We stepped off the plane and breathed in our first taste of Germany’s cool, clean air. What a change from Bangkok!
The flight over was 11 hours of movies and reading. Surprisingly bearable and quite decent food too. The only moment of interest was when the captain asked if there was a doctor or nurse aboard and everyone peeked over their seats like a bunch of prairie dogs.
We found a bus from the airport into town and then a short cab ride from the centre of town was our hostel, the Smart Stay. We immediately warmed to the place as the foyer contains a bar and a pool table and had a lively atmosphere.
We’re sharing a 6 person dorm with two young Americans, Maggie and Daniel, who we got along with straight away. We’ve already swapped FB details and they offered to be our tour guides in Budapest, where they are studying. Staying in a hostel is already paying off in terms of social interaction, which is what we’d hoped for.
This morning we put on a load of washing (there are drawbacks to not being in Asia – this is the first time we’ve had to use a washing machine ourselves), gone out for quite wonderful croissants with ham and cheese, and then walked the 20 minutes or so to the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station to meet a tour group. Now, I told myself I’d write about something other than food for at least the majority of my posts but… the food! I know it was just a train station food court but we both got excited. I’d almost forgotten about the bread and pastries and especially the pretzels in Germany- I think I ate one every day the last time I was here. And the fruit! No one I know would associate Germany with excellent fruit, but I was extremely impressed with the cherries many years ago and right now strawberries and raspberries are for sale everywhere and for a fraction of the price they are at home. One Euro for a punnet of raspberries! It is possible that I bought three and didn’t share them with Luke.
As our first activity in the city we joined a free walking tour and proceeded around the city with our very entertaining guide, Liz. The tour company was ‘Sandeman’s’ and they just ask that you tip the guide whatever you think the tour was worth at the end.
The tour was great. Lots of information, humour and opportunities to ask questions. We also discovered that pretty much everything except the beer gardens and the art galleries are closed on Sundays, so that pretty much outlined our plans for tomorrow.
As soon as the tour finished we tipped Liz then dashed off to buy some clothes, since I had only one set of winter clothes and I was wearing them. First stop was H&M, an English chain that is cheap and generally pretty good. Unfortunately it was full of people and summer clothes. There were mega sales on, which was great, but I got elbowed several times and waited ages for the registers.
Next stop was a posh department store where we found gloves, socks and the biggest array of fabulous leggings and tights I’ve seen anywhere. I have a deep love for brightly coloured wooly tights, especially stripey ones but they’re pretty much impossible to find in Australia. I spent nearly 100 euros on tights… but totally worth it, despite Luke shaking his head the whole while.
I had heard that German people wear their traditional dress (dirndls and lederhosen) casually – like, to the beer gardens on a Sunday sort of thing. In the department store was a big section of German costumes! If I’d been with someone who encouraged me to spend money there’d be a beer wench costume winging its way back to Australia via post this moment. As it was, I just took some photos. Suffice to say, I love costumes and if there was ever a costume suited to my long hair and generous proportions it’s the Bavarian one. Ah well, next time!
Click here if you’d like to see a website where the current trends in lederhosen and dirndls are discussed (pictures also). I just can’t help loving this place.