I am currently sitting (on the floor, next time I am definitely paying the 2.50 Euros for a seat reservation!) on a train to Köln to see Jana and go to the teaching course, and because I gave up searching for a seat at Aschaffenburg, I thought now would be the perfect time to write about my first week in Bayern. So this dispatch comes to you direct from my ad hoc office on the floor of an inter-city-express train…
So far I can legitimately say that Bavaria, and Regensburg in particular, is a wonderland. A magical place of blue skies, bicycle rides, beauty, some of the most sweet and generous people I know. I have spent the past week staying at Rudi and Christl’s house just outside the city, and it is both peaceful and picturesque in every way. They have an apple tree on which three different varieties of apple grow, appropriate for a fairytale; they bicycle everywhere; and their family is so full of happiness and laughter. Konsi left for his year abroad in Reading on Thursday at midnight so now just Andi and I are left. We have been playing numerous rounds of the German board game Siedler and fixing up the bicycle Christl has lent me for the year (it’s blue and thirty years old and all I could wish for in a bicycle) in between his studying for finals and my errands.
The beginning of the week was spent completing administrative task: registering as a citizen, opening a bank account, etc. etc. It all went rather smoothly besides my mishap at the Einwohnermeldeamt. The woman at the front desk told me to take a number ticket and wait until it was called, then I would go into the registration office, hand over my passport and that would be that. She forgot, however, to tell me to fill in a form whilst I was waiting (though I suppose it was partly my fault for not realising too.) Of course, when I waltzed into the office with an earnest smile and no form, I was met with the angry glares of two officials and a lecture about wasting their time. I was told to go back to the waiting room, take another number and finish filling in the form. Which I did. When I walked in the next time, assigned a different desk with a different official, I handed over my form with a sigh of relief. However, upon examining my photograph, he told me he could not use it because the corner was slightly bent. With a certain amount of glee, I retrieved another from my purse and gave it to him. Determined to make me wait again, he refused it and told me to go outside and take a new picture and yet another number! Naturally, being unacquainted with German brusqueness, I took all these disapproving lectures rather to heart and may have started to cry over my third number slip in the waiting room… I shall have to grow a thicker skin! Anyway, eventually everything was organised and my life as a citizen of Regensburg was officially rubberstamped by the city authorities.
Besides running such errands, we have been enjoying the lovely weather (cloudless skies which do not begin and end, a constant twenty-six degrees) and bicycling around town, cooking and eating regional specialities (Apfeldachi, Rote Grütze, fish from the floor of Lake Konstanz – all delicious) and driving around the Upper Palatinate area to collect smoked ham for Christl (hilariously, Rudi – on a new nutritional plan – told me that he does not like thin women and needs to fatten the newly slimmer Christl up, so he has been buying her cakes here, there and everywhere, and driving us eight miles out of our way to buy special meat delicacies to achieve this!) Everywhere is so beautiful as to be hardly believable, city, suburb and countryside alike. Two nights ago we went to Regenstauf (at first I had no idea where we were going, or why, which is a funny side effect of not speaking Bayerisch yet) on the banks of the River Regen to eat Eis and drink coffee, and make friends with a lovely soot-coloured puppy with a fondness for strawberry ice cream. It was really gorgeous there too.
My apartment is also lovely! I feel so lucky. It is on an island in the middle of the Danube but only ten minutes walk from the Altstadt and I feel it might be the most perfect place ever to exist on Earth. My street is quiet, but near a fairly busy and very nice parade of Konditoreien and vegetable shops, and the area is a wonderful mix of woodsy and urban. My apartment is on the ground floor with huge windows and a sweet little terrace! So far I have met two people who also live or work in the building – one an arrogant and grumpy restaurant owner (not to be judgemental or anything…) and the other a man in his mid twenties who seemed nice enough but who now thinks I am called Melanie, because Christl introduced me as my mother! On Friday Andi and Rudi helped to move all of Konsi’s furniture in (thank you Konstantin!) and it still looks airy and spacious, about which I am rather happy. I think I will like living there. Also included…trips to the farmer’s market by the Danube, cycle rides downtown, lots of meals including pumpkin, visits to one of my schools, a visit from Gerd to Rudi’s utter DISMAY, and plans to visit Rudi and Christl’s family in Landshut and to bake pies together throughout the winter. Bavaria, ich liebe dich schon!
I hope you’re all well!
P.s. At Frankfurt am Main (very impressive!) and I have finally acquired a seat…thank goodness!