Far-Eastern Felix.

mimSo it’s been yet another busy week in the life of Marcus. The Christmas markets opened all over town so what better excuse to get some Glühweins in? The big news is that I finally have a new roommate! Read on to find out more!

The first exciting news of this post is that Hugo (from the Yacht Club) is officially in Europe. He has set up a base in Austria and is doing a ski-season out here! As if I needed any more excuses to go skiing. I wish him the best of luck, mainly with the Austrian dialect, and I have every faith that he will love his time in this neck of the woods.

Cast your minds back to last week Friday. For you it may have been an evening of maiming farm animals, knitting, praying or possibly catching up on Breaking Bad, but for me it was the day for action. It was decided that drinks at Barney’s were in order. Jean-Remy & Juliette, Ludo and his classmate Ben were amongst some of the VIP guests. Ben is another Oxford chap like Barney, but goes to a proper college, namely St. John’s (where my brother Alfie has just completed his first term). Ludo, as usual, insisted on bringing some absolute randomers along. You’ll realise soon that it’s not at all unreasonable for me to say this. Barney and I are international men of course, but still firmly of the opinion that he should introduce us to a steady flow of European babes. With this in mind, Ludo thought it would be a great idea to bring some Taiwanese girls along. That he met in a Jazz Club. “Seems legit”, we thought to ourselves. Upon arrival they walked through the door (pretty standard arrival) and introduced themselves. Considering my Taiwanese is not what it once was, I felt they were pretty unforgiving. The first target greeted me with a big smile, declaring her name was “Pee-Pee”. I repeated: “Pee-Pee” (whilst nodding, obviously). She then decided to change her name to “Bee-Bee”, which I felt I then adapted well to, considering she didn’t take the time to fill out any forms. “Bee-Bee” I then pronounced, keen to nail it this time. We finally agreed on what her name was for the night and I finished with, “Oh, right…like BBC”. She wasn’t too impressed, having been compared to a news channel (girls apparently prefer to be compared to things which smell nice like flowers and nature and stuff, rather than huge International Corporations).  I can confirm that I would have rather spent a year watching BBC News 24 than listen to her poor English and even worse German. Anyway, the time had come for “la victime prochaine“. At this point I was thinking who the hell will be next? Russia Today? Al Jazeera? And then the second tasty Taiwanese treat trotted over to me. This specimen seemed more certain of her name, and having initially maintained good eye-contact we proceeded to exchange syllables. “My name Ceen-Dee like Cindy”, of course I thought, a classic Taiwanese name. Having received a positive overall response from my most recent News Channel joke, I decided it was time for another shameless crowd-pleaser. “Oh, right, you mean like CNN”, I explained. At this point the International Biffs were on the floor laughing, they just were just lapping up my whole Hugh Grant/James Bond crossover character. How brilliantly British.

So the night progressed as most nights tend to, with the facilitation of communication & conversation via lubrication of the liver. Barney kept the Spaten beer (Spade) flowing and generously shared out his vodka, even to these girls, who had properly made there way to Germany in strange circumstances and may have been lacking a visa. They were what Dad would refer to as “dubious characters”. Naturally, I thought up a funny thing for the girls to do. And when I think up a funny thing, I find it difficult to keep this funny thing from other people. So after a few drinks, yes we did indeed have them singing the Taiwanese version of “Call Me Maybe” on the table. We managed to make this look like we were trying to learn the language when what we were really doing was trying not to burst out laughing the entire time. I felt we performed moderately in the respect. These poor attention-starved far-eastern girls, they’re almost a bit too enthusiastic to get up on the podium – not a particularly attractive quality. These were just some other hilarious events that occurred during the evening:

  • Jean-Remy getting chewing gum up both nostrils. If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt from my time in Germany so far, it’s that the French have a great sense of humour.
  • Me trying to shove 15 Gingerbread biscuits into my mouth and then spitting most of the contents out.
  • Barney promising to down his drink if he rolled a five. Needless to say, he did roll a five, obviously. Otherwise why would I bother telling you…it wouldn’t be a story.

So the night came to a natural end with surprising another kebab and another chat with the Kebab man. Yes I am tall and Caucasian and yes I am speaking Turkish. Without hanging around for too long we left the restaurant and made our ways home.

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library” ~Jorge Luis Borges

Well the little Argentinian was wrong. What paradise is in fact is a German bookshop. The entirety of Saturday morning was spent sitting in HugendubelTo describe it as a bookshop, though, is like referring to the pyramids as the ancient Egyptian equivalent of Cooperative Funeralcare. (To my lovely Canadian readers and also those pesky Americans who may possibly still be in the process of learning to read: that’s what you would probably refer to as a “Funeral Parlor Service Provider”). For those of you yet to encounter this most sacred of places – it is like Waterstones (N. Amer. Engl. – Barnes & Noble) but you are actually encouraged to sit in peace and read brand new books for free! This is in stark contrast to the UK, where it’s very much frowned upon –  but you still do it anyway. The only price you pay is to live in a society in a permanent state of awkwardness and live unhappily ever after. Deal.

So having returned home from Marienplatz in the early afternoon, looking forward to a lazy day of bacon & eggs, Peep Show and just generally wallowing in my own filth, you can imagine how my heart sank when I turned the key in the door and was struck by the sight of a mysterious black suitcase centered ominously in the heart of the room, a hefty winter jacket making itself feel at home on what happens to be my favourite chair. Questions came immediately to mind such as where was he from? How did he come to be here? And how long would he last?

I then turned to my BMW Babes Calendar (a present from my boss) and realised that November was no more. It had been manhandled and flipped onto the next page by my new housemate, in a well-meaning but disastrous move to “help me out”. Unfortunately, he wasn’t to know that I don’t like help. It’s not in my nature. It was then that I began to dread the Monday morning wake up, the not-being-able-to-do.exactly-what-I-want-when-I-want, the hostile force that had infiltrated my camp, the poison in the water, the arsenic in the cornflakes, the sawdust in the juice, the crude oil in the shower gel, the Germans were here. If I had paid slightly more attention to detail when inspecting all his stuff (yes this is standard drills when trying to understand the natives), I would have worked out his nationality easily. However, I briefly looked at the OCD order in which his briefs were arranged, the immaculate state of his shoes and working clothes, the Swiss flag logo on his suitcase. To me, it seemed obvious that I was doomed to another spell of sleeping with the Stasi. I thought of last year’s Berlin trip to the Stasi prison and remembered the brutal wake-up calls, enforced meal times, the unreasonable efficiency, the hot room, the cold room, the water torture. With pioneering torture methods in mind, it turned out I was to be exposed to a representative of another left-wing nation, more mightly, more powerful, perhaps more fearful and the country with the most interesting future: Communist China.

Far-Eastern Felix

Far-Eastern Felix

Statistically speaking, I was always bound to have a Chinese roommate – it was literally just a matter of when. Despite being two very different people, Felix and I are getting on great – we are agreed on many things and we fit well together much like Jack Sprat and his Asian wife. For example, he showers in the evenings and I shower in the mornings. After discussing which time of day was best to shower and for what reasons, he ridiculed the Japanese because they apparently shower not only in the evening but also in the morning. Madness! At this early stage in our relationship I decided it would be sensible, even advantageous to pretend to also hate the Japanese. Then it would become something we could bond over. So I then did my best to laugh at his joke. So yet another poor soul’s name is to be etched into the Miserable Motorstraße Hall of Fame. Felix is actually his Western name. The breakdown of his name is as follows:

Yu (Family name; no real meaning) Xiao (First name; “Sunrise”) Jun (Second name; “Warrior”)
Yu Xiao Jun: So he is essentially called “Warrior of the Rising Sun”. A pretty cool name, I think you’ll all agree.

Order of play as it stands:

1. Macbook Matthias   (Sep.)
2. Reini der Schweini   (Sep.-Oct.)
3. Bavarian Ben            (Oct.-Nov.)
4. Far-Eastern Felix   (Dec.-Mar?)

A few fun facts about German-speaking Felix:

  • His favourite British bands are Westlife and the Backstreet Boys.
  • He maintains that British people are mostly 18th-19th Century gentlemen who wear top hats and carry big umbrellas.
  • He loves BBC Chinese (a suspiciously good answer).
  • He knows that in China, Britain is famous for the Industrial Revolution.
  • He has a cool Chinese knife.
  • He studies Mechanical Engineering (Maschinenbau) in Karlsruhe.
  • He now loves David Cameron, having read my letter from Downing Street.
  • He hates “the Chairman” (presumably Mau).
  • He hates the Japanese (apart from anime which he loves).
  • He finds Americans annoying and lacking in culture.

Once I’d acclimatised to sharing my room with a stranger yet again. On Saturday, I went with Robert to the Tollwood Weihnachtsmarkt and had a Glühwein and some spicy sausages. Afterwards met Sky and her friends at Milchbar. It was a fun night.

On Sunday, I decided to get rid of the hangover with a 2.5km Swim at the Olympiaschwimmhalle. In the last 400 metres severe cramp kicked in in my left calf and I lost a bit of dignity as I ended up hopelessly splashing like a dying sea mammal at the 25m mark. In the evening, I headed into town for a nice relaxed coffee with Nath and his girlfriend Hannah (visiting from Verona) at Starbucks. We even went for a Glühwein in Marienplatz and of course bumped into a girl who I was in halls with in Leeds first year. Small world.

On Monday evening I returned back to the flat after a good day’s work expecting to find Felix pinning up his communist flag on the wall. As a matter of fact, he was preparing dinner. What a nice surprise! We then ate what I assumed to be a Chinese dish (mainyl because it contained rice) but which then later turned out to be in fact: paella. He had managed to fool me though and had me fumbling around with chopsticks. I am happy to confirm that the first five days with Far-Eastern has been so far so good. However, the burning question remains: how will we cope living on top of each other until March?

On Tuesday evening we had the work Christmas do and we spent it in a great restaurant called Görreshof which I can highly recommend. Of course, all the lads (Myself, Florian, Ingo and Jean-Remy) all ordered Schnitzel!!! And it was some of the bestest Schnitzel I ever ate. My favourite German quote of the night came from Ingo, who declared: “So jung werden wir nie wieder zusammen kommen“. This roughly, but poorly translates to “We will never again be together at such a young age”. Afterwards I ended up out on the town with some colleagues (incl. Prince Charming amongst others) for a few cheeky beers. Emphasis on the cheeky. A few people were a bit worse for wear on Wednesday but I was for some unknown reason feeling fresh as a daisy and made it into work for 09:15 which was a strong effort.

This upcoming weekend bring the glorious year of 2012 ever closer to the end. It’s the moment we’ve all been looking forward to: the annual Leeds University German Society Trip featuring the Berlin6. If it’s anything like the past two years, it promises to be a good one. Very much looking forward to celebrating Nomadic Nonie’s birthday and generally kicking back with some of the actors who I cast in the tragicomedy that is my life story. Characters making guaranteed appearances will include: Alcoholic Adi, Slothful Scouse, Semitic Simon, Serious Sam and Golden Graham! Stay tuned for next week’s post – it will be a good one. In the meantime, have a nice weekend!


Mein Krampf.

Last Wednesday I headed off to Stammtisch with Rémi and his mate Francis at Sausalitos im Thal, round the corner from Marienplatz. It was a good night if a little bit warm, but I guess that’s what you get when you go to a Mexican restaurant. Actual humidity comes free of charge. “It’s actually hot – just like in Mexico!”, exclaim overexcited Germans, probably.

The day after we arranged to visit Niklas because he has a bad foot. It was so good to see him again on Thursday and hear that he’s enjoying being back at University. We all wish him a speedy recovery with his injury, which is on the mend already. The highlight of the evening had to be Lena trying to encourage Esperanza to speak German, in order to learn. With a well-meaning but disastrous translation from German she firmly declared: “Esperanza. You really need to exercise”. This obviously caused a raucous cacophony of domino laughter, realising one after the other, what exactly had happened.

On Friday evening I had found myself craving an Indian. I’m referring to the food of course, not some jolly rickshaw driver. Although that would be useful in terms of commuting. Having said that: Monday morning on the Frankfurter Ring is hectic enough – it would probably go down like a Zeppelin crammed full of Nazi Gold. So Barney had found a great Curry house coincidentally round the corner from Ludo’s (he was in Austria at the time though so unfortunately missed out). Before meeting Barney at Lehel, I bumped into the first colleague, in what was going to be a very colleague-infested weekend. Good old Eric was on his way to Oslo to see his girlfriend. After a brief chat, the infamous Prosecco Barney turned up. We made our way to the restaurant and not only was the service excellent, but the meal went down a treat. Barney also exposed me to the inner workings of the Oxford Crew Dates. Needless to say, the evening wasn’t quite as apocalyptic as these Oxford students sound. Afterwards we were off for a drink in the Fünf Höfe. It was then that I bumped into Mohamed, another colleague from the department. Very random indeed. Barney and I had a few cocktails with JR and Juliette and a couple of Barney’s acquaintances turned up. A fairly early night was had by all as most people had planned to do some form of sport on the Saturday.

On Saturday morning I arose and decided to go for a jog with a springy Frenchman. Jean-Remy destroys most French stereotypes, he doesn’t smoke cigarillos, he doesn’t have one of those Garlic necklaces they’re so fond of, but he is often late. This wasn’t the case on Saturday when we met outside the Olympische Schwimmhalle, located somewhat unsurprisingly, in the Olympic Park (which hosted the 1972 Games) . Unlike many frogs, he doesn’t carry a white flag in his back pocket, not even for emergency use. Comical stereotyping to one side, the French are of course, usually first to surrender. This also wasn’t the case as JR, like some mad Norman warrior started shooting off “up the mountain”. I most certainly didn’t do Her Majesty proud as I stumbled up the hill after him. In fairness, I did have horrific cramp (hence the title of this post).

“You love Munich, Marcus. But your belly, he does not love Munich so much.” ~ Jean-Remy

The run was never going to turn out well because JR is fit as a flea, but at least I turned up. It’s the taking part that counts, right? No, it’s not the taking part the counts, it’s the not-being-last that counts. To make things worse, the the pool was closed for the filming of a dubious German TV show. The best way to explain it is the German equivalent of Dancing on Ice, but rather than dancing on the ice like civilised people, they somehow create a show by forcing C-list celebrities to spontaneously dive. When it comes to ideas for awful TV, the Germans really have thought of everything, including an annoying title to accompany it with: Das große TV Total Turmspringen 2012.

So we jogged to Nordbad, another pool which was “nearby”. It was a pretty well designed pool although had the odd length of 33m indoors. It did also have a heated outdoor section. It turned out to be very similar to Michaelibad, only located just south of the Olympic Park. He was also unsympathetic to my cramp (hence this week’s title). I bumped, or rather swam, into Florian another colleague at Nordbad.

In the evening I arranged to have a couple of drinks at mine and we then went into town to the “Milchbar”. It was a good night involving Barney (without Prosecco), Nath and myself having a few civilised drinks before going home in the early hours.

“Auch die schlechte Tänze müssen getanzt werden.” ~ A German idiom I learnt from Rémi (yet another frog).

Sunday was a very relaxed day with nothing much of interest occurring. But we were all excited for the Christmas markets to open on Monday! Eventually we decided that Tuesday would fit better to all of our timetables and I met Prince Charming, Inglorious Ingo, Schöne Selina and Lovely Lena at “Tollwood” which is an edgy Christmas market with loads of stalls supplying everything from your Native American Indian essentials straight out of a wigwam to massive marquees. Everyone is selling Glühwein for around 3,00€ so it’s a good deal to be had by all.

This morning it has started to snow and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop. The temperature is just above freezing and it looks like it’s set to reach minus 17 degrees Celsius this weekend. Wish me luck!

Fitness and Fits.

The weekend was enjoyable. On Friday evening we decided it would be a good idea to have a few drinks at the Wohnheim. We then got a few beers in from Real and of course, a cheeky bit of that dangerous spirit. Jägermeister. It was good to get a bunch of the interns together and hear about everyone’s different experiences. Here is some vocabulary that I used on the night.

21 Essential German Party Phrases

hast du heute Abend schon etwas vor?
up to much tonight?

könnten mal etwas irgendwo trinken?
we could go and get a drink somewhere?

kommst du heute Abend zum Party?
are you up for getting battered tonight?

dann sag mir Bescheid, ob du zum Real mitfahren willst
let me know if you want a lift to Real (big supermarket with even bigger deals)

weiß noch nicht
not sure yet

muss mal schauen
we’ll have to see

hast du Bock?
are you up for it? (lit. do you have a goat)

ich wollte mal Samstag in der früh ‘ne Runde Sport oder so machen
I was sort of thinking I’d get some sport done on Saturday morning.

naja aber bist du dabei für ein Bier?
yeah but are you up for a beer?

auf gar keinen Fall

auf keinen Fall
definitley not


kann sein

auf jeden Fall

AKTION! Jägermeister 9,99€
DISCOUNT! Very strong traditional spirit only 8 pounds sterling

du warst total fertig Marcus!
Marcus you were completely finished!

keine Sorge
no worries

kann passieren
it can happen

weißt du was das schlimmste ist?
and you know what the worst thing is?

ich hab’ so einen schlechten Kater
I’ve got such a bad hangover

…und ich muss heute auch ein bisschen Training machen
…and I still need to do some sport today

Saturday was spent mainly lounging around, and teaching one of the natives how we Brits are able to cure a hangover. That’s right, I’m of course referring to God’s greatest gift to cuisine; the hearty English breakfast. I switched theme in the evening to blend in with the Europeans and we opted for pizza in Stiglmaier Platz with Esperanza, Niklas and Nath.

Having neglected excercise in recent months in the pursuit of beer-related activities, I finally decided on Sunday morning it was time to start running off the Oktoberfest belly that I have acquired in the name of “cultural integration”. What better way to kick start a fitness regime with a really unrealistic goal: a triathlon in the Olympic Park! It was of course the appropriate moment to don the London2012 Games Maker shoes – the Olympic spirit lives on. It ended up being a sort of mini-triathlon and thankfully I didn’t bother to measure time spent or distance covered. All I knew was that I was completely ruined afterwards because I kept doing each part until I was well and truly shattered. It’s currently Wednesday afternoon and my legs still haven’t recovered from the beating. The highlight was finishing with a 1.2km swim which was the most I think I have ever swum. I have also discovered that instead of paying 4€ every time like JR has been doing for the past 5 months, it is actually possible to get a Student Pass which is valid for 6 months and only costs 15€. Deal!

On Monday evening like some sort of Channel4 missionary/4OD Jesuit, I introduced Ingo and Rémi to Peep Show. One of the greatest of British TV and a knew series is back on UK screens this Sunday. They understood, enjoyed and most important of all, appreciated the humour. Watching it with them I felt like I was watching it again for the first time.  Although both are more than competent in terms of English, it really highlighted to me so many British words that can’t be easily translated into German or French. And also how much difficulty I would have translating them into French. They reckon that Mark Corrigan is stereotypically British, which had never really occurred to me, but I suppose he is.

On Tuesday I went home and had finished doing my washing, just like any normal Tuesday. When suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard a massive crash. It sounded like someone had poured out the contents of a kitchen out into the landing. At the time I thought it couldn’t be anything serious and part of me was tempted not to check what it was. Until everything went quiet. That was when I knew something wasn’t right. As I made my way upstairs, a spoon came hurtling towards me from above, ricocheting off the railings. I cautiously followed a trail of smashed pieces of plate, with a newfound suspicion for airborne cutlery and crockery. I felt much like Hansel only without Grethel and in a sort of IKEA setting, rather than a woodland trail. Not that they enjoying a weekend in Centreparcs, they obviously had a serious job to do.

There was a bit of commotion and I noticed a bloke completely still lying on the stairs. He was definitely not in a good way. As I took out my phone to ring 112, I noticed that someone else was already speaking with the Emergency Services. All of a sudden the chap that lay still on the floor started having what looked like an epileptic fit. He entered several different episodes, going in and out of consciousness. After around ten minutes, it was apparent that the Paramedics were on their way. Just before they arrived, the man in question picked himself up off the floor and started walking upstairs. Whilst trying to get him to take it easy, we chatted to him about what had happened and he thanked us for our help etc. We then promtply advised him to take a few minutes to rest whilst we got him some water. The patient was of a thin build but was nevertheless at least 6’6″ and weighed a fair amount. At this point the two hundred centimetre tall guy looked blank in the face and fainted. We were only just able to catch him before he hit the ground. Then I decided he needed to be moved to a more secure facility, so that the Paramedics could analyse his situation more easily.  I took a knee and gave some brief orders. Since my bedroom was the closest, we proceeded to evacuate him to my room and laid him on the bed.

By this time his mate had been informed of the situation and came rushing in. As he then sat on the bed and checked if his friend was ok, it became apparent that he was also not in a great way either! It did look extremely suspicious. To the untrained eye, you would have thought that these boys were both high as kites.

Because of patient privacy, I was then advised to leave my own apartment by paramedics as they tended to the patients. I was then given the order to collect the Notarzt. Think Mary Poppins but with fewer umbrellas and more fully equipped BMW X1. I heard the sirens get louder and started to think about any lessons lectures or seminars even vaguely related to Emergencies.

Afterwards when the paramedics and Notartz had left, we had a chat with the two men in question. Partly to make sure they were ok and partly to make sure we never smoked what they were smoking. I did of course what any stoic Brit would have done and supplied a steady stream of superficial jokes to ease the tension. The first patient turned out to be a professional basketballer and explained that he was 100% against smoking of all varieties, apart from shisha, he said, which was just to relax him.  They confessed they had been smoking on a shisha pipe for four hours upstairs together with his mate and had been on his return journey to his room on the ground floor.

Despite the medical dramas, it was a good week and I look forward to Stammtisch tonight.

Bye-Bye Bavarian Ben.

This weekend has been a lot less busy than the last few. Nevertheless, we had plenty of fun on the weekend.  On Friday, I went out with the colleagues. It was obviously a great night, we went to a bar called Cafe Cord near Sendlinger Tor where Sisom and his friend joined us. When they left then the rest of us proceeded to “089 Club” in Sonnenstraße with Jean-Remy, Ingo, his girlfriend, her flatmate, her two friends from home Lea and Pia as well as a fellow student called Michelle. I think everyone had a good night, especially Jean-Remy who was in a perpetual state of celebration the entire night, presumably due to the rapid injection of BECK’s into his bloodstream. Ingo and I – along with a battered JR – amused ourselves by providing a constant flow of songs translated loosely into German. One example was “Bewegen Sie, Hund…geh aus dem Weg. Geh aus dem Weg, Hund, geh aus dem Weg”. This didn’t get tiring for us lads, but the fun started to wear off for the girls pretty quickly. Take note guys; German girls are not easily impressed by such tomfoolery, it must be said. In spite of this, Selina, Lea and Pia were really fun to go out with and hopefully we will see them again in the near future. At the end of the night we all said our goodbyes and myself and Ingo argued about which fast food outlets were the best in terms of value. We parted ways at McDonald’s, after it dawned upon me that I really am more of a Burger King man. The meat is juicier and the service is better, in my humble opinion. My customer loyalty came at a price, however, and after a half hour detour I returned from Hauptbahnhof to catch a bus home. It turned out a couple of days later that poor Ingo had in fact taken a wrong turning and got completely lost and in his desperate panic, he then rang Selina who gave him directions via Google Maps back to his house (which is literally round the corner). Rule number one of drinking: ensure you have hearty meal beforehand. An extension of this notion is “Kein Bier bevor Vier” . This phrases meaning that no beer should be consumed before four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the many German drinking rules I have learnt from Inglorious Ingo.

On Saturday, I was summoned to Starbuck’s by Nath, who was undertaking some important administrative business. Our plan was to then do some of the toursity things which, as semi-professional beer drinkers, we had neglected in the past few months. By a strange coincidence, Selina, Pia and Lea strolled in like zombies to purchase revitalising Frapuccinos or some such other girly drinks. We then joined them on doing a little bit of sightseeing around the city centre. Of course we ended up going to the Chiesischer Turm in the Englischer Garten for a nice mug of Glühwein. The entire afternoon we were cracking jokes and Nath remarked that Germans are actually a really good laugh. Granted that his scope was limited to these three charming girls, but still it was sort of an insight.

Nath, me, Selina and Lea outside the Bayerischer Staatsoper. Photo taken by the lovely Pia.

As many of you will know, I have had the pleasure of living with a Bavarian, namely Ben, for the past six weeks. He has been a great friend to me and we have had a lot of fun together. Any fun that I had on the weekend was sadly overshadowed by yesterday’s news that Ben was planning on moving out. On Thursday (today). The distance from work, the fact that our shower curtain doesn’t work, the uncomfortable location of work, our lack of internet connection and the fact that I was always there, getting in the way of romantic evenings with his girlfriend all became too much for BB and he informed me on Wednesday morning that he was leaving. Before I had time to react, it became clear that he had already signed the contract for the new apartment whcih is closer to work, has internet…and most importantly it is a one person room. The condition was that he had to move in right away, as the had just been refurbished.

Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the fact that this was his first time living away from home let alone living in a big city. Apart from our shared love of both Burger King and KFC, you could say me and Ben were polar opposites. I, being a Londoner who owns a pair of Lederhosen, he being a Bavarian who not only doesn’t own Lederhosen but proudly wears David Beckham’s newest fragrance and sports a Manchester United shirt. Great times together include teaching him the ways of the British student (now an endangered species after the hike in tuition fees). For example, I explained how the main goal of the taxi drivers in Leeds is to secure a deals for the students and thereby hooking in customers. He would then compare their accents to that of German-speaking Raj in is favourite TV show: HowImetyaMazzer. I have learnt huge amounts from the clean and efficient electronics engineer that is and always will be Bavarian. I aspire one day to be more like him.  I want to thank him for being supportive to me as I was finding my footing in Munich – I have now progressed to the level of an Intermediate Form-filler-outer. Ben was only too eager in helping me to sign forms which I had forgotten to fill out and thereby ensuring that some German, in some tax office somewhere in the Bundesrepublik had their “Formular Fetish” satisfied that day. I wish Ben great success for the rest of his internship and indeed his Ausbildung and hope that we will see each other every now and then before he leaves in February.I now wish him all the best as his finds peace and quiet in his own newly furnished apartment with internet and a fully functioning bathroom!

Bavarian Ben

The final theme I will write about today is something I have been putting off for a long time. Learning to drive. Even though I have now realised that I do need to learn to drive pronto (and sort of require it for my job), unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be able to afford the course that I wish to do in my only week of holiday in the first week of January. Annoyingly enough, the student loan comes in the week after I would be able to take the course and I will have no other holiday for the rest of the year. Since it is also extortionate and difficult to do it in Germany I think I will have to wait until next year to complete it. Financially I’m not far from the total cost of the course, but far enough that the dream probably won’t become a reality. Unfortunately money doesn’t grow on cars.

Surprising Serious Sam.

Thanks to the Pope and a couple of thousand years of oppression, a bank holiday was declared on Thursday the 1st  of November. Something about all the saints rising up? Putting our bibles to one side, there was only one thing for it: a city break! Firms will often award their workers with a Brücketag meaning you get the Friday off as well making it a relaxed three-day week followed by a cheeky five nights of weekend.

Captain’s Blog: Stardate 09.11.2012.

If you read last week’s post you’ll know that Hallowe’en wasn’t even celebrated in Munich this year. They genuinely banned it. They essentially had had enough. They could ban it all they want in Bavaria but they couldn’t stop us doing what people of all nationalities do that like to party: simply migrate further North (whether it be from London to Leeds, Juba to Khartoum, or Sana’a to Riyadh – to name but a few examples). Taking advantage of this foolish Catholic generosity, I travelled together with my Jewish friend (Semitic Simon) to join my Protestant brothers in arms in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Our objectives were clear: 1) to surprise Serious Sam by rocking up to his work thus severley reducing the gravity of his personality & 2) to soak up the atmosphere by penetrating the heart of the city’s vibrant nightlife. This would be a four day operation, encompassing over 3000km of sheer voyage. The surprise was made all the more hilarious by the fact that Sam was convinced that Si was arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday. (What an idiot – he believed us!). Little did he know that not only was I coming from Munich (big news) but also Euan was making the trip from Wolfie as well (also news). Euan’s plan was to arrive on Friday and to leave on Saturday. Obviously that didn’t happen. Due to various persuasive friends he ended up staying Saturday night too.

Wednesday 31st October
Let us start from the beginning. Once again back in the comfort of Prince Charming’s luxury Ford Fiesta we left an empty office at around 1700hrs. We departed Munich in October and arrived in November and it honestly did feel like it had taken us a month to get to the North, even to get out of Bavaria was a task as everyone had the same idea; visiting friends and family. After what is normally an hour long journey to Ingolstadt we ended up taking around three. We passed the time by chatting to our carsharer, a jovial Italian man called Fabio (obviously) from South Tyrol who spoke perfect German but with a strong Italian accent. Having built up a bit of hunger it didn’t take us long to decided it was time for a solemn Burger King before Nuremberg, as we sat there we attempted to digest not only the traffic situation but also the saturated fatty acids we had just gobbled down. After around eleven hours on the road we eventually ended up in Hamburg at around 4am. Having subsequently checked into the Generator Hostel, I proceeded to my chamber of choice, I found Simon, who had arrived a few hours prior to me, asleep at his station and spread-eagled on my bed. Bed Number 7! Too tired to kick up my usual fuss (what would have been the point, anyway?), I clambered reluctantly up to the top bunk where I promtly fell into a deep sleep.

“You sound like you’re from Landungsbrücke”

Thursday 1st November
We awoke bright and early on Thursday morning after only a few pitiful hours of sleep but credits where credit’s due the beds were comfy indeed.  There were some friendly girls in the dorm who we impressed with our plans to surprise Sam at work, we added them to a long list of people who were in on Germany’s best kept secret. Conversation swiftly over, we opted for a continental pastry and were on our way to the Hafen City. After a few minutes of walking our city boy instincts kicked in and we got ourselves day tickets which entitled us to use some of the many transport services on offer. The most useful of which is the U-Bahn. Before we knew it we were en route to Sam’s place of work; only one of the most well-respected advertising agencies in Germany and one of the most successful in Europe. Their modern office looks over the state of the art Hafen City and has a fantastic view even from the ground floor, it is not a stretch to imagine that the panorama gets better and better as you venture further up the building into the suave meeting rooms.  We have to remember that Sam works in advertising and he assures us that some members of the “Creative Team” even come in wearing snap-backs and jeans (for our older readers these are the baseball caps with the flat peak, instead of a curved one and is comparable to the modern flat cap). That all said, Sam did indeed look like he was having a somewhat “Casual Thursday”.

“What are you guys doing here? And how the hell do you know where I work?”

We didn’t travel across Europe’s largest country empty handed, we came bearing gifts of course. And we brought arguably the most flavoursome beer in the world: Augustiner Helles*. Because, you know, we’re good mates like that. The plan was to plonk both bottles on his desk, but this plan went about as far as the reception because we were denied upstairs access. Instead we explained our story to the sectretary. We filled her in on the details, reciting perfectly how I had left Munich in October and arrived in Hamburg in November travelling over 800km in an overwhelming 12hours and cutting Germany right down the middle in order to be here. She then rang Sam, explaining that there was a package that he needed to collect from reception. (In case you don’t follow: There wasn’t really a package…she just said that to trick him into coming down to the reception!) I know, sneaky Germans.

Needless to say he was definitely surprised to the max, although managed to contain his excitement over a coffee in their cosy cafeteria. Myself and Simon then had roughly an hour to kill as Sam unfortunately had to get back behind the wheel of the German economy. We then decided a trip to the Rathaus was in order and we went up in the lift and read about the destruction of Hamburg in WWII. Afterwards we checked out the Miniatur Wunderland which houses a collection of complex train networks and is one of the things you have to do when in Hamburg.

Some people loving it, others also present.

After a leisurely lunch at one of Sam’s trendy local jaunts, myself and Simon got the list of “things we wanted to see in Hamburg” out. In an attempt to ascertain whether there would still be tickets available for the legendary König der Löwen (Lion King), we went to some of the different box offices located along the sea wall just a stroll down from Hafen City. If you then look over the harbour you can see the Theater am Hafen which boasts a huge picture of Mufasa’s mug on it. This spectacular theatre is only accessible by boat and each musical has its own transport vessel, decorated differently according to the production it associates with. Unfortunately, they were sold out for Thursday and the weekend but there were two tickets going for the Friday evening. It was pretty much fully booked because it was half term (or Herbstferien) throughout the Bundesrepublik. We were sort of tempted by the idea until she explained these were balcony seats and costed 120€. EACH. I winced at Simon and he winced back at me after which he grumbled something in Northern which I couldn’t quite make out but which I took to mean: “My dear fellow, I think we shall have to decline”.

The rest of the day was spent taking a bus tour around the town. Where we saw the world’s biggest shoe shop and learnt other interesting facts. Amongst other facts we picked up along the way were that at  Hamburg (2300) boasts double the amount of bridges as Venice (480) AND Amsterdam (600). Pretty cool, eh? Once Sam was done with work we met at one of his favourite Turkish restaurants where we had a typically delicious kebab, we expect no less now, since we are all fully qualified connoisseurs of kebabs. When evening turned to night, we found ourselves in a karaoke bar on the Reeperbahn and ended partying with some lads from Birmingham whose accents made CharChar sound like a sophisticated Southerner. The night was going fairly well until the end when everything just went simply mental. Having perhaps slightly raised the roof al little with my rendition of Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver, I returned to my beer and the audience waited to see if the next act could fill my boots. Then out of nowhere appeared what must have been the landlady, brandishing an armful of plates. During the following Robbie Villiams song she proceeded to smash a plate in time with the beat of the music. As if this wasn’t strange enough, I turned round to find one of the barmaids waving around a bottle of lighter fluid around and proceeding to squeeze copious amounts of it along the length of the bar before promtly setting it alight (taking the song We Are Young perhaps a little bit too literally).

Friday 2nd November
We awoke to the smell of burning and immdeiately we knew zee Germans were up to something. As I peered over the edge of my bed, bleary-eyed and cloudy headed, I noticed the Nurembabes were ferociously preparing breakfast. Unlike any normal people attempting to have a normal breakfast, we remembered they were very German indeed and had of course planned this event weeks ago. We realised they were refering to as a “Sandvich-maschine” which sounds like some form of equipment to torture cheese & ham was actually what civilised English people might call a “toastie maker”. Unsure as to whether we should form some sort of Allied Sandwich Force in order to attempt to liberate said Sandwiches from their certain firey death, we ended up engaging in a quick chat with the perpatrators who turned out to be rather harmless students from Bavaria.

Sam is a lucky man and has a snug apartment just a five minute stroll (or stumble) to the Reeperbahn. As Friday drew close, we were all up for a first proper night out so Sam organised a pre-drinks (which with Hindsight was perhaps a tactical error) and invited Kirstie (perhaps also an error). Whilst in Edeke trying to gather supplies for the messy weekend ahead, a slightly panicky Simon was trying to coordinate Euan’s arrival. “I don’t know what to do!” Having managed to just about calm him down and I explained that I would take care of Sam whilst suggesting that Simon disappear into one of the aisles (prefereably a kosher one) thus continuing his covert coordination. We stocked up on the essentials, careful not to buy anything which could do us any good. With a bag of frozen chicken wings, a crate of beer, a bottle of vodka and some weird pizzas split evenly between us, we found ourselves back at the flat. Half an hour later and we got our first knock on the door, and in walked none other than Euan “Golden” Graham. Man by day, Wolfie by night. Sam was again well and truly surprised and started to convince himself that Adi was on his way, having created an Inception-style alter-ego and visiting a pretend girlfriend in Hong Kong. Needless to say this was wishful thinking, not only was the girlfriend a real one and at the time Adam was indeed almost “Taken” in Paris before catching an Air France flight to the Far East. Some real life guests included Dan who had travelled from where he calls “sweaty Chemnitz” and brought along a friend who now lives in Hamburg. When they knocked on the door, we remembered that they weren’t aware of Euan’s prescence either!  So we arranged for Euan to jump out of a cupboard (which he did actually fit into) as they entered Sam’s room. The evening started off with many many Mexicanas (Vodka, tomato juice and tabasco in a shot for 0.5€ = deal). Some of our members were slightly worse for wear as we joked about doing an Otley Run style outing. Later on in the evening, the combination of surprise, good value vodka, cheap wine and beer took full effect on poor Sam and he was not in a good way. Simon proceeded to evacuate him from the Creeperbahn.

Saturday 3rd November
All fairly hungover we decided to do what any Brits would have done: head straight to the Irish pub. After an unconvincing game of football between Manchester United and Arsenal we knew it was time to head off. I think Man U must’ve won because Simon wasn’t depressed for the rest of the weekend. We decided it would be a good idea to join one of Hamburg’s famous boat tours despite the miserable weather. We refused to let a bit of rain dampen our spirits. We hit the Glühwein relatively hard and Sam ordered an extra shot of Amaretto to really kick the evening off. Euan was trudging around with his bag and contemplating listening to Lonely by Akon on his way back to Wolfsburg (which is a real place by the way – I saw it on a sign). After a few drinks at a pub near the Fischmarkt we had managed to persuade him to stay! Then began Saturday night. Of course we were out on the Reeperbahn once again, although this time drinking fewer Mexicanas. We went to an interesting club which really opened our eyes into the different ways dollar bills could be used. Fanstastic innovation. When we’d had enough of the frankly overpriced drinks we headed over for a last drink in the HSV Fan Quarter located just off Herbertstraße. Simon was proudly grinning and displaying his newly purchased St. Pauli scarf in the HSV fan quarter. (St. Pauli being the rival team in the city). Thankfully we noticed this before we went into one of their famously rowdy bars. Once Sam reminded him where he was, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone take off a scarf quicker in my life.

Sunday 4th November
The weekend in general was made all the more smelly by Sam’s refusal to shower and Euan’s propensity to supply our local atmosphere with a constant stream of farts. Despite the lingering wake of these smelly men,  enjoyment of our weekend increased by approximately 3.4% due to H&M’s current billboard campaign featuring the ludicrously luscious Lana Del Ray. We sometimes found ourselves stopped in amazement at the sheer and jaw-dropping beauty of that sparkling woman. It is safe to say we all have a soft spot for her.

On the one hand it’s an unbelievably sketchy city seething with serpents, riddled with rascals and crawling with creeps, but on the other hand it is full of green spaces and is technically Germany’s most liveable city. Despite it raining every single day without fail, we really enjoyed our time in Hamburg and it was great not only to see another part of Germany but also to catch up with good friends. Hamburg is certainly an interesting city but I have to say I was happy to find myself looking forward to being back home in Munich. Definitely no regrets that I am here in Bayern – I must have settled in now because I really did feel at home as we cruised down the usually stifling Frankfurter Ring late on Sunday night. On behalf of Simon and Euan and myself, I would like to extend a massive thanks to Sam for putting up with us at such short notice and we look forward to our next official group trip to Berlin in December.

Source: Interview with Ben (Bavarian) October 2012.

NB: Sam’s very own account of what exactly occurred during Oktoberfest all the way up until Hamburg.

Heaven and Helles.



This weekend the gorgeous girls organised a fantastic two day trip to a sleepy Austrian village, with the help of Niklas. It was absolutely brilliant and a well-deserved weekend of R&R. We rented a chalet and managed to get a good deal because it was out of the ski-season. A celebration was called for as last week because Niklas “Finnished” his internship ahead of starting his final year at LMU. We knew whatever happened it was going to be a good weekend. And it certainly did not disappoint.

Hopping down to Hopfgarten.

Straight after work we met outside the office and divided into two groups. We took a load of essential supplies as well as warm winter clothes. Amongst the mandatory items were food, alcohol, biscuits and alcohol…to name but a few (not to mention some good quality Bavarian beer). Like a good British tourist, I was overdressed from the start and stood grinning at everyone in my clumpy snowboots. “Marcus vy are your vearing your Schnee-boots? Are you making a trip to zee Äntarctic, or samsing?”  I wasn’t too worried about enduring a bit of ridiculing, because I secretly knew that I’d be the one laughing in the end!

Ready for the weekend!

So we ventured off in Prince Charming’s Ford Fiesta and Inglorious Ingo’s Škoda Fabia to Hopfgarten im Brixental, a snoozy little alpine village not far from Kitzbühel. Looking out of the window, I began to understand the raw beauty of the Bavarian landscape, the evergreen pine trees and foothills of the mountains. After less than an hour on the Autobahn (Richtung Salzburg)  we were away and enjoyed a cheeky bit of racing and overtaking before quickly making our exit. After a pleasant stretch on the motorway we were soon accelerating up winding roads singing along to Robbie Villiams – Angels at full volume.

Chateau or Chalet?

After a remarkably short journey we were suddenly there. The chalet did not disappoint and we unpacked immediately. The plan was to find a restaurant in the village below. At first this proved tricky, but because Niklas’ family have a flat in one of the neighbouring villages, he was able to orientate himself and we eventually found a rather swanky restaurant called “zeitlos”. Having had more than enough beer for a lifetime in the past couple of months, I decided to become a sophisitaced red wine drinker. The meal was equisite and although paying seperately turned out to be a complete nightmare, the ambience and good conversation and great company more than made up for it.

All the interns: Thomas, Sisom, Niklas, Jean-Remy, Selina, myself, Ingo, Juliette, Lena and Anne-Charlotte.

After a leisurely pudding we went back to the chalet or Ferienwohnung (holiday house) for a few more drinks and  we drank the night away. We played Ludo. Twice. And me and Juliette lost both times, despite rolling a fair amount of sixes. Shortly after the second time of playing JR was so bored that he actually went to bed – who could blame him, to be fair.

The following morning I woke up last out of everyone and was still in the shower when everyone was ready. Thinking that no-one would have noticed my absence, I carried on singing and scrubbing away, much like I would with the Fabian Family in the Isle of Wight.  I opened the kitchen door and I saw all these civilised Europeans. I was like…what? They were all poised holding various cutting implements and I began to think that they had lured me to Austria because of my juicy thighs and that they in fact intended to eat me. (Who could blame them I would fetch a fair few steaks). But that wasn’t the point. No, instead they were waiting for me. Waiting for me. So I sat down and pretended that this was a normal experience for me and we began to eat.  The massive European breakfast was delicious, of course. Then it came to plan the rest of the day. Since the sky was just giving us an outline of the mountains due to the heavy fog and sleet, we decided to remain inside for the day. But at the same time we didn’t want to spend the entire day in the chalet itself. Niklas then suggested that instead of hiking (which the Brit and the Finn were up for) we should instead go swimming! The French and Germans couldn’t handle the poor weather, as a Brit I tried to explain that if we decided not to do anything when the weather was bad then we would never get anything done. This unfortunately fell on deaf ears.

Instead we spent the day in this luxurious Thermalbad which was sort of like a leisure centre similar to Latchmere (which has a wave machine by the way) but also had a salt bath where you could lie back and float, whilst listening to gentle music played from an underwater speaker system. Then I noticed the slides…Everyone was being really mature and pretending they didn’t want to go “rutschen“. As I was deciding whether or not it would be weird to go by myself, it occurred to me that Jean-Remy would be up for it! Being almost as immature as me he practically jumped at the opportunity to get some serious sliding in. After a little more relaxing in the various indoor and outdoor pools, there’s only so many times you can be excited by the concept of bubbles going on and off, sos we decided to retreat back into our log cabin. At this moment I began to notice the sheer cliff face and the trees as the fog cleared. What I saw was simple yet amazing. I could see the mountain freezing from the top down as a white mist engulfed its tip. Such a simple sight was very beautiful to witness.

We arrived back to the house and it was early evening so we decided to get the drinks in (obviously). And then it started snowing. This evening was to be effectively like the video of Wham! – Last Christmas. The girls had managed to procure two Raclette sets (yes “racleeeeeeeeeette” – joke for Granny) and we tucked into yet another feast. Having got battered inside on the Swedish equivalent of Bailey’s we were all ready for the snowball fight that then ensued. Yes, that’s right, unable to contain ourselves, the excitement had just got too much and we ventured out into fairly deep snow at two in the morning.

On Sunday we woke up maybe a bit later than usual. We woke up to the most amazing snowfall you could possibly imagine. Literally a blanket of whiteness engulfed the mountain. it had now been snowing for around 15 hours. The snow just made everyone feel great and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than a bit of free white powder?

Sisom and Lena on the balcony.

Another view from the 318 balcony.

We are all missing Niklas at work now and it’s definitely not the same without him. We struggle on though and look forward to meeting up with him soon. Here are a few more photos of us lot from the weekend.

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So today is the 31st of October…and what does that mean? Hallowe’en! But what I find brilliant about Bavaria is that they will be introducing a Tanzverbot (literally a dancing ban) from midnight tonight onwards, meaning that bars and clubs will have to shut early. You can imagine an angry mad Bavarian King declaring “Zee act of dancing is currently forbidden!!” And since the Germans only really go out at around midnight…bars and clubs may as well not open at all. Religious holidays are taken very seriously and citizens have the right to call the police if you make noise during a Feiertag. And they often invoke that right. Allerheiligen or All Saint’s Day is a day of rest, relaxation but most importantly reflection. There are no amount of pumpkins or trick-or.treaters that can change that. I have to say I do admire the Bavarian ability to withstand American culture, perhaps us Brits could take a leaf out of their forest.

That was all for you own information – it bears no relation to my plans whatsoever because I won’t actually be in Bavaria for Hallowe’en. This evening I am travelling to a land far far away to surprise a very good friend of mine. If you are reading this blog…we are coming to surprise you tomorrow!

Meet the Fuggers.

Hello again and apologies for the small delay of this post. It’s been a very busy week.

Summary. This weekend was yet another hectic one! Last Friday, Simon drove to Munich with two mates in a truly Inbetweeners-style car. We went out then they left on Saturday afternoon. In the evening I visited a Turkish restaurant with Ludo and a couple of other Erasmus people. We then went to Augsburg with a whole bunch of students on Sunday.

Living it up at the Hostel California

On Friday afternoon I met Simon and his two colleagues (Flo and Sebastian) at the fountains by Universität. We started off with a Maß at the Chinesischer Turm in Englischer Garten, a compulsory checkpoint as anyone who has visited me thus far will know. This is mainly because of the beautiful environment but also due to the tuneful brass music.

Having quenched our initial thirst, we trotted off to Sausilito’s, a well known bar in Türkenstraße. It had great ambience and fairly good-value cocktails. Yes, a couple of group deals were enjoyed. We had a fair few drinks, after which the cherry on the cake was the heroic emergence of “Prosecco Barney” just before we were about to leave. He earnt his nickname by ordering a bottle in shortly before our scheduled departure from said bar, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. He then bagan generously pouring glasses and sending them down the table in a sort of pass-the-salt attitude.

By this stage we were all fairly tempura* and we headed off to an edgy club called Neuraum, located behind Hauptbahnhof, the closest station actually being Hackerbrücke. The night started off well and we headed downstairs to the main clubbing area and straight to our table. When you book the table you actually pay by guaranteeing that a certain amount of alcohol will be consumed. I learnt long ago that forcing Jägerbombs down Simon’s throat, although fun while it lasts, will almost certainly lead to extreme emesis. In my old age I knew that, much like a fine wine, the Jäger must at first be aired so that the drinkers can psychologically adjust to its prescence, thus off-setting the vomitus projectilis effect.

A great night was had by all, Good Deal** played a couple of times which was very exciting for me and Simon, and a bit like “what?!” for everyone else. The usual amount of piggybacks were achieved and we all left content yet stumbling at around 3:30am. We still can’t quite yet party like the Germans – they will often stay out until sunrise which is ridiculous in my opinion.

Ich verstehe nur Hauptbahnhof

The subsequent Saturday was spent luxuriating in the sun in the English Gardens after having chewed our way through – let’s be honest – disgusting burgers at best. If you are in Munich make sure you don’t go to La Cucaracha’s for food. Though I’m sure you wouldn’t anyway. Of course there is a bot of Ostalgie attached to it because it is where me an d Nath had our first beers of Year Abroad. Like many of our jaunts it is indeed round the corner from Hauptbahnhof, and conveniently a stone’s throw from Hostel Central. The sun was shining and as any good Englishman will know…when the sun is shining that means you must be abroad. With that in mind we headed straight back to the Englischer Garten. After all, it had been almost twelve hours since we were last there.

Through the day I realised that I was without two items a chap simply can’t live without. Vision and a gilet. This is like a combination of first and third-world problems, I guess. So on average it’s a second world problem. Ok a gilet is obviously a bit of a first world problem, nevertheless it didn’t make it any easier being blind. Vision is probably a third world problem I had taken my contact lenses out the night before and therefore was stumbling around the city not being able to see expressions on people’s faces or to read signs. Luckily I now know the city like the back of my hand, by that I mean I know where the park is and also the main train station. So as the afternoon drew to a close we said our fairwells to the boys and sent them on their way back home to Stuttgart.

In the evening, myself and Ludo were feeling pretty hungry and so we did what hungry people do all around the world. They try to find Turkish people. Not to eat, but to find that internationally renowned piece of meat that delicious treat: the kebab. Having dabbled in a Turkish language module last year, I took it upon myself to essentially practice some of the vocab I had learnt. All you need to know in Turkish is how to order food and drinks. Judging from my textbook, Turks spend all or most of the day drinking Raki and eating aubergines, not to mention plenty of hummus. My kebabulary is now fairly decent, the only problem is that small talk starts and finishes with declaring that “I’m from London”.Anyhow, I managed to remember the word for bill (Hesap) just in the nick of time.

Sunday was not a day of rest. Instead we thought it would be a good idea to go West to Augsburg.  Our initial impression was Croydon-esque at best. As soon as we stepped off the train, the Brits amongst us were blamed for flattening the place 68 years ago.

Sadly, Augsburg is still suffering the consequences of the Allied air raids carried out on the night of the 25th and 26th of February 1944. Meanwhile the Finns were still making jokes about “decorative adjustments to the city by the RAF”. The Brits amongst us came under a heavy fire of criticism for essentially bringing the city to the ground. Although we can in no way compare this suffering with that of the citizens of Augsburg, whose city centre was anihalated during the day by 8 AF (US Eight Air Force) and during the night by RAF Bomber Command with 594 Aircraft, killing 730 people and injuring 1,335. In total 85,000 people were left homeless as a result of the destruction.

Augsburg is the third largest city in Bavaria and since all good things come in threes it also boasts being Germany’s third oldest city, having previously been a major trading hub between Italy and Germany. Generations of bankers made their fortunes here and the mercantile class ruled Augsburg for many years. The banking families even got the Renaissance ball rolling as they funded much artwork throughout the city. Interesting fact: it is also the only city in Germany to have its own legal holiday which takes place on August the 8th every year.  This means it has more bank holidays than any other region in the Bundesrepublik.

Childishly imitating the Emporor’s stance with  Léonard and  Augustus.

NB the fountain is out of action in the winter because of low temperatures and therefore covered.

Fugger, the most established banking family established the world’s ver first council estate. It is still in use today and the prices have been unaffected by inflation. This means that even today only costs 83 cents per year to live there. The only condition is that you must pray three times a day. A pretty good deal I think. Although many Muslims would laugh at this – they pray five times a day and don’t expect free rent. Famous people who have lived there include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s great-gradnfather Franz Mozart.

In a matter of hours we are heading off to Kitzbühel, Austria this weekend with the colleagues hopefully in the style of Wham’s Last Christmas. It’s going to get chilly so many layers have been packed, not to mention snow boots!

*See previous post for explanation.

**Traditionally sung to the tune of “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida/Avici