Despite having been at school in Trier for only a month, the term began several weeks prior to my arrival. This meant that the first half term break of the year came around very quickly (for me). The first adventure on the agenda was a cycle to Koblenz and then Mainz from Trier, 250km over two days. I pumped up my tyres, bought an Allen key and typed Koblenz into Google maps. You could call this poor preparation. But I made it nonetheless. I was very glad to be accompanied by a good humoured Canadian after 100km, cycling with me from Cochem to Koblenz. After two days of cycling it’s safe to say my bum will never be the same. As I arrived back in Trier on the third day I felt (for the first time since moving here) an excitement about nearly being “home”.
After my nearly twelve hour bus journey from Trier to Berlin I couldn’t have been happier to see Lisa smiling up at me as the bus stopped at the Berlin ZOB. To be able to stay with a friend when travelling is such a treat. It meant we were able to spend plenty of time together whether in gemütliche cafes or in her cosy apartment cooking, watching films or skyping our friend in Canada. Staying with a real Berliner was also so wonderful as it allowed me to see her Berlin. I tagged onto her weekly routine, the highlights of which were a yoga class, meeting her friends and the Berlin Festival of Lights. The following week, whilst she went to work, I wandered around Berlin, eagerly consulting the rich “to see in Berlin” lists compiled by some of my English friends who’d at some point lived in Berlin. I tried to be spontaneous and become more of a flaneur than a tourist. However, if you half-arse plan things (like I do), it can lead to a few disappointments, such as a long journey to a closed museum.
I found walking around Berlin by myself a bit lonely. It’s fine for a day or two but by the Wednesday I was feeling a bit homesick. I also think I look after myself better when I’m with others. Rather than traipsing around for miles without a break, friends encourage each other to have (coffee) breaks so I think I’m better suited to travelling with a friend. This was definitely the case the following week when I visited my brother in Delft. Not only was it refreshing to be out of the city and back into greenery, but seeing my brother and our close friends was revitalising.
I hadn’t seen Will in months, so it was great to have some sibling time. He lives in the closest thing to a commune that I’ve ever stayed in. The white table in the kitchen is a canvas covered in colourful and abundant communal food; the garden, lovingly fostered by Marie adds to evening meals, pies and tarts and the lounge features two sofas, ripe for nesting. A friend of ours (Izzy) joined us for the weekend and on the Saturday we went to Amsterdam to see another friend who’s just started her masters in Amsterdam. Izzy and I arrived at her completely empty flat (bar several boxes of flatpack ikea furniture and some suitcases). The evening was spent assembling a bed, shelves, cupboards and a table and the result, a real nest, fit for the three of us.
Izzy and I travelled back to Trier on the Sunday morning and a six hour journey turned into twelve hours with a series of delays. The lowlight of the day was waiting in the arse end of nowhere (Kaldenkirchen to be exact) for two hours before a replacement bus picked us up and took us to the next station. The highlight of the day was sitting down for dinner in our snuggly flat. As Izzy was my first visitor in Paris, it only seems fit that she was my first visitor in Trier. She’s an absolute joy to be around: always up for an adventure and always up for some tea and cake, which is exactly what we did.