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Operation: European Husband A new last name and a European passport. I gots GOALS I tell ya...

let it SNOW!!!

GERMANY | Saturday, 27 January 2007 | Views [1044] | Comments [2]

Hey All :-) I got a hilarious and endearing email from my friend Scott today, which said (and I'm sure he won't mind me quoting him) words to the effect of - 'now look here, i did not save your blog site to my favourites only to have its desolate blankness stare back at me every day and make my time at work somehow even more boring. I saved it so i could read it and live vicariously through you, so i would like please an update on what I have been doing the last few weeks.'

Well Scott, in addition to such thrilling escapades as falling down stairs and struggling to make yourself understood in various medical situations, here's what's been happening in Essen:

On arrival at the hotel I befriended the first person I saw, which turned out to be an EXCELLENT move because he was in my course and had befriended a bunch of others, to whom he later introduced me. One of this group was a fellow Australian named Annabel, who hails from Melbourne, and who quickly became my shopping buddy, my interpreter in restaurants (she's been here before), my general gadding about accomplice and my rock of sanity in the screeching maelstrom of 19-year-old simpletons who constitute a significant portion of the group for the course. Annabel is 24, studies chemical engineering at monash and is an all-round champion. Personality-wise she's similar to Izzy, for those who have met her - fun, laid-back, intelligent and very together. If not for her sparkling companionship i dare say there would have been a lot more bloodshed on this trip.I introduce her so thoroughly here because she's the other portion of 'we' in most of the stories that follow.

First a bit about what i'm actually here for - the format of the course is 3 hours of language instruction from 9 til 12, then a 2 hour break, then a 1.5hr lecture til 3:30 in either Politics, Literature or Intercultural Communication. All instruction is in German and the topics are, for the most part, very interesting. Most of the other students, apart from being shrill, mindless gits, have either been to Germany before or have studied German at home for years and years. This means that the overall standard of German is far higher than mine so I feel quite out of my depth - a feeling I actually don't mind as it serves as an impetus to work hard and do extra study (an impetus that as yet goes unfulfilled, but all the same it's a novel sensation and its very existence is a small glimmer of hope that i may not be completely lazy and unmotivated as my prior performance at uni might suggest). In addition to the classes there are a number of planned excursions on weekends and some weekday evenings. The excursions are a great idea but tend to become writhing orgies of pretty young girls scrambling all other each other to get into group photos or have photos of themselves taken in front of, well, anything they look good next to really. As you can imagine this is a recreational activity in which i take very little interest, but it is an opportunity to improve my photographic skills, as of course someone has to take all these photos, one on each of 100 frikking cameras.

For the first few days A and i amused ourselves with exploration of the town. Those who know Essen may be intrigued to hear that one could occupy oneself for multiple days with such an activity, suffice it to say that we're very easily amused and, alas, didn't get much further than the shopping district (Swani, everything you said about H&M was right. My life will never be the same.). On the first weekend we missed the bus for the tour of the area so decided to fabricate our own tour on the tram. We ended up finding the Zollverein, an old coal mine which has now been turned into a huge cultural centre and entertainment venue. There are museums, galleries, concert and exhibition rooms, cafes, a restaurant at the top and also, a fantastic ice-skating rink. There are some photos, but the camera batteries appear to be having some difficulty holding charge for more than about five minutes so hopefully I'll get them on here soon.

After zollverein we had a quick dinner in an Italian restaurant, where i discovered broccoli pizza (my family and ex-housemate haes will know exactly how exciting that is), i must confess i've eaten little other than broccoli pizza since that day. Then off to the city with the intention of going to a Gothic Industrial party. Of course not having our whole wardrobes at our disposal, the best we could do to prepare was wear more eyeliner than usual, and having since observed a number of gothic princesses around the place, it's now clear to me that had we made it to that party we probably would have been beaten up. Luckily, we didn't get to the party, we found instead a number of bars with 5euro cocktails, and one with 2euro slammers, and one with 1euro beers... and drank our way around the town. We eventually ended up at a proper nightclub with 2 local gentlemen who are probably in some ways pivotal to the rest of the trip. First, they made it very clear to me that men are exactly the same all over the world (thankyou ellie) and second, they were the icing on the sleazy germany cake, after which Annabel and I, deciding we'd had quite enough of the bizarre and unwelcome advances of tools in nightclubs, railway station staff, bartenders and crazy men in the street, purchased fake wedding rings and swore off talking to any more men for the whole trip. i know, i know...

The next morning we felt predictably ordinary, and would have wasted the day but for the (freakishly simultaneous) insistence of ellie on my phone and A's sister on hers that we get out of bed, get some sunshine and do something interesting. Having slept throught the meeting time for another organised excursion, we trekked instead to Bonn, where there was a travelling exhibition from the Guggenheim. We visited that, had hot chocolate by the ice-skating rink, explored a bit of Bonn, found the James Joyce pub (AWESOME. full of bookshelves and couches) and then got the train to Cologne for dinner on the way home.

The next weekend we did manage to participate in group activities on both days, a tour of Cologne on saturday and a trip to the German History Museum on Sunday. Cologne is home to the Dom, which is possibly the hugest church in the world, ever (It is actually the church with the largest facade - a fact that is entirely believable when standing before it craning one's neck to see the top). It miraculously survived the War and stands ominously over the city in it's original magnificent condition. Photos are all but impossible (in terms of actually capturing it) and A and I have a reluctance to take photos inside churches, but there are some nice shots here. Cologne is also home to the most ridiculous, mind-spinning labyrinth of shops I've ever seen. Once inside, the enormous spires of the Dome, not 200m away, aren't visible so there's no point of reference. It's like an evil casino, one could get stuck in there for days. The next day in Bonn was also good, it was the first nice weather we'd had since arriving here so the sight of the sun was heart-warming at least if not any other kind of warming. The tour through the museum was very interesing and very informative and I hope to go back.

The following monday A and i agreed on a quiet night in. Let's just go to bed early, we said. maybe a couple of beers after uni but nothing big, we said. 7pm i spot in the street press that Peter Bjorn and John (of the whistling song fame) are playing in Cologne. Having established that we like the same kinds of music, I message A just in case she really likes them and doesn't want to miss it - A replies that she's just had an involuntary bowel movement and 40 minutes later we're on a train to Cologne. The band was fantastic though the gig had a different atmosphere to Australia, the German punters don't make any noise...? The music was awesome though and they were reasonably obliging with autographs and such afterwards. Conscientious students that we aren't, A and i then went out in search of nightlife, which we found in the form of a cuban cocktail bar where the bar guys took a shine to us and kept us in the bar after closing time with free drinks before taking us to another bar for further questioning - the lies we fabricated to keep them at bay would give my parents conniptions so i'll not go into detail here. I'll say for the benefit of your imaginations that we were both wearing comfortable clothes and comfortable, sensible shoes and boyish hats, and wedding bands, and we went along with the initial suspicions of our new friends, with hilarious conversational results.

We then kicked about the train station with the guards for a while before consuming the freshest, most wonderful pretzel i've yet to experience and jumping on a train home at 4am.

We have been doing respectable things too, though - we went to the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra in the second week, which was magical, and last week we saw a performance of the Vienna Strauss Ballet. The cultural offerings in this area are many and varied; the Ruhrgebiet (the distric in which Essen is situated) used to be a hardcore industrial area, pollution and all. After that fell apart they set about repositioning themselves and are now aiming to be the cultural centre of Europe by 2010. Thus there are theaters everywhere and a range of cultural options from the London Philharmonic Orchestra to an erotica version of swan lake (which we quite unwittingly bought tickets to, thinking it was the real one. can't wait.).

Last weekend, with the exception of a strip of cocktail bars and an underground salsa club, was veeeery quiet as detailed in other posts, and this week has been much the same with the exception of a trip to the ice skating rink for hot chocolate and lebkuchen (like gingerbread but somehow mysteriously better... i know, i wouldn't have thought it was possible either). Oh, and, the purchase of INSANE costumes for Karneval. I actually have a toilet for a hat. Don't laugh, Annabel has a whole-body toilet costume. This weekend (actually, in about 2 hours) i'm heading to London where I'll stay with a friend of dad's (michelle, you remember ev, right? the one that got away, i say...) and see whatever i can of the town in 2 days - pantswettingly exciting as i've wanted to go to London for too many years so you know, LIVING THE DREAM.

so there you go scott my love, you've been batting unsuitable men away with sticks, gadding about the town drinking and dancing, playing up to suspicions that you're gay, soaking up culture like a dry australian sponge (no mould jokes please) and eating terribly (you're addicted to Pommes Frittes (chips) with mayo. You're on 'how was your day' basis with the girl at one of the places from which you buy them). you're probably going to come back FAT.

Lastly, the title of this post refers to the obvious - it's finally winter here!! the temperatures had been unseasonably bearable for the last few weeks, up around 7-10 and as high as 15 (at 15 we were thinking of breaking out the pluggers). This week it finally got to zero, much to my sub-tropics-dwelling excitement, and today the heavens have let loose with a magical cloud of white flakes. Sitting in class and watching it through the window i felt like i was in a snow dome (Fresh crew, i have not forgotten your snow dome, i'm just waiting to find the perfect one xx). i'm very excited about the snow, it's very pretty, and i don't have to shovel it so it's full of novelty and wonder for me.

Right, off to Cologne to catch a plane. i've got a bit of a cold so i had a to buy gummi bears to chew to make sure i can equalise the pressure in my ears, as they don't have minties here. first practical reason i've had to buy gummi bears and i'm very happy with that, as it's getting harder and harder to justify my addiction to the juicy little buggers.

Tags: Adventures



Firstly, I so don't mind you quoting me, now I can say I am being quoted internationally - so thank you for adding that feather to my cap!! Can't wait to pop that one out during a drunken arguement.

My god I have been busy and I do love the drinking and casual (seemingly universal) uni student lifestyle. You do not know how tiring it is playing up those homosexual suspicions...

And this is in addition to falling down stairs and being felt up during my MRI by an Indian doctor and almost listening to Enya. Scary thing is this is not the first time this has happened to me!

555 - Loved the update!!!

Safe travels treasure :)

Type soon,

# S #

  # SCOTT # Jan 27, 2007 11:50 PM


Oh wow, H&M in Germany... I found that place in Sheffield (UK) and it was one of the best shops I have ever come across. Enjoy Erica! I told you to pack one jumper and one pair of jeans and buy everything else there. Travel light and come back full! Clare.

  Clare Jan 31, 2007 11:31 AM

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