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Thursday, 08 October 2009

A means to an end

“Travel is a means to an end—home.” I saw this nice sentence on the London Bus Card (with a vivid name: Oyster) when I was last in London. So Nuala, have a WONDERFUL holiday in Baltimore…and don’t forget to come back home! We will all be here waiting for your exciting stories and pictures from the US!

Your travel plan has obviously stirred my memory again. Recently I have made quite a few small journeys in southern Germany.

Two weeks ago, as my one-month preparatory German language course came to an end, I had a friend of mine visit me in Heidelberg from Rotterdam, and we went together with an amazingly nice German couple I’d known to the Schwarzwald (the Black Forest). We were driving all the way through the forests in the mountains, which brought us a beautiful view of the southern German landscape.

valley in the Black Forest Mountains

I wished my eyes were automatic camera lens so that it could be fast and convenient enough to take pictures. I especially liked the valleys between the mountains, where you could see vast grassland for grazing, and flocks of sheep or cows (actually I’m not sure what those animals were)…Oh, do take a walk in their vineyards and taste their wines if you go there someday! Or stand there for a while on the top of a mountain where you can see France on the horizon like what we did!

The lovely vineyards in the sunshine.

Hallo! Herzlich Willkommen!--the cute little guard in one of the villages along the valley.

In the evening, after a nice picnic and some random touring in the lovely villages along the valley, we said good-bye to the couple (who must go back to Heidelberg for work on Monday) in a small town called Freiburg (Maybe you have heard of it because of an old and well-known university there). We had a lovely night staying in a clean youth hostel celebrating my friend’s 20th birthday!After a two-hour sightseeing in the small town, we took a train at noon on to the Bodensee (Lake Constance in English) on the border of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. My words simply dare not describe its charm, especially in the evening when we arrived. Let the pictures give you some idea of what I meant.

Lake Constance on the

I sometimes wish I could be a bird..maybe one flying over Bodensee?

Bodensee at night. We sat by the lake for an hour, amazed by the view.

Considering our limited budget, we decided to head back to Heidelberg around midnight. Mid-night train in a foreign country, with a language you barely understand and an exotic view (and in dark) out of the window-- one should also have such an experience once or twice in his/her life. There was a combination of feelings…excited yet very exhausted…or should I put it as excitedly exhausted? In a word, just like alcohol.

The next couple of days of my friend’s stay in Germany, we basically traveled near Heidelberg, which by the way was very nice too. Together we explored the old town of Heidelberg, where I live, and even went boating on the river Neckar. Thanks to Germany’s student-friendly transportation system, we were able to travel to many neighboring towns cheaply.


Heidelberg: a bird

The old bridge of Heidelberg has hundreds of years of history. I used to walk on it every morning to the otherside of Neckar for my language course.

Some other recommendations (I’ve been to the first two and liked them, and wanted to go to the third): the Schlossgarten (castle garden) in Schwetzingen, a historical town called Wuerzburg, and Nuernburg if possible.

I still feel Heidelberg one of the most beautiful ones after having been to many towns and villages in southern Germany. There are many different worlds blended in one here. It has much diversity to offer rather than only the natural scenery which sometimes looks similar to other towns. But I guess that’s because l live here as someone who buys milk and sausage from the local supermarket and empties the dustbin in our public kitchen when it’s my duty—and when the semester starts soon, I will be someone who hurries to catch a punctual bus and complains (perhaps in German) about the bus driver who never stops to wait for one more minute, or someone who goes home with bunches of books and papers in the evening chillness, passing the Asian tourists everywhere.

I simply love the feeling of living here, not as a visitor. And that’s making Heidelberg more beautiful. It’s already memory, not a picture.


Oh that was a lovely night. I am so glad you were there to celebrate my birthday with me! Thank you Jin! The blog entry this time is well polished. I always believe that appropriately shaped sentences will convey an aroma of grace when read aloud; I can smell that when reading your article just now. You have been improving with an amazing pace. Keep it up! P.S. both your oral and written english are far better than me.

Hi, Jin Lu. I am so impressed by the photos you put in your entry. The southern German landscape is really fabulous and breathtaking. Pictures are truly worth a thousand words. Wish one day I can afford to go there too, I mean both money and time. However, I can not go anywhere now except be trapped at home during this long holiday though we have 8 days off! You know why? I have got a sweet burden to bear, my cute baby boy who is only ten month old. As young parents, we are usually stressed out and sleep deprived, and have bags under the eyes.

....Hi, Jin lu ! It's nice having your reply. Your journey is amazing. Of course, travelling with friends comes with a distinct impression in our memory that is unforgettable. Really the descriptions of nature presented both in words and by pictures resemble as the same. Truly, it's impressive......

Great pictures! you got to take the spirit of the german culture!the houses, the fields, the wine fields,the montains..they are fantastic..this month is happening the oktoberfest in german..have you took part in it? here in brazil there is a city called blumenau where the germany comunity is very big..and the do a similar party here too. I just go my passport and my ticket to South Africa for decenber 30..I am very excited with it..I will try to share this experience with you in january 2010..and the sentence is very is a means to an end -home... Hugs..Ramilton.

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