Two months left of my exchange. I can’t tell if I’m lucky or not as other people seem to be done and are leaving in less than a month while I have a bit longer than them. But, I won’t let that bring me down. With a few trips planned this month and plans to hang out with all my friends, I was making sure that I would make the rest of my time worth it.
After coming back from my extensive two-week long trip, I wanted to relax. Plus, my mom told me how much money I’ve been spending so I had to start planning my trips better. I noticed that I had a small gap between the first week of April and Easter break and I wanted to do something that no one else really wanted to do; go to the Black Forest! I’ve heard a lot about the place and my dad even brought up the suggestion to go there when we came during January, which probably would’ve been a bad idea in the middle of German winter. I decided to make a quick trip to Strasbourg and the Black Forest due to how close they are. So, with my backpack and hammock in tow, I went off on my trip.
In hopes to save money, I planned my Strasbourg trip to be a day trip. This meant taking a 6 AM bus from Frankfurt to Strasbourg and spending around 8 hours there. The good thing was that I saved money by not needing a hostel. The bad thing was I had to camp at Frankfurt for the night as there was no way I would’ve made the bus if I left that morning, with finding a place to camp out at to escape the cold wind and night activities being the biggest issue. My time in Strasbourg was focused on going to the main sights and then moving on. Starting off at the Strasbourg Cathedral and then walking away from the city center towards the Orangerie. The Orangerie was the many focus of Strasbourg for me. It was a nice, relaxing park with students and families there enjoying the Saturday sun, and where I could set up my hammock. This ended up being where I started my March blog. After laying and enjoying the sun for a few hours, I left to continue my sight-seeing. I went towards the European Court of Human Rights and European Parliament, which I had a lovely view of the outside. With my sight-seeing done, I went back towards the city center to get on my bus for Freiburg, the capital of the Black Forest region and “The Gateway to the Black Forest”.
Freiburg was a small little university town that had a decent sized city center. But, despite both of those, it was still completely dead and empty on a Sunday. Most of the restaurants were closed, souvenir shops were empty, and finding some beer was almost impossible. I started my day by hiking up the Schlossberg so I could find a place to hang up my hammock. The hike up the mountain was painful and long, and when I finally found a nice secluded spot in the forest, I was excited! The relaxing trees and wind made the whole place mesmerizing and the people who passed by me giving me a wave and a hello just made it all the better. After a few hours, I went back to the city center in search of some beer. I found a famous local pub, the Hausbrauerei Feierling, with weissbeer, wheat beer, which I was hesitant to drink due to weissbeer not being my favorite beer. But, the amount of people there on a Sunday and the want to get a nice, refreshing, cold beer made me want to get one. To my surprise, it was pretty good! It was my first time enjoying a weissbeer! Funny enough, when describing the beer to Paulo, who also hated weissbeer, describing that the beer having a less wheat taste made it a better wheat beer. I ended up stopping by another restaurant with a selection of homemade craft beer to go along with the endless supply of weissbeer at Freiburg. This trip to Freiburg, which was short, was relaxing and the perfect trip for me to enjoy Germany.
The next two days were spent in Baden-Baden. I wanted to also go to Pforzheim, another town in the Black Forest, but decided not feeling rushed was better. Also, with the various things to do in Baden-Baden it made sense to stay for more than one day. The day I got there I went to see two things, the Trinkhalle and the Fabergé Egg Museum. The Trinkhalle was a building built by the Romans when they were originally there. The columns and the frescos lining the front of the building made the building a beauty. Funny thing is, it’s now the visitor center of Baden-Baden. The Fabergé Egg Museum wasn’t the best like most other museums I visited. For an overpriced entrance fee of 12 euros, I got to see two floors of antiques belonging to various families, but mainly from the Russian monarchy. But, in the whole museum, there were only around 3 Fabergé Eggs, making the supposed largest Fabergé Egg museum outside of Russia, a very disappointing museum. Since I had to wait for my AirBnB landlord to get off work, I spent the rest of my afternoon in the park with my hammock. At night, I went to the Festspielhaus to watch the Opera since Baden-Baden had a special series for Easter. I don’t have many comments about it as Operas aren’t my go-to performance, but the performance was still fascinating.
The next day I went to one of the key features of Baden-Baden, Friedrichsbad, an ancient Roman spa. It was an interesting experience to say the least, being that it was a nude spa and that I was the only person my age there with everyone else being at least twice my age. But, being a first experience was what made the whole spa experience fun! Later that night, I tried to go to Baden-Baden’s other feature, their James Bond-like casino, the Kurhaus. But, to my surprise, it had an age requirement set by the German government. The only casino in Germany that had an age limit. And guess what it was. 21! Seriously!? Out of all the places to have an age requirement, the one casino that I had to borrow a suit jacket for had an age limit! That ended up ruining my whole night and ruined my hopes of seeing an awesome place. The next day I ended up not really having any plans. There was the other spa, Caracalla Therme, in mind, but I thought that after going to Friedrichsbad there really was no need to go to there. So, I took my hammock and headed for the forest. This ended up being over 40 minutes of trekking through the city and going up the mountains. Climbing through trees, up hills, and past fallen trees was a bit of a challenge for someone wearing boat shoes. Heck, I even ended up with a scratch, and now a scar, on my leg from this dangerous trek. But, the seclusion in the forest was amazing and blissful. I stayed again for a few hours and then headed back down the forest and into the city. I wasn’t planning on stopping anywhere until I say the sign that said Pub. I ended up staying there for the rest of the night, because I ended up talking to one of the other patrons, a man originally from Austria working in Baden-Baden, and enjoyed a nice meal and a few beers along with the Bayern Munich v Real Madrid game.
Despite spending a bit too much money there, this ended up being one of the best trips I’ve had. The ability to do everything I wanted to at a pace I wanted to made it relaxing. I would say, that this trip was one of the, if not the best, trip I’ve had. It may not have been fun and filled with night life, but it still was relaxing and breathtaking.
Easter Break! Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava:
Now, I’ve had some friends question why I would go to Vienna and Budapest again. It’s a waste of money, it’s a waste of time, and just overall why? Well, my roommates and I, Paulo and Alexa, were planning on doing a family trip to somewhere. We originally thought of Budapest but then found out it was so expensive to just get there from Frankfurt. The next best thing for us to choose a pre-set program by known trip organizer in the German area, Pm2Am. They preorganized a trip starting at Vienna for the day, leading to Budapest for a night, and then ending up at Bratislava the next morning. Being that Vienna and Budapest were the same things for me except for going there with different people, I didn’t really feel like explaining much about it. Bratislava, on the other hand, was completely new and unexpected. Being the capital of Slovakia, it wasn’t exactly the top of the list of anyone’s place to want to travel to. Yes, it has its castle and blue church, the Church of St. Elisabeth, but other than that it didn’t have much to see. It did have cheap prices on food though which makes it enjoyable for us to enjoy food and beer there! After a few hours of relaxing and just enjoying a local café, we were on the way back to Frankfurt. Let me say this, the best way to travel is by spending your night on a bus; saves you money by not needing a hostel and saves you time, but oh god is it painful and tiring.
Classes Getting More Hectic:
The last week of April ended up being my busiest time in school. I had a full week of classes and even had classes overlap on the same day, causing a lot of trouble and confusion on what class to attend. For a school that’s totally fine with overlapping your class, the teachers don’t really know how to tell you to prioritize which one to go to. It just showed me how happy I was to know I’d be going back to a more understandable school system but also showed how sad it was that I only had one month left of my exchange program.