fly the seven seas

Observations of a Sydney girl rocking Germany


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Shades of grey

It’s officially here. I don’t have to look past the long faces on the train passengers every mornings to know that its that time of year again. That time where, everyone would happily donate every woolly jumper in aid for some small hint of warmth.

After the excitement of Christmas has worn out and a few days on the slopes have been enjoyed, the sight of snow is just bleh. The once-dreamy, romantic and festive love of snow is replaced with awkward-looking piles of icy mounds on the side of the road.

The days of sunshine here and there are too easily missed when most days are just plain grey. The nights’ frost draws a silver grey outline on trees. Street pollution paints the unmelted snow on the roads with a dirty grey. Frost and snowfall shadow cars in a dark grey. Look around at the train station and you’ll notice the sea of blacks, browns and greys (with the odd fur trim) of coats and scarves – this grey is contagious. And simply just endless. (I’m not going to dare post any photos of this bleak grey – no thank you!)

This feeling is not just because I’m a “displaced” aussie unaccustomed to the endless winter – with every third person down with the flu, or simply just over it – its quite obvious that if a petition to end winter now were created, we’d be seeing the buds of the crocus’ popping out of the grass next week. Sadly we know this just isn’t going to happen. It also doesn’t help to see the latest spring fashion flood all shop windows, knowing that anything new bought will sit in the cupboards for at least another 5 weeks.

Now I agree, this post is far from being cheery – and rightfully so – what I wouldn’t give to be sitting on the balcony in a loose singlet, listening to the hum of bees sucking the nectar from the parade of lavender, while the sun beats on my cheeks causing sweat beads to drip down my arms. Much better than shielding my eyes from chaotic snow flakes. So – what do I do when I know that such days are simply out of reach? I dream. Of sunny days. Of endless blue. Of shorts and flip-flops. Of sticky nights. Of days by the lake. Of sand-covered ankles. Of mango smoothies by the pool. I dream. And it helps.

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I also like listening to these guys.

Join me – let’s fight this grey.

Cheers,

Alex


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Winter wonderland

My alarm bell went off yesterday at 5:45 am, which for a Sunday does not go down so well (or so often) within these four walls. But – I rolled out under the warm covers, peered under the small slit left open in the blinds to see a fresh layer of white, powdery snow and reconsidered whether I really wanted to join the crazy snow freaks in their bulky and uncomfortable boots to hit the slopes.

It was a tough call but the little devil on my shoulder didn’t win – I woke up with an aim; to master that snow plough*. And after a few hours, sore shins, frozen fingertips and an elegant fall in an unexpected mound of deep, fresh snow, I had mastered it – and even on some “proper” slopes. I wouldn’t be lying if I said that I’m a little proud of myself. Having donned the skis for the second time after almost 27 years of missed opportunities, I don’t think I’ve done too bad for myself – but I won’t be seeing any black runs any time soon thanks.

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Alongside the skiing, it’s safe to say that this winter is really feeling like winter.

We were blessed with a winter wonderland one only dreams of over the festive holiday.

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We built a snowman outside the apartment on New Years Eve, who resembled my grandfather but was sadly defaced with leftover fireworks.

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I enjoyed watching my brother and my Alex shovel the sidewalks, only to have them recovered in snow only three hours later.

We escaped to the alps, where we sipped fancy drinks by wooden fires and woke up surrounded by snow-covered peaks.

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I’ve even had more than one opportunity to wear my favourite ear muffs (not that one should really have to find a reason to do so).

And while December brought some unbelievably rare, blue skies for German winter standards, January has seen my tally of sunny-winter-days looking a little sad. Let’s hope this changes.

And with my newly acquired skiing skills, I’m happy to say that I’ve so far made the most of these below-freezing temperatures.

I hiked across landscapes to see wild deer grazing and icy waterfalls.

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Bavarian charm

I hiked up a mountain purely to fulfil a childhood dream; to sled all the way back down. While I sled down with a little caution (on a natural mountain track, your only barrier are the trees that line the hillside) there was not a moment you couldn’t see a grin across my face.IMG_5609 3

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I have laid my exercise mat in the icy snow of my favourite nearby park to complete a good set of burpee frog jumps, lunges and high jumps (thanks Freeletics) and as a result, eat a good mouthful of snow.

I put on an awkward looking and even more awkward feeling pair of snowshoes to trek up untrodden tracks while listening to the mountain stories of a local.

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And I hit the ground countless times as I made a brave attempt at cross-country skiing.

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No winter adventure is complete without an Apfelstrudel

So, from someone who had only known winter to be a 15 degree sunny day, who’s winter wardrobe contained only one wool coat and who’s hands would be ice cold in 26 degree heat, you could say that I haven’t shied away from the German winter. By dressing warm enough, I’ve finally realised why so many Germans don’t seem to be bothered by getting out there and embracing winter.

But let’s not get too carried away here, over the last few grey days I have been constantly dreaming of the blazing sun on my skin, seeing the heat steam off the asphalt roads, the sand found at the bottom of every handbag and how much I’m definitely going to miss a truly sticky Australia Day celebration (code for lamingtons). Hurry up summer!

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*Yes, I managed a little more than this – but there’s no need to talk it up too much…


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Entertaining germanisms

Every Wednesday morning, I walk out of the apartment on my way to the station, to be greeted by the bright orange rubbish truck that slowly rumbles its way along the street. It’s fun to watch the routine of the brigade of orange-clad men as they hang off the back of the truck, hopping off in unison and dispersing to various houses.
Although I try to avoid walking past the truck (nothing like the waft of rubbish to kill any sense of a fresh morning) it is often the case that two of said trucks are making their rounds on both potential routes out of my street, making the pass-by unavoidable. Each time I walk past the orange brigade (with my breath held of course), I receive the most cheery ‘Guten Morgen!’ from all of them (such a greeting you would gladly welcome at the city’s local authorities office i.e. das Kreisverwaltungsreferat). I’m proud to say that I’ve put aside my cold Sydney ways and return the greeting with a smile and the pleasant reminder of unfamiliar friendliness. This is what I like about the Germans – they love to greet.

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A spring guide to München

Longer days, the bright neon green of new foliage, unpredictable weather, a layer of pollen resting everywhere. Spring is definitely here.

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A city adapts itself over the seasons – the ‘wake up’ after winter being the most profound. Spring is therefore generally fresh, bright and cheery and Munich does not fall short of putting on a good show.

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