Hello avid readers (and presumably now mum as well, since we are – after months of intense cat and mouse friendship requesting – finally friends on Facebook). This is my second attempt today at writing this brand spanking new entry – the first of which took place in a well-known coffeehouse chain earlier this morning. Normally I would choose to go against the grain and blog at home in my Topman chinos, Barbour jacket and desert boots but in the case of this morning, I found myself a bit… lacking on the motivation front. And thus, in search of a wee bit of inspiration, it was on with the long johns and off to the high street for a coffee and some like-minded company. Upon arrival, I found myself a comfy chair and began to prepare myself for a solid afternoon’s graft. However, it wasn’t until about two hours in that I realised I had done sweet fanny adams in terms of work and instead spent the whole time giving my fellow Starbuckers befitting nicknames and waiting for my under-microwaved Breakfast Panini to thaw out. Back to my flat I went, without even a title. Nevertheless, after a relaxing day drinking diluting juice and listening to hip-hop I now feel ready for the challenge.
This past month has been a great month for me in terms of travelling. A couple of weekends ago I decided to take a flight up to Hamburg in order to see an old friend of mine, with whom I studied back in my Heriot-Watt days. In spite of the chilly Baltic winds this was actually one of my favourite weekends since arriving here in Germany. Hamburg itself is a fantastic city – huge but with a sort of village feel to it; unlike Berlin, where you have the potential to get very, very lost (especially when you are given false directions to the East Side Galleries by a stupid bald-headed car-dealing man). The highlights of this trip would have to be making pizza from scratch (finger lickin’ good) and a night out in the notorious Reeperbahn. The latter I will tell you about in more detail, as you know, everyone loves a good prostitute story (email me if you wanna know more about the pizza). For those of you who don’t know, the Reeperbahn is a famous party/red light district in Hamburg and is home to some of the countries coolest clubs. Staying true to it’s red light district persona, the area is also home to a number of brothels and consequently one is able to spot the odd hooker on occasion. The prostitutes, who were also feeling the cold, combated the bitter weather by wearing what I can only describe as the kind of outfit you would wear if you were an astronaut who was visiting another planet. A very sexy planet where pink ski jackets and Austin Power boots are encouraged. The side street Herbertstraße is where the infamous ‘window shopping’ takes place and is only accessible to men – the story goes that any woman or child trying to enter will receive a bucket of ice cold water to the face. Yeeesh. Our experience there was pretty intense as it was only our small group of 5 there at the time and so I couldn’t help but feel a little like a tasty antelope walking amongst a bunch of caged bikini-clad lions. One of the ladies even inquired as to whether or not she could ask me a question. Due to the fact she looked like she had clubbed a few baby seals in her time a light jog was needed to ensure safe passage.
In stark contrast to the sheer crazy of Hamburg, this month I also decided to take a spontaneous trip to Heidelberg. The beauty of this was that the bus was only 8 euro each way and thus quite the cheeky bargain. Meinfernbus have buses that go all over the country and offer some pretty sweet deals if you book in advance. They even sell Haribos as a sort of in-flight snack if anyone is interested in that sort of thing. I, however, opted for the mixed nuts with raisins. Heidelberg itself is a quaint little University town full of odd shops and dusty old pubs. Towering over the town is one bad-ass castle that would give Edinburgh Castle a run for its money. I spent my time here exploring the various streets and the castle. If done correctly, you can do this within a few hours and then spend 3-8 hours drinking. What it lacks in size, Heidelberg definitely makes up for in personality and I would definitely recommend a little trip there if you find the time.
This month also marks the first time that I have been on Spanish soil and holy crap was it worth it. In a desperate bid to break free of the land of the sausage a friend of mine and I booked a weekend in Barcelona, courtesy of Easyjet (flights were pretty cheap at just above the 100 Euro mark). For lack of a better phrase this place is frickin’ awesome! Paealla. Tapas. Sangria. Come to Jamie. Living in Continental Europe I have had to get used to the lack of fish here and so you can probably imagine my excitement when I found myself in a market which was basically just a big tent where lobsters come to wriggle about a bit and eventually die. A bit cruel, I know. But when you’ve been deprived of a good salmon fillet with a pesto and lemon dressing you realise that it’s good being at the top of the food chain and you really should reap its benefits. I spent the whole time drooling over the things while my mate fought back the tears and plotted ways to flood the place and let all the lobsters swim freely back to the Balearic. I even got to show the ladies of Catalonia what lies beneath the Barbour, as after about 5 decades of snow in Freiburg I finally got to take off 3 layers of clothing and wear just a shirt. It seemed to be the perfect time to visit as well as there were virtually no tourists (with the exception of me and my rapidly emerging freckles) and so the whole place had a great authentic feel to it. 5 Jamie points Barcelona. Well done you.
Another cool thing that took place this month was Carnival. In the Continent, Carnival is basically like a big party that takes place before Lent where people dress up in fancy dress (usually masks and home-made dresses). There is also usually a parade on the street – think confetti, trumpets and giant wolf-men. As a spectator your duties are categorized by age; if you are under the age of 16 your job is to catch the sweets that are chucked into the crowd and if you are above the age of 16 your job is to get as steamboats as possible. I took my responsibilities seriously, spending the evening in the pub using beer mats as death stars. Here’s some pictures:
And that’s it for this times guys. Uni here is now finished and I’ll be heading home to Scotland next week for a couple of days. Via Gregs for a macaroni pie and bottle of Irn-bru. Keep your eyes pealed for my next instalment. We’re gonna try something a little different… Oh yes. Teasy weasy.