The last weeks of travel

Hola chicos! My travels are going quite successful so far- no broken legs and no major delays in the plan ;). The 4 days hiking in the Algrave have been at first not very spectacular  in terms of the landscape, but to my luck my surroundings got more beautiful the further I ventured. On the way the best thing were the enchanting Hostels and other travellers I met. On this hike I did 82km in total.

After I had a very cool time in Lissabon. And on my last day there I made the aquantaince of Nora and Alina from Frankfurt, who now have become friends of mine and who even went to visit me two days later in magical Sintra (its THE place of romantic castles and secret gardens).

With Lara, my friend from good old Heidelberg, I saw impressing manueline (portugese-gothic style) fortresses, churches and monasteries. She also showed me around Coimbra, where she did her Erasmus last year. I felt very privileged to have her as my private guide ;).

Tomorrow will be my last day in Portugal and after I head to santiago de compostela, to finally takle that 7 day hike to finistere and muxia that I look forward to since ages :).

To gain access to a computer with a sufficient connection to upload pictures is nearly close to impossible without paying. That’s why I decided to make a little best-of of the pictures of the last month when I am back home and finish my blog with that. I hope you guys are all well and on demand, I can send you one or two impressions via whatsapp or Fb (I managed to regain a smartphone).

Have some happy days!

Wiebke

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Andalucia revisited

This morning I woke up to a grey and cloudy sky and I just thought: That’s perfect! 😀

I was settin out to a mornıng run and here in Cadiz, an andalusian costal town, the temperature finally went down from 40 to 30 degrees (after about 2 months- I am SO glad 🙂 ). And they have WIND here haha :D.

I left Madrid finally at the 30th of june and started with Lisa to travel to the renaissance villages of Ubeda and Baeza. There was not that much to see- but one very memorbale night ın Ubeda we went to an italian place to share a pizza for dinner. What we got was the biggest example of pizza I ever saw! The normal one-person size served us two for dinner, breakfast and another dinner- and that for 8 Euro one pizza :D.

After spending these days suffering a lot of heat. we looked forward to our next stop- Malaga. Aprt from the fact that Picasso was born there, and that you cannot walk through the streets wıthout passing the old good Pablo sooner or later, the city features two other thing of main importance: Wind and a beach!

Furthermore they have beach-bars every 500 meters, the so-called ‚Chirringuitos‘. They all have a barbecue where they grill fresh fish and squid! Very recomendable :), I had grilled sardines on a stick with salt and lemon juice- the low cost option for 3,50 Euros- but tasty it is!

Lisa and I were hosted by Daniel- a spanish Couchsurfer who is just movıng to Germany to have an apprentainceship ın Brandenburg. He gave us a tour around the city and another day we also chilled on the beach wıth him and his friends. Later Daniel left the town and we girls moved the last two nights to a the Nomadas Hostel. A very relaxed place with a absolutly beautiful little garden terrace, where they serve breakfast buffet and have barbecues at night (made by a very entertainıng french cook).

We also made a trip to Nerja with it’s tourısty but very impressing caves and cosıer beaches than any ın the Malaga cıty-district. And one to the small hilltop-village of Ronda, whose town bridges a spectacular cliff wıth several historical bridges.

Lisa and I finally parted ways again as our time in Malaga ended last Tuesday. I hope she arrvived well and made good use of the pool at her disposal ;P. I went on to the Village of Vejer de la Frontera. A small town that ıs not on the mayor turıstıc map, but that I already got recommended last year, when I was still living in Leon.

My host Sofia turned the day I spend there ınto an absolute dream! After cathıng me up from the bus station (which lıes a the foot of the mountain on whose top the city is) she took me to her enchanting house in the hıstorıc quarter of the place (another white settlement of Andalucia). She walked me through the small streets of Vejer and took me to an awesome Tapas Restaurant where we enjoyed grilled artishoks on a potatoe-parsil puree with aiolı sauce and a fancy-made codfish-omlette. It was a hot day- like nearly everyone- and so we went to the pool in a friends house of hers with a good view of the town on the opposite hillside. Later, we left to the nearby beach and I met her very simpathic friends. I had a run on the beach a sunset, which was just magic and I was able to jump into the waves imediaty afterwards. We shared a goatcheese-walnut-avocado salad and watermelons, that Sofıa had prepared and spent the rest of the night in an open-aır beach bar attending a live-gig off several jazz/flamenco artısts. That was just a totally wounderful day :D.

Now, in Cadiz, I enjoyed the sunset again and took bıg breaths of fresh air :). The city- a former island- is the only one that was never conquered by Napoleon on the Iberican Peninsula and not to far from here the famous sea-battle of Trafalgar took place. The 18th century fortifications are nıce to visit, but the town really lives from ıts beaches and atmosphere (and the huge cruiseliners stopping here). But here I really felt the warm-heartedness of the Andalusian people for the first time in its natural setting: If you are friendly with the locals, they appriciate that and handle you like a close friend, clappıng you on the shoulders and even hugging you now and then (after some hours). 😀

Tomorrow morning I leave for Lagos in Portugal and will start my first bigger hike (4 days) on the Ruta Vincentına on the South-West coastline shortly after. I am very exıted for more wind and bearable temperatures! ;D

The End of the Chapter

Well, long time no see! May went along with me living my everyday like you guys do as well ;).

The "roman bridge" and Córdoba

Now, in June, the final month of my internship has started and with it the end of the obligatory part of my year in Spain (its already ten months- unbelievable!). And since we are talking about work: It came to an unexpected twist.

The European Heritage Days-Project that I supported came to a halt for some time- leaving me with some general translation work. However, I got the opportunity to change to another departement for an unspecified period: The Fotography-archive. If you had a big breath and thought „booooring“ you are very mistaken ;).

I am able to work with the pictures of a German Fotographer- Wunderlich- of the 1920 to 1950ies who lived the greater part of his life in Madrid. He traveled to the most hidden corners of Spain, documenting the people and their really traditional lifestyles (like even in the 1920ies they lived like in the 1800s!). My work is to translate all his notes on his work into spanish, so that the scientists here can make proper use of the material. Its a super interesting work and I also had the pleasure to meet many kind coworkers with amazing stories and experiences of their own.For examplee one o them has already pubished five books and the other constantly helps me to understand traditions and gives me social background info about this country.

Now with the beginning of the end of my residential time in Madrid, lots of oranisational stuff for „the big escape“ in july/august is running my doors in ;). Honestly, I will be traveling in high-season and apart from that in very frequented destinations- so I will have to work hard and gets things settled those next weeks.

How to sell my bike is at least a thing I do not need to worry about any longer… Some weeks ago I had a little accident with a car, where the only thing injured was my back wheel. It got deformed and just decided to not move itself anymore (what a drama queen! ;P). After much back-and-forth I sold it to second-hand bike merchant for 15€. Thats not heroic, but at least I am rid of it and without paying the reparation-costs, I think I would not have been able to sell it anyway…

That hassle was soon forgotten, as my mum, her boyfriend and his son came to visit me and after not-seeing each other for the greater part of a year, we spend some good five days together. I am glad that I had the chance to show them Madrid. 😉

As I am writing these lines I am sitting in a 40 degree Celsius courtyard in Seville. I took a week of to see the „big three“ of Andalusia, the south of the country. Córdoba, Granada and now Seville have been on my list and I am so incredibly glad, that I went in late May and not in July!! The temperatures here are reaching over 40 every afternoon (in Seville- and it is THE infamous hottest place of Spain (with no beach- unfortunatly 😉 ). Although this was not a long journey at all, I feel absolutely enriched by it. Not just in the sights, the very distinctive landscapes and arabic architecture I saw brings me to this feeling- but mainly all the new friends, all the things I learned and al the cultural experiences I had the luck to share in those days.

One night, for example, I stumbled into a certain flamenco-bar in Seville. Of the beaten track, it was filled primaly with senoirs from the local neighbourhood and the event seemed just to consist out of a band of three man (guitar, drums and all of them singing). These folks had the loudest voices I ever heard and their were awesome. But that was not everything… The atmosphere and enthusiasm in this little space build itsel up very fast- so the entire evening the locals would get up spontainously in couples and dance Sevillanas (Flamenco) or Salsa to the music. Later on, some even just stood up and sung some flamenco-songs (which are tecnically not easy). That was incredible :).

By walking along the streets I also stumbled into several marriages and different pilgrmage-chruches, learning more about worship culuture and what big focus Semana Santa (Easter) is in the lifes of many Sevillans. They are oranized in „hermandades“ (brotherhoods), each belonging to one specific church of the town, each preparing all year around or the holy week. They form a very strong identiication group for the members- like a second family (although you are always part of the brotherhood, that your parents and other family is as well). The hermandades are performing the endless processions during that week, carrying big candles, incentives and statues of saints. They say that you are not able to walk the streets in those days, because the ongoing processions and bywatchers make every move impossible. The atmosphere however is supposed to be unique. Like they do one procession 2am in the night with complete silence.

Imagine yourself 2000 people in a square being absolutly silent. The smell o incentives is everywhere and guys with that piramid-shaped hood pass along, wearing Marias decorted with tons of shiny metal and flowers. And everything just light by candels…

April

Hello everyone!

So everyhting turned out very differnet from what I planned after Bonnie visited me (we had a very good time investigating several Cafés and Museums).

A decent breakfastI did not -as planned- go to Sevilla, because Sevilla did not seem to want me to go there ;).

My Airbnb stay was cancelled and I spent a week looking for either a hostel or a Couchsurfing Backup, but neither worked and the prices for a 3-nights-stay in a Hostel already mounted the 160 euros… Then, they cancelled my shared-car connection to Sevilla as well, just when I was going to bed on Thursday the week before the travel. And that was it. I decided that it was enough and spent looking for other things I could possibly do. All Madrid was going to travel somewhere for Easter and I didn`t want to stay home alone.

After a lot of brainwork I decided to quit thinking and my stomach told me, that I would really go back to Heidelberg once more and visit Alex and my friends again, although I just had the pleasure to see them a month before. However, Alex helped me to book my flight the next day, since I was hiking out and to stupid to get in front of a computer and next day I flew to Germany :D. It was a absolutly wounderful week! There would have been no better choice for me in this time.

Since the month that I am living in Madrid, I started to do running as a sport. I used the week in Heidelberg and got myself my first real running shoes, that were very expensive, but what-the-hell they are awesome! And they are not shiny neon pink, for wich I am very grateful. Who has been to a shoe-consultation in a shoe-shop knows that it`s the shoe that chooses the runner and not the other way around ;P.

I have the aim to run a half-marathon on the 20.September in Karlsruhe and I am super-happy for anyone of you to join me :). The Shoe of awesomeness

I finished Easter, even having painted an Easter Egg (the old-school ones ;)). Back in town and apart from work, I did some hiking on the weekends and explored some wounderful new Cafés more.

I also started to go on the monthly farmers-markets which provide a unique opportunity to buy real 100% rye bread and have a very cheap lunch trying all the samples of cheese/ jamón/ marmelade (tomato marmelade is my new favorite).

Through this markets, which were part of Couchsurfing-events, i got to know a whole new buch of exiting and lovely people. Like Nanna form Denmark, for example :). She spend a week on holidays here, I got to know her on her first day on one of those markets and we kept on meeting up on the days to come. One time, we went to the big food-market of San Miguel in the City Center and together with a man from Uruguay we tried a kind of mussel that looked like shark-teeth with green-blackis lizard-skin (have a look at the pictures! ;)). To eat those, you had to peel off „the tooth“ and eat the texture inside. For it`s adventurous appearance, it just tasted like salty water, so I would not recommend it (and like fresh seafood is, it is expensive).

Very recomendable is however, a Café at the Center of Town, called the „Jardín Secreto“ or the „Secret Garden“. This place has a menue full of tempting sweets like spanish-hot-choclate, brownie variations, nice cakes and really really good yoghurt-shakes with fruits. I posted you some pictures of this place as well, since it has a quite dreamy atmosphere, no chair is like the other- one even looks like a birdcage and hangs down from the ceiling :D.

All in all big travels have to wait a little while more. I am starting to plan my big escape in July/August, as I will finish my work in the institute at the end of June.

My route will be along the south-coast of Spain. To Almería, Málaga, Gibralta and so forth. if I can I would love to make a one-day trip to Marocco via boat- preferrably with a tourist group. Then I shall travel Portugal from the South up to the North (Faro, Lisabon, Coimbra, Porto and more), crossing over to Spain again. There I want to visit some nature-reserves, located on little islands near the coast and hike around there. After, and probably in the first week of August, i want to walk the last part of the Camino de Santiago- from Santiago to Finisterra, as it was described to me by several people as the most beautiful part of the way. That will take approx. 7 days. I hope I can physically do this :).

At last I want to fly over to Mallorca/Menorca, see spanish-gothic architecure, go on hikes all the time and then return back to Berlin and finish my year abroad.

This is the dream-outline of the big escape, but lets see how everything works out and how many great people I will meet who have ideas or knowledge that could change my plans :).

Big hugs for everyone! :3

Valencia and the Fallas

FallaThe Fallas-festival is the local carnival event of Valencia and sports really huge sculptured figures, very loud noise and of course tons of sweets (although in difference to Germany, nobody is throwing the sweets in your face) ;P.

I spend the weekend just before the big celebrations in Valencia, meeting my dear friend Steph, who travelled down south from León.

We are half-death now thanks to another Fallas-tradition called the Mascleta, the epic daytime version of a firework that just consists out of noise. It is five minutes of explosions on a square stuffed with people, that give your body a good shake-through. But we were able to see the real firework as well- and that was massive. The best firework we have seen in our lives!

You can imagine that there is huge amount of money getting burned away and prices in the town easily climb up to the double during the festive days.

400 quarters are constructing in one month a small and big „Falla“ (sculptures) that have the only purpose to blog the towns traffic big-style, attract a sea of tourists and get burned!

Honestly they burn them all in the end ;).

Steph and the LightsThere is a special quarter in which they cover the whole street around some of the works with lights on scaffolding- high as the houses around. The construction comes alive at night with a light show and music, making the area a giant party place! While being there, Steph and I went into a good South-American restaurant, where I got really confused about Yuca’s. Yuca is a eatable root like the potatoe, but I always lived in the believe that Yuccas are palm-trees… o.0

However Yuca and Yucca are two diferent plants, and my Yucca does not belong to the palm-trees ^^. So I was wrong in every way! But if you ever cross a Yuca on your menue, I can recommend it ;).

During the days, Valencians have their parades, as in the German carnival (but exclusively on foot).

People dress up like the protagonists of baroque paintings (awesome). Children posing a constant threat through the uncontrollable usage of firecrackers (not cool!). But at least everyone gets to drink Horchata (or Orxachta- you guessed it! It’s Valencian, another Spanish sub-language! Yay :D), a sweet nut-based drink that is eaten with Fartons (donut-sticks).

Another culinary speciality is the Paella. As some of you already know, that is a rice dish typically prepared with seafood. The Paella Valenciana has vegetables, chicken, rabbit and snails in it- so a bit of everything and both versions are very tasty (*hiding restaurant bills…*;P).

At my last day (Steph sadly had to lave earlier), I tried to evade the town a bit and made a day trip to the Albufera nature reserve. Its a big lake surrounded by rice-fields and populated by many bird species- foremost cranes and even some eagles.

The locals offer boat trips around the lake where I was allowed to drive the boat a bit for our small group ;).

Now I am back in Madrid and await the visit of Bonnie. Later travel plans include a trip to Sevilla for Semana Santa- after descriptions I will meet the whole world there as it shall be packed with people. Opinions go really far apart on that subject- let’s see what my one will be ;).

Bienvenidos a Madrid- and welcome to the jungle!

Standing on the point of sure return (according to legend)

You might remember that I was not that keen on leaving my homely Heidelberg again. I started off to live in a town of millions for the very first time. But I did not have to find my way through the masses of people alone- my buddy Laura accompanied me for my frist week. She gave me lots of start-up aid, that I am still deeply thankful for and together we conquered the City and it’s surrondings! ^^

Laura really helped me to see the beauty of this spot on earth (it’s not that hidden, don’t worry), that I am now very glad to call my temporary home. Every hot-choclate Café in sight had to be afraid for it’s safety and especially the places that sold yogurt with muesli for breakfast (muahahaha 😀 call me the yogur-nator! ^^). In terms of food should also be said that we found the best Milkshake ever (strawberry cheesecake). Our Holiday-effiency proved furthermore through the completion of two of three mayor excursion sights around the capital: the monastery of El Escorial and Toledo.

El Escorial is a huge monastery/tomb of the kings of Spain, from the Renaissance. It is actually pretty undecorated- except for the tomb (so that all of the bodies have something nice to look at). Personally I was happpy to leave the mass of Grey granite in the end.

Toledo was all the opposite- with a tuscany-flair to it, we enjoyed some muslim-architecture and got really pressed by the grand cathedral (even if it costs 8 euros to enter, it’s actually worth it). These guys just casually have their own Raffael and Caravaggio in their private gallery- apart from El Greco, who produced nearly exclusively for them…

But enough of the artsy stuff-let’s get down to the really interesting stuff- the intrigues and the schemes!

hahaha- just kidding! ;P

My names might sign me a warlike person but I am not ;).The truth is that I have three great flatmates (Marie, Luisa and Antonio), that laugh and joke everytime we are together. At work I accountered two ind cointerns- Yan and Francesca- and a very friendly Chef.

I even had the luck to explore Segovia together with Francesca and her freinds- although we just knew us for two days then. Segovia was so far my favorite place in Part 2 of my year- I mean a roman acquaeduct is really something to try competition with.

Finally after three weeks I managed to buy a bicicle! The only problem I have is the jungle of the Madrid-traffic. Against common believes I did not die jet, although I am driving a bike through this town- BUT I have to admit that it is especially tricky.

Biking has not hit Spain as a popular sport as I am used to from Germany (especially in Rostock and Heidelberg, where nearly every student uses two wheels to get around). Lanes for bicicles have just developed in the last two years (lucky me!) and they are still very sacre.

So I am everyday kind of fighting my way up the hills and the streets- but I am sure to grow with the challenge.

In that sense- a big Qapla to you all! 😉

P.S.: It’s klingon.

Betwixt and between

IMG_4207

Being in between two piles of boxes… and two destinations

Now the “Erasmus”-time is over and I enjoy some weeks in Heidelberg before moving on to the next adventure.

This is my first time back in the country- since I travelled Spain all through Christmas as well and I feel oddly comfortable and oddly out-of-place in the same time.

I am thankfully having the chance to meet a lot of my friends here, although a part of them is spread now all over Europe- like I am normally as well. But here I am walking my known paths, being in the usual places, even casually meeting people in the same streets as I used to.

But I am not quite fitting in, I am still a tourist- even since I left my flat. I guess I will stay this way until I acquire somewhere to live that is not measured in a couple of months.

On the other hand I am not the one to wonder about this feeling- being without a “home” in the classical meaning of the word is something I know for about four years already…

So what am I doing here in good-old Germany?

Cooking stuff and taking tea with friends mainly and visiting Carnival for the first time ^^. Alex and his family where so super-kind to host me over the weekend close to Bonn and to explain the customs and little specialities to me. I even got a more or less permanent service of lyrics-translation from the Colonian dialect into the German I know ^^.

I have been able to see processions in Cologne, Bonn and a small-town called Siegburg nearby. Each had their different aspect. In Siegburg all the families and neighbours were waiting together for a processions of people they mainly all knew personally and the show was- of course- quite basic in comparison to the greater cities. Cologne had a parade made up of the towns schools and boroughs- mostly without carriages, which is why everyone started to look a bit sour after marching in the cold and getting shouted on “Kamelle!” so that they throw more sweets into the crowd. In Bonn finally, we saw a variety of carriages, some towed by horses (and they also had a greater choice of sweets ;P ).

One of our favourites was a carriage mounted by a guy dressed as a cook, who swung a enormous spoon full of sweets to the crowd on the sides, the hollow carriage itself being his “pot”. Another nice one was from a Circus- they had a tractor that carried a woman on a crane, so that she was hanging down from it, moving through the air. Another wagon held a driving barbecue- you were able to grab a piece of hot sausage instead of sweets. 🙂

I got to know some really lovely people that weekend as well, that I hope to see again when I am back in the country.

Next stop: Madrid.

I managed to get a training for a period of four months at the “Institute of Cultural Heritage in Spain”, a part of the ministry of culture. There I will work for the organisation of this years European-Heritage-Days, hopefully motivating many people to join the program and offer an event in/on or with their heritage. For example- a historical garden has been promoted by executing a small classical concert in it.

I have already found a room in a modern flat for four, with two andalusian girls I do not personally know yet. The girls who moved out got along well with them, and they seemed very friendly to me, so I guess I will be fine. Most of all I am looking forward to live in a big town- with less siesta- and to have the possibility to ride a bike again :). Right now I don’t feel much enthusiasm to start all over again, but I hope it will develop itself soon ^^.