So..we’ve been here for 9 months now and you could say we’ve had some major adjustments during this time, but we’re finally getting the hang of things, and even though the language thing is still really hard, we can see how far we’ve come so that’s keeping us motivated to keep going with it (most of the time).
On a positive note we’re well and have survived the European Winter (which is still here by the way). I did get very excited a couple of weeks ago when the temperature on my weather app hit 12 degrees and I caught myself thinking how warm that is. Since then we had a massive snow storm and it’s been hovering just above 0 the last week or so. I now understand why everyone goes so crazy in Summer here and really makes the most of it. We arrived at the perfect time in June with all of the Summer festivals with everyone so happy, and it really was such a great first impression. I’m not sure I would have the same first impression if I had arrived in the middle of Winter!
As for the language barrier issues, I’d never really thought about just how difficult things can be if you can’t speak the language in a country, until we moved to Germany. Even the basic of things are so much harder! For example, getting letters in the mail these days involves a lot of translating and a lot of effort! Quite a few letters have wound up in the bin after a very brief skim. I get random text messages from my mobile phone provider – which I now ignore as I at least understand the ‘gist’ of it as sales promotions etc. But just signing up to a loyalty program involves filling out a two page form which ordinarily wouldn’t be a big deal if it was in English…
We’ve made the most of the cold weather and have done a few weekend ski trips over the past couple of months – the first trip was a one day trip to Winterberg in Germany, and the other two trips were to some ski resorts in Austria and Switzerland, which were great. We’d never skied in Europe before so it was a challenge! We had a great time and met a lot of other expats who live in Frankfurt who are also part of the ski club, including some more Aussies, which is always good!
The ski club was really big on the ‘apre-ski’ drinks after skiing each day, which was fun. The Austrians seemed to get the most into the apre ski scene, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the really hardcore ones just did an hour of skiing and then went to the bar for the rest of the day! In one of the bars at Montafon in Austria, everyone was singing along to some pretty funny European songs – I’d never even heard the songs! It was also pretty standard for people to stop for a mid-morning ski break on the slopes, with a beer in hand, and loud 90s music blaring across the slopes!
Below is Winterberg which was a smaller ski resort, set in some pretty thick forest, which looked really beautiful in the snow.
Above – cute snow animals made by a lift maintenance man to kill some time – at Disentis in Switzerland – he said it’s a full time job maintaining the snow animals!
Below- the awesome view from the top of the mountain at Montafon, Austria.
Above – some very pro looking skiers making some tracks in fresh powder snow at Montafon, Austria
Below – getting some sun and taking in the view at Disentis in Switzerland.
We also celebrated Australia Day in Frankfurt in the snow, which was a bit different! We had brunch with some other Aussie friends at ‘Yours Australian Bar’ in Frankfurt, which does a good brunch for 7 euros, but the general menu is a bit over the top with the ‘down under’ theme. I’ve never seen so much emu, kangaroo, and crocodile meat on a menu! We went to a Frankfurt soccer game afterwards and finished the night in an Irish Bar, singing along to some Aussie classics like ‘A Land Downunder’. It’s funny how much more patriotic you get overseas – we all had our Aussie green and gold colours, and made a day of it, despite the freezing temperature. Tim and I also made an ‘Aussie’ snowman!
Back in January we took the train to Amsterdam for the weekend. We hired bikes for the day and rode around the inner city canal area, which was fun. The city surprised me actually, because I’d visited 10 years earlier and had a completely different impression of the place (to do with the fact that I went there on a Contiki tour for one day and they took us to the red light district and that’s about it). It’s actually really pretty around the central canal area with lots of nice restaurents and shops. We also went to the Graphic Design Museum in Breda, which was a nice day trip out of Amsterdam, and a very cool museum!
Above – some artful bottle collections on a houseboat in a central Amsterdam canal.
In February we celebrated Karneval here in Germany- which I had no idea was so crazy and such a big thing here (well at least in some parts of Germany). A friend and I went to Mainz, a city about 20mins outside of Frankfurt, which gets right into Karneval. We were terribly underdressed – we needed a whole head to toe costume if we were to get even close to competing with everyone else. It think the photos do enough of the explaining – but it’s really like all these Germans get transported into another world for the day, and no one cares how ridiculous they look – and how can you argue with that!
Just to finish off, here are a few shots from the festival, but if you want to see some more colourful outfits check out the album at the end of the post 🙂