Monday, 29 August 2011

In Berlin

I know, I know, I promised to get to work and write my stories and choose some pictures. But I have been a very busy young fella. Made some new friends in my last week in Heidelberg so had to engage with the rigorous cycle of party-sleep an insufficient amount-drag myself to class-afternoon snooze-rehydrate-party for a while, which left no time for blogging. But Spanish-Bulgarian-American-English tag team has now sadly disbanded.

I've just written a message to my parents, so I've extracted the descriptivy bits for y'all reading pleasure. I've been reading Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, which is an epistolary novel, so consider this rich intertextuality, naat.

"I'm staying in charlottenburg tonight [...]. i'm couchsurfing (not sure i've told you about [couchsurfing], but you can guess the set-up) with a guy from bangladesh. he has a career in IT security and has a very nice flat, in one of the poshest areas of the city, 500m away from schloss charlottenburg, a prussian palace, the largest in berlin. he works full time and has given me a set of keys so it's kind of like having a 4 star hotel and for free. but also he's a very interesting and friendly guy with lots to say about berlin and life in germany, so far better than staying in a hotel! going to start house hunting tomorrow and possibly head to the Humboldt to see if there's anyone from the philosophy institute i can talk to. it's actually on pretty much the same road as I'm on now, but about 7 or 8km East - so should make for a pretty impressive bike ride, all the way through Tiergarten, under the Brandenburg Gate, then along unter den linden! I'm feeling very excited to be here - it's not much of an exaggeration to say I've been looking forwards to this for 3 years (set my sights on the humboldt certainly before I sent off my UCAS form in October 2008). had a great last night in heidelberg, have made many german speaking friends from all round the world [...] did a lot of swimming in heidelberg and did some cycling in hills (which are really really steep at times). a highlight was cycling the Philosophenweg (the Philosophers' Path, a beautiful track through the woods which was a favourite haunt of students during the era of Heidelberg Romanticism) in the middle of the night! was a bit cold in my cycling shorts to begin with, but the way up to it is about 15-20% gradient for the first kilometer so wasn't cold for long. it was really pitch black up on the hill away from the city in the thick forest so it was quite a thrill. unfortunately this meant I cycled straight past a monument to one of my favorite poems ("Heidelberg" by Hölderlin, which is more or less an ode to the statue of Minerva on the Old Bridge)I believe it is a column in a clearing next to path with a view over the old town and the castle, and the first stanza of the poem is inscribed on it, but as I say, I never saw it."

Maybe this week I'll do more blog, but if not I'll get on task next week when I get to London. Lucia has got a Proper Job in Camden, so maybe I can sit in a cafe while she's at work and play at being a writer.

ok bubye

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Ok I finally have all of the requisite components of a working laptop and have figured out Heidelberg University's immensely confusing internet provision. I promise to post pretty pictures and stories soon.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Laptop in the post

I've ordered a laptop, which should arrive on Friday or so. I'll do a day by day account of the trip, with photos, maps, bells and/or whistles etc. once it arrives. Hope you can wait!

Thursday, 4 August 2011


I've just walked past a man in the street, middle aged, slightly overweight, wearing shorts and a white t-shirt, who was playing Ode to Joy on his harmonica. Not busking or anything, just walking along enjoying the sunshine playing some Beethoven on his mouth organ. The image quite tickled me.

It is a particularly glorious day today in Heidelberg. It's about 30 degrees I think. The forecast was storms and showers so I am particularly chuffed. I even considered paying the 50c extra an hour for the posh, air conditioned internet cafe next door.

I arrived here on Saturday about 2pm. I cycled round for a bit to get a feel for the place, posed for a photo in front of the castle on the Old Bridge, and then rang up Michael, contact at Heidelberger Pädagogium, the language centre at which I'm taking my course.

"Mit dem Rad... [by bike]" he said, shaking his head and laughing to himself as he shook my hand.

The final 3 1/2 days of my ride were really fun. I was a bit more relaxed with the pace and I had a bit of a look round each place I stopped, and picked scenic routes rather than the ones that would get me South at top speed. From Köln onwards the landscape kept on changing, much more rapidly than further North. I should be getting a cheap-skate computer in the next few days and then I'll put up diary entries and photos. So I'll spare y'all the details until then.

My course runs from 8:50am to 12:15pm each day so I've got plenty of free time. I'm having quite a laid back time of it on the whole. Walking past the bear enclosure on my way to the swimming pool is about the closest I've come to stress thus far (I live next to the zoo). Spent this afternoon lying in the sun by the river, reading, and gently sizzling in the afternoon heat. There's quite a powerful beach vibe in the park next to the river - everyone sunbathing/playing frisby/volleyball.

I got an email from the lovely people at SCI yesterday, so I'll pass on their thanks to everyone who's sponsored me! My Charity Giving page is still active for anyone still wanting to sponsor me, now I've done the 950km.