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First Week In Berlin: The Highlights!

08 May

Hello all!

Sorry for not having posted in a while! I’ve been up to a lot of rather mundane things, and decided a new blog would be best created when I had a number of interesting things to talk about. Perhaps I waited too long, and shall provide waaaaaaay more information than any sane person would want to read about in one post, but we’ll see how it goes!

So to pick up from where I left off, Sebastien picked me up at the hotel in Bonn. Yay! We decided to take the train to Köln, since he wanted to take a break from all the driving, and had never been to Köln before. Unfortunately the weather was nowhere near as nice as the day before, but it was definitely still endurable.

One of the first things that we checked out in Köln was a bridge. Along the bridge, there are tons and tons and tons of locks chained into the fence – various couples will chain a lock there with their names on it, to represent good luck for their relationship. Since I am failing terribly at describing the place, here is a photo:

Anyhow, I had seen these locks with the WSP group the day before. Sebastien and I didn’t get the chance to purchase a lock, but I brought him to this same spot anyway.

I shall now tell a slightly cautionary tale…if a woman/man walks up to you at a popular romantic/tourist spot and tries to give you a rose, don’t take it! This woman had a huge stack of roses, walked up to us, handed me three with a huge smile on her face…and then hounded the two of us for money. And even after Seb gave her some, she continued to make a pouty face until we finally got rude and physically turned our backs to her. Another one came up to us shortly after, and even though we had our backs turned to her she tried to thrust a rose in between the gaps in our arms…I dunno if she was expecting me to grab it like a football, but finally she got the message and left.

Anyways! So after all of that, Sebastien and I now had three roses, so we decided to thread them through the fence with all the locks. Not quite the traditional way of doing things, but we figured it did the trick in a pinch!

Today, there were no concerts going on in the underground concert hall, so there were no security guards keeping the square clear. Sebastien said that one of his grandparents had been at a concert in there before, and the audience could hear when a woman with high heels walked around above-ground. After that, we went into the Köln Cathedral for a look around, before heading back on the train.

Once we were back into Bonn, we began the road trip back to Berlin…there aren’t a lot of exciting details for me to share about that, besides the fact that it was pretty cool being on the Autobahn again. While a lot of people think that the Autobahn is a very specific stretch of road, it really encompasses any German highway (as far as I see it anyway…Sebastien figured I should clarify that :P). There were a lot of construction areas, in which case there was a speed limit, but there were also some areas where you could basically go as fast as you wanted. Sebastien never went too fast for too long though – going at 160km/h makes the gas go a lot faster, and is very tiring for the driver since he or she has to stay extremely focussed. There are very clear fast lanes on the Autobahn – if you’re not going fast enough, you’ll have somebody on your tail pretty quick! Anyways, so we got to Sebastien’s house fairly late…it feels like not a lot has changed since the last time I was here.

Over the next few days, I didn’t get up to anything overly exciting…we got together with Sebastien’s family, and I played my pipes a little bit for his mom and sister. I think perhaps they were a bit shocked when they realized I wasn’t kidding when I had told them that bagpipes are loud! But I also reassured them that I will practice lots before playing for them again, so the pipes will be a little more warmed up and well tuned.

Sebastien and I also hung out with his friends a few times, including going out to party on Saturday night. I tried to practice my German a bit, but usually chickened out when it was taking me ten minutes to get a simple sentence out. Everyone was rather confused when I tried to say the word ‘sad’ (traurig) but accidentally said ‘traum’ (dream) and then corrected myself with ‘traube’ (grape). One of the many awesome things about being in Germany is the freedom to drink anywhere – not that I was drinking copious amounts by any means, but the group of us was sipping on drinks whie riding downtown on the train, and then when we were hanging out outside. None of this paranoia about having an open drink outdoors. Unfortunately, we discovered that arriving at a club at midnight is still ‘early’ in the evening…craziness! Since it was Cinco de Mayo though, there was a lot of latin style music.

Yesterday was my first day really walking around Berlin…I took the train to Fredreichstraße (sorry if I spelt that wrong!) since they have a ‘Lush’ store there. I bought a new shampoo and conditioner from there, since the bottles have awesome German labels, and I’m trying to figure out how to make my hair like German showers more. For some reason, my hair always feels quite oily! I tried to speak with the Lush employees in German, but as soon as they saw the confusion in my face they switched to English. I lasted almost a minute listening to the cashier in German, but then she asked me a question…she was offering me either a bag or else a sample, and since I wanted to make sure I answered correctly (bag: no, sample: hell yes!) I had to give in and get her to switch to English.

After that, I had another rather pathetic defeat. I went into Burger King, and asked, in German, for fries. Then, when she asked what size I wanted…geez, I really have to learn to not look so confused! She then instantly switched to English.

I then took the train to the building in which Sebastien was finishing up a class, and then we walked around and had some lunch. We went into his University merchandise store, and I was commenting on how it’s nice that they have slimmer shirts for women instead of just men’s sizes. Then the store lady came over and started telling me (in German!!!) about how they’re actually exceptionally small for women’s sizes, and how she had to go up about two sizes from what she normally is. She then asked if I’m an international student from Cambridge (since my hoodie has Cambridge printed on it) and I said ‘Nein, ich komme aus Kanada’. We then basically left, although I made sure to say Tschüss on the way out. So that was my victorious moment of the day!

Anyhow, lots of little boring stories, but I’m loving my trip so far! I’m going to be seeing a concert by the Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchastra with Sebastien’s mom tomorrow, which I’m really looking forward to. It’s a concert to celebrate how long they’ve been playing together for, so it should be quite an amazing show.

Tomorrow is also the day I officially begin my job hunt…perhaps my next posts will be flavoured with constant rejection from employers, but we’ll see. Yay for adding a new cultural element to the mix of my European Adventure! Wish me luck! 🙂

Bis später,

-Robyn

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