Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Deutschland, naturlich

So, I'm in Germany. I love being able to just be in a completely different country lickety split. Different country, different language, different architecture, different food... It's quite exciting. It's also kind of fun to be able to say to all my friends back in the States, when they ask me what I did today, "Oh, not much, you know, I just went to Germany, that's all."

But in all seriousness, Germany is nice. Mostly because my boyfriend is here, and before yesterday I hadn't seen him in a couple of months. Needless to say, I was very anxious to see him. But Germany is nice for other reasons as well. I love the architecture here. Half-wood houses have a very homey look about them. I would show you photos, but I left my USB cable for my camera in France (zut alors!).

Where I am, Tubingen, the terrain is also quite lovely. As much as I love Angers, I miss the mountains. I am defienetly a mountain woman ( I would like to think that someday people will refer to me as the "mountain woman who makes goat cheese," and I will have the crazy hair and gnarled hands befitting a mountain woman), and having hills around is like being in a cradle for me--protected, secure. There's also a little river flowing through town, and there are mallard ducks that paddle up and down it (I even saw some swans on the train yesterday. I've heard they can be a nuisance and even an environmental problem if they become too numerous, but they're so darned pretty...). In short, another hopelessly picturesque European town. None of my photos will do it justice, I'm sure.

The only thing I don't like about being here is that I don't speak much German. a.k.a. I can say hello, good morning, good night, goodbye, thank you, and a handful of other words. When someone lets loose a string of German at me, I just smile and try to look charming and either attempt to speak French or English, which, mercifully, most Germans seem to know, and then I thank them profusely afterward. I've made a resolution to take some intensive German language classes when I get back to the States.

German is actually quite a nice language, I think. French is beautiful, elegant, poetic. German, while hardly beautiful, is interesting and sturdy, and the pronunciation actually makes sense. In French, the words are inundated with vowels, half of which are not pronounced, making reading French and speaking French two different battles. German is phonetic and loaded with consonants, all of which are somehow pronounced. I suppose German and French are opposites in a sense. Obviously, I'm partial to French, but I think German has a nice cadence to it.

Well, this morning Jacob had class (Wow, someone who actually has classes. Go figure.), so I was left to explore Tubingen on my own for a few hours. I had a lovely, liesurely breakfast in a cozy cafe where I read Victor Hugo (I'm on page seven hundred something and am still going--the man was a genius, but those romantics knew how to pile it on thick). Then, I set off for my stroll. I walked along the river for a ways and then made a big loop and headed back to the center of town through the older quarter of Tubingen. Beautiful houses with colorful wooden shutters, whimsical cottage gardens, cobbled streets, lovely, lovely, lovely. And then, wouldn't you know it, I found a market! As you might imagine, I was thrilled. It was small, but comprehensive, and everything that I have come to expect from European markets--super fresh veggies and fruits, amazing breads, beautiful cheeses, and assorted odds and ends (this market had a spice vendor and an organic olive oil vendor). I bought salad fixins for a nice dinner for J. and I, and didn't have too much trouble with the language barrier, although German numbers tend to throw me off, since I've gotten so used to French ones.

Observation: coffee here is actual coffee and not espresso. In France, ask for a cafe and you can expect a tiny little cup of espresso. Here, order Kaffee and you get a cup of coffee. I have to say, I've become attached to espresso, but it's nice to have a cup of coffee for a change. You feel like you're getting more for your money, and a cup (you can't really call it a "cup") of espresso doesn't do much to drive the cold from your bones, whereas a Kaffee or a Milchkaffee (coffee with milk) is perfect for these cold mornings.

Oh, and do I even need to tell you that the bread here is fabulous?

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