I have a tendency to whinge.
Any friend (or passer-by) who has seen me in a bad mood, or hungover, or simply having missed out on a vital three extra minutes of sleep will be able to tell you this. So it would always be the case that my return to Australia from a year-long exchange in Germany would induce a temper-solarflaring and vomit inducing fit of pining for Deutschland and complaining about all the woes one must face in good old ‘Straya. Too bad.
Whilst this has long since faded, I am of course off again in less than 2 months, and before my excitement at returning to my friends overseas reaches fever-pitch I thought I should share some of the things that I will most certainly miss about this weird, eclectic city. Get around ‘em.
I’m not even that much of a coffee drinker. The only reason I started drinking the stuff in the first place was a noticeable increase in fatigue, a by-product of stumbling through a year on Erasmus. Truth be told, were it not for a visit to the Tübingen Chocolate Festival in December 2011 I probably would never have been able to stomach German coffee on a regular basis. Accompanied by a few friends, I found a large tent in the middle of the marketplace that sold chilli chocolate powder, and mixing this in with my morning coffee made what eventually became a daily occurrence bearable.
Then I came back home, and decided to kick my newfound ‘addiction’. But after snapping back to the harsh reality of the Melbourne University workload (well, the Science subjects anyway), caffeine became a necessity.
Yet as I quickly discovered, the charcoal infused arsenic I’d been drinking in Germany was not the norm. Melbourne coffee is something else, and I soon found myself ordering things like ‘double-shot soy lattes’ and ‘long blacks with dashes of cinnamon’ whilst judging baristas on their pronunciation of ‘cappucino’. Pretentious? Certainly. But I am definitely not looking forward to that first wince as the woman at Aspekt serves me a Milchkaffee and asks me if I’d like to cough up €3,2 for the privilege of having my senses abused. Minus 25 points for shameless snobbery? I think so.
This is going to sound weird. You walk into a quaint German town, or simply the old town of a city like Munich or Frankfurt, and the cobbled stones strike you as something from another era, at least until the pensioner ahead of you flicks a cigarette over his shoulder, or a businesswoman rushes past you on high heels, shrieking into her blackberry, wearing a skirt in -5 degree weather.
The cobbles can admittedly be very quaint, that is until you spend a night out on the town, clad in dress shoes or your new sneaks and wake up with ruined ankles and knees as dodgy as Sep Blatter.
Being rather tall, I’ve had knee, shoulder, back and ankle issues since I was thirteen. Whilst cobblestones can be ok in runners, after spending half an hour in Converses wandering through the Stuttgarter Altstadt in search of that bar I went to when Euro 2012 was on and I wanted to see Russia vs. Czech Republic, I’ll be praying for the concrete monotony of Swanston Street.
This might just be an extension of point four, but I feel it really deserves its own section. German food can be great, and it certainly has its place. If I need to line my stomach before a night out, sushi just doesn’t cut it. But after a while, sauerkraut, knackeln, dopfknödel and bratwurst all blend into one meat and salt infused visit to the toilet*.
Once you step out of Flinders Street station, you can get pretty much anything you want. Vietnamese, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Ethiopian, you name it, it’s there. The one thing we do admittedly lack is good Mexican food, but it’s not like Germany is any better in that regard.
There’s only so many times you can switch to döner as a break from schnitzel.
*I do miss the bread though.