(Disclaimer: I would have written a post earlier, but could not, for the life of me, figure out how to log on to the website. Having figured that out, finally, I will commence with the post.)
I’m currently sitting in the breakfast nook of my kitchen, waiting for an apple-spice cake to come out of the oven. I wasn’t, and am still not, entirely sure that it will come out as expected because I used an American recipe with non-metric measurements. I think the number one cardinal rule of baking is not to wing it, but I totally just winged it: I used a water glass for my measuring cup, and some spoons for the rest. If the smell is any indication, though, this cake should be incredible, life-changing, etc. In any case, the apple-cinnamon combination beats the odor that usually wafts through my apartment on Liebigstraße. I live next to a Knorr factory (think: McCormick spices), and, regardless of the time of day, it smells either like cream of (insert vegetable) soup or potroast. But not in a good way. No one wants to wake up to the smell of pulverized meat.
Smells aside, I’m completely head-over-heels in love with this new life here. Imogen said something in her post that really seemed true to me, too: “I think the weirdest part about all of this is how not weird it’s all been.” Yes! That’s completely it. Despite having never been here, to this little city in Baden-Württemberg, I feel like I’ve kind of come back home. Sure, there are definitely things that I miss about the United States– saying hello/smiling/nodding/waving when passing people, strangers, in the street; the quality and quantity of produce at the grocery stores; the disregard for blue laws. But, that said, I am really taking to this European life. It seems very normal to me, already.
25 more minutes on the cake.
So, let’s see: the city. My first train ride into Heilbronn from Stuttgart left me with a good impression. It’s absolutely breathtaking. The rail is surrounded by acres of vineyards, which don’t lie flat on the ground, but rather are sloped with the steep hills. It’s beautiful, really. Upon entering the city, one can see the Neckar River. Heilbronn is very cute. Not as provencal as I had expected– probably because so much of it was bombed during WWII. But, still, the town is unbelievably cute: two very old churches, a beautiful city hall, and a very picturesque pedestrian zone that is lined with cafés, restaurants, chocolatiers, H&Ms… the usual European suspects. (Oh! There’s an incredible mineral spa up the street!)
My apartment: cute, and efficient. That is, it’s not especially updated, but definitely sufficient. Our apartment is on the second floor. Directly behind the front door is the WC (which is currently inhabited by a huge spider), and on the left of the hallway are Uli’s room and Anna’s room. (Uli is my roommate until January, when he returns to the Uni in Stuttgart.) Across from Anna’s room is a door to the kitchen in which I’m sitting now, a bright room with small appliances, a table, and such. Off of the kitchen is the bathroom, where there is a shower and sink. And on the opposite side of the kitchen is the door to my room. So, at night, I kind of have this part of the apartment all to myself. As if I’m living in a studio apartment. I love it.
Having now stocked my room with the essentials from IKEA, I completely feel at home in my room, and in my apartment. My roommates (Evgeniy from Uzbekistan, Uli from Deutschland, and Anna from Ukraine) are wonderful. I really lucked out. So friendly, so sweet. We’ve taken the Heilbronner Weinfest (the city’s annual wine festival) by storm, twice. Our mutual love for wine is much appreciated. (Also, the price of said wine is appreciated– so cheap in Germany!)
Because the city is pretty small– only 120,000 people– I’ve seen most of the city. I know the route to the Deutsche Bank especially well: I got totally fucked with banking, but am glad to say that I now have more than the 40 Euro that were in my wallet. (Whew.) But, you know, even with the banking catastrophe, I’m learning to just keep on keeping on. I’m not too worried about… anything. Things will work out.
Not having a care in the world is kind of liberating, right?
I’ve definitely been bitten by the travel bug. So, to those of you who’ve done Europe before: give me suggestions. I just got back from München (more on things with Tom, later hahaha). This weekend I’m going to Heidelberg. And, I’m currently planning an elaborate European extravaganza for my fall break: six cities, eight days. In order: München (briefly), Salzburg, Linz (Farrah, we’ve got to talk!), Vienna (Farrah, we’ve got to talk!), Bratislava, and Budapest. Thoughts on any of this? Suggestions?
More from me later. I’ve got a cake to tend to. And dinner to cook: Maultaschen mit Rotkraut 🙂
Oh, is anyone reading anything good? I’m almost finished with Vonnegut’s Dharma Bums. I’ve been making a point to buy a new (or used) book in each city I visit, so I’ve got a nice stack next to my bed– Harry Potter auf Deutsch, Gone With the Wind auf Deutsch, Herodotus’ Histories, etc– but I’m always looking for more to read. Let me know! Oh, and I definitely recommend Dharma Bums. It’s the perfect book for the spiritual-hippie-travelers that we are.