Friday, March 6, 2009

and the sky severs us, its soul imbued.

I've been home now for almost a week in the unbelievably green part of the world that is Sydney (is that a strange thing to say?), and things are becoming almost normal again. This post has taken a while to get to because this week has been full and at times hard for me, firstly being dramatically unwell with airsickness that lasted intensely even a few days after I landed, and secondly being (more enjoyably) engaged with the first week of uni for this year. It's looking to be a good semester! My compulsary Education subject looks okay, and my three elective subjects seem wonderful :) I can't wait to get into it all; in so many ways it has just been really good to be home.

I haven't written yet about our six days in Germany: it was so hurried, yet still so good! It is amazing there in the winter, and with all the time we spent driving through snow, fog, the trees, the gorgeous little distant towns and hills and forests, it made the travel worthwhile. When we first got there I was so excitedly enthralled (to the amusement of my dad!). I think when I go to places about which I have illusions, I know realistically that they are still just places, and may not 'be' everything I had imagined them to; I was surprised that in Europe my expectations were actually exceeded, and it was such a place to explore, there were so many intricate and incredible things there that I haven't known before. Then again, having been away from Australia for so long, I am seeing things scattered all through the ordinary here as well--not in a romanticised way, I mean, but just to say that things stand out, they feel new or vivid to be part of, even more real or something, and often subtly or half-consciously. Familiarity has a strange effect, at times a false one, I conclude.

On the first day we drove from Marion's house to Eisenach,. We looked around the town a bit and then went to Wartburg Castle. We were in such a hurry too, as it was getting late and we needed to move on; rushing up the very steep precipice to get to the castle was an experience! It was very cool. Then that night we stayed with an older couple in Maintal (before we planned this trip Dad joined a kind of travel community that allows you to stay with other families for a low cost, and it was really a good way of doing it), and they gave us a night tour of Frankfurt by car--I don't really like it there by day, but there are some buildings that come out prettily in the dark. It's nice to look around with locals, too.

The next day we went to Nuremberg, which was very interesting. Next we went to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, an impressive preserved medieval town; it was so rainy and cold, but fun! We got pastries there that they call schneeballen, which were huge and delicious.

That night we slept at the home of another couple, in Burgau. They were some of the nicest people ever; when, coming in the door, I heard a little voice call out "Opa?", I was very happy :) Their two year old grandson (the cutest little person!), along with his parents and one of the couple's other daughters, was staying. I really enjoyed our time with that family.

In the morning we left for nearby Augsburg, and caught the tram and looked around there for a while. There is so much to see there, and it's very historical; for a big town it just had a nice feel that day. Then we left for the Black Forest, near which we arrived in the evening. We stayed near Offenburg (we were very close to Strasbourg, but sadly didn't go as the next day was too busy to take time out just to have 'been in' France) in a small guesthouse that gave us the most impressive, cosy dinner and a sweet little room. It was very peaceful there, and I could definitely live there I think (on first impressions anyhow!). We woke early and went to a few nearby towns on the edge of the forest, just utterly beautiful, and then went to Gengenbach with some other places on the way. The wooden cuckoo-clocks we saw there were especially impressive. The forest was a real highlight of our time in Germany; it's an amazing part of the world. Then that day we also went to Bad Wimpfen, a town with Celtic and Roman history, a really sweet (though very expensive!) shop which I really liked a lot, and just a beautiful afternoon atmosphere for walking through: much quieter and less touristy than Gengenbach, and so interesting. Then we stayed in Bretzfeldt with the father of a family friend, and we also met her sister with her young family. I think they are some of the most welcoming, friendly people I've ever had a conversation with!

When we left it was our last day in Germany, and we went back to Frankfurt via Worms. After that we spent some time in Frankfurt (this time to a place which had a great vibe, with its buskers and smokey markets), had dinner there and then caught the plane. On the entire trip back I was too motion-sick for words--really bad even for me--so this was not fun, but we got back alright, and I'm so glad to be home to everyone and everything again (this has only been my third week in Sydney this year...). The best trip ever.

That's all for now. I still have the rest of my photos to upload, and will probably do that this afternoon if I can. There is much else to do, now that I'm feeling better again and readings and assignments are starting to happen. Today I think I will try to finish Beowulf. It's all rather good :)