9.30.2022: Alex’s Summer Trip to Germany (Part 3)
Alex's Summer Trip to Germany (Part 3) Heading link
I spent six weeks in Germany this summer (see my earlier blogs about my time in Berlin and taking classes at an intensive language course). After three and half fun weeks in Berlin, I started my mini-tour around Germany. From Berlin, I took a quick hour-long train ride to Leipzig. It was the first former East German city I have ever been to. The residential parts of the city have a nice charm to them. It was much quieter than the city center, and it felt like you were not in a city. This was a much different feeling than I got from Berlin. Berlin just has this rugged busy feeling that everyone always has something going on (even if it is just relaxing in the park), and they are happy that other people are around to see it. Berlin’s neighborhoods all feel different, and they all have different purposes, but you never forget you are in Berlin. There is a saying that “Berlin is not Germany it is Berlin.” I definitely agree. It was much different than all the other cities I visited because of how international it is.
I enjoyed Leipzig a lot. My favorite place was the zoo. I went on one of the cooler days we had, and all the animals were active and having fun in their areas. It was very similar to an American zoo, but it had a lot more animals from North America than you would typically see in an American zoo. The best ice cream and gelato I had was in Leipzig (a very important thing to have when it is constantly 90 degrees with no AC). The heat got unbearable at times. Germany went through a continuous heat wave for weeks, and there was no rain. Even in July, parks are all brown, and leaves are falling from trees because they are not getting sufficient water. All the rivers and lakes were incredibly low. My father, who lived in Germany for over twenty-five years, said he has never seen a summer like this. There used to always be a heatwave for a couple of days each summer, but while I was there, Germany had a heat wave for about four weeks.
In the summer of 2022, there was a deal from the German government that you could travel all around Germany on public transit for only a monthly fee of nine euros (around USD 9.10). Trains traveling across the country are packed like sardines, but for only nine euros, I dealt with it. There were moments when trains were so full that they could not allow any more people on. But, I always ended up where I needed to. After Leipzig, I spent seven and a half hours on trains to get to the oldest city in Germany, Trier. The city was a Roman city 2000 years ago, and there are many ruins. Every time the city has to dig in the ground to build something, it has to be careful because there is a high likelihood that they will find some Roman ruins. My favorite is the Porta Nigra, a large gate that is the start of the pedestrian area of the city. One night there was a techno DJ under it, and a bunch of people (including myself) danced along. Karl Marx, the writer of The Communist Manifesto, was also born and grew up there. The city is surrounded by lush vineyards, and the Mosel River flows through the west part of the city. It is a beautiful area that shows a more normal side of life in Germany.
Trier is also my father’s hometown, so I visited with some family friends. They were all people my father knew from his youth, who have kids my age. We went out to dinner at different restaurants around the pedestrian zone of the city. It had been seven years since I saw them last, so it was great to see them again and practice my German. I definitely struggled when talking with them. I could understand everything with no problem, but it was hard to speak. I always felt so limited in my responses because I cannot speak German as I can in English. When you talk to friends, that’s when you really notice the everyday vocabulary you need to learn. It would be frustrating when I met with friends of family friends, and they would be talking as a group, and I felt like I could not contribute adequately. I tried when I could and followed along with the conversation, but I did not always feel like I was part of the conversation. It is definitely something I have to get used to, but it also lit a fire under my butt to want to be better. So I am following through with my plan to watch German YouTubers to practice listening and understanding colloquial language within a proper context.