And also because I was a little frenzied myself at the stress of the long journey ahead and the gravity of moving away, not just out. 

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The coach ride was long and boring, but actually not too uncomfortable or sleepless, luckily.

I awoke with excitement, periodically, as we stopped in Ghent, Brussels, Liege and neared the German border in the small hours. We reached Aachen early in the morning and drove onto Cologne, before finally beginning the last leg of the trip down to Frankfurt.

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I was so happy to be back when I finally arrived… When I saw the skyline emerge over the Autobahn bridges as the city drew near, I welled up with relief that i’d almost made it (and was within stretching distance of a cuddle and a proper toilet once again!

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Erster Frankfurter Schwimmklub von 1891

After the initial drive home and unloading of my luggage, we enjoyed a nice long evening of food and drinks together. We ate at the terrace restaurant of the ‘Erster Frankfurter Schwimmklub’ (The first Frankfurt Swimming club, a private swimming lake). 

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Prost!

We also went to the Irish Pub in Bornheim and enjoyed a nice evening walk.

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Since then, I’ve had a few funny ventures into the beginnings of everyday German life. Today I had to undertake the immense responsibility of letting an electrician in… showing him to the meter… deflecting/ignoring his sexist jokes… etc. in German.

I’ve been shopping, running… unpacking!

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Last night I enjoyed my first Fletcher’s burger (the chips were actually really tasty, well seasoned!) and the burger wasn’t bad at all. It was a cheeseburger with bacon on…!

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This morning I got up pretty early and went for a run… along the Main!

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I’ll say ciao for now, and write another post soon…

I don’t want this blog to become a boring diary but I thought a little update was necessary just this time!

Bye-

Han xoxo

 

 

 

“All change please”

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If you’ve ever ridden the London Underground to the end of a line – or maybe just to a junction- you’ll be familiar with  the booming, instructional voice-over phrase… “all change please, all change.” This is exactly how i’m feeling right now.

I’m aware that this is something of a crude analogy, as life- is in fact, not, a tube train. Yet somehow, it does feel like a pivotal moment in world events too, not just in my little bubble.

Uncertainty  and change can often bring us fear, apprehension, excitement, stress… all manner of emotions. Even changes we have planned can be daunting. For example… graduating University, which I plan to do in July, is currently all of these things to me.

I’m also feeling very grateful for everything the past three years studying at Surrey have brought into my life. Most significantly, the wonderful friends and memories who I plan to carry with me for the rest of my life. I’ve had a total blast and grown a lot, in many ways. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities (and fun) this place has afforded me, and I’ve grateful that i have gained an awareness of just how privileged I have been in life.

Right now, i’m sat surrounded by most of my worldly possessions, all bagged and packed up- and it’s kind of symbolic of my state of mind, too.

2 weeks ago, I had my last lectures at University and last Monday was my penultimate coursework deadline.

On Friday, (tomorrow) I’m heading home to my folks’, to spend some quality time with the family before I set off for Frankfurt (by coach this time, with all my luggage) on Sunday night. Wish me luck!

There are lots of petty little things I know i’m going to miss about living in the UK…

I know I’m going to miss…

  • The universal availability of a cup of tea –often pretty well made. and the cultural understanding that “Tea?” is the way one begins to solve most of life’s problems. This being said, I am a coffee person these days really… so that’s good.
  • Sunday Roasts– though i’m going to do my best to recreate them in Germany with limited supermarket range… i’m told there’s a British shop in Frankfurt… which I may just have to hunt down. (I’m off to the carvery with my two uni besties shortly to indulge in a proper roast. I cannot wait.)
  •  Proper British/Indian curry… on every corner  (you can get it in Germany but it is waaaay less common.)
  • Chippie’s- Fish and chips, contrary to stereotypes, are not the staple of the modern Brit’s diet. They do however, hold a very treasured place in the hearts of most… myself included. I love proper fish and chips, though only once in a while.
  • The NHS- judging by the rhetoric of the current UK General Election, it may not be around a great deal longer in its current incarnation anyway, but I sure as hell am going to miss being blessed with one of the greatest free-at-point-of-use healthcare services in the world.
  • Wagamama… and Nandos. Frankfurt has neither of these… a quick google tells me that my suspicions were correct and actually there are neither of these great “British” chain restaurants anywhere in Germany at present…
  • Chip & pin readers, everywhere- It may sound alien to some of you, but in Germany, unlike the UK, it’s not uncommon to find yourself stuck for payment methods if you’re without cash. Germany is still Europe’s most cash-heavy economy, in-spite of governmental efforts to change this. I love the convenience of knowing i can pay using my VISA without a second thought here anywhere, although using cash more can be useful too- It can be easier to keep tabs on your spending and can also help small independent businesses.

More than all of the material and cultural things though, I know i’m going to miss some very special people the most of all. But as I say- I’ll be home soon. 

I’m sure it won’t be long before I come up with some more things i’m missing about home…! I’ll keep you posted.

For now,

Ciao-

Han

“Where have you been?”

Hello there world.

Sincerest apologies for my brief blog hiatus. It’s been a busy couple of weeks… Last week I got my dissertation results, finished final year lectures & did quite a lot of socialising!

At the weekend I went somewhere I hadn’t been before… To… Dunstable, Bedfordshire…! (It’s near Luton, but far greener and nicer than I had anticipated from what I’d been​ told!  (An atypical minibreak destination, I know!) but I was with friends and we had some great fun together!

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Some words have a whole new meaning to me now… ‘busway’ for example… A magical bus only road/rail for super whizzy fast buses between towns! Who knew? The photo above was the view out of the window whilst we took a ride from Dunstable back to Luton station on Sunday afternoon. The weather was glorious.

IMG_20170520_224632994.jpg We enjoyed some retro entertainment at the bowling alley on Saturday night! Followed by a quick game of pool at the (very sticky) local sports bar!

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I’m stupidly overcompetitive (an early school report said “Hannah needs to learn to lose at games”) and thus, got very into the whole affair! IMG_20170520_230935531

Also notable weekend in Dunstable occurances were…

Epic pork katsu food time…

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A little walk through the park… (And some very interesting local knowledge about an angry Henry VIII and the establishment of the Church of England)

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And the cuddling of two lovely bunnies, Frank and fizz. Very good indeed.

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Our weekend trip to Dunstable (2 great uni pals and I) goes to show… Random English towns can be pretty fun too.

Also notable in my life at the moment… It’s all change…! It’s now only two weeks until I’m hitting the road and travelling back to Frankfurt to move in with my boyfriend and start my new grown-up job! I’m super excited. And also terrified. I’m currently at my parents house again for a couple of days, catching up with the family whilst I can.

I took all of my teenage bedroom ‘wall of stuff’ down today. (14 year old me decided sticking 47 postcards, 6 records, over 30 posters and more than 250 tickets of various varieties along with other odd bits and bobs- chopsticks, badges, medals- all over my walls would be the coolest idea ever.) I wouldve left it longer but my parents want to repaint in June before they sell the house… So it was a necessary evil. My room feels very bare now and it’s all started sinking in.

I’m excited to write again soon with more exciting news, updates and adventures.

See you later, alligator.

Han xoxo