Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
Trip End Aug 19, 2011

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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My tour of Germany continued the following day as I headed south into the province of Baden-Wuttenberg.  My first stop in the province was in a small city called Karlsruhe where I was meeting up with an international student friend named Christoph.  Again I was being met at the station and it was lovely to kick back on the train and not worry about a thing.  The train was heading south along the Rhine valley and it was a real shame that the valley was very foggy as the area is very beautiful.  I got talking to two Germans sitting near me, first in German but very quickly changing to English when they realize how bad my German is.  It's funny that everybody compliaments my German, but I know that it's really terrible.  I have few nice intro sentances which I learned to rattle off in the oral exam, and after that I'm pretty stuck unless I'm ordering a beer or giving directions.  One guy was a business man who was really a bit annoying and the other was a long haired physics postdoc who reminded me a lot of myself.  He kept saying... 'Normally you would see a lovely town here' and things like that while pointing into the fog.  He was cool, and living in New Zealand close to where the Rugby world cup will be held next summer.  He gave me his contact details just in case I end up there for the world cup and would need a place to stay, I was pretty chuffed with that.  He even mentioned that his University might be looking for electrical engineers in the near future... who knows?

I arrived in Karlsruhe around noon.  It is a nice city of about a quarter of a million inhabitants.  It is relatively new at about 500 years old so it is well planned out.  Strangely it is not built on a river, but rather this guy Karl was hunting in the forest and decided to rest under a tree.  He liked it there so decided to build a city... sounds a but like Jebadia Springfield, no?  At one end is Karl’s castle and the streets radiate from here like sun rays. How nice.  About one third of the town consists of a huge park so we enjoyed an hour or so exploring that in the gorgeous sunshine.  There is a huge University there which has a great focus on Engineering and Science.  As a result the population of Karlsruhe is hugely male dominated, about 70% guys... doesn't that sound like fun!  Christoph was a nice guide, chilled out and in no hurry which suited my state of mind at the time.  A tour of the city took about 2 hours and then we headed to a beer garden for some traditional German lunch.  This time we had a kind of beef stew for starter and then what seemed like a slice of a very thick sausage for main.  I liked the stew but wasn’t gone on the sausage.  It was similarly tasteless as the snitzel; perhaps it’s just a German thing not to indulge the taste buds too much.  At the bottom of the beer glasses it said 'order another', but we declined the suggestion.  Afterwards we headed for coffee before strolling back towards the town.  A nice relaxing pace all day.  It was cool to catch up with Christoph. 

At about 6 I left Karlsruhe for another town called Tubingen.  Again nothing to stress about for my arrivial, as another ISS friend called Frank was to meet me at the platform.  He greeted me with a freshly opened beer, which was nice.  Remi, another good ISS friend was there too.  He was interailing around Europe for a month and made his plan so as to be in Tubingen at the same time.  It was a lovely surprise to see him as I had just missed him while passing through Paris.  Without wasting anytime we headed into Tubingen to sample the local nightlife.  We went to this underground student’s bar, which as far as the authorities are concerned doesn’t exist.  It looks like a barn from the outside but inside there was a good crowd.  The beer was really cheap in there too.  We stayed there for the night and it was 'really grand' to catch up with the lads.  We also had some very scholarly conversations about the state of the Irish, French and German economies as well as hot topics such as Nuclear power.  I did really notice the difference in the people from those I had met in Cologne.  In the whole night I didn’t get chatting to a single randomer and there were a few situations where I might have but people just seemed a bit awkward.  Like they wouldn’t even make eye contact with you never mind chat.  According to Frank people in the south are much more introverted then up near Cologne. Phew, I thought it was me!

The following day was another beautiful sunny day so the three of us did a little tour of Tubingen.  We walked around the college area and then headed to the old town.  I hate to be repeating myself, but it was a lovely quaint little town.  Yes I should really improve my vocabulary.  It looks a lot like Brittany, as many of the old town houses have a very similar wooden plank decoration on the facade.  We headed up the hill to the town castle and wondered around there for a while.  The castle offered a great view of the town and the surrounding countryside.  Next we headed back into the old town square for some traditional German lunch, of course washed down with a beer.  Remi was heading on to Zurich so we saw him off at the station before heading to a beergarden near the river.  In Tubingen small gondala type boats are very popular among tourists and locals alike.  The can take up to about 12 people and in the summer Frank would rent one and have a barbeque on the river.  The beer garden was had many concker trees which provided welcome shelter from the hot sun.  However, being autumn the conkers were falling from the trees.  Every couple of minutes there would be a loud bang of a conker hitting one of the tables and one of them actually hit our table just inches away from my arm.  Seriously it was like blitzkrieg there! We decided to move on before getting a concusion from a falling conker.  We chilled out in the old town square for a but while i sketched the town hall.  That night Frank had some mates over for a cheesy movie night.  We watched Raw Deal, a retro Arnie classic.  It was great to just chill for a night and of course the movie was outstanding!  Another Oscar winning performance from Arnie!

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