Saturday, 5 March 2011

Escapades in Erlangen

I have returned! It has been way too long since I posted. Things have been so crazy that I just haven't had the time. I had a lovely Christmas although it was too short, damn French and their weird holidays! When I went back to Lyon everything just exploded. I had 2 exams - Ancient History and German History. The former was 3 hours of pure torture; I had no idea what I was supposed to do and I ended up writing one pathetically vague paragraph. German History wasn't quite as bad but it was still a nightmare. When I got my results I found myself in the s*** like I have never been before - I had missed some exams and failed some others. I wanted to cry! In fact I did, while having a long and scary Skype call with my parents. I was convinced that I had blown my entire degree and I wouldn't be able to go to Germany. However I eventually discovered that the exams in France don't count towards my degree, so I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. After all that faff, Mum came to Lyon to help me move out. I thought I had managed to get my flat into a decent condition before she arrived, but when she did come to my flat, she went absolutely mental! So we embarked on an epic cleaning mission. Mum spent most of the day cleaning the hob, which was encrusted with black muck and goodness only knows what else. At the end of the day we were both shattered! Long story short, we flew home the next day and I had 3 weeks at home to look forward to. Nothing of great interest happened during those 3 weeks, except for when I went up to Birmingham to visit Sophie, Kiddy, Beth and James. I had a cuppa in their house and then went to the Soak for lunch with Beth and Kiddy. After that I met up with someone who had been begging for me to come back to England ever since I left for France: Rucksana. We met up in Joe's and chatted for ages :) Rucksana I love you so much!

While I was at home I realised that three weeks is an incredibly short amount of time when one has so much to do, and before I knew it, Mum and I were beginning the journey to Germany. We flew to Frankfurt and then the real adventure began. We had to find the train station, and Frankfurt airport is huge. While we were wandering around following signs for what seemed like forever, a faint memory surfaced of Robert Evans mentioning in one of his many off-at-a-tangent random stories that Frankfurt airport is a nightmare. Oh how I hate those crippling moments of deja vu! Eventually we found the station and waited for the train to Nuremberg. Once on it we had a comfortable 3 hour journey and then the nightmares started again. Oh F***, I thought to myself as I saw no sign of an escalator at Nuremberg station. We had to drag the luggage up and down several staircases, which was no mean feat especially with Mum's bandaged finger - she had cut it on the cheese grater during my 3 weeks at home. The train to Erlangen was somewhat grotty, but that was the least of our problems. Having looked at a list of the stops, I was convinced that we needed to get off at the second stop from Nuremberg. However, when we got off, I silently cursed myself again - I had got us off at the wrong stop. Instead of being in Erlangen, we were in some middle of nowhere place called Unterfarrnbach. I was mentally kicking myself while Mum managed to find a timetable, but she couldn't make any sense of it. Thankfully I thought to look up a timetable on my Deutsche Bahn phone app. We waited about half an hour and eventually got on a train, and this time we got off at Erlangen, where my buddy, Tabea, was waiting for us. She walked us to the outside of the station and gave me some maps before leaving, and then we got in a taxi to the hotel. I was still feeling like an idiot over the train mishap, but I was also relieved that we had made it. On Tuesday we went to my new residence and met with the Hausmeister, or caretaker for those who don't speak German, to collect my keys. He showed us to my flat and explained how everything worked. I love my new flat, it's much nicer than the one in Lyon! I have a proper wardrobe instead of just a space with some hangers, and more shelves than anyone could ever want. Unfortunately, capacity for cooking here is even less than in Lyon as I only have a hob, not even a microwave. I'm doomed!I have a lovely view though; my room overlooks a church and there are lots of trees which are bare at the moment but I imagine the view would be even better in the spring when the trees have their leaves on. Living opposite a church means I get to hear the clock tower striking, just as I did living in Victoria Halls last year. Aaah the memories of Selly Oak :) Another bonus is that the weather in Erlangen has been great, clear and sunny all day, although it's still very cold. After we unpacked one of the cases, I met up with Tabea and she showed me around. We had a walk around the town centre and Tabea took me to a huge shop called Kaufland, which appears to be Germany's answer to Carrefour. It sells just about everything! We had a look around there and then we went to a cafe in the old town.  It's hard to believe I've already been here almost a week! Yesterday I went shopping with Tabea and we went to the Schlossgarten - that's the castle garden. It's a lovely place to sit and hang out, and I am told it's even nicer in the summer. I have discovered that Fasching, a German carnival that is known in other cities as Karneval, starts in Erlangen on Monday. The Kölner Karneval (Cologne Carnival) is undoubtedly Germany's most famous, but I am excited about Fasching. Tomorrow I'm going to a Fasching parade in Nuremberg with Tabea and her friends.

Well I think this post has gone on long enough, so I'll end it here.
Liebe Grüße aus Deutschland/Best wishes from Germany!