These past few days I have spent in Heidelberg with Meike and her boyfriend Lukas, at his shared flat in the old city. Before coming here I saw the Star Wars premiere in London!
Unfortunately, I am not fancy or famous enough to have seen the real premiere with the movie stars but we did get to see a few of them on the red carpet before we saw the film at midnight. I got a particularly good photo of John Boyega, one of the leads of the new films. We left and came back around 1030pm when the real premiere was ending and I saw quite a few famous people wandering around and we got up to the front of the line right when Mark Hamill came out of the theater! We had to wait around a bit while they cleaned up the mess that all the rich/famous people made in the theater but we finally got in and got to sit back and enjoy Star Wars!! This is a spoiler-free zone so I will not say anything about the film other than that it was the most exciting midnight premiere I’ve been to and that the film is worth the hype!
After the film I had a long and complex journey to the Stansted airport for my cheap Ryanair flight to Frankfurt. I just stayed up all night to travel because I had to catch a bus to the edge of the city, a coach (that was late) up to the airport, and then finally my flight to Frankfurt, after which, I had to take a bus into the city and then catch a train to Heidelberg. By the time I reached Meike, I had been awake for 26 hours with only a few 30min naps on the bus and plane. Meike had other things to do anyway, so she helped me set up a place to sleep and I just slept for 20 hours to get back on schedule.
Visiting Heidelberg was more about visiting friends than seeing the city (though I did do that in between). The first night was a big all-night party in Lukas’ flat so we all made sure to sleep in extra late that morning and Meike and I went out that day to see the old city and to pick up party supplies. I met quite a few nice people at the party who were willing to accommodate my English needs. I still remember enough German to partially understand the stories people tell (and of course I know all the food related terms) but many times throughout the night people would translate a joke or two for me. I also, as I do, taught a lot of people a bit about Hawaiian history and had a hilarious conversation about Zappa and Prince with Lukas.
The second night, we had yet another party planned but this one was a smaller Christmas party. It was Meike’s friend’s annual Christmas party that she throws with her husband and that usually consists of about 5-6 friends. This party was definitely quieter and I got to have a lot of nice conversations with everyone. The husband of Meike’s friend is American, so everyone spoke English for the most part around him anyway. There was a mini secret santa and someone ended up with a game called Black Stories and we played that together for a while. In the game, one person picks a card and reads a line of the story (which usually involves a death or something creepy), only they have all the details of what happened, and everyone else has to ask yes/no questions to try and figure out the entire story. The game was in German but we played it in both languages and it was hilarious!
On Sunday, we planned to go out to Meike’s parents’ house for dinner. I had the morning to myself so I just went on a walk through the old city and saw all the different Christmas markets. Not much was open on Sunday but I was able to be out and enjoy the city for a while. Before heading off for dinner we drove over to Lukas’ family home and had tea with his parents, brother, brother’s girlfriend, and their grumpy cat. We made it out to Meike’s parents a bit early and helped them finish up dinner. Dinner was Winter Salat (a special lettuce that only grows in winter), Kartoffelklöße, Sauerkraut, and some sort of beef thing for everyone except Meike and me. Dessert was a dish with cream puffs covered in fruit sauce and whipped cream. The only translation for Kartoffelklöße is potato dumplings, but we did not think that was good enough of a name so Meike’s dad dubbed them “German Hot Balls,” and we all decided that was probably the best name for them in English. Meike’s parents were very sweet and we all told funny stories and I told them a bit about Hawaii (with Meike and Lukas as the expert translators). Meike also told her parents how much I like whisky and they had a nice collection, so after dessert we sat in the living room together and each had a glass of whisky (except Meike, who doesn’t like it, and Lukas, who had to drive).
Today was my last full day in Heidelberg so Meike and I went out together to walk through the city and to do chores. Our first stop was the castle up on the hill, which was a bit of a walk. As with everything touristy, there was a special price to go inside but we mostly just wanted to see the view and hang out so that is exactly what we did! After the castle we went to meet up with Meike’s old school friend who was born in Venezuela, lived in the US for a while, and has been in Germany for the last 14 years. She is also pretty nerdy (she watches a lot of nerdy shows, does cosplay, plays video games, and goes to conventions) and we hit it off (just as Meike expected). After parting ways with that friend, we met up with students from Meike’s old English course and had Glühwein at the Christmas market.
Meike’s goal in this time was to give me the full German experience via food (minus the meat). Just about every day for breakfast I’ve had good German bread, I had German beer at the house party, traditional German dinner and dessert with Meike’s parents, and German Glühwein at the market. We sadly have to say goodbye tomorrow, after a term in London and a few days in Germany together, but now I have a great reason to visit Germany again (and Meike and her parents want to come to Hawaii now 😛 ) Tomorrow I continue my German Holiday Adventure and head off to Stuttgart and then Munich for a couple days.