Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Continuing with the catching up, I now present the chronicles of my absolutely fantastic trip to Freiburg to visit Halley, back during the first week of April break (the 9th through the 14th).

I arrived in Freiburg in the early afternoon, after a 7-hour train ride (the horribly ironic thing about all of this is that the TGV, or Trains à Grande Vitesse (really fast trains) are starting to run to eastern Europe in June, a few months too late for me - it will only take 2 1/2 hours then. Grrr.) in which I passed through Switzerland for about 3 minutes to change trains. I love the European Union - by the end of the week, I had crossed borders between France, Switzerland and Germany 6 times, and I never had to show any sort of papers whatsoever. Anyway, the lovely and talented Halley met me at the train station and took me back to her apartment in the student village outside town, where I met her awesome housemates (the American ones, at least - she claims to have German ones as well, but I never saw them) and gossiped about Tufts people for a while. Then we went out to dinner and I had spätzle, which as far as I'm concerned is enough reason to move to Germany. It's delicious oddly-shaped noodles (made by pushing the dough through a strainer of some sort) with buttery sauce and mushrooms and bacon and onions. I also tried to drink my first beer-containing drink:
I couldn't even go for a pure beer, I had to get this half-beer, half-Sprite concoction that would have tasted delicious except for that horrible sour aftertaste. I couldn't even finish the whole thing, diluted as it was, because I am a wimp. Not entirely my fault, though. Ask my parents about their drinking habits sometime and you'll see that genetics had it in for my alcohol tolerance from the beginning.

On Tuesday, my wonderful host had classes all day, so I was on my own with only a guidebook and a German phrasebook to help me. I headed into the city on the lovely tram system to explore the Bächle, which are small streams running through the old part of the city, between the sidewalk and the roadway. They're not covered or guard-railed or anything, leading to the legend that if you fall into one you are sure to marry a Freiburger. I escaped this fate, which is a good thing because I speak not a word of German and Lord knows that could cause some awkwardness in a marriage. I did see a guy get one leg drenched to the knee, but he just went on about his business. Anyway, the Bächle are gorgeous, as are the sidewalks:
See all those itty-bitty teeny-weeny stones? All of the sidewalks in the old pedestrian section of Freiburg are like that. [Insert joke about German precision and patience here.] But it makes for some beautiful streets, especially when you see the emblems mosaicked (haha new word!) into the sidewalks to indicate the type of business found there:
(Sorry that you have to tilt your head, but if I rotate the picture the perspective gets all screwed up and that messes with your head even more.) I never really got over the sidewalks, and had to ooh and ahh over every new emblem I discovered.

Then I found the cathedral, or Münster. Unfortunately, the lattice spire was covered with scaffolding, so I bought postcards of that. Here's a photo of the rest of it, though:
Purty, huh? Inside are stained-glass windows depicting normal churchy stuff, but at the bottom there are symbols of the tradespeople who funded the window: pretzels, shoes, etc., which are amusing. I climbed up into the spire as far as I could, and saw the bells, which had weird symbols on them:

And the city, with its market in the Münsterplatz:

Then I met Halley for kebaps, a transplanted regional specialty. They were delicious, and made more so by the large bottle of apfelschorle in my other hand. Apfelschorle is a slightly fizzy apple cider that I think I might like more than Orangina... It's not too sweet, but very refreshing. We ate by the river with another friend from Halley's program, Adam, then had a lovely nap in the sun.

On Wednesday, I decided to take advantage of the fact that things are much, much cheaper in Freiburg than they are in Paris to buy some clothes. H & M came through, providing me with a cute green and black striped T-shirt (which I then saw a girl on the Paris métro wearing not a week later... le sigh.), a black knit skirt, and a gauzy black empire-waist tank top. I also got a navy blue shirt with white polka dots and an open back. Don't know how all this is going to fit back into my suitcases, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Halley and I also got bratwurst at the Münsterplatz market. It was awesome to wander through the rows of vendors selling wooden toys, honey, dried fruit (I bought candied kumquats, which have got to be the best idea ever), raw meat, and pretzels. Halley ordered my bratwurst for me (yay for friends who speak the language of the country you're in!) and we perched on a railing to enjoy:
It was delicious.

Halley made chicken paprikash for dinner, so I got to meet more of her friends, who are awesome. As was the dinner. No pictures of that, as it got eaten too quickly.

On either Wednesday or Thursday morning (I forget which) I got to sing with Halley and Adam, which was great. Adam even played Hallelujah (the one by Leonard Cohen, not Handel), so that made my day.

On Thursday, Halley had class again, and I couldn't convince her to skip it, so I went hiking up to the Schlossbergturm, a gigantic tower perched on a hill near town. It was gorgeous, though hot, and the tower itself was almost as pretty as the view:

For dinner, I bought a packet of tomato soup and a 30-centime loaf of garlic bread, meaning that my delicious dinner cost approximately €1,10, or $1.50. The soup was good, too - you only add water, but it got all creamy and yummy. And I managed to figure out the German instructions, too. I took some soup packets back to France with me, too, for more cheap dinners. (Sorry for all the emphasis on cheapness - it was quite a shock for me, after living with Paris prices for so long. I knew I should have taken German...)

On Friday, Halley's program was going on a field trip to France, to see a fort built for WWI near Strasbourg, then a little fortified village called Neuf-Brisach. They allowed me to come along, so I had the privilege of being shown around an underground fort for 2 hours, where it was very very cold, instead of sitting outside in the sun... The tour was interesting, but it's awfully hard to concentrate when your teeth are chattering. We then had to forage in a supermarket for lunch, where Halley and I made out the best. Everybody was looking longingly at our Black Forest ham from the deli and baguettes and cookies and gourmet yogurt, the ill-gotten gains of a French speaker who knows which French brands to buy. We did share, though.

Then it was back to Freiburg for grocery shopping for Adam's birthday party that night. We - well, okay, Halley - made pizza, then everybody came over with copious amounts of (completely legal - we're all over 18!) alcohol. Natalie (another of Halley's housemates) and I bought some Bailey's, then added it to tiramisu tea and put whipped cream on top. That may have been the best drink I've ever had in my life. After lots of singing along to the little iPod speakers and people forcing me to drink more (story of my life) we headed into the city to go to a club. After some slightly nerve-wracking moments for the 2 people who'd forgotten their IDs, we all got in and danced the night away. Lots of American music, but there was some German stuff as well, which cracked me up. Then we walked home (no more trams at 2 in the morning...) and fell into bed.

Saturday was quite low-key, for obvious reasons. We cleaned up the kitchen, then headed out to eat ice cream and walk along the river. It was a lovely, sunny day, there were children playing among the rocks in the river, and I had ice cream. Life does not get any better than that. I seriously considered dropping out of the Tufts program and staying in Freiburg, but that would probably have caused a great deal of trouble, so I got back on the train like a good little girl. Germany was amazing, and it was nice to not be held to the fashion standards of Parisian streets for a few days, but I never thought I could miss French that much. It is incredibly fatiguing to not be able to understand anything you read or hear. It was a relief to cross back into France and understand billboards again.

Halley, thanks again for hosting me, and for putting up with my conversation topics for a whole week... Deep down, though, you know you like it.

1 comment:

  1. we all loved having you here!! It was great to show you around freiburg and share my friends so that I have someone to talk about how wonderful they are with.

    Enjoy the rest of your program!