I have been in Germany for almost two weeks now. Upon landing in Frankfurt I said good-bye to my parents and got on a train to Dresden. The owner of my apartment picked me up from the train station in Radeberg after a tricky transfer in Dresden with two huge, heavy bags. I felt bad for the poor old man who tried to be macho (or nice?) and carry one of my bags. He disappeared quite quickly once he got me up the stairs onto the platform!
I finally made it into Radeberg and to my first-ever very-own apartment. It is fabulous. A blue kitchen (how did they know I liked blue so much?), a small livingroom, and (the best part) winding stairs down to my bedroom. I have two toilet/shower cubbies that are tiny but functional and wonderful bay windows from floor to ceiling in the living and bed rooms.
After settling in in Radeberg, I ventured the trains with my trusty German Rail pass once more. This time to the Lake of Constance to my grandmother’s new assisted-living apartment. A trip that by car takes maybe six or so hours took over ten hours by train. I probably rode through most of Bavaria (which was new to me, and quite beautiful if a bit long). Arriving in Friedrichshafen I walked two blocks to Oma’s new home, right across the street from the Lake. It was really nice. We took walks along the waterfront and I went to the farmer’s market and bought my favorite bread in the world: Zellerbrot. It was delicious! Friedrichshafen, and the Lake in general, is a favorite vacation spot for Germans. Hotels are pricy, especially in summer, and we joked that I had a free “Lakeside Room” at Oma’s.
Friedrichshafen is beautiful: Switzerland and Austria are on the opposite shore, and on clear days you can see the Sentis, a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Ferries travel across the lake every hour, and you can take paddle boats onto the Lake as well. The coolest thing is that Friedrichshafen is home of the Zeppelin. My late Opa was fascinated with it. Shortly before he became sick, he filmed the whole scene as they launched the first modern Zeppelin. I really enjoyed watching the Zeppelin last week as it took its periodic sightseeing trips over the Lake. While Opa never got a ride in one, it seems to me like each time I see it, he’s right along flying with it.
Next stop was Tübingen to my parent’s apartment. It’s very nice – newly renovated – and the city is as lively and young as it’s ever been. It was really nice to go back there. I only stayed there two nights before I hopped back on a train to come back to Radeberg. Nine hours later I made it. I have learned in the meantime that it is almost as fast to get between southwest Germany and Dresden with local trains as it is the fast ICE trains. Insane. But, on the plus side, once my rail pass is used up, it means I can still get down there relatively cheaply.
Tomorrow I am off to Hamburg! In about twenty-four hours I will be standing in the Stadt am Wasser again. I’m very excited to see my friends and be back in the beautiful city. I had gotten so used to missing Hamburg that I was pleasantly surprised at how excited I got when I finalized plans to return.
Next week is the orientation program and the week after I begin teaching at the Humboldt Gymnasium. I’ve talked with two teachers at the school and they both seemed very nice and excited that I will be there. Of course, I’m quite nervous, especially since most of my teaching experience has been at the elementary school level. But Fulbright picked me for a reason and, if nothing else, I trust them that they know I can handle it!