I just returned from a wonderful week in Germany. Last Friday, I traveled through Switzerland on my way to Freiburg for the EWCA conference. Because the Euro Cup is being hosted in Switzerland & Austria, I saw many, many flags and soccer signs all over the place. My favorite was the huge soccer ball above the jet d’eau in Geneva.
I met up with Martha, my co-presenter and good friend from Michigan, at the station in Freiburg and we made our way back to the hotel to finish preparing for our presentation (“Tutors, Training and Border Crossings: Beyond the Textual Relationship”) the next morning. We stayed in the hotel restaurant most of the evening and were treated to polka music and a tour group singing beautiful Welsh songs. Their bus driver actually got me to lead a conga line at one point. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to accomplish much concerning our presentation, but I had a lot of fun!
The next morning at breakfast another presenter started speaking to us in German because she saw my last name on my name tag and assumed I was German. I should have been prepared for that with my very German name at an English/German conference! Anyway, we presented at 8:30 AM Saturday morning (not our choice of time slot…) We were a little stressed because our third presenter couldn’t make it to Germany due to a family emergency, but we managed to pull it off. After attending a few more presentations, we decided to head to downtown Freiburg and be tourists. I had never been to the Black Forest area of Germany before, and I have to say it is very beautiful. I adore the architecture there.
After a short stop in Triberg, home of the world’s biggest cuckoo clock, we came to Annecy for a few days because Martha had never been here. It was really nice having a friend from “back home” in my “new home.” Luckily the weather was really warm and we were able to stroll around the lake and just enjoy summer. (The week before, it had still been raining and a little chilly – now the weather is perfect here!)
Next we decided to go to the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and we drove through Switzerland to get there, taking the scenic routes through the countryside. Swiss towns are so pretty too! We stayed in a small town called Uhldingen and took a boat over to Insel Mainau on Wednesday. We spent most of the day just wandering around the island among the beautiful flowers and trees.
Later that night, every German citizen was glued to the TV watching the Germany-Turkey game. We didn’t even have to watch it as the loud cheering told us when Germany scored. Even in a small town, there was plenty of noise and fireworks for hours after they won. And the fact that the prime ministers/presidents of each nation attend these games shows how serious Europeans are about soccer. Can you imagine Bush at a soccer game in the US??
Thursday morning we drove to Hechingen where the Hohenzollern castle sits on top of a large hill. Then we finally made it to Reutlingen, where Martha lived with her family 8 years ago, after passing through every other German town ending in -ingen.
After wandering through the streets of Reutlingen, I can see why she loved living there. Everything about southern Germany is so beautiful and peaceful, minus the occasional rowdy soccer fan. And I loved being immersed in German – though whenever I try to speak German now, French comes out instead.
I returned home by train yesterday (by way of Stuttgart, Zurich, Biel and Geneva) to still-beautiful weather in Annecy. It’s good to be home and to be finished stressing about the conference, but I am missing the lower prices of everything in Germany, and Martha of course!
I’ve uploaded the rest of my pictures to a web album on my site: Southern Germany – June 2008