A Home Away From Home

So what is it like living in another country for a few weeks?
Um. ‘Bout that.

Ok, so I’m not all homesick right now, really. I am “here” sick. I am sick of playing chicken with everyone on the sidewalk. I am sick of walking on uneven cobblestone everything. I am sick of not being able to read simple signs and having to wait 9 hours for the waitress to give me my check. I am sick of the language barrier (I try… and fail every time). I am sick of eating dinner alone. I am really sick of no ice cubes anywhere. I am sick of not having a chain on my door so that I have to make sure to put the do not disturb sign on my door so I can sleep in in the morning. I am sick of not being able to watch TV (everything has a German voiceover!).

However, I am doing a-ok for now. I have made up my hotel room all home-like. Half-empty glasses of water, an entire stash of German chocolate, 3 different types of tea… Home sweet home! This city really is beautiful. I think I’ve gone to the cathedral almost every day. Below you’ll find a picture of what I found at the cathedral… I was looking at all the amazing gargoyles and found that… And just remember that they generally have openings for water to run through. Just imagine that during a rainstorm!

The city has cobblestone almost everywhere in the “old city”. I can’t imagine being a little old lady and trying to get around. Speaking of elderly, I have seen more old couples than anything here. It is adorable. They are ancient and still holding hands and walking arm in arm. Love that. I have also seen equal amounts of both nuns and fat people. 3 of each so far. Seriously, between the fact that they need to walk virtually everywhere here and their smoking habits, these people are slim!

This week I spent a lot of my time exploring and walking around. I spent one afternoon almost entirely taking pictures of the cathedral. Some of the colors they have painted their buildings are so pretty. I also did a lot of shopping. Friends back home all asked for shot glasses and things like that and it took me almost a whole week to find them here. I tried to find a perfect gift for everyone but it was hard because they have normal stores like the US and a lot of stuff is the same or very similar.

Today I decided to venture out and find the fire department. I wanted to see if I could at least get a picture with the truck or see how similar they are to US departments and see if I could get a shirt off of them or something… Well, of course, I doubted they were like the US but I didn’t think their department (at least the closest to my hotel) would be like Fort Knox! I scratched that idea and continued to get lost in the newer part of the city.
Also, I really hate crossing the street here. In the old part of the city, it isn’t so hard. There are trolleys and such that come and go and the occasional car but you really just need to worry about the bicycles. Everyone has one here and they have the right of way over everyone so you have to be careful. For the first week, I followed people crossing the street and positioned myself between the oncoming traffic and myself. I liked to follow people with carriages because that seemed safest. I’m not proud to admit it, but I definitely followed a few elderly ladies (don’t judge, I kept an eye on them to make sure they made it ok!). People on the sidewalk, or anywhere I guess, just walk. If you’re in their way, tough shit. One lady literally ran me over with her baby carriage in a store. That’s one thing I miss about home-telling people off in their own language. These people are like New Yorkers on steroids, except they don’t say anything. They are silent New Yorkers on steroids and you must move or else they will move you. Shits stressful!

Overall, it has been pretty cool. I think it would be a whole lot different if I were here on a vacation. It would make it more of a novelty than just trying to fit in. I guess I don’t scream “tourist!” because I’ve had like 3 different people ask me for directions in German. I so totally hate giving them the “I have no idea what the hell you’re saying” deer in headlights look… but that just comes naturally I suppose. One good thing, too, is that I haven’t been harassed by men. I get more attention walking in Market Basket than I do on the streets here.

I think I would like it a lot more if I didn’t live in a 10×16 box by the train/tram/taxi/bus station. Their fruit is pretty yummy and cheaper than the US (1.99 for giant strawberries!) and I can’t get enough pretzels. They have bakeries everywhere and have the most amazing breads and deserts just sitting there waiting to be taken home. However, I am yet to see a doughnut here! I don’t like them myself so I do not miss them, but writing this just made me realize I haven’t seen any! America, we don’t know what we’re missing! These coffee shops and bakeries make DD’s look like a dumpster!

Well, enough of my babble. I just wanted to check in and say hello from 3k miles away… And share my awesome photo of the most interesting gargoyle. I will post more pictures later.

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I’m in Freiburg, Bitch.

Yes, that’s right. Freiburg. Like Germany.
Amazing.

So far, here are the highlights of my trip. Don’t worry, I plan on blogging much more meaningful and insightful blogs later in my trip. I’m still too tired at the moment.

-The food is amazing. People generally don’t like German food but that’s because it sucks in the US. I don’t want to leave here for the sole reason that their food is amazing.

-I went from Germany to France and back in one day. I went to Strasbourg by train for the day and ate overly amazing food, took some pictures, hopped back on the train and came home. It is even more amazing there.

-I got to go on a double-decker train. Yeah. It isĀ that cool. I sat on the upper deck and pretended I was Queen.

-Everything should be eaten on a pretzel. I have eaten two sandwiches so far and they were on pretzels and I will never go back to eating regular sandwiches for as long as I can help it.

-I am short and fat here. Everyone is as tall or taller than me. Which, at 5’7″, is kind of depressing. I feel bad for all the short people out there… I am getting a small taste of what it is like. Also, they are all skinny because they bike and walk everywhere. We should probably take note of this, America.

-They have neon orange fire trucks. As a firefighter, this is a bit non-traditional, but really pretty cool. They do not have cool helmets though… they look like egg shells. Leathers are the way to go still.

-Even their taxis are high end. Mercedes, BMW, take your pick… my taxi is nicer than your car.

-They are 5 hours ahead of us here… Which I am still on Boston time so I stay up to like 3am before I try meditation to help me fall asleep, and I don’t wake up till like noon… Kind of sounds like college but it’s weird and I want to get a normal sleep schedule. Their sidewalks roll up really early too.

-The people are generally nice. They are weird to walk around because I feel like their sense of personal space is a bit different than ours and if you don’t walk fast enough, they will run you over. When I was on the train to get here from the airport (I hate trains), a few different people helped me. One nice gentleman hoisted my bag up on the train for me because he was super nice and I must have looked like a real idiot. Thanks, Sir!

-Their drinks are tiny. Everyone says their portions are smaller, which is kind of true. I don’t mind the food part because I’ve eaten plenty. Maybe if you’re a growing boy it might not be enough but the water, soda, juices, etc. are way too freaking small. As a person who drinks an insane amount of water (preferably with ice which also seems pretty rare here), this has been torture. I have pretty much emptied my mini bar on a daily basis. They are generally like 200-250 ml which is like 8 ounces… Good thing? They have an abundance of sparkling water. The hospital I will go to has a water dispenser outside the ICU with both still AND sparkling water. It’s like a water fountain with bubbles… amazing.

-Some nice German man had a dog (lots of people have dogs here) and it was an sheepdog but had short hair. He let me pet her, her name was Sam. It made me super happy to pet a dog because I do miss mine.

-Lastly, the maid made my bed and tucked my teddy bear in. Yes, I brought my teddy bear to a foreign country. He needs to travel, too, you know.

So that’s what I’ve gotten so far. I will definitely be posting more when I’m not delirious from both lack of sleep and lack of human contact. There’s plenty of people around, but I just don’t speak German. Bummer.

Guten Abend!

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Neon orange fire trucks… they know how to roll. Their helmets looked like egg shells… they need leathers.
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The way the maid made my bed
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This was the staircase to the bathrooms… such a strange set up yet so pretty!
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The beginning of our amazing meal… water with violet syrup and a cheese plate
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I was walking behind them and thought this would make an adorable picture. I looked like a creep, they looked sweet.
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This is Sam. Sam was excited and moving but I still tried to get a shot.
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My amazing desert. That is expresso, a cookie, a shortbread (super adorable), and two jars of deliciousness… one was a rich mousse, the other some sort of apple and caramel thing. And it was like 5 euros for it all which I thought was pretty sweet, no pun intended.
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This is actually Strasbourg. Their buildings were all in such a beautiful color pallet.

Barely Domesticated Export

Oh Holy Jesus, I am going to Germany. Like in an hour. Leaving in an hour. And I am going to be sitting on a great big plane with a kid screeching in my ear. No joke, she is already freaking out behind me in the terminal. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I planned ahead, however, and I have a nice little stash of both Xanax and Benadryl. Yep. Should be a fabulous flight… for me.

Anyways! I am totally for real headed to Germany. I am going to Frankfurt and then by train to Freiburg where I will be conducting a business trip for *gasp* 3 entirely full weeks. I will be back in this beautiful ol’ country on Easter. Jet-lagged as all hell but entirely happy that I am home in my own bed with my own husband beside me (hehe, jk, honey).

So what does this mean? An entirely new topic for me to report on. From the food to the people and everything in between I will be giving you a good insight to what it means to travel on business to a foreign country for the first time when you have never really even traveled alone domestic before. I’ve got this. I can’t speak a lick of German but I am hoping my good looks and charming personality will get me to where I have to go.

By the way, that Benadryl isn’t for me…

Wish me luck!

-C