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Happy Birthday, Jason!

yes, there was beer. And wurst, but it was "kochwurst."

rain -1 °C

Hello from Kiel! We are staying with my friend Sandra in her apartment near the university where she is doing her PhD. She's doing research on cow nutrition and has to work there every day, but she is a lovely host and welcomed us with open arms and some traditional German Christmas food her mother had cooked and left for her when we arrived last night (goose, red cabbage and potato dumplings). We went to Dresden after Berlin, and then took the train back through Berlin and Hamburg to get to Kiel. We'll visit Hamburg again at the end of the week, then go to Köln to meet up with Jason's friend Nick, and then fly home from Frankfurt.

Dresden seemed like it would be a really nice place to live. The old city, almost all rebuilt after WWII, is really pretty. They did a fantastic job recreating the Frauenkirche. It was raining and cold when we arrived, and we weren't too excited about wandering around sightseeing, but we went into the Frauenkirche (which basically translates to "Church of the Lady") and walked downstairs into the crypt, and were very impressed. Apparently after the church was rebuilt (all with donations from the community), so many people visited it that they had to install a big air conditioner downstairs to deal with the humidity. Anyway, they did a really good job and it's a very nice church. If we had really been looking for something to do we could even have gone to a church service there in English - certain days of the week they have an English service at 6pm. However, not being churchgoers normally, we decided to hang out in our hostel and play board games. They had a few in the lounge, but unfortunately all the instructions were in German. Luckily I knew how to play Labyrinth, so we had a couple of rounds and then watched some German TV. We ended up watching some German TV special about Nova Scotia! It seems that Germans are very interested in "Kanada."

Across the bridge from Dresden's "old city" is, of course, the "new city." This side of town actually probably has more real old buildings than the old city, because it wasn't bombed as heavily during the war. The new city also has more cafes and bars and funky artsy things. There's a children's "farm" (more of a petting zoo/pony club, really) called "Panama" right in the middle of it, and a couple of Hundertwasser buildings (the "rain house" and the "sun house" - these were pretty cool). From the train station in the new city we took the S-bahn to thoe town of Bad Schandau, about 50km away, and hiked into Sächsische Schweiz (Saxony-Swiss) National Park. It was a chilly, misty sort of day so we only spent a couple of hours there, but it was well worth it for the amazing sandstone formations amongst pine trees and velvety green moss.

And that basically takes us up to the present, Jason's birthday. Sandra came home from work for a couple of hours to feed us a German breakfast around 10am today. Then she headed back to the university and we hung out and drank tea and watched the weather. It snowed for a few hours, but nothing stuck, and then it rained a cold, driving sort of rain that we just didn't want to go out in. We had some more tea. Sandra came home and had some tea with us. Eventually we headed out to a restaurant called "Forstbaumschulhe," which has been a Kiel institution since the 1930s. Sandra said it was a "schnapps birthday" for Jason, so we started with something called "korn" which she assured us was schnapps. Then beer and traditional Northern German November fare: huge mounds of "grünkohl" (kale or collards) chopped and cooked with onions and salt, with potatoes and either "kochwurst" (a kind of sausage), "kasseler" (basically a ham steak) or both. We could have had the full plate of kochwurst, kasseler and another kind of pork (the cheek) but we saw some locals getting that and it looked like way too much meat for any one person to deal with. Sandra and Jason had some regular kind of beer with the meal, but I tried something Sandra had mentioned to me in the past: a wheat beer mixed with banana juice. Sounds terrible, but it really was quite good. I doubt you can find that anywhere in Kanada...

Posted by arwyn 13:55 Archived in Germany

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