"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kassel: German Cleveland and Birthplace of Fairytales

Hello once again, loyal (and very patient) readers.  Comin' atcha from my very own flat in Kassel, Germany.

Hard to believe I've been here a week and a half already.  Time has flown, but unfortunately I don't exactly have very much to share that is blog-worthy, thus far.  I've gotten to know my employers and co-workers, and have made pretty good friends with two teachers living in my apartment building.  I've had my fair share of training sessions and meetings, and long treks around Kassel to sketch out my various tram and bus routes to our assorted clients.  I can only say I'm pretty damn grateful that riding the tram in Kassel is far less painful than doing the same in Istanbul, because I am going to be on trams and buses a LOT.

To get to Kassel from DC, I took IcelandAir through Reykjavik to Frankfurt, and then hopped on the ICE train to Kassel.  That last leg was surprisingly brutal, but once again I owe my traveling success to the kindness of strangers, this time in the form of a woman I met in the station cafe who happened to also be going to Kassel on the same train.  Folks from my company were there at the Kassel station to greet me, and they put me up in a nearby hotel because my apartment wasn't ready yet.

I think I have to finally admit to myself that, while the will is stronger than ever, my body simply cannot shrug off these long painful trips like it used to.  I was wrecked.  Nonetheless, the idea of grabbing a sad little sandwich and eating it in my hotel room was positively unacceptable for my first night in Germany, so I rallied and ended up enjoying a very nice meal (and beer!) at a bistro across the street.  And then, a very climactic shower and head-hitting-pillow, which was pretty damn wonderful.

They moved me into my flat on Saturday, and it's... okay.  Hardly paradise but it's an actual one-bedroom, not a studio, and I even have two twin beds.  There's also plenty of storage and a big desk in the living room which is great given the work from home I'm pretty sure I'm in for.  The location is great, and that's the most important thing.

As fate and scheduling would have it, I've ended up only teaching one class so far.  The downside of that means that I've not made any money yet, but the upside has been that I've been able to focus on getting settled, and planning for the classes that will kick off tomorrow, Monday.  I feel like the days have been both long and tiring but in truth, not a huge ton has happened.  Perhaps extended old lady jet lag is to blame?

Kassel might not be edgy like Berlin or full of oompah-ing good times like Munich, but it's a pretty city.  (A colleague recently compared it to Cleveland.)  My neighborhood is one of the few that actually survived the WWII bombings, and there are a lot of olf beautiful buildings scattered about.  I've gone out a few times with friends and colleagues, and finally on Wednesday night I netted my first bratwurst and Oktoberfest-sized beer!  Kassel might be Germany's Cleveland, but there's no shortage of food options.  In fact, last week I actually had my favorite Turkish junk food, Iskender.  The joy of finding said delicacy was mitigated by the fact that it was kind of crappy Iskender (ranch dressing instead of yogurt, WTH), but at least it was available.

There are a bunch of museums and art galleries in Kassel, but I have yet to pass the threshold of a single one.  I feel kind of awkward about that; it has been ten days and really I have not been that busy.  But the only touristy sightseeing thing I've managed to do was a walk through the beautiful Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe last Sunday with my new friend and fellow teacher, Jocelyne.

The Schloss Wilhelmshöhe Museum, which we did not go into.

The impetus for our afternoon hike were the impressive cascade water features and fountain which is the unequivocal highlight of the park.  The water is only turned on at certain times, and Jocelyne had gotten word that this past Sunday was going to be it for the season.  So we humped it on up the mountain and got there just in time!

You can see the water starting its way down
At the foot of the cascades
 Standing guard over this marvel is a giant bronze statue of Hercules, which is modeled after the Hercules in the Naples Museum.  After they turned the water off again and the crowds thinned out, Jocelyne and I climbed approximately 4,565 steps and went to say Hi to him.

His best side.  I couldn't get a photo from the front.
On the way down, we took a little detour and ended up at Löwenburg Castle.  You know... just a freaking castle tucked away in the woods.  If this is not the complete and utter land of fairytales, I don't know what.  Oh, and did you know that the Brothers Grimm wrote their stories in Kassel??

Exiting the park, Jocelyne and I stumbled onto Route 66, an "American-style cafe", and I had a jalapeno cheeseburger that was to die for.  Castles and jalapenos.  I love Germany.

Now, a week later, I'm feeling more or less settled in, but still just kind of tired.  I was hoping to pep myself up before my week of early mornings and long days starts tomorrow, but no luck I guess.  Germany needs to take a page from Italy's book and install little espresso bars every ten feet.

Well, stay tuned.  Maybe next weekend I'll have some Brothers Grimm awesomeness for you.  And there's still half of Egypt to go!

No comments:

Post a Comment