I’ve arrived! After a sleepless 8hr direct flight, I arrived in Frankfurt at 5:45am yesterday and was absolutely exhausted. I grabbed coffee and a croissant at a café in the airport and waited on my roommate for the trip, Erin, to arrive. We met up with another student, Amanda, and hopped on the train to the main Frankfurt train station. We spent about an hour there before our train to Freiburg, so we had a quick lunch! My meal was exactly what you might imagine that Germans eat – a hilarious looking sausage on a roll. Pigeons were swarming us the entire time. The station was amazing – a massive building with a glass ceiling and metal support beams. While we were waiting for our train on the platform, we ran into three other students from our group! (Stephen, Jennifer and Matthew) We were recognized by a Tar Heel alum! Small world. When we arrived in Freiburg, we walked down the cobblestone roads for about 15 minutes to our hotel. The city is absolutely beautiful. We met up with some more members of the group, dumped our bags, and went exploring! Lots of colorful townhouses and greenery, with mountains in the distance! All the roads of Freiburg have stone mini canals along the sidewalks, which were originally used to water livestock, but now they serve as little streams where kids pull boats on strings! Very cute. There are also lots of businesses – restaurants, realtors, tech shops, clothing retailers, etc. Though, most were closed since it was Sunday. Later, we met up with our professors for dinner at the Kastaniengarten Biergarten. Erin and I made the mistake of ordering “sausage salad” which is tremendously different from “sausage, salad.” Sausage salad is a massive pile of cold, shredded hot dogs. Not a huge fan. We made it back to the hotel for very early bed time; the jet lag is pretty killer.
This morning, we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel, which was very nice! There was fresh fruit, breads, croissants, sausage, bruschetta, tea and coffee, etc. It was a great way to start off the day. Today is a German holiday, so our professors had a hard time scheduling. Instead, we had the choice of staying in Freiburg for the day, or traveling to Colmar, France or Strasbourg, France. My research group and I chose to visit Colmar! It only cost six euro to travel there and back. We took our train approximately half way in Breisach, Germany where we spent about an hour before our bus ride to Colmar. In the short time that we had, we stumbled across an awesome church that does an excellent job of collecting rain water, and a beautiful view from the top of a beautiful church that felt like a castle – the Breisacher Stephansmunster. It’s amazing to be in a place where you can stumble across a building from the 1500s.
After our bus ride to Colmar, we split up into our research groups and just explored the city. We walked all over, approximately 8 miles (according to my iPhone Health app) and saw so much! The cobblestone roads are lined, similarly to Freiburg, by little shops and colorful houses.We had lunch at a little cafe where we ordered hamburgers, which were served on baguettes with french fries ON the sandwich. Perhaps one of the results of the lack of communication between us and our French waitress. One of the coolest places we visited in Colmar was the Place Rapp town square, an enormous park with a fountain where kids were playing, statues, a massive merry-go-round, and lots of people. Rapp felt a lot like Central Park or the D.C. Mall. Colmar is well known for its canals, which are lined with beautiful flower boxes. It was amazing how quiet the city felt – largely because of the drastically fewer cars. The lack of traffic noise really mellows the city and extends to the people; everyone seems very calm and relaxed.
When we returned to the hotel, I went for a ~5mi run with Ayla along the Dreisam river. It was a really beautiful trail and a great space for running. There were lots of other pedestrians our running/biking/skating/walking on the trails. Running is a great way to see the city, and I hope to do a lot of it while abroad. Ayla and I went out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant and dug into some veggie burritos which were great! I had been, and still am, craving vegetables. Many restaurants only serve various combos of sausage and pretzels. I’m sure there’s a bit of a learning curve.
Loving Freiburg so far. Onwards!
*I’m having trouble uploading photos because of the wifi quality, but they are on the way!