A Travellerspoint blog

Deutschland "Monsoon Season"

all seasons in one day 80 °F

Ugh....it's another warm day. I can feel it the moment I walk out of my building. I didn't grow up in a humid environment with the promise of thunder storms on the horizon, but in a few months I have learned to feel in on my skin. I look up at the skies and all I see is blue, but the day is still young and the potential of rainfall is still in the air. As I walk through the city center, I hug the edges of buildings, hoping for momentary bursts of cool air as I pass by the few department stores that believe in air conditioning. And then the cool welcome of the language center--it's enough to entice me to lounge in the breakroom for the afternoon even though my classes are canceled for the day. ugh... I guess it's time to finish my list.

After running a few errands, I shoulder my grocery sacks and step out into the heat, but this time it is so thick and heavy I am taken aback. The sky above is blue but in the distance grows dark as layer upon layer of cloud passes over each other. Hmm...I will be lucky if I make it home dry. After weaving through people on the main shopping drag of Kaiserstrasse and avoiding the trams that travel through the middle of town, I cut across Erbprinzenstrasse, one of the best shortcuts home. Almost to the mall, just a few more steps and then I can wait out the impending storm. But a few leaves begin to blow off the trees and I look up to see the sky ready to drop as if an action movie frozen mid-scene. Giant glass orbs hang in the sky, so clear that they maintain form until they crash against the cobblestone. Time to run! A few people around me and I jet for the mall entrance just in time as a sheet of rain follows us. It was the most interesting sound from inside, to actually be in a 3-story mall and be able to hear the rain splashing against the glass dome above us. I slowed my normal "city" walking pace, looking up at the dome as I passed through the mall. On the other side, people were waiting out the storm, which had now decreased to a little more than a sprinkle. The flashing green pedestrian light kept mocking me out into the rain, so I decided to step out and continue on my journey home, warned once by a lightning bolt in the distance. By the time I reached my front door I found myself once again to be soaked by sweat and not rain. Ugh...this humidity!

Another Monday and another full-circle of weather in this "monsoon season" in Germany.

Posted by globestrol 07:06 Comments (1)

Everyday Life

P.S. don't forget that I have additional pictures in my gallery, the ones here are just a sampling! P.P.S. don't forget as well to subscribe to my blog, then you will get a fun email every time I update it!

So I have almost lived in Germany for two months now and I cannot believe it! The whole experience has been thus far quite surreal and hard to wrap my head around. The initial factor is that I'm once again living in Germany, which isn't completely new--I know how to open a bank account, go grocery shopping, speak some of the language--but this time I'm not a student, not with a program and beginning a new job. All very new!

Then there's the confusing factor of having people from home here. The first month, as some of you already know, my good friend Kristy was here. We had once been roommates in Chico and found ourselves as roommates again here in Karlsruhe. SO there was once again this element of familiarity, but in this foreign land. And again, Anthony arrived last week. WE are familiar with each other, we experience life together daily...in Chico. And it becomes surreal when I understand this daily life in Germany and daily life with Anthony and friends in Chico, but when you put the two together it's mind boggling! Right now we usually have to pinch each other to believe it's really happening!

But this last week we have done the fun every day things like going grocery shopping and laundry while going on adventures as well to neighboring towns, swim parks and trying new foods.

Teaching is becoming more and more comfortable, but I still spend all too much time preparing lessons and there's still a night or tow when I cannot sleep because lesson plans are running through my head! The students have been great through, and the days overall quite flexible. Some days I will have one two-hour class or a full day with only a lunch break. I've had level 7 private students to level 1 groups and all have been fun and challenging in different ways. Most of my students are between 20-50 yrs. old and are here for different reasons. But next month we move to a new, bigger location, which means we may be teaching children as well! Yay! But then, again, I try to help the adults find their inner-child as well! I even had a group learning body parts by acting out "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" the other day! IT has also been a fun way to learn about the city and Germany by having them use their vocabulary to plan trips, recommend restaurants and in turn, I take notes and try them out!

Posted by globestrol 15:42 Archived in Germany Tagged educational Comments (0)

Pilgrimmage to Vodelee Part II

View a beginning stint in Ireland on globestrol's travel map.

Today we woke up to fresh sweets from the bakery and the hospitality. Aftger a fire that occured one year ago, Valerie and Anne are working with their contractor to rebuild their home. As a result, we dragged the one present table onto the back patio for a relaxing breakfast in the sun. We ate large pieces of break with different types of soft cheeses and salami as well as sweet breads filled with apples. All while watching their two children, Rafael and Lola (3 and 5 yrs. old) play in the backyard. Valerie explained to us that they have been raised in the city so when they get out to the village, they are very excited to play in the dirt!
After breakfast, we pack up and head off to Vodelee where most of the history has taken place. Ten minutes through the windy, green countryside we arrive in Vodelee at Anna and Fredy's house (Valerie's aunt and uncle). Here they greet us with warm smiles and tell us what they have in-store for today (well they tell Valerie in French and she translates all of it for us :)
So, all geared up for a hike, we head into the woods on the very same trail that Valerie's grandparent's used every day to bring food to Kristy's grandfather, Douglas, and the three other men who were in the cave with him. In order to keep from creating a trail, they had to go a different way each time.

The trail started out mellow, winding through the woods and over a creek, then it abruptly shot uphill, where you are looking for trees to hold onto for support. The cave itself is not high enough to stand-up in and originally was not big enough for three men, but Valerie's grandfather chiseled away at it to make room. The opening is also much more accessible than before.

It used to be quite small and when the three men went inside, they would cover it with rocks so no one knew it existed. The men spent a total of about five months hiding in the cave, but at times when it was not too dangerous, the would creep down to a nearby water source--where we actually drank water out of today--or go play cards in the backroom of a nearby mill.
And at times they were also moved to the mill if too many Germans were patrolling the woods. After visiting and taking pictures of the cave, we walked down around to the mill which is now a beautiful home and inn. It was still hard to get over imagining living in the cave for five months, I barely do well camping for a few days!

We made a full circle on our hike back to the water source where Valerie's brother, Robert, was starting a BBQ. Robert is very interested with everything to do with WWII that occurred in that region and actually owns a Jeep that was originally registered in 1942! We all sat down to a long at a long table, nicely set with dishes and wine glasses--no paper plates and red cups here! WE enjoyed great barbecued meats, tomatoes, cucumber salad, potatoes, other salads and wine and champagne.
At this point, feeling a little fuzzy from the heat, hiking, lots of food and wine, I went down with the kids to wash off the plates in the spring while Kristy took pictures of us splashing around. And after the kids though it was really funny to splash Kristy with water. She ended up soaked but with the heat, she said it felt great. Kristy you're too kind.
Kristy in turn got a nice air dry when kids and all piled into the army jeep and Robert gave us a "Mr. Toad's wild ride" tour of the Vodelee area and surroundings. Kristy and I sat on the edges acting as guardians against rogue branches as we flew through the woods. No worries family and friends, he seemed to be quite and expert at this and we all came out unscathed!
After a long, long day and many tired children, we all headed back to our respective homes. I ended up taking a nice long nap, because apparently there are village tent parties and we would be attending one tonight.

So village tent parties pretty much sums up the experience--a giant white tent in the middle of a village, one dj, lots of bad techno music and cocktails. Apparently each month there is one of these parties in a differently village, so if one really wanted to, he or she could go village hopping to find "the latest disco scene"

Oh so tired by the end of the night I was happy to see the bed in our guest house, but reluctant to leave it the next morning.

The next morning held in store another day of being celebrities of the village with an entourage of three cars as we drove from Vodelee to Saint Gerard, another nearby village, which was were Douglas' plane crashed. Here we were greeted by a man who also spends quite a bit of time researching the history of WWII in Belgium. We drank some more champagne and were shown a model plane he built that looked like the one that crashed in the nearby field. We were also shown documents of the crash, pictures and then shown out to the field where many small pieces and bullets had been found from multiple crashes that occurred here.

Unfortunately or time began to quickly run out and we needed to head back to Karlsruhe. So we tearfully said our goodbyes to the family and couldn't thank them enough for all they did. And soon after began the drive, which fortunately this time only took five hours!

aur voir!

Posted by globestrol 14:45 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

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