Emma in Euroland

Tea, Cake and Travel: a year abroad in Germany

Snow, Leipzig and Birthday Presents

My walk to the tram stop was a cold one!

So, it snowed. Some of you at home may be jealous. I would be quite happy to trade it with anything you’re offering. I absolutely hate snow. I cannot stand the cold it brings and feeling like Bambi as I go down the road to buy milk. Snow is fine if you have a warm cosy house and a fire and it’s Christmas and you don’t have to leave the house for a few days. I had to leave the house. I had a letter to post and the truth is that I love the recipient far too much to make him wait an extra day for it. I braved the cold in my furry coat and hat and vowed that unlike other days, stuff the exercise, I’m taking the tram. A friend even convinced me to meet her at the post office and we went to a beautiful old German pub/restaurant for a drink. As I’m sure you can imagine, with the blizzard still raging outside, all we could face was soup and tea but it certainly began to defrost my bitterness over snow in October. It soaked up a large chunk of the day rather nicely though and by the time I got home, I was grateful for the warmth of being inside and for the satisfaction of still having done something with my day.

The sky was at least colourful come Sunday morning.

Then came the real excitement. I went home to pack for my first trip away. On Sunday morning, I got up early, had breakfast and headed to the train station in lots of time. After a short train journey, I was in Leipzig and Dave was standing at the end of the platform shouting my name and waving his arms. God, I miss home! He gave me a hug and we headed to the restaurant where they were having breakfast. I have never seen anything like the vast quantity of stuff they had. For less than 20 euros they had secured the “Lieblings” breakfast which included much bread, croissants, strudel, massive and glorious trifle, orange juice, coffee and even 2 glasses of Sekt! There was more than enough for me to join and just dig in and it was a delicious start to my first birthday present of my year abroad :). Dave and Anne were coming to Germany and invited me to come to Leipzig with them for my birthday. We were staying in the most beautiful hotel and it was right in the middle of the city which meant that between wanderings, we came back to the hotel to warm up which was a luxury I’m not sure we could have done without! As it was a Sunday, most things were closed. This actually turned out to be a wonderful gift. The Sunday openings can be frustrating but once you’ve learnt that you need to stock up on milk and water on a Saturday, that forced day of rest is actually quite invigorating. We just wandered, ate great food, drank gluhwein and lots of dark beer and enjoyed each others company. It felt like I had gone home and it was lovely to just have the comfort of that. They had also brought more things for me in their suitcase than for them and it was nice to have some of my home comforts back (2 box sets of Doctor Who and a onesie go a long way when you’re away from home!). They also had some very teasing presents from Ramsey for my birthday. I’ve already had my birthday present but it was lovely that he has made sure I have something to open on the day. Pandora and Cath Kidston? How teasing?!

Bach outside Thomaskirche. His presence was felt everywhere we went.

Yesterday didn’t quite go to plan. We had wanted to go to Berlin for the day. Dave had done some research on the trains and found that you can get there by express train in just over an hour. However, he didn’t find out how much this would cost and the sight of nearly 300 euros on the screen made my eyes water. A conversation with Information confirmed that this was the correct price for those trains, they are expensive. We could travel on a group ticket for only 52 euros but we would only be able to use regional trains, giving us a total journey time of 5 hours. This completely defeated the object. I was travelling back to Erfurt that evening. We had needed to be on the train by about 7am. If we had known, maybe we would have got up early. We also may have decided that starts earlier than 7am do not describe a relaxing city break. But either way, it felt like the decision had been cast upon us and we were quite disappointed. I have much time left in my year abroad to visit Berlin but for Anne and Dave, the opportunity to go might not come around again for a while.

The legacy of the East isn’t hard to find.

We recovered ourself with shopping though :). Leipzig really is a beautiful place to shop. There are so many lovely boutiques and one-off outlets that allow you to buy something totally unique. You do pay the price for that, of course, but there is something reassuring about quality and originiality that makes the price tag acceptable, if you have the money to spend. Monday was another beautiful day. The skies were blue and despite it being bitterly cold, I really enjoyed the familiar streets of Leipzig. After only one day, we were navigating the city like we had known it for years. Anne commented on how she was glad that we had found it like this: quiet, free from tourists and beautiful. She could see it being discovered and turned into a capital for hen and stag nights, loud young people and drinking. Now though, Leipzig is a hidden jewel of civilisation. The cobbled streets and ornate architecture just beg to be seen and yet, our experience was of a quiet, friendly city with few tourists and little English spoken. I hope it stays that way for a while yet so that we can enjoy it while it lasts and I certainly hope to see more of Leipzig before my year is out. Mum, Dad and Matthew are coming tomorrow and I can’t wait!

A hotel room in the sky.

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