‘Alles ist eine Frage der Haltung’ – Tollwood Festival!

Alles is eine Frage der Haltung! 

It’s all a matter of attitude!

Tollwood Christmas market was my favourite part of Christmas in Munich and now summer has rolled around, I’m lucky enough to be able to say that the 25 day summer Tollwood festival is happening right in my back garden – the Olympic Park.

In my eyes, the festival is nothing short of incredible.  Tollwood is a forum for environmental conciousness and a platform for many other social campaigns. Through being so mulicultural it promotes tolerance, internationality and openness.  Although Munich is a big city – it doesn’t always feel multicultural in comparison to cities like Berlin.  Hearing any other language than German on the train is very rare so it’s great to see Tollwood promote so many other cultures in this festival.

Tollwood also campaigns for an end to intensive animal farming.  We saw this yesterday whilst wandering around the Markt für Ideen (Market of ideas):

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Giant breathing bratwurts in pig cages.

There are so many different types of food and countless food vans serving every type of cuisine from every corner of the globe.  That’s already cool in itself – what’s even cooler is that all of the food on offer at Tollwood is Bio (organic)-cerfitied. Even the beer is organic. Chinese, Bavarian, Turkish, Indian.. all the food is there! I personally enjoyed some crepes and vegan ice-cream made only from cashew nuts, strawberries and dates.

Also, more than 70% of the events are free of charge!  It’s such a cool day/night out and we saw some amazing performances completely for free.

I dare anyone to visit Tollwood and not be transported into the best mood – you just feel as though you are celebrating the very vitality of life when you are there. There’s such a buzz and every corner you turn you see something different- from giant people dressed as birds to break-dancers to indian drumming groups.

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‘You’re right.. But I like my opinion better.’
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If anyone has any idea as to what this might mean please enlighten me.

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Sometimes hippy-ish events like these can sort of feel like they are trying too hard.  It’s hard to explain but you know what I mean – like they are doing everything they can to be different and to superficially care about charities and the environment.  But it’s different at Tollwood.  It is so relaxed and you can see every type of person there having fun – from young kids to old Bavarian men and women.  It’s not an alternative crowd – it’s totally mainstream and everyone fits in. It’s anything but try-hard and you just get the feeling that the organisers of this amazing festival really actually do care. You don’t have to dress a certain way to feel accepted or cool here.

I see countless blog posts all about ‘how to fit in in Berlin’ or ‘how to act like a Berliner’ and the posts then begin to set out how you should wear mainly black, listen to techno music, become a vegan etc etc. You have to try so hard to be not mainstream that in actual fact you end up the same as everyone else. In my eyes, Munich as a whole just isn’t like that. You can do whatever you want and feel normal.  And Tollwood festival embodies this!

Tollwood’s social committment is so refreshing and just wandering around the festival for a few hours will thoroughly renew your faith in the human kind. 

If after watching the news in the recent weeks and seeing all of the horrendous things happening, you’re suffering from any sort of Weltschmerz (a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness) then a trip to Tollwood is what I would prescribe. Get down to the Olympic Park for a yoga massage, a colourful braid in your hair, an organic Thai meal, a refreshing beer, a music show, a glass of Prosecco, or some Indian dancing…. The list could go on and on and on!

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Eintritt Frei! Free entrance to most of the events.
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‘Green energy only here’

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I really believe that Munich doesn’t get enough credit for stuff like this – as it is so prosperous and expensive, it is often seen as a stuck up and conservative city but I haven’t experienced that at all.  Tollwood feels so effortless and just adds to what Munich has to offer – other than Tollwood, this weekend the Olympic park has seen the Munich Mash event as well which involved an international BMX tricks competition and bike polo matches as well as a huge inner-city waterslide! I’ve also tried slacklining (like tight-rope walking) and watched some cool stand-up paddle boarding and trampolining. I don’t think I even need to go into how hard it has been to revise….

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Denn Kultur, Lebensfreude und Engagement für eine bessere Zukunft sind eine Frage der Haltung – der eines jeden Einzelnen.

“Because culture, joie de vivre and commitment to a better future are a matter of attitude and everybody is responsible.”

Lake Garda’s Lure

Land of sunshine and wine, I discovered last weekend that Italy seem to have it sorted.

On the bank holiday weekend last week (hold on.. is every weekened in Bavaria a bank holiday weekend?) we packed our rubber rings and our suncream into our Skoda Superb (yes.. we were the coolest kids on the Autobahn) and embarked on the road trip from Munich to Lake Garda in Northern Italy.

There were a few obstacles to this trip by road, namley having the ‘avoid Autobahns’ setting turned on on the Sat Nav, not realising, and adding a good few extra hours onto the 30 degree heat journey in a black car. However, due to this pesky setting we did end up taking a mountain side tour of Austria (this invloved lots of ‘heart-in-throat’ and ‘hanging-on-for-dear-life’ moments on my part caused by some rational vertigo and a lack of crash barriers). During this scary mountain goat drive we were forced to take an hour break in a mountain side town to let the Pfingst parade (pentecost) go past. It was a strange experience and I personally thought that we had landed ourselves on an episode of Derren Brown and that we would never get out alive. However, we did and there’s nothing like a roadtrip that can bring you closer to friends – 5 people squished into a car and 5 hours of conversation.

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Parade in Austria that caused the traffic jam

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Situated between Milan and Venice, Lake Garda itself is spectacularly beautiful. With a dramatic mountainous backdrop and clear blue water, you can see why it was a favourite destination of the famous German poet Goethe. The sheer size of the lake is breathtaking – it is 160km around and at 17km wide you really feel like you’re in the ocean (hence why I refused to jump off of our hire boat as I couldn’t shake my inherrent irrational fear of sharks).

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Our Ait BNB house was huge! The balcony went all the way around the house!

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The hire boat in itself is a story.  We, despite having no experience whatsoever, decided we would like to get further out into the lake and hire a boat.  It went a little bit like this:

Boat hire man:  Ok girls! This is your boat.

Emma: Emm. Ok.. Do you need our details or anything?

Boat hire man: Emm ok .. first name?

Emma: Emma

Boat hire man: Ok great Anna!  This is how you go forward, this is how you go back, please bring the boat back with a full tank of petrol, the petrol station is over there *waves vaguely out to one side of the lake*.  Off you go!

As you may be able to tell already, this did not go as smoothly as planned.  After attempting to get out of the harbour and doing some crazy out of control donuts which involved a lot of screaming and getting beeped at by a huge passenger ferry, we managed to sort-of learn how to work the thing.  Filling up the fuel was a ridiculous task, it turns out that reversing into a lake side fuel station apparently isn’t that easy!

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I caught the whole reversing into the petrol station disaster on video.

The trip involved lots of red wine and lots of good bread. We found the Italians to be wonderfully friendly even although our Italian was more a mixture of French and Spanish with a hint of Robert di Niro. On our last night we enjoyed some cocktails by the lakeside and the owner of the bar kept pouring Peach Schnapps into our cocktails and exclaiming ‘Salute!” while we tried to sip our now- confused Mojitos without grimacing. Not the cultural highlight of the trip but a highlight nonetheless.

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Our house in Italy.

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I think it is impossible to visit Italy and not fall in love with the culture and the mentality. The Italian people are the most chilled and relaxed people I have ever come across. Choosing between pasta or pizza at a restaraunt was the most stressful thing I endured all weekend.

Plus, Antipasto is a way of life.  Italy,  I’ll be back!

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Confessions from a Person Living Alone for the First Time Ever

During my 21 years in this world, I have never lived alone.  I have also never lived in a foreign country. Up until this year.. where I am currently doing both.

The first thing I noticed about living alone was the amount of STUFF you need.  SO MUCH STUFF.  Bin bags, basins, hand soap.  They didn’t just magically appear like they have done most of my life and I actually had to go out and buy them instead of spending my extra money on hummus and avocados, how mundane. This is what it means to be an adult in the technical sense of the word, I think.

I’ve had some times where I’ve been scared of the late-night creaks and shadows.  There have also been times where I have slipped in the shower and imagined them finding my body, days later.  But all in all, when it has rained it has not poured, it has merely drizzled. There have also been times where a sharing size portion of ice cream has found its way into my freezer and I have told myself that I want to be healthy and shouldn’t scoff it all, but on the other hand I really like scoffing ice cream – and in the end the latter has proved to be the more deeply held conviction.

I’ve learned that I can entertain myself for a few days without even seeing another soul. I have also become a master of Ikea flat-pack furniture. I have also learned that spiders are the enemy. But best of all I have learned that whilst I am a very sociable and chatty person, I am extremely comfortable in my own company. Life is all about lessons, they do say.

This is a very strange camera angle but I wanted you to get a feel of just how teeny weeny these little houses are in the Olympic Village. This is upstairs in the bedroom of my appartment. Small, but then again, I’m probably under 5 foot so I can’t complain.

Of course there are some disadvantages to living alone. You do have to be quite self-disciplined in your routines as it is much easier to press snooze on your alarm for the 4th time when you can’t hear anyone else up and about and burning their toast – 9am lectures are definitely a bit more difficult.  I can imagine that being a girl in a city isn’t exactly safe if you have to come home alone late at night after meeting friends at the pub but I am quite lucky in that all of my friends are also my neighbours here in the Olympic village.

I also don’t have to miss out on the cooking together with flatmates part of living alone because myself and my direct neighbour Emma do our weekly shops together and cook together a lot. SO because I do have really close relationships with my neighbours, I maybe haven’t quite gone the full way of living alone.

However, I have moved to a new country and moved into my own place and I have managed not to be lonely (even without a TV).  Pretty cool for someone who slept with the light on for 3 years after watching Paranormal Activity.  It is definitely a liberating thing to have done (even if liberating only means singing extra loud in the shower without feeling embarrassed.)

I can’t see myself living alone for the next few years either, this summer I’m going to live with my Granny whilst I do an internship in a law firm in Edinburgh, and then I’m heading home for a couple of weeks to my family home and then I will go straight back into Uni flat sharing for the next few years. However, I’ve proved to myself that I can do it and Die Zukunft steckt voller Fragen (the future poses many questions.)

Trials of Law Student in Germany

This year abroad so far has certainly been very picturesque and fun-filled, but I may not have talked so much about how studying the law at Munich University is VERY DIFFICULT (yes capital letters are necessary). Obviously German is famous for its crazy long words, compiled nouns and sentences – and I can tell you first hand that the legal language is no exception. Because the legal terminology is so long and time consuming to pronounce and write, they use an abundance of abbreviations. A quick example is: BverfG = Bundesverfassungsgericht (Constitutional Court of Germany). I also came across this word the other day whilst studying: Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften. I’m not even going to try and attempt to count the number of letters in this word or I’ll end up with a headache but it basically breaks down to mean ‘insurance companies who provide legal protection.’ We need SIX words in English to translate this one German word! SIX!!

Mix these huge and complicated words with my professor’s Bavarian accent and I really start to believe that I am in over my head.

One thing that I have noticed about the German law that is quite refreshing is that there is huge emphasis on democracy. It’s highlighted in every text book and every piece of legislation. I guess that it is a product of WWII and the German lawmakers wanting to do everything they can to avoid a similar situation ever occurring again. Speaking of the war, last week marked the 70th anniversary of its end. A day to celebrate or a day to remember quietly? I’m not so sure myself.

I just did a mid-term examination on Naturrecht. During the beginning of the lecture about this particular topic I scribbled notes on Environmental laws and other such things involving nature.  Little did I know that we were not discussing how to protect animals and trees but rather were knee – deep in legal philosophy and the law of morals.  Of one’s Nature. EMBARRASSING. Can I blame that one on the language barrier?… WHat did I say about being in over my head…?

Anyway, I’m not a philosopher (trees obviously make a noise when they fall?!) but the content of the subject of Naturrecht v.s. Rechtspositivismus (legal positivism) in Germany is really interesting.  A Mr. Gustav Radbruch had a theory that judges should not just have to apply laws to individual cases and follow legislation – if there is a situation where a law does not follow the rules of equality and treating everyone the same or does not follow the rules of justice etc, then a judge should be able to make the piece of legislation void.  This was crazy for me to hear, I mean, judges don’t have that power.. they’re not elected and they have to just go with the laws that the parliament gives them.  But Radbruch and many other Naturrecht supporters believe that judges should not be left defenseless like they were in the time of Nationalsozialismus in Germany (and like they are now).  I could delve into this for hours and I’m sorry to all the non-lawyers/philosophers if that was boring – I can almost head the eyes of anyone who reads this glazing over.  Just some food for thought!

I passed that exam but I’m struggling a bit with my German studies. I knew that it was never going to be easy. I only have 9 weeks left and 5 exams to do in that time as well as trying to pack everything that I need to do before I leave. 9 weeks + 5 exams + a trip to Italy + packing my life up + everything else = not enough time. However I never have been good at maths so I’m hoping that my calculations are wrong.

To continue on the moaning, I am also really struggling with problems in my back and having to attend physio twice a week. Can I just say that I can’t be the only who, when I heard the words ‘sports massage’, didn’t expect there to be screaming involved?

Buuuuut….. I’m making up for it by following this month’s motto of ‘Essen Sie sich Glücklich’ (eating yourself happy) and trying to try out loads of different restaurants and ice cream bars (who knew vegan ice cream was so delicious). Shout out to the German health system anyway for being so helpful in the case of my pesky stressed out back.

Well I think that’s enough of this blog of self-indulgent complaints so bis nächstes mal, ciao!

(I’ll end up with a pretty photo taken on my phone of the English Garden, where I eat my lunch most days (in a bid to be more German as they LOVE eating outdoors) to relax everyone after wading through legal phliosophy)

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Weeks left in Germany: 9

Favourite German Name I’ve Come Across So Far: Heiko Wunderlich

Scots & German: Observations

Hello everyone, thought I’d write a short, quick blog on something that has sparked some interesting thoughts recently! I find there to be LOADS of similarities between Shetland dialect/Scots and German and thought it really interesting.  I’d love to do a more in depth study one day as to why this is, the origins of the languages and to find all the examples. I’m definitely no etymologist but I don’t think it can be a coincidence!

Here’s a couple of examples I can think of just now:

English: to cough 

Scots/Shetland dialect: to host 

German: husten 

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English: the sky

Scots/Shetland dialect: da Lift

German: die Luft 

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English: cow

Scots/Shetland dialect: coo

German: die Kuh (pronounced the same as the Scots – coo) 

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English: came (past participle)

Scots/Shetland dialect: cam 

German: kam

There are loads more examples, those are just three from the top of my head.  I notice things like Germans saying ‘Ihre Mann ist Herr Müller.’ (her husband is Mr. Müller) and I know that in Shetland ‘man’ is used when referring to someone’s husband all the time: ‘Her man is Mr. Müller.’  Another example would be that Shetlanders sometimes retain genders when talking about objects in the same way that the Germans to (albeit in a much lesser manner): I’ve dropped my pen! Could du pick him up?’ And of course the use of the word ‘du’ (unsure of spelling here) and accusative ‘dee’ for the English ‘you’.  ‘Du’ is the exact same word that the Germans use and they also have the accusative ‘dich’ which is pronounced almost the exact same to ‘dee’ just with a little throaty sound on the end. Of course in Shetland the definitive ariticle is ‘da’ and this is very similar to the German neuter definite article ‘das’.

These are just small observations and again, I would love to one day be able to do some more study on this theme.  I almost wish I was writing a dissertation! People who are in the middle of writing theirs next year will probably kill me for writing that. (It’s not compulsory as part of my joint honours Law and German LLB as I don’t have enough time.)

I can’t be sure what is Scots and what is only specific to Shetland dialect.. I’m most definitely not an expert on the subject and my only source is my experience. Maybe it isn’t similar to Scots at all and the similar words in Shetland dialect relate to more Scandinavian routes? For one, I don’t actually know the accurate definiton of ‘Scots’ and when I refer to this I really just mean words that I have heard Scottish people say that the English don’t say.

A quick google search of “Scots and German” hasn’t really turned anything up.  I’m sure there are academic journals/articles on the subject and I definitely would like to learn some more. If anyone sees any mistakes or misunderstandings in any of this please let me know! I accept I am totally ignorant on the subject and I am just speaking from what I have heard! And PLEASE let me know if you have any other examples!

Frühlingsglück!

The Semesterferien (break between Jan-April in the semester) are coming to an end and it is almost time to start my second semester here in Munich.  Despite still not knowing some of my exam results from first semester (German efficiency – a myth?), I’m really excited to get back into studying.

Easter weekend has just been and it was certainly a HUGE deal here in Munich.  I don’t know if that’s due to it being a really religious area – or just due to their love of bank holidays?  THREE bank holidays in four days.. I mean.. come on Germany.. I’m really not sure that’s what Jesus would have wanted. And the one day out of four that wasn’t a bank holiday was a SUNDAY.  And if you’ve read my previous blogs or ever been to Munich you know that nothing happens on Sundays and everything is shut anyway.

Anyway, this semester should be great.  I’m really glad to be beginning to feel properly settled here. In the beginning it just felt like I knew Munich quite well but know it feels like Munich sort of knows me too. I’m also currently lathering on the after sun after slightly underestimating the Bavarian sun.

I’m happy to be getting back into a routine again.  However I have no intentions of becoming one of those people who settle into a routine and nothing upsets them and nothing excites them.  I mean the sort of.. 10 hours a week routine.. and the rest can do what it wants.

I’ve done a load of stuff with the time off uni but last week I travelled for the third time to Neuschwanstein on Monday.  Neuschwanstein is King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s most famous castle.  We were lucky enough to experience it in the snow and it was definutely magical. (Yes there was snow last week and then 20 degree sun this week.. to say April in Munich is unpredictable would be an understatement. I sort of sympathise with and have an appreciation for this unpredictability though as I was an April baby and see a lot of April’s qualities in myself).

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If you can endure the journey from Munich and then the hike to the top of the hill to see the castle you’re doing well – even writing about it is wearing me out. King Ludwig, the so-called fairy tale King, was a mysterious man.  His history is so rich (also in the literal sense of the word) and interesting and if anyone is interested in royal history it is definitely a must read.

Apart from that, I don’t really know how to begin an update of all the stuff I’ve been upto in the past three months – but it has involved working a lot, being visited by friends and family, two weeks of modelling for the uni magazine (LOL), working, teaching, getting employed to teach body language (LOL x 2), finishing 5 amazing books (left 3 more unfinished.. life’s too short to read books you don’t like I always say), getting on the wrong U-Bahn numerous times, rollerblading, discovering the wonders of garlic salt.. and apparently not a lot of blogging! But we shall fix that in the coming months.

I have also discovered a whole new world of DOUBLE DECKER TRAINS. Such fun.

It is my 21st birthday on Monday.  At home lots of people regard the 21st birthday as a big one which deserves extra celebratory fun.  I’m not really sure exactly why.. 21 doesn’t hold any significance in terms of ability to do more things or having any more rights in the UK.  Anyway, a birthday is a birthday and this year my birthday happens to fall on the day we go back to Uni after our three month break.. An unhappy coincidence! Hope to enjoy it all the same and don’t imagine I’ll feel any older as normal – except for the fact I like red wine now.. mature?

Anyway this has been a rather rambley blog! Hope to gather my thoughts a bit better next time.

OH and I managed to secure an internship in Edinburgh in the summer in a law firm! Very happy. Time to buy more adulty type clothes now though.. sigh.. 

P.s If you ever come to Bavaria.. beware of the WEIßWURST! (white sausage).  I know that Münchners love it and that its part of their tradition to eat it with a pretzel and some mustard but.. I mean STRIKE ONE: it’s boiled!! A boiled sausage. You also have to REMOVE THE SKIN before eating it.  And its SOFT.  0/10.  I was told it is the Bavarian equivalent to our Haggis but in no way whatsoever did it fill the Haggis shaped whole in my heart that has formed due to missing Rabbie Burns night.  

(bear in mind that I had to eat this sausage for a uni magazine shoot, whilst pretending to laugh and smile and enjoy myself. Let’s just say that I wouldnt wish it on my worst enemy). 

Ljublijana – No, I’m not sure how to pronounce that either.

I was so lucky to spend a weekend with the best company in the Republic of Slovenia, which borders Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary.  And although I was a bit apprehensive at first because of the sheer amount of consonants in the capital city Ljublijana –  it a totally unique charm and I dare anyone to visit and not fall in love.

Having been told it was ‘the sunny side of the Alps’, we were seeking to rid ourselves of our vitamin D deficiency and set off.  The bus journey through the alps was beautiful.

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As promised, there was a warmth to the sunshine that was thoroughly welcomed when it kissed our cheeks as we got off the 6 hour bus. It was officially that type of ‘sunglasses and scarves’ weather we all love.  As it definitely isn’t the height of the tourist season right now and Ljublijana doesn’t have the same coverage in the media etc as Rome or Paris, we were able to enjoy a really local experience. I really can only describe it as an (relatively) undiscovered gem.

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The river flows silently through the heart of the city centre and the cafes and bars alongside it could easily be in Amsterdam or Rome.

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As a country that I previously could not even point out on a map and knew even less about its history – I was fascinated with it by the end of our trip. Slovenia is the furthest east in Europe that I have ever been (despite it being slap bang in the middle of the continent).

Unfortunately the country was hit badly in the recession. Fortunately, we managed to profit from this. This mostly meant.. FOOD.  As someone who loves to cook and is just an all round greedy person, sometimes it can be a bit ridiculous and I tend to have a habit of rating a place I’ve visited on the food. For example.. ‘Hey Jen, how was Prague?’ Me: ‘Oh my goodness it was amazing.. the Goulasch soup was UNREAL! And kit kats were only 9p!’  Them: ‘Right so.. how was the city though?’ Oops.

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We enjoyed huge portions of amazing food, for so cheap.

Even though there didn’t seem to be one type of food that was particularly Slovenian due to the country being so young, it was as though Slovenia had stolen all the best foods from all the surrounding countries and made it their own.. and we really loved it. Every dish was really made with care.

The architechture is striking to say the least and the city has been described as a ‘mini Prague’. While this has some truth, the city’s medieval fairytale feel has a charm all of its own. The city looked absolutely gorgeous all day long but in particular at ‘golden hour’ when the sun cast shadows on all the enchanting artwork across the buildings. Reason number 101 to love the sun: shadows.

We were lucky enough to spend 3 days there and saw the city in it full elegance. There’s a huge student population and that’s perhaps why the city has a certain youthful feel to it.. it feels alive. Although the city has an enormous beauty, it’s actually tiny with only around 250,000 inhabitants and feels really intimate.

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Watching the sunset over the city from the Stalin Grad (castle) which is perched above the city centre.
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We felt a sort of calm looking over the red roof-tops with a mountainous backdrop.

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There’s a buzz to the atmosphere as people wander along the ancient streets. The happy chatter fills the air.  It is very beautiful.. BUT one thing I would say here is that EVERYONE smokes! I really sometimes wonder if there’s anything worse than trying to enjoy a nice day and getting a puff of smoke blown in your face. (Obviously there’s things worse.. like world starvation and the greenhouse effect but you know what I mean, why clog up city air even more?!)

We also made the trip to Lake Bled. It was a romantic setting with a romanesque castle in the middle on a little island.

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I loved visiting this beautiful country.  I felt so ignorant about the fact that I couldn’t speak the language and wished that I had learned some Slovenian before travelling even though the Slovenians had great English.  I guess since there are only 2 million Slovenians althogether, they’re probably in a rush to learn other languages.  This doesn’t excuse my lack of knowledge though!

However, I have promised myself to see more of Europe before I hop back over to the more isolated and difficult-to-travel-from UK. But I have found that, in my case in particular, sometimes we make promises like we make sandwiches. With not a lot of conviction.

The Slovenians are welcoming people and they are really proud of their country. And so they should be.

Also, if I haven’t given you reason enough to move to Slovenia.. the retirement age is 57!! 

Observations on the Ubahn

Ubahn – the network of underground trains that whisks thousands of Münchners around the city every day.

I hadn’t really had any experience of underground trains before moving to Munich.  I frequently got the train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh or other similar journeys when I lived in Edinburgh but those sorts of trains are different.  On these sorts of trains you can have wonderful conversations with people and have a few drinks with a hen party heading to Edinburgh for a night out.

So the Ubahn is something I use every day to get me from A to B.  That’s what everyone uses it for – that and only that.  It’s a means of transport and nothing else.  People get on.. and then they get off – it just carts people around.  They ignore everyone around them don’t pay any attention to anything except their book or their iPhone.  But that’s what I think makes it so interesting – this little hidden world underground world full of stories and interesting peculiarities.

It is the most interesting place I’ve ever been in a really non-obvious way.  Everyone is on their own little journey.  To where? No idea.  For what purpose? No idea.  And that’s the fun of it.

At home I drive everywhere – driving’s a cool thing, you travel by your means, when and with who want to (unless you’ve been roped into giving someone a lift when you cannot be bothered).  But by no means do you get the same enjoyment in people watching that you do on the Ubahn.

Marienplatz - the Ubahn station that services the city centre.  I like it because it is orange.  This is also the reason I like to do my shopping at Sainsbury's.
Marienplatz – the Ubahn station that services the city centre. I like it because it is orange. This is also the reason I like to do my shopping at Sainsbury’s.

There are also some beautiful stations slightly more outside of town.

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Westfriedhof
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Georg Brauchle Ring

My favourite part of my day is sitting on the Ubahn on my 15 minute commute to work. A thousand mornings, a thousand train journeys.  Commuters are even stranger than the other Ubahn users.  The best types are the types that have perhaps taken an extra 30 seconds to brush their teeth that morning and make the horrrendous decision to attempt to sprint down the escalator and jump onto a train when the doors are closing instead of just waiting for the next one in 5 minutes. They then get really embarrassed as everyone on the train has just watched them fail – so they get angry and let out huge sighs or make ridiculous gestures.

The best one was a boy who decided to do this aforementioned sprint and did not make it – however his fingers did make it on to the train before the doors closed.  So there he was, stood on the platform on the outside of the train and his little fingers on the inside of the train waggling away and straining to free themselves from the closed doors. He was stuck.  At this point everyone started trying to prise open the doors to save this boy and there was even a nun (yes.. this is Bavaria) who was doing the holy prayer.  He did manage to free his fingers but he had a rather red face after it.. bet he wishes he had just waited the 3 minutes for the next train!

The escalators are very steep in some cases and this is one of the reasons why the sprint to reach the train before it moves on is usually an ill-judged decision.
The escalators are very steep in some cases and this is one of the reasons why the sprint to reach the train before it moves on is usually an ill-judged decision.

There are certain rules on the Ubahn, especially in the mornings on the way to work.  Number one being: do not talk to anyone else.  All sorts of social interaction are shoved.. underground.   Unless they have a dog.  Then you can complimemt them on their dog.  And in Munich, there are dogs everywhere! In shops, on trains.. even in restaurants.  Some restaurants even put out bowls of water for visiting dogs to enjoy. One time I even saw a sausage dog wearing lederhosen. Yes, I know, wonderful.

The inside of the Ubahn
The inside of the Ubahn. 

And then there are the sneaky ticket checkers who can be anyone from the cute Granny knitting beside you to the teenage boy chewing gum across the way.  It is an effective system to catch people out. But can lead to a sense of distrust.

Sometimes you see people upset on the Ubahn and sometimes you see people smiling to themselves.  And you have absolutely no idea why.  Everyone is on their own little journey.  That’s the thing about living in a city as opposed to a small town, you have no idea who people are or what their stories are.  You just have to imagine. I definitely think it must be easier to be lonely in a large city than a small town.

Oh and also to anyone who eats hot stinking food on the Ubahn – I hope you know how much we all despise you.

Vienna verified.

We spent a long weekend in Austria’s beautiful capital city, Vienna.

We began our journey on the bus. The bus driver apologised profusely that we were ‘behind schedule’ as we left at 1503 and not 1500.  Typical Germans.

We then arrived at our Air BnB flat (an amazing website that I would definitely reccommend!).  It was set in ‘District 1’ of Vienna which made me feel like I was part of the Hunger Games and it was beautiful.  We were extremely lucky to live like princesses for the weekend.  And this even included a champagne breakfast (admittedly Vienna is very cheap…).

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At the ‘Kantine’ in the Museums Quarter. Sunday Brunch is a huge thing in Vienna.  Vienna is really quite on Sundays, like Munich a lot of shops and places are closed.  But brunching is the Sunday activity as we discovered when trying to get in to any cafe and all the tables were reserved!

And of course there are the obvious differences like Vienna being hillier, it was a bit scruffier – not that it was dirty, more that it emphaised just how impeccably CLEAN Munich is.

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The very bright orange Ubahn has magazines that you can read.
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Baroque Cathedral

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It is obvious to see how the likes of Mozart and Beethoven found so much inspiration in this city. It is a very dramatic setting – think Sturm und Drang and you’ll get the idea.

Schönbrunn Palace 

The castle
The palace

It is fabulous. Beautiful and enchanting – even although we visited at this kind of dull time of year; the snow is gone and the sky is a bit grey and the flowers haven’t yet bloomed.  These transitional months are sort of the worst and I hope they pass by quickly. The tour was great and it told the story of the families that lived there and I found that the story of Empress  Elisabeth of Austria (and Queen of Hungary) particularly spoke to me and I found her history so fascinating.  She was assisinated in 1898 and was married to Franz Joseph I.  She was born into Bavarian royalty and was therefore brought up quite informally but when she was married to Franz at 16 she had to coform to a much more formal way of life and suffered because of this which wasn’t helped with the occurrence of a million family tragedies such as a mysterious murder suicide of her only son Rudolph.  Franz Joseph was passionately in love with imaginative and artistic Elisabeth but this was unfortunately not reciprocated  and she is quoted:

 “Marriage is an absurd arrangement. One is sold as a fifteen-year-old child and makes a vow one does not understand and then regrets for thirty years or more, and which one can never undo again.”

 I mean, she was also first cousins with the main man Ludwig II of Bavaria (i.e. my favourite king ever) and he was her favourite cousin so I couldn’t help but love her.

BORING HISTORY LESSON OVER.

Vienna was beatiful and we really enjoyed our weekend there.  We managed to squeeze a lot into the four days and a personal highlight of mine was seeing the Opera – we got to listen to ‘an der schönen blauen Donau’ (on the Danube) in Vienna – too cool . Oh and the butterfly house is a must see if you like flying insects!

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I’m back in Munich now and enjoying it more than ever – even felt a little homesick for Munich when I was away. It is good to be back to the more direct Germans, the Austrians are definitely more laid back.  Last night I went to a bar and was stopped on the door by the bouncer – naturally I started fishing around for my ID and that’s the reason bouncers always stop me (I’m a mini 5 foot).  But nope, he simply said ‘No no, not ID, I just want to know.. HOW SMALL are your feet?!’ It’s great to be back Germany!

I am excited to take some time out now from travelling and just getting to see different places and eat in different cafés in Munich now. I do love travelling but I also believe that there’s so much value in staying still now and again.

But I am so grateful to be able to travel to so many places.  You got to travel now and do the things you want to do NOW – don’t wait til you have more money or til you have more time – just do it and make it work! Who knows what might happen next week and nothing is guaranteed. 

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Not sure what is going on in this photo and don’t suppose I will ever find out. But important questions go unanswered and we still live on.

Enjoying one of nature’s little surprises

Liebe Leser und liebe Leserinnen,

Dear Readers.

The last two weeks have mainly been dedicated to studying. I made a mistake with my courses and didn’t realise until six weeks in that I had accidentally chosen a Masters class and that this may be the reason I wasn’t understanding much (or…understanding anything). Almost everyone else in the class already has a law degree! Anyway, it was too late to change classes and this has lead to some frantic cramming. The exam was today and it went ok, although the lady sitting next to me introduced herself and mentioned that she was working on her Phd and I felt well and truly out of my league. And when I opened the paper to start the exam I did sort of feel more lost than Alan Partridge walking down the wrong side of the motorway singing Goldfinger.

I sat in the exam scrawling the longest German words you could ever dream of whilst simultaneously trying my hardest to undo the public law shaped knot inside my brain. I can only hope now. Not sure if I am in law school or in the Hunger Games at this point. The lack of sleep didn’t really help either – my next door neighbour locked herself out and came to my door at 2am last night so that she could climb onto my balcony to reach her open balcony door.

It is fine though, my only real goal in life is to have my own Wikipedia page and you don’t need to pass exams to achieve that.. do you?

In better news, the fluffy white stuff has made its home in Munich this week and the sunsets are still painting the loch.

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Olympiapark yesterday

The Austrailians (and others who have trekked here from faraway lands) are treating their first snow like it is their first love. But who can blame them, who doesn’t love snow? The thick, fluffy kind that falls softly and silently in the night. You wake up in a totally different world – it’s magical.

I think it’s the nostalgia of it all – the white stuff whisks you into a time machine straight back to your childhood. Straight back to all that childlike fascination and joy. Walking to uni was silent today on the snow-carpet beneath my feet, except when I walked through some that was deeper and I felt that oh-so-satisfying crunch of the snow under my wellies. It’s the simple things.

When the Olympiapark was clothed in snow there was nothing more enchanting. It was all just silence and snow and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only reason it was there was to make things look beautiful. And there was nothing better than the feeling of sitting in my room with my cup of tea and my blanket watching the snow fall by candle light. The world was like my very own snow globe.
BUT as the days get colder, we all need to start having warmer hearts. And by this I mean doing things that make us happy – for example NO STUDYING!

We piled up snow my friend's door as a joke while she was out at an exam so she couldn't get in.  I got a text to say she had found her exam had gone badly so I immediately felt horrible and frantically tried to bash the snow down from her door failed miserably as it turns out, snow freezes very fast and had turned into an ice block.
We piled up snow my friend’s door as a joke while she was out at an exam so she couldn’t get in. I got a text to say she had found her exam had gone badly so I immediately felt horrible and frantically tried to bash the snow down from her door failed miserably as it turns out, snow freezes very fast and had turned into an ice block.
Sledging
Sledging in Olympic Park behind my little house
Stopped to take a selfie mid sledge, little did we know that this man was doing 40mph down the hill towards us.. moral of the story is that selfies are the root of all pain
Stopped to take a selfie mid sledge, little did we know that this man was doing 40mph down the hill towards us.. moral of the story is that selfies are the root of all pain and embarrassment

Having had more than my annual fair share of study moaning, I have got lots to look forward to after all the studying is over. I’m off to Vienna for a trip shortly and I have been ordering some work- appropriate clothes for my official start in my new law office job next week. However that has lead to problems of its own. I got a delivery from the courier of some new black boots for work at 8am yesterday and I answered in my pyjamas. The postie man said that he might however have to come back later because he needed me to sign something to confirm I had received them but that he had forgot the electronic signing device thingy. I went out and had my day at uni, met my friend for lunch and taught an english lesson. Came home around 5pm and got back into my pyjamas – y’know, for optimum comfort – and yep, this is when the postie decided to return. From his point of view, I looked like the laziest student ever who sat around in her pyjamas all day, no amount of ‘oh by the way I have been out today’ could end his smirking face of disapproval.

Anyway! Here’s to more sun and snow! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a pair more suited to one another!

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A lonely little schneeman in the Englisher Garten

Law school Germany fact of the day:
The Bavarian Reinheitsgebot (purity law) was brought in by Albert IV Duke of Bavaria in 1487 and specifies that only water, hops and barley could be used to brew beer. The European Union Court in 1987 decided that this Reinheitsgebot was unlawful because it prevented free trade within the EU because other countries could not import their beer to Germany as their beers did not comply with the law. Lots of Bavarian beers however still proudly present ‘Gebraut nach dem Reinheitsgebot’ (brewed according to the purity laws) on their beers. The Germans LOVE a good quality beer and want to know exactly what they are drinking!