Monday, April 5, 2010

The Little Fiat That Could (or: The Bane of Bulky Baggage)

I'm here! Where's here? Leipzig, Germany. Where's Leipzig? Check the map below (also on the right). It's a bit south of Berlin.

To get from Berlin to Leipzig it takes about 1.5 hours by car. I know firsthand because I drove it Friday. Why on earth, you may ask, did I drive from Berlin to Leipzig when there is an amazingly efficient train system all throughout Germany? Well, I have so much luggage that I was seriously concerned that I couldn't lug it from the Berlin Tegel airport to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main train station), then onto the train, then off of the train, then to my apartment in Leipzig. You see, I had two suitcases and one backpack. And one of the suitcases weighed 70 lbs. And the other was full of books and probably weighed 45 lbs. Not to mention the large-ish backpack full of books… (I'm a graduate student, I'm addicted to books).

So I rented this little Fiat to get me and my luggage that probably weighed more than me from Berlin to Leipzig.

In this picture, the Fiat Punto is parked in front of my new apartment on Oststraße 48 (the full address is Oststraße 48 #19, 04317 Leipzig-Reudnitz, Germany, in case you’d like to send mail, hint hint ☺)

I arrived in Germany at sort of a weird time. As you may know, Easter is Sunday, April 4, and Easter is a national holiday in Germany. Stores and cafes have been sporadically open since I’ve been here (I’m thankful they’ve been open at all!). Despite the fact that I didn’t train it from Berlin to Leipzig, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the train station the last few days. Below the station there’s a mall with lots of stores and, crucially, Internet access. There’s also lots of Easter cheer at the Hauptbahnhof, as you can see from this stand selling Easter goodies:

The Leipzig center is very cute, as far as I can tell so far. My apartment is less cute. Well, it’s not so bad: decent-sized for a one room (with a full bath & kitchen), good location, big windows… It’s just that there’s a mysterious smell that I’m not too excited about. I’ll spare you the details, and just say that I’ve purchased a number of candles and baking soda since I’ve been here. This required figuring out how to say baking soda and matches in German, since these words were not part of my German 1 vocabulary… (baking soda = das Natron, match = die Streichholz).

Don't be shocked, but I actually went to church on Easter Sunday. What?! Well, after the masses there was a Bach concert in the historic Thomaskirche in the city center. Here's Thomaskirche around 7:30 pm, before the 8 pm concert:

I start "work" tomorrow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in the Comparative Population Linguistics Group. What is all of this? Well, let me explain more later after I've actually been there...


cg said...

YAY! I am so excited that you are blogging your adventures again! How long will you be in Leipzig? Your Fiat + luggage story made my smile. Oh, how I miss you, friend! xo

patentexaminer said...

Was it scary driving in Europe? Did you take the autobahn?

Christine said...

So excited about your blogging again. If you find the source of the smell, do tell. Enjoy your brainy institute stuff (I do believe that's the official title).

Julia M. said...

Thanks for reading & leaving comments, girls! I'm in Leipzig for 2 months - leaving June 1st for Russia (at least that's the plan... I don't yet have my Russian visa or an apartment in Moscow yet...). As far as driving in Europe, it wasn't really scary. There was a lot of traffic at first, so it gave me a chance to get used to the new stick shift, but otherwise a lot like driving in the US. In fact, signage between Berlin & Leipzig was so good that I didn't even need a map or directions until I got to Leipzig! Oh and yes, it was on the autobahn, but NO I did NOT drive too speedily (did you see that tin can of a car!?!?!)

I think the source of the smell is the building smell leaking into the apt. (mainly a dirty foot smell - sorry!) I found some febreeze at a local walmart-like store (I normally try to avoid febreeze, but desperate times call for desperate measures...) The smell seems to have abated a bit. But I'll keep you posted on any new smell developments :)