Monday, 29 May 2017

A(nother) year in the life: German edition

Pinching myself, I think "What crazy series of events led me to be living in Germany? I never saw this in the projection of my life path."

Because on this day, my friends, I have now been living in Germany for 1 year. By rights, I should be leaving today - but I am not.

You see, both Dan and I - with relative ease - managed to get sponsored by our employers. The virtually unattainable in the UK was a simple appointment with a trees worth of documentation and, €30's later, we each had a shiny new sticker in our passports.

Therefore we are staying on this side of the world for a fraction longer, but for now, let's look at the year that has passed. This, like the previous 2 years, has been crazy, incredible, stressful and exhilarating.



Berlin
Getting set up, has been challenging. We have continuously struggled to find somewhere to live for more than a couple of months at a time. I will be the first to admit that the sheen of seeing new areas of the city is starting to wear off. 

As a city, Berlin has been wonderful. Not London exhausting, but busy enough to never be bored. The bucket list is ever growing - with such a rich, varied and interesting history (oft times quite depressing).

Some of the things we have crossed off the bucket list and experienced in Berlin include:
  • Underground Bunker tour - Incredibly fascinating and moving tour. One rarely thinks of the civilians on the German side of WWII, so this was an amazing insight into what the innocents on this side did to survive when their city was razed.
  • DDR Museum
  • Visited lakes for a swim - Berlin has so much lake area, it's wonderful!
  • Went clubbing (not to Berghain, yet)
  • Drunk in public. Ok this happens quite a lot.
  • Eaten Schnitzel, currywurst, schweinhaxe (pork knuckle), flammkuchen, Berliners ;) (pfannkuchen) and other German cuisine
  • Drunk a lot of beer. A lot of beer. Occasionally a diesel. But mostly bier.
  • Toured the abandoned Tempelhof Airport, which is currently being used as housing for refugees and for big events. Very interesting history.
  • Wandered around Nikolaiviertel, the oldest part of Berlin
  • Celebrated May Day in Goerlitzer Park and managed to avoid the riots
  • Drunk my weight in glühwein (I'm pleased there's 10 months in between when there is no glühwein
  • Played in a frozen fountain and frolicked in Berlin when it was under snow
  • Lots of different Christmas markets around Berlin (and beyond)
  • Lange Nacht der Museen - the long night of the museums, where we managed to cram in 5 different museums
  • Deutsches Technik Museum
  • Bier festivals
  • Seen a play in German (with English Subtitles - still impossible to follow!)
  • Went to a Beards concert with terrifying bearded German people shouting Be-Ards! Be-Ards!
  • Show friends and family around the city
  • Wandered through a lot of markets and parks, stumbling across interesting statues and monuments
  • Underground Metro tour with bright yellow hardhats in an open top train
  • Berlin Botanic Gardens, which is very beautiful
  • Festival of Lights lighting up Berlin

The language
I have been extremely slack with learning German, I will wholeheartedly admit that. Slack, embarrassed, nervous and so forth. My favourite experience of trying to order 2 "festival beers" in German resulted in a wheat beer and a wine, so I'm not sure what went wrong there.

However, my work is now sending me to German classes. I had my first lesson last week, and it wasn't nearly as humiliating as I expected it to be. I know more than I thought, and now that I can see that I can progress - it is quite fun. I think the lessons we were taking previously were just not right for me - it was all spoken, and hardly written. I learn better from the written word than through listening, so these new classes might just work nicely! Maybe my next blog post will be in German...




Travel
The one country a month rule has generally held up for this past year as well. We have also visited many places within Germany, with many more still on the bucket list.
Here's where I have been during the last year living in Germany:
  • Spain for my Dirty 30 Funfest - Ibiza, Seville, Madrid and Barcelona
  • Croatia - Split, Plitvice Lakes, Hvar, Dubrovnik
  • Montengro, where Dan and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary
  • Poland - Stettin, Wroclaw - the Culture Capital of Europe for 2016, Wolsztyn
  • Edinburgh for Nat's birthday
  • Romania - Bucharest, Brasov
  • Czech Republic - Decin (yet to go together to Prague, soon though!)
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Switzerland - Zurich, Lauterbrunnen, up to the top of the Jungfraujoch, Chur
  • Liechtenstein
  • Italy - Tirano (just for lunch!)
  • UK - London - Dan's birthday and work, Dimension Jump!, Nottingham, Coventry (for work) 
  • Netherlands - Amsterdam, Keukenhof Tulip Fields, Utrecht, Gouda
  • Denmark - Billund for LegoLand, Copenhagen, Nyhavn
  • Sweden - Malmo (we visited more of Sweden at the beginning of 2016)
  • Lithuania - Vilnius
  • Ukraine - Kiev for Eurovision 2017!!!!!, Pripyat to see the Chernobyl Reactor 4
  • Bulgaria - Sofia

In Germany:
  • Wenigerode - in the snow, to ride the steam train up the Broken.
  • Neuschwanstein - to see the Disney Castle under snow
  • Potsdam - multiple times, including spending a night there and visiting the Biospäre
  • Dresden - a couple of times, including Christmas markets
  • Munich - Oktoberfest
  • Füssen
  • Essen (for work, more times than I care to think about)
  • Meinigen
  • Hamburg


Just looking at that list makes me feel exhausted. And now we have the chance to visit more.


Work
I have to thank my employer for sponsoring me, although it hasn't all been smooth sailing. There have been a few developments in this area which I do not want to write publicly on the blog, so please feel free to send me a message if you are interested in knowing what's up :) It's reasonably exciting!

And thus, more adventure awaits. The bucketlist is every growing (it never seems to get smaller, somehow!) and now that we have been given the opportunity to stay a little longer, we are going to grasp it firmly with both hands.

Til next time,
xx