Germany Part 1 - Cologne to Stuttgart
08.09.2015 - 14.09.2015
The further I get into my trip the harder it is to find the time to sit down and start, let alone finish a blog entry (sorry guys!). But I’m definitely well overdue to write about the Germany leg of my trip so here goes…
My first two weeks in Germany were crammed full of sightseeing, activities and catch-ups. The first city that I visited was Cologne. I made sure to squeeze this one into my super tight schedule, as this is where my old year 10 German exchange partner (Hannah) is now living with her boyfriend. It was fantastic to catch up with the girl that helped me to fall in love with Germany in the first place! Returning after nine years however, it was certainly scary how rusty my German had become!! Unfortunately I only had time to stop here for one night, but it was still well worth it to see Hannah again and get a tiny snapshot of Cologne.
Moving south along Germanys’ western boarder, my next stop was Hockenheim. This is a very small town about halfway between Frankfurt and Stuttgart. Here I stayed with my friend Isabella and her parents Richard and Irena. A huge plus was the garden packed full of fresh fruit and veggies, as well as chickens with blue eggs! I enjoyed a beautiful fresh breaky every morning, and was even more excited when Irena cooked up an amazing polish feast for lunch on my second last day! For those of you that know me to be a meat, potato, cheese and chocolate kinda girl/ my staple diet - polish and German food are totally spot on to cater to my needs!! Easily the best feed I’ve had on the entire trip, and makes me extremely proud of my polish background!
However the most exciting part of my stay was the fact that neither Richard or Irena speak any English! Only Polish and German, so whilst unfortunately my Polish was still way too basic to even attempt, I loved the opportunity to muck around with my German again! Richard and Irena were both great sports too, slowing down there speaking significantly whilst I got back into the swing of German. Richard was even kind enough to offer me multiple shots of his home made schnapps just to ensure I had all the confidence I needed to slur my way through broken German sentences … alcohol always helps !
Aside from alcohol, I also managed to explore Hockenheim and the neighbouring cities of Mannheim and Heidelberg. Hockenheim is probably the most country/rural Germany that I’ve visited and it was very relaxing going for bike rides through the fields with Isabella, or just taking some time to chill out by the river Rhein and enjoy the peaceful scenery. We did a couple of day trips visiting castles and churches, as well as meeting up with a few of Isabella’s friends for dinners and a shisha night. Overall another great catch up and insight into the real Germany!
My last stop before meeting up with friends for Oktoberfest in Munich was Stuttgart. Here I stayed with my friend Chris. Knowing that I’m an activities enthusiast, Chris had a great idea when I was planning to visit, that I should compete in a German running event with him and his friends! The running event was called “Motorman” and is pretty much a German version of Tough Mudder. The course we did was 16km (you have an option of either 8k or 16k – but go hard or go home right ), and there are a whole range of obstacles along the way, heaps of mud, and a super fun and supportive atmosphere too! Now, knowing that I would be doing the event after two weeks of travelling Europe (which always involves heavy drinking and zero exercise), I knew that I would have to be in extra good shape before leaving Melbourne! Unfortunately this backfired as I ended up training so hard that I injured myself the week before flying out (ITB friction syndrome – tendon overuse type injury in my leg). This meant that I really could do literally zero exercise for about 4weeks prior to the event. Luckily for me, the 4 week break didn’t affect my performance and I only felt my leg playing up in the last 2km which I managed to push through. Even more exciting I actually finished 6th overall out of all the girls competing, and only 6minutes behind the winning girl with my time of 2hours exactly. Maybe I should train properly and come back for the gold next year .
My weekend with Chris didn’t just stop at the 16km run. I enjoyed being shown around and learning a bit about Stuttgart, as well as visiting the Ritter Sport chocolate factory (YUUUMMMM) where we obviously stocked up for our post 16km run chocolate fix! On top of all that, and following the running event, we went to the house of two of Chris’ friends for what started as a relaxed recovery BBQ, but escalated into the biggest and blurriest night I can honestly say that I’ve had in years! Apparently huge amounts of exercise followed by copious volumes of alcohol results in craziness and memory loss. Neither Chris nor myself could remember how we got home from the club, which was made even more confusing since neither of us had had any money. So another awesome day, and definitely a big tick for the sports activities being thrown in the mix!
Following our wild night we spent a lazy morning nursing our hangovers on the couch and educating ourselves with a documentary on cocaine. Then Chris drove me into the heart of Stuttgart for a bit of sightseeing and local history. Stuttgart has some really cool stuff going on with plans to move the enormous central train station underground with a very futuristic looking final product. It also boasts Europe's biggest pedestrian mall walkway, and if you take the lifts up to the roof of some of the taller mall buildings they’ve got super cool sky beaches open for the warmer months every year with real sand, grass and even a bar for the perfect sun tanning experience!
One last (much needed) relaxing movie night and a bit of practice of my shisha skills completed the weekend in Stuttgart before jumping on another bus early Monday morning ready to head to Munich.
I think that’s enough writing for now so I’ll sign off here and hopefully get the second installment of my Germany blog (Munich, Oktoberfest and Berlin) up in the next week or so!
Another huge thank you to all of my German friends and their partners/families for letting me stay and showing me around your towns and cities! Definitely added hugely to my trip and it’s always so great to get a local insight when visiting another country!
Sending hugs and kisses to you all!
Love Kristina xoxo