Back in August of 2016, my (then, brand spanking new) boyfriend took me to Alsace to Celebrate my 20th Birthday. We drove over from Frankfurt and the trip was remarkably quick- just a few hours in the car. I enjoyed my first foray into the infamous German number plate game during the journey (you guess where the car is registered by the first section of its number plate… F is Frankfurt, HH is Hamburg, B is Berlin… but the best ones are the trickier ones! HD, Heidelberg, MKK, Main-Kinzig-Kreis etc.) I think I impressed him a bit with my random knowledge of some obscure German geography…!
We stayed in a really gorgeous apartment in Strasbourg, a really lovely airbnb, perfect for a short romantic break in the city. The host was lovely and told us enthusiastically of the restaurant where he (40 odd years ago) had celebrated his own 20th birthday in the city. The photos from this weekend still make me smile so much. It was really the weekend that made me certain I had fallen so in love with Felix, and in just a few weeks. As it drew to an end we had to decide what to do. I was going to Berlin in a weeks time, and then back home to London, before heading back to Surrey for my final year in October. We decided to make a go of it long-distance… and here we are; 9 months on from when we first met, and 32 days away from moving in together. Since then we have spent many wonderful weekends exploring some European cities together, including our own. (Posts on Bruges, Leipzig, London to follow!)
Cheesy as it sounds- the trip in and of itself was really lovely, as well as the company. The city is beautiful and fairly quiet (atleast it was when we visited in late August.) The architecture is stunning, the food and wine were even better than i’d anticipated, and in our case atleast, the weather held out.
We enjoyed some epic food and drink, even though we were only in Strasbourg for around 36 hours- we made sure to fit plenty in!
That was just a very brief post about beautiful Strasbourg, with some very grainy pictures (sorry for the low quality, old phone camera!)
I would definitely recommend you take a trip to Alsace, and I look forward to going back soon.
For the past three years, or thereabouts, I’ve been spending most of my time studying in Guildford. I’ve decided to write this post, reflecting on my time in the place where I’ve been a student, as last night, I ordered my graduation robe hire… and it dawned on me that over the next 4 weeks I probably won’t get much time to stop and reflect on the place that has played such an instrumental part in my University experience.
(Incase you’re wondering, I started my BA Hons English Literature back in 2014, and hope to graduate from the University of Surrey in mid-July!)
For those of you who aren’t aware, Guildford is a relatively large town (some call it a city- it has a cathedral but not official status) in Surrey, West of London. Official population 137,000- the population of the surrounding areas are included in this number- the central town area is home to more like half of the Borough’s population. This means that it feels big enough to always have something going on, but small enough to easily find your way around and get from A to B in a reasonable amount of time.
It is the second most expensive city to live in, outside of London, after Oxford, so at first glance, not the ideal place to be a student. I’ve spent the past 2 years (in private rented accommodation) constantly whining about my rent, especially this year, where it equals many East or West London peripheral rents for an equivalent room… but I am grateful to have a lovely house, with great friends, in a good location (close to Uni) and a nice scenic walk from Town.
Guildford’s location is fabulous. Just 34 minutes into London Waterloo on the train, but on the doorstep of the rolling Surrey Hills, I think Guildford offers a really lovely mix of city and country.
Coming from South London Originally (the little Blue dot on the map is where my parents live and where I am right now on my last day of Easter break), It has been really nice to live in a smaller, contained town. The University of Surreyitself has a main campus situated very close to, but distinct from, the town.
The town of Guildford is historic, beautiful and extremely well set-up with plenty of shops, restaurants, services and sights to enjoy as a guest or resident.
Something that’s made me appreciate how lovely Guildford is more recently was hosting 2 friends (from Germany) for a ‘staycation’! Their interest in and fascination with it all reminded me how beautiful it can be.
I have grown awfully fond of this place and the memories it now holds. I will miss it dearly, but I am certain i’ll be back to visit before long.
In addition to its natural beauty and cultural heritage, (Guildford is old, it was in the Doomsday book) Guildford also has some lovely Pubs, bars, restaurants and venues.
The Boileroom is a great independent music venue I recommend you check out if you have time (you can find my Tripadvisor review here).
I’ve come to know many wonderful things which hide in the corners of the town, learned the shortcuts and the nooks and crannies, but I still learn new things all time.
A few of places I would check out whilst in Guildford if I were visiting would be…
The Cathedral(but be aware it’s undergoing restoration works in part at present!) It’s pretty cool and ominous looking- rather appropriate as they filmed the omen there. It’s become one of the most distinctive symbols of Guildford for me, you can see it from almost any vantage point nearby, as it sits high atop Stag Hill on Campus.
Kokoro (Sushi and Bento)- this is a strange one… but go there, get the katsu curry (or anything else for that matter)… you shall not regret it.
Creams – though not exceptional to Guildford, who can say no to a huge, indulgence topped waffle when it’s on offer?
The Castle- Worth the trek up the High Street to see, the castle is very very old and quite spectacular. You can ascend the tower for a very small fee and it’s worth it for the views.
Pewley Down- This is a beautiful big down looking away from Guildford from the very top of the town. I was lucky enough to live right next to it last year, which was just wonderful. It’s a great place for a picnic or to find other peoples dogs to pet.
Pubs… This one is a bit vague… there are many. My favourites are probably- The King’s Head, The Star Inn, The Three Pigeons and The Wooden Bridge (would recommend the Sunday pub quiz for the brave and savvy.
The Three Pigeons Pub
At the back Room, The Star Inn
The King’s Head pub garden
Guildford is a really great place to live and study. Bit pricey. Bit full of rich middle-aged people… but it also has plenty of perfectly normal, working people. And it’s really rather lovely.
Right, I’d better pack my things and head back for my final 3 weeks of lectures! (And final month living in Guildford!)
If you’re thinking about a trip to Guildford, or moving here to study (especially at The University of Surrey)- do it, you won’t regret it!
I had a wonderful, unforgettable trip to Iceland with my family at the beginning of April. We saw a good deal of Reykjavik itself, but spent a large portion of our trip hunting down the northern lights at all hours (to no avail) and visiting some of the most famous natural wonders of Iceland (The Golden Circle, The Blue Lagoon, to name a couple!)
I think something none of us had quite bargained for before we embarked upon our holiday, was just how exceptionally pricey Iceland would be. This is something you should know if you don’t already, though you’ll probably have a rough idea from a little research.
It’s really, really expensive. I’m not exaggerating.
If you’re from anywhere with a currency that isn’t a roughly comparable Kroner (like NOK, SEK or DKK), prepare to feel financiallypillaged. The exchange rates are unfavourable from pretty much any major western currency at present, especially the weak-ass Great British Pound £, but you’ll probably feel the sting of the ISK (Icelandic Krona) regardless… Everything is really expensive. Not just because of exchange rates, in fact, they aren’t even half of the story.
The average salary in Iceland is far higher than in most other developed countries… The average Icelander earns almost 3000 euros a month before tax… compared to the average UK earner, coming in at a little under 2000 a month (still talking in euros here, just for ease of comparison.) According to some sources, Reykjavik is actually THE most expensive capital city in the world. So don’t go without being prepared for the squeeze on your wallet. I went on a family trip, and my parents by no means scrimped, but we still felt consistently conscious of the seemingly ludicrous prices…
On our first afternoon we went to nice little cafe in Reykjavik, Stofan, (which I had previously spotted on tripadvisor)… It was cosy, warm and made a forgiving escape from the relentless freezing rain and icy wind… all was well until my mother figured out that the toastie my sister wanted to order (a veggie one, with mozzarella, tomato and pesto), which you would never pay more than £7 for in even the swishest London cafe (of equivocal centrality and vibes)… was going to set us back around £25. Roughly 27 euros. $32 USD. For a vegetarian toastie… To say it was a shock to the system would be an understatement.
You really wouldn’t believe the cost of alcohol in Iceland, either. A lot of the priciness comes down to the fact it is a tiny island nation in the arctic circle… But perhaps the shock was so distinct as Reykjavik certainly didn’t feel rural at all to me, quite comparable to many other European coastal cities I’ve visited. They don’t import that much by way of finished products… so it’s expensive to buy Icelandic, but even more expensive to buy imports.
There are *some* things you can do and see in Reykjavik on a budget. We made the decision to buy a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket… as taxis are pretty extortionate and we wanted to see all the city highlights in a day.
The Hallgrímskirkja is a stunning feat of modern architechture, probably the most recognisable landmark in Reykjavik and is free to visit. For a small fee you can ascend the tower for panoramic views over the city (although by this point in our trip we had decided to conserve our Krona for food wherever possible to avoid accidental starvation.)
We also ventured to the Harpa, a stunning glass building by the Old Harbour, complete with visitor centre, theatre, gift shops and great photo opportunities.
The geometric facade of the Harpa is mesmerising, even on a grey day.
There’s a stunning view of the Esja Mountain from the coast of Reykjavik- a unique backdrop for a busy city.
Though largely frowned upon by Icelandic authorities, colourful graffiti provides a free attraction in central Reykjavik for thrifty travellers, and brightens up a grey city on a grey day no end.
The breathtaking views of the sea and mountains from the city centre are certainly a free bonus worth enjoying if you visit overpriceland!
You’ll pay a lot for excursions too, but I would say they are definitely worth it once you’re there. The only thing i’d say was a waste of money for us was our ‘northern lights tour’ (we never saw any, and stood in the cold, deserted and perfectly dark lava fields of rural iceland two nights in a row at 2am). But naturally, that’s something i’m sure those who have gotten lucky would say is worth taking a chance on.
If you want to go on trips to places like the Golden Circle (which I would recommend entirely) or the Blue Lagoon (which was also pretty cool), book in advance to save money. The two main coach trip providers are Reykjavik Excursions and Grayline. We used the former for our trips and were not disappointed.
Finally, something that may give you a little giggle- I mentioned briefly in my post on The Golden Circlethat i paid the world’s most expensive toilet a visit. On the topic of overprIceland…. here’s the view from the sink..!
If you do decide to take a trip to Iceland, make sure you’re prepared for the prices… once you’ve got your head around that as an investment, you’ll most likely be pretty impressed with the place. I certainly was!
I’m not picky at all and love sampling the local cuisine wherever I travel to. Here are just a few of my favourite German specialities I think you should try next time you’re in Deutschland! For the fully immersive German tourist experience, I’d suggest going all out on the food and drink. Try everything you can. If it’s your first time in Germany, ease yourself in…. ‘But, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!’
Start gently, with a hard-not-to-love Laugenbrezel- a traditionally german savoury bread pretzel. Tasty with butter or on their own, my favourites are the fairly plain sated ones, although you can also get them super cheesy, or covered in pumpkin seeds (Kurbis). The great thing about these is, they are cheap, tasty, filling and available pretty much everywhere. They are cheapest to eat if bought from the bakery section of a supermarket, like REWE, where you can get a fresh one for around 30 cents (definitely under 50), in comparison to the 2,50 or 3,50 you can easily end up paying if bought from a street vendor. That being said, they are wonderful warm, so sometimes its worth paying the extra bit for that.
Why not drink some Apfelwein… or Ebbelwoi as it is affectionately known in the local Hessisch dialect. It’s a delicious, often quite tart but also fairly fruity apple based alcoholic drink- (I would just call it a cider but i’m not sure my boyfriend would ever look me in the eye again if I did..!) It’s crisp and refreshing on a hot day, especially lovely drunk from a traditional glass. Fun Fact… there’s a building in Frankfurt called the Westhafen tower, which is built to resemble an Apple wine glass! If you’re in a hurry or on a budget, you can buy around a litre of decent tasting applewine for about… 1,39 euros… here is a photo of me lovingly clutching some on my very first night in Frankfurt last summer, at the gay pride parade…
Auflauf is one of those things that is just so very German it’s quite hard to explain… it’s essentially a word to describe any combination of carbs (pasta/potatoes/rice/ pastry – though not all at once) with eggy, cheesy, goodness, baked in the oven. My favourite so far has been a Spinach, Salmon, King Prawn and Pastry Auflauf (home baked in cooperation with boyfriend’s mum!) But i’ve also tried a pasta one and a potato one with different ingredient variations. It’s heavy but delicious and there’s a filling for everyones tastes…! 7
Literally translates to something like ‘cheesy egg noodles’, this fresh egg pasta dish made with ample cheese and the special pasta variety spätzle is a must-try for carb lovers. It’s most often cooked with bacon cubes, onion, garlic, and often also spinach or other veg for variation. But it’s the definition of cheesy goodness. Just eat it. Please. do it. Unfortunately don’t have my own pic of this, as I always eat it too fast to take one.
I feel as though i’m doing German cuisine the greatest injustice by reducing it to this rundown- it is pretty varied (not so carb heavy as i’m making out) and tasty… Although I love all of these things- so my recommendations are made in good faith!
If I had a pound (£) for every-time i’ve heard the words ‘gerne eine Halbliter Hefeweizen, bitte’ fly out of my mouth, i’d be half way to clearing my student debts. But seriously. I love this stuff. It’s so good and refreshing. It’s naturally cloudy, but you can also have it filtered, when it becomes ‘kristallweizen.’ A must-try for your time in Germany.
Pretty much carbonara topped thin crust pizza… yet an other gross oversimplification of the delights of german cuisine… but it’s great.
Now I couldn’t write a post with some tips on German Cuisine without including what the nation is undoubtedly most famous for; Wurst. Sausages… they come in all shapes and sizes, and are pretty much everywhere in Germany. It’s really not uncommon to see people eating snacking sausages just walking about the city… there are lots of different types… so, why not try something different?
Frankfurter Würstchen (classic, boiled, porky, great with mustard/ketchup in little a bread roll)
Weißwurst (literally- ‘white sausage’- Veal and Pork)
Rindswurst (Beef sausage- really nice with mustard
Currywurst- In my opinion… the king of sausages… usually pork/beef sausage (frankfurter/rindswurst) covered in delightful curry ketchup goodness. I cant get enough of it
Whether you want to opt for the delightfully retro spaghettieis or a more traditional scoop or two of gelato… german ice cream is generally pretty awesome- and the reason for that is, its mostly italian. There is a pretty large 3rd generation Italian expatriate community in germany, with many Italians moving to Germany to rebuild after the end of the war to offer temporary (mostly manual) labour… and a few sticking around! Totally a bonus when it comes to food.
Apple Cake, more like Apple pie… with lashings of whipped cream and plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg inside! You haveto grab a slice.
Although modern thought implies that the ‘Hamburger’ as it is consumed in its base, patty form my millions every day is an American invention, that is certainly not the kind of Burger the Germans would like to take credit for. I have eaten some seriously EPIC burgers in Germany- Fletcher’s Better Burger, Jamy’s Burger, Die Kuh die Lacht (The laughing cow) are a few common and popular chains (especially in and around Frankfurt) BUT my personal favourite Burger joint is without a doubt Der Fette Buelle. I celebrated my birthday there, took my family there during their visit to Frankfurt in August… it is simply amazing food, and not too expensive either which is a huge win.
That was half a portion of Sweet potato fries (we were sharing!)
I hope you enjoy sampling a few of my top German delights during your next trip. Let me know if you think there’s anything I haven’t mentioned that I need to try!! (Naturally these are just my personal highlights, If I wrote everything German I’d eaten or drunk lately this post would be 30,000 words long.)
I’ve been meaning to write about my recent family trip to Iceland (02.04- 06.04.17) since the moment we returned. As usual, life has gotten in the way for a couple of weeks, but i’m finally getting round to writing the first instalment, now!
Although we only went to Reykjavik for a short trip, it was absolutely crammed full. My family holidays always have always had pretty jam-packed itineraries and this trip was no exception.
I have plenty to say about the country itself, which was not at all what I expected, but for now, I just want to write a little something on my personal highlight… seeing The Golden Circle.
Without a doubt, our full-day tour of The Golden Circle (courtesy of Reykjavik Excursions) was the most memorable and picturesque part of the holiday. It was our busiest day- we spent a lot of time in the coach but also had plenty of chances to hop-out and take-in the breathtaking scenery. Our guide was fantastic, a real fountain of knowledge. And the snow we had the night before our tour made all of the scenery- lava fields, canyons, geysers… all the more stunning.
The Golden Circle is a 300km road route which passes through some of the most popular and stunning areas of natural beauty in Iceland.
Ours commenced in Reykjavik, and we drove first to Friðheimar… a geothermal tomato farm. I know what you’re thinking… that doesn’t sound very breathtakingly scenic, now, does it? Although it isn’t a part of every tour of The Golden Circle, a short stop at the Friðheimar cultivation centre is definitely worth it en route.
Back in 2012, the owners of Friðheimar decided they needed to resolve their tomato waste Issue… Their produce fulfills demand in the domestic (Icelandic) market, so is on the shelves within a few hours of harvest…but onlyaesthetically pleasing tomatoes are bought and sold by supermarkets and shops. This is why they then began producing special recipe Tomato soup, chutneys, sauces, Jams and cocktails (Blood Mary no less!).
The farm Friðheimar is situated at Reykolt, east of Reykjavik… and is quite near to the Geysir Hot spring area, which was our first natural beauty spot of the tour…
There truly are no words I can drum up to even begin to describe how amazing a-sight Gulfoss Falls was. Truly one of the most humbling, epic things I have ever seen.
On our drive back towards Reykjavik, we travelled to the ÞINGVELLIR National Park.
‘Thingvellir’ is the Old Norse field of parliament. Its lava fields, tectonic shift valleys and volcanic mountains were truly a sight to behold.
It’s also home to the world’s most expensive toilet… (300 ISK… about £2.20). But it does have pretty amazing views from the washbasin I have to say.
The Golden Circle is 100% worth a visit if you’re headed to Reykjavik. Even if you aren’t there for long… if you only splash out on one excursion, make it this one. Don’t take a chance on the Northern Lights instead (we didn’t get lucky, twice!)… this offers guaranteed epic views and loads of interesting history.
I hope you enjoyed the first instalment of my trip to Iceland… The Golden Circle should definitely be on your ‘see before you die’ list of destinations!
First of all… just a quick disclaimer that this list is by no means exclusive or exhaustive… Also it’s only based on my personal experiences of growing up in London, studying in Surrey and Working and Living in Frankfurt am Main… I’d be really interested to hear what you have to say, if you’ve noticed any of the same things as me or if you think I’ve missed anything instrumental!
Contrary to popular beliefs (held fairly widely in the UK atleast) other than the obvious differences of language and location, currency and history, England (my homeland) and Germany (my adopted home) share a great deal in common. Cultural attitudes to a lot of things are very similar, the general way and pace of life is roughly comparable… but there are definitely more than a couple of things you’ll notice if you move from the UK to Germany. Some are great, some are less great, but I find them all really interesting regardless.
Pfandflasche… &The Pfand system
For those of you who are wondering, what the heck a Pfandflasche is when it’s at home, click here to find out! I was so amused by and totally enamoured with them when I initially moved to Frankfurt for the summer in 2016, and became a keen recycler in no time, in order to save cents… The system keeps the streets cleaner and gives everyone a greater incentive (a financial imperative) to bother recycling their used bottles, drinks cans and flasks. It’s doubtless an innovative and efficient system…The only downside I’ve observed is that many Germans find it much more practical to hoard their Pfandflasche at home until they have an unholy, uncarriable amount to recycle all at once. I’m fairly certain that my German boyfriend has atleast 50 euros worth of Pfand goods stashed in every spare crevice and cupboard of his apartment! (though that figure just is an estimation, it’s no joke!) It can be very entertaining opening drawers, expecting towels and finding 12 empty bottles of apfelschorle instead… until you need space to store your actual belongings…!
Public (outdoor) Bookcases
I first spotted these last summer but was so shocked and bemused by the concept of a *FREE* book that I was too scared to approach one alone. Once encouraged and reassured by German friends that the contents of these magical little cabinets is in fact free for everyone to take home, swap or return, I plucked up the courage to pick a title.
I love the idea of free books and book-swapping. They are typically full of an eclectic mix of novels, manuals, educational books, children’s books, dictionaries…(sometimes even DVDs, CDs and VCRs) in a wide range of languages (The last one I visited, on Sunday, featured titles in English, German, Dutch, Russian, Danish and Hebrew at a glance!).
They’ve been around since the early 1990s and can be found all over Germany, but exist mostly in bigger cities. There are plenty in Frankfurt, with one to be found in almost every neighbourhood. Here’s a photo of the one I visited at the weekend…
They don’t all look the same. Some can be found in the form of converted telephone boxes and old fashioned wooden cabinets too. Hereis a list of all the public bookcases in Hessen! And here’s a bit about them, if you’re interested.
And incase you were wondering… I took a Beginner’s Danish book this time!
(on billboards, at bus stops, in train stations etc. The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act of 2002 banned most forms of tobacco advertisement in the UK- only advertisements smaller than A5 are allowed in the premises of licenced retailers now, with a minimum of 1/3 of the page being occupied by mandatory government health warnings.) Cigarette Vending machines (until 2012, licenced premises in England and wales could still have these, but they have been illegal in the UK since. Most sizeable towns and cities in Germany have many of these, on the side of the road, and they are also quite common in in club and bar toilets.)
People smoking indoors…! In the UK it has been illegal to smoke in public indoor spaces including restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, music venues etc. since July 2007. Most private rented accommodation in the UK doesn’t allow smoking indoors either nowadays.
In Germany, like several other central European countries, smoking indoors is not only legal but is common practise in quite a lot of places. Of course, there are quite a lot of non-smoking venues, but if you go on a night out in Germany as a non-smoker you can probably expect to come home itching for a shower!
Nudity and Adverts on Daytime TV
Nudity on TV is far more common in Germany than in the UK. It appears in varying degrees at varying times of day, but it’s fair to say female nipples aren’t scandalous on German TV in the daytime as they would be if shown in England. I can only recall seeing full-frontal nudity a few times on British TV, and then always well into the evening, around 22:30 at the earliest, and always with ample warning from the BBC that things might get a little racy later on…!
What can be and is actually shown during the day is differs quite significantly… Adverts for alcohol, condoms and what have you are far more common on the Continent than in the UK in General, for example, where they can’t be shown until after hours.
There is a legal ‘Watershed’ in Germany too, with 16+ content appearing between 22:00 and 06:00, and 18+ material only between 23:00 and 06:00. In the UK, the ‘Watershed’ comes earlier, at 21:00, but also ends a little earlier, at 05:30.
Naturism… and public nudity
Nudist parks, nudist societies and clubs are really quite rare in the UK, and when they are found, they are most commonly used a source of a one-off day-trip giggle by tourists. Most Brits are, as the stereotypes suggest, pretty prudish when it comes to being naked. I vividly remember a family trip to Brighton beach as a child with some family friends, where the dads decided to pose behind the ‘Brighton Nudist Beach Zone’ sign… but were too embarrassed to get, nude so left their pants on behind it for the photos!
In Germany, the choice to boldy go, or should I say, to boldly go without reigns supreme. Many public parks in the middle of the city have nudist areas. There are over 200 private clubs in Germany, known as part of the Nacktkultur (or naked culture) movement. Nudity is also far more common in spas and saunas, much to the horror and amusement of many less liberated international visitors.
This being said… most German’s aren’t naturists… just like most Brits… but, there’s certainly less stigma surrounding the practise.
7. Licenced Brothels
Prostitution and almost all aspects of adult sexwork are legal in Germany- street prostitution, brothels, sexual sauna and massage parlours, escort services…You name it, it’s here.
This allows for much greater regulation than in places like the UK where many women in particular are forced to work in poorer conditions. The German government even taxes prostitution. To read more about this cultural difference, click here.
People driving the wrong way…
Cars on the Left-hand side of the road… It’s an obvious one, and I know it’s almost just us Brits still driving on the RIGHT (correct 😉 ) side of the road… but I’ll never get used to driving around a roundabout the other way!!
(now this one is a bit debatable, but hear me out!)
I suppose it depends entirely on your boundaries in defining both graffiti and wit. Having grown up in London, I’ve seen quite a lot of graffiti in my life, but I don’t think much of it has ever made an impression on me for its cleverness or humour or… Instagram-worthiness… Perhaps I’m blinded by the foreign exotic charm of some german graffiti, but I seem to see lots of much funnier wordplay, romantic proclamations and cute doodles than in the UK.
Don’t get me wrong- on the whole I’m not a huge fan of graffiti- in fact, the shabbily drawn gang tags which populate the train track-side walls of every city route I can recall back home can be a real eyesore. I actually think wittier graffiti and street art might be a non-British thing more generally… when I was in Iceland recently with my family, we noticed a really cool graffiti mural… (which i can’t currently locate a picture of, though I definitely took one!)…Some food for thought, either way.
(or literally… time to celebrate the end of the working day/ the start of the evening!)
Now there’s nothing particularly special about this word in itself… rather more fun is its significance culturally… many German’s (and guests, like myself) take the lingustic suggestion to celebrate the evening very literally, with a post- work drink. Many people don’t even wait until they’re home… seeing quite a lot of stressed out looking business people sipping a cold beer in the U-Bahn around 6 is pretty common in Frankfurt!
Thanks for reading my 10 things you’ll find in Germany that you won’t find in England post- If you liked it, please do check out my other blogs! I’m hoping to write some more culture shock posts like this one in the near future 🙂
It’s somehow already Saturday… (this week is absolutely flying by- I’m clearly having way too much fun!)
I just thought I’d write a little something about the wonderful little trip I’ve enjoyed during the past two days. Yesterday evening we (myself and my s/o Felix) drove up past Frankfurt, to the north of the state of Hessen(German states are kind of like British counties but generally much much bigger). The journey only took us about 70 minutes from Offenbach and we arrived at the lovely little Hotel Orthwein (Super altmodisch and kitsch) around about 9.30pm.
” But why on earth did you drive to Cölbe, a small and totally random German town, late on a Friday night..?” I hear you cry…Why, for a Party of course!
I was so happy to be able to visit my dear friend Lara and her lovely boyfriend Elias at Lara’s student digs in Bernsdorf for the party last night. I’ve known Lara almost 6 years now- we were Exchange partners at school, always got along really well and have stayed in pretty consistent contact ever since. The pair stayed with me in Guildford less than a month ago and I showed them some of my personal London highlights, which afforded me a lovely staycation at the start of the Easter Break.
Anyway, back to the main event- PaRtYy!!! It was actually a super cool party. I only realised this morning but i’d never been to a proper German house party before last night. I’ve been out in Germany quite a lot, had small gatherings at friends flats but never been to a party where the majority of the other party-goers were strangers and had to converse all evening long (with the help/hindrance of alcohol) in my clunky Denglisch. (German/English!).
It was excellent fun- a really bustling and friendly party in their lovely apartment in Bernsdorf (it really is a Dorf a super tiny village with literally about 5 houses and a stables!)
We chatted to some lovely people, enjoyed plenty to drink, some pizza thanks to the kindness of some generous strangers! There was even a beer pong table out on the Terrace! Of course, there was also the obligatory yet very unfortunate house-party individual who passed out early on and fast became a work of modern art- sharpie, confetti and various other buckaroo style objects strewn across his person…poor guy. Aside from that, I also learned a couple of odd german cultural practises- As a little gift to the hosts, we took chocolate brownies (which I baked yesterday afternoon) and Felix bought Klopfer- they are essentially fruity alcopop shots in little individual sized bottles- but you have to Klopf the bottle (or bash it against the table and hang the lid on your nose before you drink it!) That gave me a good giggle.
We headed back to our hotel by taxi at around 1.30am (as it was of utmost importance that we woke up in time for our complimentary breakfast!!- and to check out!)
Thankfully neither of us were struck down by hangovers this morning, so we got up pretty early, enjoyed a really lovely hotel breakfast and headed off into Marburg. We didn’t see much of Cölbe other than our hotel and some lovely old houses when we walked back to Bernsdorf this morning to pick up the car. But it was so beautiful and rural- green all around- having a house party in what felt like the middle of nowhere was really awesome. And of course it was so lovely to see my friends again.
Today we spent the day in beautiful Marburg- I had been before, to visit Lara at Uni, last June- but it was Felix’s first visit. It definitely did not disappoint a second time around. If you’re ever in Frankfurt for more than a couple of days, taking a trip up to Marburg (or Heidelberg) is definitely worth it- for some real german charm. There are almost no cars at all in the Old Town- Only bicycles and pedestrians really.
We took the famous Aufzug up to the old town, wandered steep cobbled streets, and passed a couple of hours in old bookshops. We then adventured up to the Marburger Schloss, which offers a breathtaking views from it’s hilltop vantage point. We stopped off at a Cafe called Felix-(chosen for its comedy value and appealing sounding menu) and had some really delicious and indulgent maple syrup American style pancakes.
It was really an exceptionally lovely little trip.
Ta-ta for now- must go and make some more delicious, intensely carby German food (käsespätzle this time!)