September 7th, 2007


Der Erster Tag, or 'Marmite on the S-Bahn'

Guten Morgen from Germany!

Well, we're at the hostel, and we do have Internet, albeit it not in our rooms. However, this hostel appears to be part of a series of hostels for worldwise globetrotters, and apart from having English everywhere interlaced with adverts for other hostels in London and Romania and so on, it has 24-hour free internet access in its 24-hour reception/bar area. Thus, even though it's 1:43AM in Germany right now, I'm sitting at this terminal, under a lit map of Europe, with people all around me discussing things (in both German and American), most with a bottle of Bier. I may get myself a coffee, depending. It is smokey, however: the smoking ban in England is only really apparent when you're somewhere else.

Today has been a day of ups and downs, and I'm not talking about the flight! Despite somehow managing to squeeze through the baggage weight restrictions, I only know of one thing I've forgotten, and it's the first thing I put aside for packing too: my plug adaptor. All my chargers won't do me much good then. I'll get some adaptors tommorrow, but for now, I'm using the ones Holly bought at the airport.

This morning was a bit of a blur. I felt exhausted, and still a little queezy from last night, when a salad's 'spicy sauce' turned out to contain egg, which is a big no-no for me. I did a lot of packing, bade my mother goodbye (she's also in Germany, but at the other side, for my Great Uncle's funeral). Still, we managed to get ready in time...

Both of us didn't realise that laptops go through security seperately from their cases. That was about the only hiccup airport-wise though. East Midlands Airport does seem to have too many shops and restuarants for its size, but nevertheless it was odd flying from there. I keep forgetting an airport for Nottingham exists, let alone flies to Germany. The flight went by quickly, with cappuccino, liquorice, and making Poffins together on Pokémon somewhere over the Netherlands. Nordrhein-Westfalen is pretty at night from the air, and Köln-Bonn Flughafen is archetecturally very impressive.

Things did go a little wrong when we reached Köln Hauptbahnhof. My laptop case, which can contain so much, but whose strap is so weak, finally gave in, and the strap came undone as I was alighting from the S-Bahn train. English pennies, rechargable batteries and a few other things went all over the place. Scrabbling to pick them up, but aware that the train wouldn't wait at the platform forever, I had a brief panic-attack. In the end, I lost about 40p and a sachet of Marmite, which I'd taken from an airport café, and which Holly stepped on accidentaly when leaving the train. A taste of England is now firmly embedded on one representative of Germany's urban transport network.

Sadly, our German failed at the first hurdle: the hostel reception. This was to be expected, though, as on the one hand, this place feels more International than German (even if this is a German keyboard with keys in odd places), and on the other, we'd just arrived after dragging a lot of luggage from the Airport and were both out of breath and desperate for a lie-down and a drink.

Tommorrow, then, we shall begin our conquests of the German language. Exploring Köln would be a good idea (even though I've been here once before, on a school day-trip, where I was assigned to one group because none of my friends were going, and said group, which I had to stay with, spent the 3 or 4 hours allocated to explore the city, in a sports shop. That was hell). However, depending on how things go, we may actually go on a day-trip somewhere. I won't say where yet. We may just transpire to sleep in tommorrow, as we've not exactly been relaxed as of late.

Incidentally, R.I.P Pavarotti. Just as I'm no longer in easy reach of Newsnight doesn't mean I'm going to miss out on world affairs.

So, all in all, not a bad start to the Year Abroad. I don' think it has really sunk in yet that it IS the start of the Year Abroad, and not just a holiday...

Thankyou too to all those who left comments to that last entry. They are truly appreciated!
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