fly the seven seas

Experiences and observations of a Sydney girl in Germany


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Mixed traditions

Australians are a little bit special – most of us carry something extra around with us, something that confuses a few but mostly adds a little spice to who we are.

I’ve always grown up saying I was an Aussie – and with my mum’s strong bush accent, and childhood stories she shared at the dinner table, it wasn’t hard for me to figure out where I came from. When I learnt that this wasn’t the whole story, things got interesting. With both grandparents and my father having made the 4 week journey by sea to Australia from Greece, deciding to make a life for themselves on the land of opportunity, it was obvious that there was something more to me. This became clear to me as my family intertwined small aspects of the Greek “ways of life” between the picket fence and Hills Hoist.

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Ya gotta see the baby

It’s a fact – we all go gaga over a newborn. There is no denying how special it is to appreciate what God has brought in to the world and in particular, being able to observe how babies and infants experience their miniature world. (No, I am not one bit clucky).

In December last year, the celebrity polar bear couple of Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo, Giovanna and Yoghi, gave birth to a set of twin cubs. The cubs, who are still unnamed, remained nestled closely with their mother for their first three months of infancy but have recently made their first steps on solid ground. Sneaky paparazzi images of the twins served the curiosity of the community while under their mother’s care – creating some hype in the community.

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The public can now visit the tiny creatures and as you can imagine, I jumped at the first opportunity I could find.

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Incomparable

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m a weather girl. When the sun sneaks its way on to my cheek of a morning through the small opening of my bedroom shutters I can’t help but get out of bed and get outside. The dark days of winter, those days where the drizzle just didn’t stop, only made me feel like battling with the kitchen knife and a 2 kilogram pumpkin to indulge in a creamy soup.

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As I’ve mentioned, we’ve been blessed with some unbelievably beautiful weather as of late. Germany’s not known for its sunshine – in fact when summer brings a solid two weeks of heat and sun, the crowds are more than pleased.

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Hearty cravings

Before moving to Germany, my knowledge of German food consisted of popular items found on the menu of Sydney’s Löwenbräukeller (pronounced Low-en-brow in Australia, and Looe-ven-broi in German) – schnitzel, sausages, pork knuckle and sauerkraut. As a self-professed ‘foodie’ (as they say) I would often watch Maeve O’Mara’s Food Safari and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and was interested enough to listen to my mum’s tips to know that in general Germans love a good apple cake, a potato could accompany most meals and German bread was an art form.

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As with most cultures, German cuisine offers a variety of specialties across the country – there are the North-Sea ‘prawns’ (Nord See Krabben) from the north, the filled donuts (Krapfen / Berliner Ball) from the east, the interesting combination of mash potato, apple puree and blood sausage that is ‘Himmel und Erde’ from the west and the white sausage (Weißwurst) of the south.

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Something in the air

Change is on its way.

Statisticians, especially when it comes to the weather – love to make comparisons. Last year Germany experienced the darkest winter in over 60 years. This winter we were lucky enough to see the sunniest winter in 30 years. While I couldn’t have personally made this comparison, I definitely noticed the abundance of blue skies over the last two months (I was too busy gallivanting around Australia to care about Germany’s weather in December). This meant the midday lunch break was spent outside rather than huddled in the work canteen and my bike has been disturbed from its winter sleep a little earlier. And with the sun came a very mild winter, especially after last years ordeal (now I’ve started with the comparisons). We saw some light snow in Munich as early as October, another little batch blessed us in November and late January saw a weeks worth – just enough to kick around and know it was winter.

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Taking a moment.

I recently celebrated my birthday – something we are all lucky to have each year.

Over the last two years I have noticed a change in my feelings towards my birthday and getting older in general. The lead-up now plays out a little differently.

With 20 I was more than excited to say that I’d be turning 21 – this was a time for the constant parade of the ‘new’ – new people, experiences, travels, concepts, ways of thinking, excuses for missing out on class, hairstyles, wisdom – and all the while having no idea about what would be around the corner.

A few years later and I still don’t know what will be around the corner (really, who ever does?), but I’m a little more certain it will be filled with a little less nonsense, carefree/rash decisions or Saturday nights spent in unknown locations.

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Happily ever after

Forget the news about efficiency, debt bailout packages, Oktoberfest records and NSA phone-tapping – Germany really is just one big fairytale.

Like many young girls, I grew up reading and was read the classical fairy tales from The Brothers Grimm (Die Gebrüder Grimm) and Hans Christian Andersen. Yes very cliched, but just for the record – Rapunzel, The Princess and the Pea and Snow White were my favourites.

Little did I know that decades later I would live amongst the settings and inspiration of my childhood fantasies. Since moving, I have managed to prance around the royal gardens and courtyards of some (or, lets say a handful) of Germany’s many palaces and castles.

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Behind the wheel

You wouldn’t believe it. Or perhaps you may, but I am still finding it hard to believe. I have been driving.

Why do I find this so hard to believe? Because I have been a bit of a wuss /  gutless wonder / excuse maker since moving here. When living in Sydney, I would’ve driven almost every day. I knew back-street routes, the one-way streets in the city and even the free parking spots that surrounded popular spots. I enjoyed driving and, after mastering manual after a few mandatory tantrums as a learner, I was a confident driver.

This all changed when I moved to Germany.

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The Hopeless Wanderers 3.0 – the last leg

And the road trip re-cap continues. I hope you’re not over it yet, we’ve still got a little left! I promise I will go back to discussing all things German very soon – pork-knuckles, snow flakes and fairytale castles, it’s all coming.

I last left off in Esperance, where, after a day of absolute bliss, the weather had again turned. This didn’t stop us from trekking on.

Cape Le Grand National Park

Located approximately 45km east of Esperance, Cape le Grand set up some high expectations for us with its marketing campaigns containing the below:

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Up until this point we had not made a single kangaroo spotting, a live one that is. For tourists and homesick natives, you can imagine how disappointing this would be. As we drove in to the Lucky Bay campsite, where we had planned to set up base for the night, we were pleasantly greeted by two roos, foraging for scraps left from campers (not the healthiest of options). We squealed, Alex jumped out of the van with the camera – nothing could wipe the smiles off our faces.

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Hopeless wanderers 2.0

News of heat waves across Australia and seeing photos of friends enjoying the summer swelter has meant I am still dreaming of our big adventure. We’ve had the case of the grey blanket in Munich over the last few days – not too cold but still enough to make you want to be huddled under the blankets all day.

Over the last week I’ve found myself flicking through the photos we took – mouth still agape at the vibrant blue skies and endless horizon. In my previous post I mentioned how varied the landscapes were across the trip – every new section revealed something new. And while it is hard to believe when you are driving in the same state, it is no wonder that when covering hundreds and thousands of kilometers that both the structure of the landscape, the weather, as well as the flora and fauna can dramatically change. Driving 4,500km from Munich – lets say we’re heading south east, and I would be somewhere close to Tehran, Iran. How many countries, landscapes and political disputes would we cross along that journey? Hmmm…Australia is big.

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