December 2, 2013: I Lost my Heart in Heidelberg… or Something like that

The above is actually a song lyric that was continuously referenced during my trip to Heidelberg. But before I get to that, I suppose I should talk about Thanksgiving since it came first chronologically speaking.

 

As far as the preparations for my early Wednesday Thanksgiving celebration go, they went relatively smoothly. Tuesday evening I skipped my class and went with my friend Ela to Kaufland to get supplies. It was pretty intense, I must say, because both of us were hungry and a bit frustrated. Kudos to her for putting up with my grumpy ass self. We found everything we needed, save the ever so important corn syrup for the pecan pie. That’s when I decided to just make peach cobbler and call it an evening. After spending about an hour and a half in the grocery store and eating a quick dinner, we headed over to Arielle’s dorm (which by far has the best kitchen between the three of us) and got started with the pre-cooking. We really didn’t get to make much since the most important thing to cook (the pecan pie) didn’t look like it was going to happen. So we cooked the cream corn, green bean casserole, and the cornbread for the dressing. It did not take that long at all so we ended up finishing in time for me to head over to juggling.

 

The next day was pretty busy. I went to my first class and then after that I actually found a way to make pecan pie without corn syrup, so I made my way back to the store to get the ingredients as well as another casserole dish. Then it was four hours in the kitchen making: turkey, dressing, cornbread, Brussel sprouts, peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, fried okra, peach cobbler, pecan pie, and finishing off the green bean casserole and cream corn. It was pretty intense and I was pretty stressed out. We ended up using two ovens, the one in Arielle’s kitchen and the one in Ela’s dorm, which isn’t that far but I definitely got tired of running back and forth between the two to check the turkey. I’m really glad that everyone was there to help me, otherwise there is no way I could have gotten everything done. Along with what I made we also had cranberry sauce and some bread. Other people brought some things as well, which I might post the recipes in the recipe section if I can translate them (of course via google translate). There was a lemon meringue pie with a raspberry layer in the middle, Marko’s famous chocolate balls (rum balls without the rum essentially), and caramel shortcake. There was also plenty of wine to go around. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and the company and of course, everyone ate way too much. I also had them participate in the Thanksgiving tradition of everyone saying something they are thankful for. I think most of them felt a bit awkward about it, but if we are going to celebrate an American holiday, we are going to do it right I suppose.

 

After we ate and cleaned up we went downstairs to the Hofmann bar and hung out/ danced for a bit. I think I finally ended up getting home and going to bed around 2 AM. I managed to somehow make my 8:15 class that next morning and not fall asleep. Although there was a brief two to three second period where I was riding my bike and closed my eyes and started to kind of drift off to sleep. That was a pretty weird moment for me. So naturally I decided to take a nap in between my classes. This. Never. Works. Out. Ever. I set an alarm but I guess I turned it off and went back to sleep, or it just sort of gave up on life because I am a very heavy sleeper. Anyway, I didn’t wake up until a friend texted me to ask if I was going to class. My class was at 1:15. It was 1:12. Nope. Then I laid in bed for a bit longer and decided to watch Anchorman, which was a pretty okay movie as far as Will Ferrell movies go. I could do without most of Will Ferrell’s scenes, actually. I really like Brick though. “I love lamp.” And that is pretty much my Thursday. I still have yet to venture down to the HaWo bar to pick up my dignity which I left down there a couple weeks back. But in all honestly, I might never get that back, heh.

 

So Friday was a pretty tiring day. I didn’t actually DO much, but I did go with my program to Heidelberg. I ended up riding with one of the ladies who is part of the program (and she takes care of the Erlangen students, so that’s nice). Everything was going pretty smoothly up until about 30 minutes out from the city. There was a traffic jam. Of course. How could one ever hope to drive somewhere kind of far in Germany without encountering the ever-so frequent Stau (traffic jam). Sitting in traffic for about 30-45 minutes really wore me down, and by the time we made it to the hostel, I was pretty wiped. I was pretty lucky on the hostel part though. I only had three other roommates and they were pretty cool people. Two of the three had previously studied in Alabama (the were the German exchange students), one at Troy and the other at the University of Alabama (my current university), but she was there a couple years before me (2011 or the year of the death tornadoes to be more precise.) The other went to Florida and had decided to stay to finish her Masters. Essentially all we did was wait for dinner, eat at an Italian restaurant (which was really delicious!), and then go to a Kneipe (kind of bar) and talk/drink. Although I only drank sparkling water. I’m still not over the Absinthe debacle.

 

Saturday was pretty fun though. We woke up pretty early and then went on a tour of the city, which mainly focused on the castle. Much of the castle is actually in ruins, but interestingly enough, not because of WWII. The tour was in German so I didn’t catch all of the details, but one of the big reasons is because the French took over the castle and accidentally lit a bunch of explosives stored in one of the towers. What we did see of the castle though, despite most of it being destroyed, was pretty cool. It was baroque, which means everything was pretty ornate. Also many of the writers during the Romantic period drew inspiration from the castle, particularly the eastern side, and so there are several drawings of it. There is also a Philosopher’s path, which I could have taken, but it was cold and rainy and I was feeling quite lazy, so during my free time I shopped around for a bit and then had some coffee and cake with some friends from UA.

 

The really awesome part of the trip came later when we all went to the Christmas market that night. Just to let you know, Christmas markets here embody everything that Christmas should be. No crowded malls. No massive crowds of people scrambling over one another to get cheap deals. No death and destruction laying in the wake of everything. Basically, it is a bunch of little shops/booths set up outside selling anything from toys, to clothing accessories, to Christmas decorations, to tasty treats (my favorite being the caramelized almonds). There are Christmas decorations and lights everywhere and you can smell the pine and cedar even before you arrive. People are walking around with friends and family browsing the shops’ wares and drinking Glühwein. I ended up just sort of walking around in wonder for awhile, even after we tried to go to a bar, I ended up going back until the market closed just to hang on to that Christmas feeling just an hour or so longer.

 

I won’t bore you with the details from most of my day Sunday. The Americans of the group just sort of talked about our experiences so far in Germany and then we ate lunch and headed back. At this point I want to pause and talk about something I’ve mentioned before and it came up again when I was talking to one of my UA friends this weekend. That would be the European view of America, moreover, the stereotypes. Now she has apparently had a much worse time about it than I have, but she brought up an interesting point which I guess kind of explains my past reactions to people dissing the U.S. It’s the fact that they don’t even seem to acknowledge the fact that you are from there that is kind of upsetting. There is not even the typical, no offense, but… They just say, in her case, “I hate the American accent” and then do not even consider the fact that they are talking about a major part of someone’s identity. No, I am still not very pro-American by any means, but it would be nice if people thought, “hey, I am talking kind of bad about someone’s identity, maybe I should take their feelings into consideration and acknowledge it.”

 

Which I guess that kind of leads into my Sunday evening? Not really, but a bit since someone did bring up America again. Heh, sometimes I wish I was from a country that no one really knew about. Anyway, once I got in I ended up meeting a friend at a cafe and having some coffee (due to my lack of sleep over the weekend, I was quite tired and had a caffeine headache to boot). It was nice and relaxing. Then a rather large English speaking group of us (three Americans and four and a half UK-ers) went to the Christmas market in Nürnberg. Fun story about how I am completely oblivious to most things. So we got on the train and we were sitting in seats that faced each other (four with two on each side) and there was already a guy sitting in one of the seats. So we all sat down and one of my friends sat on something. I didn’t think much of it and we went about our train ride. Well, because said friend hadn’t shaved in awhile, we started talking about his patchy beard. I offhandedly brought up how he didn’t quite look like a pedophile and we all joked about it for a bit. Then after we got off the train everyone started laughing and that’s when I realized, I was calling my friend a pedophile in front of a police officer. The same police officer who owned the gun my friend accidentally sat on. I really need to pay attention to my surroundings… On the way from the train station to the market, I swear we past by a little area that looked exactly as I picture Diagon Alley would look. Looking back we really should have stopped there. It looked quite magical indeed with the little booths all lining the cobblestone paths lit by the tiny Christmas lights. It probably had a slightly better atmosphere than the actual market, to be honest. Not that the larger one was bad, it just wasn’t Diagon Alley.

 

Anyway, the market in Nürnberg was much bigger than in Heidelberg, but condensed into the square in the historic downtown area. There was much of the same kind of wares being sold: glass ornaments, paper stars with lights in them, wooden figurines, homemade candles, wooden toys/puzzles, sweets, and alcohol. There was also a nice little chorus which sang in front of the church and they had little speakers around the market so that you could hear them while walking around. When they were first warming up, I don’t know what they were singing, but it was really depressing. Something about being a family from World War III and give it another shot… I thought they were about to whip out Aimee Mann’s I was Thinking I could Clean Up for Christmas, which is a good song, but quite depressing. So we walked around until about 9 when everyone started to close up shop and then we made our way back home.

 

As for Monday I ended up meeting a friend in the park to hoop/juggle. I think I look like a victim of domestic violence, to be honest. My arms right now have about 8 or 9 bruises from all of the elbow hooping I’ve been working on. Then I came back and had a chocolate croissant and rested up a bit before going to my belly dancing class. It was a pretty relaxing day. I’ve also started reading the Road, which I’ve heard is pretty depressing so I have a couple of lighter books to read afterward. I’m pretty pumped that amazon had these kindle books on sale yesterday, so I only spent around $6 to get three pretty awesome books. Can’t say I’m not pumped. I have missed reading for fun!

So I plan on posting some pictures when the guy who let me use his camera sends them to me.  So special thanks to Theo for trusting me enough with his camera to let me use it all day!

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