Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ready to go again

We are just about all packed and ready to set off to our new destination for this weekend. We are off to BERLIN! Stefanie's aunt now lives there, so we are off to visit her and also have a look around Berlin. We will probably go to some museums, maybe go up the tour, visit the wall and what ever else we can think of to do before Monday when we return back to Erfurt.

I will fill you all in when I then return again, and will include some pictures with it :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The ever reliable Deutsche Bahn

So many people think that the German railway is so efficient and much better priced than our English counterpart. However from my brief experience of it it does not seem to be that way.

To start with, there are always articles on the BBC website about how European railways are subsidised so much that it makes them a lot cheaper for the passengers to actually travel on them. However it seems here that a journey is about the same if not more expensive to a comparable one in the UK. Okay, so the Germans do have high-speed railway, but that is not on all routes, and especially not on the regional routes that I have been taking most recently. Yes our upcoming trip to Berlin on Thursday is on one of the high-speed trains. However our return is not and is just on a regular inter-city train. And to say that it was cheap would be far from the truth, it was the price we expected to pay, but it would be comparable to what we may have had to pay in the UK.

And then there was the service we have had over the last few days. On Monday we were meant to go from Plaue to Erfurt, change the train and then go to Jena West. The train journey from Plaue to Erfurt Hauptbahnhof went as it should have done and we changed platform to the one we now needed. However that is when things then started to go wrong. There was an announcement saying that the train had been cancelled and we needed to change platform to take a different train to Erfurt-Bischleben (which was in the direction we had just come from and further away from where we wanted to be) and that when we got there there would be a new train to take us to Jena West. So we got there and one platform was already full with other people trying to get to Weimar or Jena West. There were few announcements and on one announcement they said they had no idea when the train would be arriving or what platform it would be arriving on. Therefore we just decided to give up on trying to get to Jena and to just take the bus back to Erfurt.

We later found out on the radio that night that the problem was all down to a ferris wheel that was being transported and had falled off the wagon or something similar to that and had caused damage to a 200m stretch of the track.

We heard this at about 6pm that evening and so though that it would all be sorted by the time we then needed to take the train the next morning at 10:48. Luckily for us that train was actually running, albeit with a 10 minute delay. However we did pass the part of track that was being repaired and it seemed like they still had a lot of work to be doing. But we knew that we would be in Jena for a few hours and that surely again it would be fixed for our return.

On the way back we got on the train we were meant to, it left on time and all the announcements made seemed to suggest that we would be stopping at Hauptbahnhof. However when the train then left Weimar startion there was an announcement to say we would not be stopping at Hauptbahnhof, but would instead just be going straight through it and stopping at Bischleben, where we would have to take another train back.

To our annoyance there was nothing we could do but carry on, except we did have the idea to pull the emergency stop whilst the train was going through Hauptbahnhof as that would make the train stop there, but we did manage to refrain from doing this. At Bischleben there was much confusion as nobody knew what platform to go to and when the next train would be along. Especially as the train we had just been on, part of it had detached but we didn't know if it would be going to Hauptbahnhof or not as that it usually where it detaches.

Finally the one supervisor who was on the platform shouted over that this train was indeed going back to Hauptbahnhof and that we could all get on it. So we all rushed under the tracks to the platform we had just been on so we could board the train, luckily we were actually able to get a seat. We finally ended up back in Erfurt only about 30 minutes later than we should have been, but the point still stands.

So before fully criticising  the UK railway system next time it is always worth remember that train travel in other European countries is not always as great as the do like to make out.

Return to the Willage

So this past weekend we returned to Plaue, so that we could leave the city again. However we were not sure what we would really be doing as the weather forecast kept changing every day so we could not exactly plan to do anything at a specific time.

But we came here on Wednesday evening after Stefanie had finished university anyway. A friend of Stefanie's aunt called Yvette was staying there also till Friday and Stefanie knew her anyway so in the evening we had a chat with her along with drinking some nice sparkling wine along with my new favourite snack which are salted sticks. Thursday was spent relaxing in the garden as it was very sunny and hot and I will attach some pictures at the end to show you the view that we had. Yvette and I also went to the supermarket to get a few items and outside there was a Bratwurst stand, so of course we had one with senf and it was very, very tasty.

On Friday Stefanie had to go to university again so we went back to Jena on the train to her group meeting for a presentation she had to do. It was then back to Erfurt where we met a friend and had dinner outside. I had some very nice schnitzel which came with spaghetti and tomato sauce. Of course I had a beer to drink and because it was a Bavarian beer it included a slice of lemon in the top, so we returned to Plaue again.

On Saturday we went to her grandparents summer house in another village called Martinroda which is about a 10 minute drive from Plaue. The summer house is very nice as the garden has loads of trees and plants in it. For lunch we had some beef and traditional English dumplings. They taste very much like English dumplings, however they have little bread pieces inside and are very sticky, but still very nice. Whilst here so far there have only been two things that I haven't really liked, and that is cold asparagus salad and I am not so keen on the bread that they have here as it is very heavy.

It was raining on and off on the Saturday, but we still went for a walk in the forest which was very nice. Then the rain went so we played some 'badminton' in the street before returning to Plaue. I have also got a new favourite board game, however I am not sure of the name and it is not the easiest thing to describe by text. So I will try and find out the name and then let you know next time.

Sunday was again spent relaxing in the garden, playing the board game and also Stefanie had some studying to do. So she did that whilst I watched the F1 on TV.

Then on Monday we had to go back to Jena for university. However the train journey was not as simple and easy as it should have been. But I will talk about that in another post.

Below are some pictures that we have taken over the last few days.

The view from our bedroom window

View from the bathroom

Garden, with decking to the right

We decided to be very German for our walk

Walking through the forest


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A weekend in Plaue

Hello All,

So over the weekend (well from Saturday to Monday) we were in a little village called Plaue where Stefanie's aunt has a house and is 30 minutes outside of Erfurt. Stefanie had university during the day, so we left Erfurt at around 7pm to get there. That night we both cooked Spaghetti Bolognese, along with a German wine called Dornfelder. The food was very good, and surprisingly the wine is also actually very good, well considering it is German anyway. Than that night we watched the Eurovision Song Contest right from the beginning till the end. And we both predicted that Azerbaijan and Italy would end up quite high in the points.

In the morning it was very nice to be able to wake up and look out of the window onto the mountains. We both forget to take a camera with us this time though so unfortunately we have no pictures to show. However we are going back again this weekend so we will remember to take the camera with us so that we can show you. We also may go up to the top of one of the mountains, but we have not fully decided on that yet.

The rest of the weekend we just spent relaxing in the house and garden, and also went for a little walk just around the area where the house is to see what it was like. On the Sunday night, Stefanie cooked a very nice meal for me which is called 'Flying Jacobs'. It consists of a Crème fraiche and normal cream sauce, mushrooms and chicken, then add bananas on top and cook for 20 minutes. Then add some peanuts on top and cook for another few minutes, then serve it with rice. It does sound a little strange just from the ingredients, but it does actually taste really good. 

We have now decided that we want to live there as it is so quiet and nobody can disturb you plus the views are amazing. However Mum and Nigel would not be able to visit as the house is not suitable for disabled people. That is unless Nigel just wants to stay on the ground floor in the garage! We also played Monopoly whilst we were there, and unfortunately I lost :( which I was not happy about at all.

Whilst there we decided to not go on our upcoming trip to Dresden as we have now decided to do some other things either in Plaue or Erfurt for the weekend we were going to Dresden, and so will instead go there on another occasion that I am over here. On Sunday I was also offered a proper job at a festival in August however I think I will have to unfortunately turn it down.

Overall we had a very nice weekend in Plaue and are looking forward to returning there again tomorrow night for a long weekend.

So I best get on with actually packing now, or maybe I will just leave that till the morning!

[Updated] I've just been told that I definitely have to sort out my clothes now for the weekend as they need to be packed!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

New and improved


So it has been quite a while since I last posted on this blog, but it has now all changed since then. As you may notice, the actual name of the blog has changed along with the focus for me writing.

The blog will now just be about what I am up to in general as opposed to necessarily one specific topic. However it will mainly be geared towards travel as that is what I am most interested in and am nearly always planning a trip somewhere.

So just a little bit about me to now set the scene for where I am. I have left Bloomsburg after studying there for the one semester. I then returned to Sheffield to continue with my studies for the last part of my second year at university. This is also now completed and I am contemplating exactly what to do next. I was looking to go on an internship, however it has been very difficult trying to find one that I would be happy with. So this is currently on hold at the moment. My current plan is to maybe get a job in the travel industry for a year minimum to see whether it truly is the direction I want to take my career in after graduating. I have some ideas in mind, however they will need to be properly planned once I am nearing the end of my current vacation.

Which leads me nicely on to telling you what the next few weeks have in store for this blog. I am currently living in Germany, a city called Erfurt to be precise. I am here spending some time with my girlfriend as this is where she is from. We met whilst we were both studying in Bloomsburg. So whilst I am here we intend to explore the area surrounding Erfurt and to also spend some long weekends in Berlin where we are going in a couple of weeks time, along with going to Dresden a few weeks after.

So expect many blogs about what I have been up to whilst I am here and what I am planning to be doing next.

Right now I am actually just packing to go to Plaue for the weekend. Where we will watch the Eurovision Song Contest tonight and also going for some walks in the mountains nearby possibly. Therefore my next post is likely to either be Monday evening once we have returned or Tuesday.

So till then, enjoy you weekend.

And remember, planning your holiday is half the fun.