Monday, October 25, 2010

First dance

Hearing my mom talk about our community gathering back in Calgary makes me miss our community so much. But I am slowly beginning to like mine and have a feeling it can grow here too. 
I went to my first dance class today-hip hop. It was so great to move again! It makes me feel truly alive. Such an amazing feeling, I am so thankful for the reminder to start doing that more. So I have pretty much made extra-curricular plans for mon-fri. With dance classes on mon, wed and thurs. I even found an african studio, which I hope to get to soon. Also I have been paying attention to the dance workshops going on...I have the impression that there are a lot of possibilities for meeting people with your interests outside of school. Two girls actually started talking to me, translating the dance instruction here and there. It was really sweet.
 Also there are a few yoga ones but I think there you need to understand German a bit more than in dance. (I did just fine without any in class today, though!!!) For now I have alot of spare time between my classes and overall the program is not nearly as intense as last year's was.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

to move or not to move?

Upon returning home, there was still no news about switching apartments. Despite my efforts, so far nothing came through with moving into a double apartment either. Apparently, there were other people ahead of me on the waiting list and they tell me to come back in November. I can't live with these dimwits until November, there must be another way out!
I heard that there is one 2-br apartment available for 600 euros,  through a private renter. I haven't seen it yet, but that means that I will have to buy my own furniture, find a roommate, hire a car to move my stuff, etc and it just doesn't seem worth it. I want to invest a minimal amount into my surroundings (I bought a very cute orange tapestry at the Spanish market for 10E, which I'm using as curtains/wall cover)...I'm trying to make what little space I have more livable. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Glorious Mediterranean coast

Well, today finds me on day 4 of the eurotrip.

Let me start off by saying this: I am sitting in my bikini on my private patio, drinking French Bordeaux. The price of this? 30 euros a night for a private peace pf heaven, also known as small mobile home with kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and 2 euros for authentic Bordeaux. 

Ah, I love my life. Today I saw the Mediterranean sea for the first time. This morning I woke up with the well-known intent from all the travels before: "to the beach!” And so I eventually found my way. Also, as usual, the water is colder than you might expect and the cold wind from the sea doesn't help. However, by 11 am on Tuesday we witnessed more than a few couples and families make their way down and bear the cold water. Some just suntanned, making the best of a nice, 25 degree moderately warm weather. And then my favourite thing happened: I went to the local supermarket! I find it to be my ritual, almost. When in a new country, you have to go to the local supermarket, see what local and regional food is being sold, watch how others shop, buy something you'll never get anywhere else, and , of course, find a deal! I did all of the above. Honestly, i had the best time grocery shopping in Europe so far! Compared to Germany and Switzerland, everything was extremely cheap. Fresh, local cherry tomatoes that taste like heaven, perfectly ripe avocados, Italian mozzarella for cents, real french Brie, fresh meat, dairy, not to mention the ridiculously cheap wine. I have not been this excited in days. Everything is fresh and delicious. My tastebuds cannot stop shouting and moaning at the full aromas of every single thing.

Shortly after, I came back into my lovely private cottage and prepared the most delicious salad I had in days and just savoured the moment. Sure, I planned to be in Spain by now. But really, I don't know when else I will get this chance to simply stop, relax, cook anything i feel like, sleep in a real, queen size bed, and just lay out in the sun on the beach doing nothing. Tomorrow, though, we are heading to Girona, which is 100 km away for Barcelona to stay in a campsite and hopefully find a warmer beach there. Although I already feel like I am somewhere in Spain. There is an interesting mix of French and Spanish lifestyles here. Sure, most people speak french, but the food, the architecture, the palm trees- to me, that's all Spain.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Road

In the last 2 days we drove through most of Switzerland and a good chunk of France. Other than the Alps in the distance and the cute cows with the bells feeding on picturesque green hills, Switzerland is an easy miss from my future adventures. It was worth to drive through it once, but I still cannot believe how expensive everything was, from snacks to gas. Also, it's the only country around here with its own currency, the silly Swiss franks. Yes, some gas stations will take your euros at some obscene rate, otherwise you are stuck with these funny looking bills that you have no use for. Pff, Switzerland. I don't even like your chocolate. 

France had its share of adventures as well. First off, if you choose nice, freshly paves,speedy highways, expect to contribute to France's economy. A lot. I am talking about toad tolls. And it's not a few coins here and there. Overall, to cross into southern France, it cost us over 20 euros. Ridiculous. If you think you can outsmart the toll roads, like i did, try the secondary roads running parallel to the highway... here's the catch: The French do not build stoplights. Instead, the love traffic circles, usually consisting of 2 lanes, with the all cars constantly switching and merging and exiting without signaling. Basically, a recipe for an accident in a rented car. Not only that, but it literally took us 40 minutes to drive 10 km, with all the speed limits and huge amounts of traffic. So on the way back I have to just bite the bullet and pay again. The town roads are so not worth it! 

Friday, October 1, 2010

wait, is this automatic?

Well, well, well. The car was booked well ahead of time through Europcar. I find these guys have pretty good rates and, frankly, there aren't many choices in Tuebingen. Upon picking it up and signing for it, I realize one small detail that completely escaped me: i booked a car with manual transmission. I don;t know how many times already I'd wished I hadn't been ignorant and learned how to drive a stickshift, as these make up about 90% of all European cars and the other 10% are at least twice more expensive. So I had to suck it up and feel like a complete idiot going back to the agent with “Umm, do you have any automatic cars in the lot?” he gave me a funny look, then said that indeed I was in luck and could upgrade to a BMW 120 for only 150 euros more. It's not like i had a choice. If you're doing a Eurotrip, might as well do it in style. Hello, built-in navigation and satellite radio! The car is a dream.

After spending much too long at the car rental, we were off to find a tent. The nearest outdoor equipment store was nearby and we decided to check it out. They do not seem to understand the idea of a “end of season sale”, as all the tents were 200 euros and up. This didn't suit my budget all too well, since we are only planning to spend up to five nights in a tent and for the other two I booked a great little cabin in south France. Next on the list to try was Metzingen, the greatest outlet shopping centre in south Germany, which happens to be only half hour drive from Tuebingen. Of course, we got there 5 minutes too late and shops were already closed! 8 pm on a Friday night. Germany will take a while to get used to. Imagine my roommates' surprise when I walked back into our dorm a few hours later, saying oh well, better off to start fresh next morning!