Deutschland and beyond

Living in Germany

“Winter” (spring) break

So, we had the first full week of March off for our “Winter” break here in Bavaria (it’s really spring break, but whatever I’m not arguing details) and my original plan was to travel solely to Portugal. Then due to a culmination of factors, including but not limited to cheap flights, gatherings of friends, Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day, and travel opportunities, I decided to add New Jersey/New York into the mix. I left early Friday morning (mind you, I hosted an American drinking games seminar at my place Thursday night- not the best timing on my part) and landed in Newark, New Jersey Friday afternoon! First time back in the US in over six months and it was exciting but weird- not to speak English, but to hear others around me always speaking English as well as seeing my friends again. Looking back on it, the whole thing feels like it was just a dream.

After I landed, I made my way over to Hoboken where I stayed with three of my guy friends who went to BC. Various other additions of friends as well as people I didn’t know proceeded to make their way over to the apartment throughout the night and it ended up being a good time. Mind you, I was proud that I somehow stayed awake until midnight without napping which proved to be the best thing to fight off any potential jet lag. Saturday morning we were up early (about 7) and ready to take the first Irish car bombs at 8.

Girls celebrating St. Paddy's

Hoboken celebrates St. Patrick’s Day the first Saturday in March (like U of I and Unofficial) and I was not disappointed. I felt like I was back in college- in a very good way. I headed to the bar around 9.45 (yes, a.m.) and met up with some of my other friends- a few of the boys didn’t read their email very closely and didn’t know I was coming which made for a great unexpected surprise. The rest of the day was great just catching up with friends and everyone attempting to relive the glory days (so long ago… less than a year)

Sunday the weather perfectly reflected everyone’s hangovers moods and proceeded to downpour the entire day. I said bye to Jersey and headed into Manhattan. Had a casual night of sushi and New York style pizza for dinner while watching bad reality tv with most of the group from the bar the day before. Monday wasn’t too exciting except that I finally got my laptop fixed! I wholly appreciate the Genius Bar as well as the ability to explain the problems in English. I took advantage of being in the city and the nice weather and explored a bit (but not too much since I was lugging my suitcase everywhere) and later met up with Becky (my other half while studying abroad) after work! We met up with another friend for drinks after work (it feels so grown up saying that) then off to dinner where yet another friend joined us. Seriously, it was a great extended weekend for seeing/catching up with friends.

Tuesday came and after a relaxing morning and extensive shopping in Soho (Forever21 anyone?) it was time for me to leave the US yet again, at least until July. But don’t worry, my spring break adventure isn’t over yet. After my overnight flight, I landed in Lisbon Wednesday morning! I wasn’t meeting up with my friend until later so I explored the city by myself for most of the day. I took the Santa Justa lift (100 year old elevator which still functions) up to a platform for a great view of the city, then walked around to find some ruins and a cathedral (of course) which I went in and walked around (you’re welcome, dad). I walked down to the harbor/port and sat there for a while enjoying the warm weather. Later I met up with Philipp, a German friend of mine who I stayed with, and we went out to dinner at this great Brazilian-style restaurant. The plate comes with raw meat, a side of sauces, and a steaming hot stone on which you grill your own meat. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe how good it was. Afterwards, we bought some beer and enjoyed an even better view of the city at night (the views just kept getting better).

view of Lisbon

Thursday Philipp took me around the city and it’s safe to say I’m in love with Lisbon. I knew absolutely nothing about it before going, had no expectations, and now I would definitely go back in a heartbeat. We rode the old classic streetcars which are from the early twentieth century and are not really modernized at all. Lisbon may seem small at first glance, especially from some of the lookout points, but it’s deceiving. It’s made up of a series of hills (I think 7?) which makes it much bigger- and confusing- than I thought. The streetcars ride all over up and down the hills and were probably one of my favorite parts (along with the great views). Grabbed some coffee/breakfast in a park then did some more streetcar riding to various beautiful parts of the city. We took the metro out to the World’s Fair grounds (Lisbon hosted in 1998) which is right along the water. As Philipp explained to me, the theme of that year’s worlds fair was the ocean and everything was somehow connected to it.

Jesus, up close

Thursday was much more relaxing (not that any of this is stressful). Philipp had an interview for an internship so one of his roommates offered to make me lunch. She made some traditional Brazilian food (there was no shortage of good food this trip) and Philipp returned by the time we were done. Since he had rented a car for the day, we went to one of the premier attractions- the mall! We met up with two other friends of his since they had to go wetsuit shopping. The three of them were going to learn how to surf on Sunday at their friend’s beach house (yeah, their study abroad year has been really tough). After that fun excursion the four of us drove across the bridge to Cristo-Rei, or the Jesus statue. Yes, it looks exactly like the one in Rio de Janeiro but was surprisingly built after (and is 2 meters shorter, I think).

Thursday night we all went over to one of the guy’s apartments to cook dinner together- shrimp scampi, I was impressed, not to mention all of the seafood is incredibly fresh! We went out that night in Bairro Alto, a really fun area and right by the apartment, and I somehow woke up on time for my flight the next morning. Back in Germany it’s been cloudy and not as sunny, and I’m longing to go back to Lisbon already. This next week will definitely keep me busy (and hopefully give nicer weather?): I leave tomorrow for Berlin since we’ve got a week long seminar there for the Fulbright program. More updates after I get back!


March 18, 2011 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment