Heidelberg Tales: Re-Connecting with Old Friends

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Every time I go back to Germany, I also make a point in visiting the beautiful town of Heidelberg. Since I studied and lived here for a while, I have remained in touch with quite a few people. It still surprises me that I am still friends with co-workers, study buddies and roommates after being abroad for 5 long years. Read More »

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To Lose Your Heart in Heidelberg

Second destination: Heidelberg. Some two and a half eventful days in the medieval city of Germany and still enough time to see a handful of friends – I am very proud of myself!
I used to live here for roughly two and a half years when I was a student and before I moved to New York. One thing I can definitely say is that I have lost my heart in Heidelberg. Its old buildings, its peaceful but refreshing vibes when walking in the Altstadt and its interesting events still capture my interest from so far away.

It is also close to several bigger cities, such as Mannheim (20 mins drive), Frankfurt (1 hour by car), Speyer with its Dom and famous wine fest in September (30 mins drive), and Strassbourg/ France (1 ½ hours by train, possibly less by car). It doesn’t take too long to hit up Paris when you use the ICE, as I had a great 3-hour-ride once on the train from HD to the French capital.

Heidelberg came into existence around 500 A.D. It has a castle, which I have talked about extensively in my last post back in September (read more here). It also has an old bridge which was, sad to say, destroyed during the big wars in the 20iest century but has been rebuilt thereafter. From the Philosopher’s Way you have a splendid view on Heidelberg. The city looks just like a doll house – as I have heard a native tourist guide describe it to his faithful sheep listeners.

Even though I already took a good amount of pictures the last time I was there, I just couldn’t help it but shoot an entire new batch in April. The city has its own appeal during spring. The flowers that have just started blooming. Then the gorgeous weather, which I was lucky enough to have. A warm 21 Centigrade/ 70 Fahrenheit during my stay there, what more could I wish for?!
Supposedly, there is something new coming up called the Heidelberger Frühling – the Heidelberg Spring. I guess it is competing with the Heidelberger Herbst, which is the annual Heidelberg fall fest each September. My friend says it is mostly about all the stores being open until midnight but she does not know for sure if bands are playing in the old part of the city. Guess I will have to wait for her to tell me once it comes around. We already saw a bunch of green banners surrounding the bridges and advertising for this event.

Heidelberg's main shopping and bus center, the Bismarck Platz

Heidelberg is a student city. A high percentage of people (temporarily) living there are between the ages of 19 and 29 when walking the streets. It has several campuses and numerous universities, schools for higher education and private institutions – it is quite insane for a city of that size. The main university has been around since 1386. It is also considered an elite school and well known throughout the country because it is the oldest university of Germany. I know that parts of its campus is in the old part of town called Altstadt and in the Neuhenheimer Feld, which is an area across the bridge and kind of isolated from the rest of town. Since some of the dorms are located there it has become rejuvenated because of the high amount of students. The zoo is close to all of this, as well. Although the college kids, I am sure, can pose a zoo of their own, if they want to.

During those two and a half days I got to finally see my friend’s newborn child. Her five month old son is as gorgeous as she and a very active fellow. It was just the right weather to take a stroll down to the Neckarwiese. This is the lawn beneath the bridges and along the river Neckar, which flows through Heidelberg. As soon as the weather changes to spring and summer, people bring their picnic blankets and BBQ with them to have a good time here. My friend lives about five minutes walking distance away from one of the bridges – truly an ideal place to have a child with a baby buggy.

Gorgeous tree at the Neckarwiese

I also got to see some old folks I used to study with and people I used to work with during my innocent student years.

And then, surprisingly, I had a good talk with another blogger, who happened to move to Heidelberg just in November of last year. Amanda and her husband took the time to meet up with me at Café Gecko and stayed for a very long time considering the waking hours her hubby has to endure. This had been my very first time I met with someone I had only known through the virtual world and it was nice to see how they had adjusted to the new language/ country/ world. I hope you get to do some more fun traveling during your time there and that you also get your passport before you leave again, Amanda… 😉

A drunken night followed at the popular bar mile called Untere Straße with friends and acquaintances, which made us stay out until 2 AM. So far the longest I’ve managed to stay out on a Tuesday night in HD. The evening was well spent at a joint called the Reichsapfel. They offer a shot called Apfel Apfel – apple liqueur served with a slice of apple on top of it. The Untere Straße is a street where you can find one bar next to another. They are open every day, mostly until midnight or 2 AM (longer during the weekend and on Thursday). Bar culture in this town is very specific as you don’t find the usual drunk heads you would in smaller German villages, but a mixed crowd of (how could it else be) students, suit guys, and tourists trying to have a good time. Aside from two Irish pubs further down in the Altstadt, you also find a good deal of Americans here. Mostly GI’s or their spouses and family, who want to enjoy their time in Deutschland. On the weekends it can get out of hand with several dangerous bar fights and other happenings, that’s why you find many police cars patrolling the streets and being on a watch.

Us with our Apfel Apfel

Altogether I would say I had an eventful time, but I probably would like to be there for at least one additional day. Even after having lived there and just coming back for a visit, there is still so much to see and many more people to catch up with. A short trip is almost impossible to digest.

Viva la Heidelberg, you will most likely always be on my list of places to visit whenever I am back home.

[For more pictures, go to A Picture Every Day: Beautiful Heidelberg.]

Goodbye For Now!

It’s time again! I am doing another trip back home, back to Germany. Attending my wonderful friend’s wedding. Getting to see loved ones I have known since forever. Meeting up with people from my student years in the small town of Heidelberg

Yes, I have an eventful 10 days ahead of me. I am afraid I have more planned than I have time. As usual. Tomorrow I will board a plane on my favorite airplane, just like last year. Just like last year, I will first spend time with family, then with friends. Nothing else planned. Just a good old trip home. I am looking forward to seeing how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. I am even more looking forward to getting out of New York again. As they say, the City is only as good as you can afford to travel (every once so often). So when I come back, I hope I will see it with different eyes again.

With these thoughts in mind, I am wishing you:
A Happy (early) Easter vacation!

Last year it was Vegas for me, this year it’s Europe! My second trip of 2012, and I am about as excited but also calm as can get. It will be short and sweet.

See you in two weeks!

Traveling Through Europe: Die Bahn

As far as I remember, getting around Europe and especially Germany had never been as tedious and complicated as relying on public transport in the States. A trip to Paris in 2009 had only taken me 3 hours by train from Mannheim. Flying out to Austria that same year was accomplished by taking a cheap and fast shuttle to the airport Hahn. Easy.

This time I didn’t want to rely on my parents’ car during my stay, so I remembered the easy-going, well-working public infrastructure and confidently checked my options for getting from their place to Heidelberg, which is a two and a half hour drive by car – depending on speed and traffic, that is. The only way to comfortably travel would be through a railway company called “Die Deutsche Bahn” (DB), probably comparable to the National Rail in UK and not comparable to anything Americans have (Amtrak included). DB offers discounted tickets and packages to get from one European city to another, such as when taking a train from Cologne to Amsterdam or Paris, which can be as low as 60 Euro per ride but only takes two to three hours at the most. A trip from the Eifel, namely Bitburg to Heidelberg and back, was in about the same price range, which is really not that much considering the high amount of connecting trains you have to catch as the Eifel is very isolated. So when I booked my ticket I was glad that I had gotten a better deal than driving a car down there as dealing with the horrendous gas prices, which were around €1.50/l (roughly converts to $8.00/gal, compare the NYC average at $3.75/gal!), would have cost me way more than relying on the train system.

The entire ride to Heidelberg was supposed to take 4 hours, and perhaps half an hour more on the way back, a Sunday evening.

It already started pretty bad good: The train entering Bitburg was 2 minutes late. This might not seem like a big deal to Americans, as their trains are constantly late. But in Germany every connecting train has a tight schedule to follow. With a 2 minutes delay I only had 4 minutes to catch the train to Saarbrücken in Trier. I even almost made it to the right platform and was about to laugh out loud at how lucky I was when the ICE zoomed right past me towards the Southern tip of the rail. As I had been ignorant of North and South, I had stepped off the Northern end and there was no way I would make it to the South within one minute. Sure enough, just as I sprinted across the platform and arrived at the rear end of the last wagon, the train shut its doors (so much to waiting for paying customers!) and rode off – leaving me looking about as stupid as it gets at a train station in the middle of nowhere. This time I was rather lucky, though, as the person handling customer requests was having a good day and switched my ticket to a fast train going over Koblenz but directly into Heidelberg, meaning I would not have to switch at all anymore during the entire trip. So after about 5 hours I made it to my destination and thought it couldn’t get worse on my way back.

Boy was I wrong!

Sunday evening approached and 20 minutes before the train was scheduled to depart a thunderstorm set in, sending buckets of rain to the ground. Almost as bad as hurricane Irene. So before I had even started my trip my train back home was already delayed. This time I was supposed to switch two times during the trip but I had to stand in line at customer service again, because I would have surely missed the connecting train in Mannheim (since I had seven minutes of time). The train was 20 minutes late, the customer service agent was about as unfriendly as she could get and only grumpily stamped my ticket after I had pointed out to her that I would surely be kicked out of the train immediately without this form of approval. The best part was when she almost spat at me in her Eastern German accent and my friend standing next to me, a former Eastern European herself, looked as if she wanted to kill her for misrepresenting her part of the country so badly. I still laugh at this image in my head today.

The 20 mins delay in Heidelberg

Looong story told a teeny bit shorter: I took my delayed first train, which went straight through to Koblenz (up North, before going down South to Trier again – don’t ask me where the logic is). As it turns out, this particular train was experiencing a few difficulties along the way and had to be rerouted across a different bridge when passing through Mainz. Especially this last reroute caused a delay of one hour when arriving in Koblenz. Of course my connecting train to Trier was long gone by then. As I made it once again down to the customer service booth, I saw a pretty lost- and confused-looking American standing behind me, who was going the same direction (to Bitburg) and didn’t have a clue of how to communicate with these people (their English was rather moderate). Since we were going the same way, they told us to take the last ICE that evening, which would arrive in 20 minutes (this one was another 20 minutes too late, I really wonder what was going on that day). From Trier, though, there would be no connecting train to Bitburg considering the “late” hour of 11 PM, so they wrote us a coupon for a taxi. A TAXI! When all I wanted to take was the train. A cab ride from Trier to Bitburg is another 25 minutes, I assume. After seeing that our very last train was late, too, I gave up and called my mother. She said she could pick us up in Wittlich, which is only 40 minutes from their house. The American was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get a cab to his destination with his moderate skills in German and we gave him a ride to Bitburg. Both of us were simply glad when we made it back home and were able to escape the horrors of this adventurous, tedious, ridiculous trip!

So, in conclusion: A four and a half hour train ride ended up taking me six (!) hours on the road. I wouldn’t have made it to my destination by train but would have had to rely on means of taxi and the help of others. Only because I was able to understand what customer service told me I understood the concept of adjusting to new connecting trains (imagine foreigners trying to understand the chaos going on that day! Awful!).

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such an epic fail in public transportation in Germany. And I don’t think I ever want to do so, either. So the next time I’m planning on getting around to places which are less than 3 hours away, I will TAKE A CAR AND GLADLY PAY THOSE 8 Dollars per gallon! It’s better than having my time wasted and my nerves strained than having to go through something like this ever again!

Zänk juh for träwelling wis Deutsche Bahn.

Pictures I took on the way to and fro (since I had plenty of time):

Didn't even know they still had these!
Village on the river Moselle on my way to Koblenz
A train station I never wanted to see

Magical Times at Schwetzingen Schlosspark

Heidelberg by itself has a lot of history and several interesting cultural sites. I am not trying to take away the beauty of this student city to anyone who has never been or who loves it there.
But another good thing I have come to appreciate about Heidelberg is its proximity to other amazing villages, towns, and cities. Take Frankfurt International Airport for example. It’s a one hour drive away, and so is the Schwabencapital Stuttgart. Mannheim with its historic castle, high nightlife, and other attractions is a rough 20 minutes by car (depending on speed and traffic).

And then there is a small town called Schwetzingen right in between. It takes you only 10 minutes at the most to get there. When I had actually lived in the area, I hadn’t known too much about this town. I used to go there to have my hair trimmed and maybe stop for a scoop of delicious Italian ice cream in its cute pedestrian zone, since I was there anyways. For some reason I had walked past its castle (Schloss) many, many times before but had miserably failed to check it out or notice its beautiful assets hidden to my one-sided mind.

The castle! Surprisingly familiar to more people than one would assume at first for the popular German soul band “Söhne Mannheims” (Sons of Mannheim) with the well-known singer Xavier Naidoo have performed here on several occasions already. They call their acts “Wettsingen in Schwetzingen” (this is a funny German word pun roughly translating to “Singingly competing in Schwetzingen – it rhymes in German) and their beautifully composed songs reverberate from the historic halls of the Schwetzingen Castle. If you’re interested, check out this video, it conveys the gist of it all. Just seeing their performance can give you goose bumps. They are a great band!

When I checked out Heidelberg during my last visit, I also dedicated some time for a day-long stay in Schwetzingen. Now eight hours are surely not enough to meet up with friends, visit a flea market and see the entire castle, which closes at a certain time on Saturdays. However, eight hours turned out to be enough to meet up with friends, visit a flea market and see a small portion of the unique castle garden, which is open until 11 o’clock in the evening. We happened to eat at a restaurant right across from the castle. For those who are into Schnitzel with Cordon Bleu (really tasty French blue cheese) and good German beer, I can highly recommend this spot.

Italian ice cream
Schnitzel and Beer

While indulging in our typical German food, we got the idea of pretending to be complete tourists and doing some sightseeing. How much could we scoop into this quite sunny late-summer day (remember, we are still in the first week of September)? Well, the castle garden seemed like a great compromise since it was already past 6:30 PM and, as we found out, the entrance was half-priced in the evening, meaning it cost €2.50 per person (usually it costs € 5.00, which isn’t too bad, either).

So we entered through the old-style metal gates and stepped into a world which had been hidden from our eyes for too long already. What a great time we had here! I will let the pictures below speak for themselves, but before I do this, I will give you some interesting facts and figures:

The garden was designed under the supervision of several kings but notably it attained its biggest influence in the second half of the 18th century by a landscape architect called Nicholas de Pigage. Rumors have it that the many side entrances and the maze that can be found in the garden were intended for hide-and-seek-games with the current king’s mistresses. The entire gardens measure 30 km (19 miles) in length, so it would take you forever to walk this piece of Eden on earth. I am not sure if you can rent a bike or bring your own, you might want to check into that, as it facilitates matters. Many hidden paths and other beautiful ornaments revealed themselves to our curious eyes when we stepped off the main path and we got to see at least three wedding couples on this day – one of them who was shooting a video and who will probably have us in the background, sadly.

Despite us walking for almost three hours past some carefully designed flower beds and fountains, we didn’t really get to see much of the Schwetzingen Castle Gardens, maybe an estimated 10 percent. I find it a great place to work on your photo skills and to shoot pictures of unforgettable value.

And Schwetzingen not only has a castle, medieval churches, stores, and tasty Italian ice cream, but it is popular for its asparagus, too. White asparagus, that is. Asparagus season is only for two months each year, and if you miss it, then you won’t be able to eat freshly planted, local goodies. I believe asparagus season in the Southwest of Germany is from the end of April until the end of June, but this can vary, of course, depending on how warm spring season starts off.

Asparagus statue in Schwetzingen

HeidelBERG not HeidelBURG

This is the deal (sorry Makya, had to steal that!). Most Americans, Europeans, and tourists from countries other than Germany get the name of this city mixed up. Heidelberg means a city with mountains and hills (-berg), whereas Heidelburg (which doesn’t exist, by the way) refers to a city with a castle (=burg). Short introductory German course, here. To complicate matters, aside from Heidelberg having a few hills it is also popular for its medieval castle. For some reason especially Americans always think lovely H-town is called Heidelburg; but I believe this slight misunderstanding can be led back to problems in pronouncing German words. You want to know the right way of intonating this city’s name? Hide-l-bark.

Anyhow, Heidelberg is one very beautiful town. I used to spend 2 and a half years in this city because I completed my school degree there and have come to love the town instantaneously. It’s a mix of people, geography, historic sites, and of course the weather that has fascinated me from the very first week I moved here. You should know that the warmest spot in Germany lies only 30km (half an hour drive) away, thus making Heidelberg a truly sunny, warm, and sometimes humid spot during the summer while casting a relatively mild climate onto the city during winter months. Now I am no one to complain about German weather. But after living in Florida and then in Heidelberg for an extended period of time, I do wish I could be around this weather a bit longer, especially from December to March.

Aside from the climate, Heidelberg offers unique bits and pieces of history. It is home to the oldest university in Germany, which was founded in 1386, and its campus is spread all over the old parts of town and the Neuenheimer Feld, which you can reach by bike when you pass the bridge.
The Altstadt is my favorite part about Heidelberg. You find many historic churches, museums, small entry-ways, cute cafés, fountains, and other statues here that make it hard to choose what to take in first. Much history lies in those few streets, and I recommend going off the beaten paths. The Haupstrasse is the longest continuing shopping street in Germany (the longest, not biggest!), and it leads past many shops, restaurants, theaters and souvenir shops. Don’t hesitate to take that left or right turn and to sneak down a seemingly empty cobble street to see what could and will surprise you.

Heidelberg's pedestrian zone
Small cobble stone side street leading to another historic church

Now to the castle: Built before 1214, it has been ruined from the 16th century on by natural disasters and wars, and its remains continue to look impressive on top of its hill, which is a slope leading to another historic site called the Kaiserstuhl. Germans happen to differentiate not only between a hill and a castle but also between different sorts of castles: Schloss and Burg. Since the English language does not make a significant difference between either, I’m struggling to explain it to you. A Schloss has more ornate elements, is beautifully made up, and was invented for purposes of pure representation while a Burg is a rough-looking building simply meant for defense and was built a few hundred years before they came up with the idea of a Schloss. Here are two pictures emphasizing the difference:

Schloss Schönbrunn in Wien/Vienna
Burg Eltz at Koblenz

As you might not be able to tell, Heidelberg has a Schloss, not a Burg, but it looks like a Burg because its Schloss was ruined during various ages which have left it destroyed to a good amount of deal. So every summer the city celebrates its castle with something called the castle illumination (Schlossbeleuchtung) for three whole times from June to September. The castle looks quite beautiful when glamoured up by a fake fire inside its ruins and firecrackers breaking the silence over the old bridge. I consider this event a magical moment.

Heidelberger Castle during one warm summer day

Aside from the hills, the town is also likely to be called the Philosopher’s Town for many poets, writers, and thinkers have made it out here at one point in their lives. There is a path called the Philosopher’s Walk which leads around Bergheim all the way on top of a hill and from there you have a beautiful sight onto medieval churches, old buildings, and the aforementioned one and only castle of Heidelhill. I hiked this path once with my friend who was visiting me and who was eager to do the walk. I don’t think I’ve ever been in so much pain when slouching uphill before. But the scenery unfolding in front of us was really worth the battle! So if you ever want to do something you might feel proud of, do this!

My time in Heidelberg was limited during my last visit. I only had four days of time to meet up with old coworkers, old friends, old students, and folks I didn’t know existed until I had to bitter-sweetly say my good-byes again. We managed to go out on almost every night I was there, even on a Thursday, which I had rarely done before. I guess the party is happening where we are because we had an excellent evening filled with fun events. I managed to visit my old work in the Rohrbach part of town and was happy to see how things had changed and how they had stayed. Since I had worked in the wine industry, my former boss even gave me a good bottle of wine, which I happened to forget at my pregnant friend’s house, but she will surely use it to celebrate her baby’s birth. Or so I hope!

I didn’t think I would have such a good time in the old city and I cannot wait to go back for another visit, maybe for a bit longer the next time! Among the towns to see in Germany, I consider this to be on the very top of that list (after Munich and Berlin perhaps) because it offers so many historic sites on one spot.

Heidelberger Bismarckplatz
Streetperformer
Random street

The Old Bridge

And who knows? Maybe one day you will lose your heart in Heidelberg… And get a student kiss or two! Mwah!

Heidelberg Student Kiss retail store
Apfelstrudel
Historic tram at the Bismarckplatz

Back Again, Back Again, Once Again I Am Back Again!

Loaded not only with an extra bag or two of chocolates but also weighed with memories worth a ton I return to the American continent. As for today, I’ve already slept the obligatory 12 hours after two days of restlessness and now I should be good to go. 18 days might seem long at first but they were really too short in hindsight as time has flown by in a wink.
Quick hours in the medieval city of Koblenz, a brief stay in Heidelberg and Schwetzingen, a glorious trip to the British capital, and a one-week-period of seeing family and friends again have made this excursion back home unforgettable. A bittersweet taste still lingers on my tongue as I try to sort out my thoughts on various trips and experiences. Overall, it was fantastic to reconnect with old and new people but of course it is always sad to say goodbyes in the end. Especially since I truly never know when I will see these people again.
Now, just let me figure out how to put these thoughts in words and colorful pictures and then I can’t wait to share with you all the great impressions I was able to accumulate in two very different countries. Fall in Europe – surely one of the best times for a visit!

PS: I couldn’t happen to notice an abundance of nice blog posts I’ve completely missed out on throughout the past two weeks! You’ve surely been creative, I have to say. Looks like I will take some time to read all the exciting things you guys have come up with recently!

Time to Say Good-bye

The time has come to conclude this week’s posts with a good-bye, see you soon writing.
Irene has flooded, hurdled, and winded New York a bit and even induced the temporary closing of JFK for an entire weekend ( I hope Irene is very proud of herself!) but she has not managed to delay my flight to FRA (Frankfurt International Airport) today. Therefore, I will be getting out of this despicable dirt hole whirling madhouse city called the Big Apple in less than 24 hours, which is this night, September 1st (I know, most ideal date to fly!). The plan is to come back on Sept 18 (There, I even gave you the EXACT date! Hah!), but who knows if I ever decide to take that plane back… Homesickness is still there. Well, until I made up my mind, I am nonetheless planning on rejoining my very different life in the city of New York on Sunday in two and a half weeks.

Since I am going on a vacation, I doubt I will be able to update you with new stuff from the continent of Europe. However, don’t hesitate do click on here once in a while, as there are many old posts that deserve some reading. For the ultimate list of highlights, check out this link.

And if you get bored with reading through the most recent posts and the top ten, how about you do some discovering on your own? Especially for those subscribers who have joined me pretty recently in the past few weeks, just go here to start from the beginning. 18 days is a nice time to read through one post after another, you could do it two posts a day, three posts a day, or no posts a day – however you want.

The plan is to go home for a week, then visit old friends at my former university town until I hit London up for a stay of four days (I know, waaay too short). Thus, I’ll be seeing at least one new exciting place, as I have never been to UK before, and I’m sure it will be an interesting adventure. I am actually itching to know how the Brit capital compares to the biggest metropolis of the US, but I have the feeling these two cities do not like to be compared to each other, after all…

See you soon, folks! Hope I’ll have some new pictures I’ll be able to show you soon and some funny stories I can share with you. Arrivederci, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Bye and tune in for more news in September!
Winke Winke!

A Few Words on Heimweh

The first feeling of homesickness showed up unannounced on my doorstep on January 15, 2011. I remember this day so exactly because it was the day I thought I would turn crazy. All the ups and downs of emotions I was going through and all the things I was trying to do to prevent this feeling from slowly taking me over – oh how I still know it all too well. I posted a long status on homesickness on my Facebook page. I shot a video about homesickness with my cell phone camera. I wrote down a journal entry on homesickness. Nothing seemed to help. I went through weeks of sadness and pain, only increased by the bland, gray winter that had taken over New York.

My Austrian friend finally gave me a good tip. She said I should not dwell on this feeling but rather distract myself with other things to do. To emphasize her point, she wrote me a few nice lines and gave me some treasure hunts to accomplish. This finally gave me the idea of discovering new places and trying out new locations in New York and around, albeit it was in a hurtful manner I took these on, for my heart was still aching every time I thought about Germany.

Up until recently I didn’t notice that I had probably never overcame the feeling of homesickness after it took me over in January. When I booked my ticket en route home a few months ago I finally felt a relief of several sorts. First, I was happy to set foot back again in the country of honey and milk. Second, I couldn’t wait to see those few friends who hadn’t made it out to a visit during the past one and a half years. Third, I was desperate to travel to more locations in Europe to check out some other big cities.

I had felt so good in the beginning, because New York had kept me busy for the first 9 months of my voyage. Even though I had a return flight scheduled for August of 2010, I never took this opportunity to go back because I felt no need to fly home after five months already. I wanted to wait until I had achieved something I could tell my friends and family about. The airline set the ticket back and determined the latest date I could use it would be March of 2011. The closer this date drew, the more I knew I would not be able to afford to go back in spring by means of time and money. Maybe this is also when I realized that the date I would return home would be indefinite and it could have triggered some negative thoughts about being stuck in New York.
Indeed, a friend from France thought it not wise to stay away from home for so long. He makes the effort of going back to Bordeaux every now and then, in intervals of four to five months. I consider this not to be a bad idea, either, when looking at how many weeks I have felt miserable just because I couldn’t take my thoughts of the question of when would I be able to return home.

I had effectively managed to keep myself quite busy in the months before: There was so much to explore in this area that I felt satisfied just walking up and down the streets – watching the people, the buildings, and the surroundings. Truly, I felt quite the opposite way: Whenever I thought of having to return home, a feeling of pressure overcame me. I knew it was not yet my time, there were still so many things undone in the Big Apple, which had to be carried out first. I had German friends here, who brought with them the native language and the European mentality I was really not missing all too much in 2010.

On top of this all, I was distracted from the so-called family-oriented holidays because of my visitors during these crucial times: Two of my closest German friends paid me a visit during the two big holidays in fall. For Thanksgiving my friend from high school came to New York and stayed for one week straight. We had our own dinner-to-say-thanks and brushed off the chaos of Black Friday with a laugh. During the Christmas days, known as the ultimate family holiday, my friend of the past 15 years came to Brooklyn with her younger sister and I never thought about being home for a second. They also brought many German sweets which lasted a month and stilled my cravings for home-known food.

Thus, November and December were quite tolerable. January was different. January brought the cold and made me hate winter for the first time here. I couldn’t bear the thought of witnessing yet another snow fall. I was convinced I would never see the light of day, not to mention spring, in the City again. The summer seemed so far away and like another era long passed and certainly never to return. Everything appears to be more depressing during winter days over here, so it certainly did not do much in alleviating my sorrow.

After giving into my pain for a while, I jumped into the opposite direction and right onto the travel track: I made it to Boston, DC, and Las Vegas – three trips within one and a half months. I did help as I met many like-minded Europeans and other travelers from all over the world who could share my pain and distract me from my pitiful thoughts. They also showed me how to have a good time despite homesickness and opened my eyes to a world dedicated to discovering new continents, triggering dreams in me of traveling the globe one day.

Unfortunately, homesickness does not only happen to me (I am sorry to say). And New York has this thing of you being completely satisfied and occupied in the city of heaven and hell until well into 9 months of your stay. Then it slowly creeps up on you and hits you with such a force you have no choice but to fall down hard. Which makes it so much more difficult to get back onto your feet again. I heard from several other accounts that nine months is a good point in time to expect homesickness kicking in. So prepare yourself for this if you are thinking of moving to the Big Apple.

Now it is two more weeks until I will board my plane to FRA International Airport and spend 18 lovely days on the continent of Europe again. I combined a stay at home with a stay at my university town and even managed to shove in a visit to London (this has been on my list ever since I moved to New York as I am itching to compare these two cities).
Maybe when I come back I will be able to appreciate the beauty of New York once more in a way I have not been capable of since the beginning of this year. The wish of being home again has been just too deeply rooted in the back of my head.