Hello all! I have finally had a chance to add pictures to this blog! I hope you all enjoy! 🙂 To start at the beginning, my flight over was rather uneventful, but definitely not bad. I watched ‘Mary Poppins’ for the first time in about ten years, which was fun except for the fact that the songs have been stuck in my head ever since. I sat next to a middle-aged woman who was headed to Italy for an adventure with her watercolour painting group. Interestingly enough, she was from Nova Scotia, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember exactly where. I only got about 20 minutes of sleep on the flight, and ended up walking around the airport like a deer in headlights. I experienced a bit of panic when I thought my luggage was not appearing on the carousel, but then I realized that I was staring at the Istanbul carousel instead of the Calgary one, which was right behind me. So that was a relief. Then I had a bit of a hard time finding my WSP group…I walked by them about three times, and they kept trying to figure out if I was indeed that last person they were waiting for. Finally, I noticed the ‘WSP’ sign near the back wall and ambled on over as though all that walking by them had been an intentional build-up. I experienced a lot of flashbacks from my last experience at the Frankfurt airport, which was with my High School band. With the WSP group, I boarded a bus that was similar to that time in grade 11, except there were only 10 of us instead of 90. We each got a bagged lunch; the first thing I noticed was the two buns, one with cheese and the other with salami. Very simple food, but delicious, and at the time I was giddy at being able to eat foods I remembered from my previous German experiences. We then drove from Frankfurt to Bonn, and stopped for a walk at one point along the Rhein. One of the two men in charge of our group provided us with interesting information about the Rhein in German, and I figured it was time to begin studying my German vocabulary. It was a gorgeous drive though; lots of amazing little towns in the valleys by the rivers, and lots of long ships carrying cargo. The Rhein is used for a great deal of goods transportation.
At one point I fell asleep on my purse, and woke up with a lovely dent on my forehead…luckily no one else in the group noticed as we all got off the bus at our hotel. We had dinner shortly after that, and then a group of us went to a park to walk along the Rhein. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and it reminded me of Bowness Park in July. The rest of the WSP people came from all across Canada – ironically enough, I’ve never met so many people from Ontario that weren’t bagpipers before. There were five or six attending a University there, and the rest of us were pretty spread out from across the country. My German was a lot weaker than everyone else’s, but I feel like it motivated me to step out of my language comfort zone a lot more. On the second day, we began with a series of different speakers, who told us more details about the program we’re a part of, and what we can expect while working in Germany. I think it was helpful information, but seeing as it was in German, I’m not exactly sure. In the afternoon, after a session on various phrases and words that could be helpful in our various jobs, we went into the inner city of Bonn. It was, once again, an absolutely gorgeous day, and we had a walking tour of the city. Our tour guide told us about the history of Bonn, and how it used to be the political center of Germany. We also got to see the outside of the house where Beethoven had been born, which was pretty cool.
Our tour was mostly in German, but the guide gave enough information in English that I could get a sense of what was going on. After the tour, we headed to…anyone want to venture a guess? A beer garden! Yay! It was outside, right by the river. We each ordered some pizza, and of course, some beer. Seeing as it was the last day in April, we were offered the opportunity to go and dance in the first of May (tanzen in die erste Mai, I believe). As tired and jetlagged as I was, I figured I would have a fun time if I worked up the energy to go. It’s not every day you get to dance in the first of May! There was a group of about eight of us, including two locals who were leading us there. It wasn’t too far of a walk until we arrived at a big tent – I definitely had a highland games flashback! We went inside and ordered…more beer! Yay! Then we found a place to stand and talk fairly near the band. When they started playing, we began dancing – they played mostly German songs, but a few English ones too. We danced to it all though! Sometime after midnight, three of us walked back to the hotel while the rest stayed for a little while longer. The next day began with another few lectures in the hotel, and more practicing how to speak through awkward situations in our potential jobs. After lunch, we went to a Museum in Bonn. The Museum was based on German history from the end of World War II to the taking down of the Berlin Wall. It was fairly interesting, although it was hard to stay focussed when so much of it was in German and I was so sleepy from my dancing the night before. After that, we got on a train to Köln (Cologne). I fell asleep at one point, but was able to wake up in time to see parts of the city as we were travelling towards the city center. I’ve been to Köln once before, but it was interesting to enter the city from an entirely different angle. The station at which we got off was underground, and when we walked up the stairs and outside, the Cathedral was immediately towering over us on our left. Seeing as May first is a holiday in Germany (I don’t know about the rest of Europe though) there were a lot of people sitting on the stairs watching performers. We walked around one side of the Cathedral, and encountered a square that security people were keeping clear. Apparently, there was a concert hall directly below, and there was a concert going on – people in the concert would be able to hear if we walked over that square.
We walked by other various things, and then were able to spend twenty minutes in the Cathedral itself. It was neat to be in there again…although this time there were tons and tons of tourists, so it wasn’t as peaceful as I remember. After that, we went to dinner…and it was the same place we ate at when I was with the High School band! I thought that was pretty cool, and it brought back a few memories. I missed the people I had been with at that time, but thoroughly enjoyed the company I was with this time too.
This time, we also were able to have a beer – the restaurant brews it themselves. I personally didn’t like it as much as the beer we had the day before, but I don’t know a lot about beer. I also had a delicious schnitzel (I sure miss schnitzel when I’m in Canada!) with a creamy mushroom sauce. After that, we walked back to the train station and returned to Bonn. A few of us watched a German movie, but I headed to my room around midnight. This morning, we all had our last delicious breakfast at the hotel, and everyone except me left to catch their trains. I’m sitting in the lobby of the hotel writing this, and waiting for Sebastian to pick me up from Berlin! We may go to Köln before driving back to Berlin, but I guess we’ll see what happens. The weather is unfortunately not as nice as it was yesterday, but I think it would still be nice to explore Köln a bit more. I’m extremely excited for Berlin though! I can’t wait to see Sebastien’s friends and family again, and to figure out things such as my work and travel situation while enjoying the city. I think that’s probably enough text for now! Thank you so much for reading 🙂 Bis später! -Robyn