OK I realise I'm making a bit of a habit of flitting about here and there but this trip, although kinda last minute, honestly needed to be done. I had an offer of free accommodation AND local knowledge - I am on my OE so Carpe Diem baby!
To explain a little more clearly, last year on my trip across Canada, I rather randomly met a Canadian by the name of Tim. We had a good long yarn (like you do on a 36 hour train trip) and at the end of the trip we exchanged emails and said "we should keep in touch". This may have faded into the usual "let's keep in touch" but it turned out that Tim would be heading to Germany to teach English at a high school, shortly after I arrived in London.
I had intended to visit Tim much earlier but what with Brazil, Egypt, Japan and of course my beloved NZ, I never quite got round to visiting him. So, when I heard that he was leaving Germany at the end of May, I decided I should get my A into G and go and visit him before he left. Courtesy of the wonderful EasyJet, a couple of clicks later I had a ticket for a week in Germany.
The thought crossed my mind that it had been over a year since we'd chatted and suddenly I was turning up on his doorstep for an entire week... However, Tim was a wonderful host and we got on really well - I remember thinking several times when I was in Canada, just how similar Kiwis and Canadians are. We also managed to do quite a bit of travelling around as Tim only had to work 1 day in the week I was there. Tim lives in Lippstadt, a sleepy little town, but we visited Dortmund, Cologne, Dusseldorf and Munster. He had mates in all these places so not only did we have local knowledge but free accommodation too - sweet as eh!
Something I got used to very quickly was having a personal translator! Germany was the first country I've been to in a long time where I couldn't speak the local language but I didn't need to struggle through the language barrier. It was soooo lovely to just say to Tim, "What's this? What does that mean? OK can I pls have it?" and be able to sit back and relax. What a luxury! :)
Anyway enough babble, check out the pics below.
Lippstadt town centre
The river Lippe, from which Lippstadt gets it's name
An old church, built as a competition to see who between Dortmund and Lippstadt could make a nicer church. (Dortmund won)
A cute fountain with surrounding statues. The statues all had articulated limbs which made for some interesting poses.
Tim suggested that this Monk was condemning me to hell... I dunno about that, but he certainly doesn't look all that impressed...
And I reckon these guys were having a bit of an altercation. Fella on the left is totally "Do you wanna take this outside?"
Pretty Lippy :)
Cologne Cathedral. Apparently "one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany and Cologne's most famous landmark"
Very impressive on the inside too. Construction started in 1248 and took more than 600 years to complete!
The Cathedral's towers are the second tallest gothic structure in the world, at 157m.
But bah, why seek out culture when you can stumble upon a wine fest in the town square?
Elsbeth (our Dortmund/Cologne host) and Tim
Pleasure craft on the river. It's not such a great picture sorry but the only one I got of the River Rhine.
Great Saint Martin Church
Dusseldorf! I think the guy on the horse was the founding father, but Shani, our Dusseldorf host couldn't remember for sure...
A wedding ceremony spilling out of the town hall, where they posed for photos on the steps. Very cute and it kinda felt like something out of a movie...
Tim and I, posing proudly in our patriotic apparel :)
I wasn't gonna put this photo in at first, but then noticed the car behind me was a Mercedes so figured I had to because of zee Germaness of it
Loved this - the balloon was easily bigger than the kid :)
A cool building across from the Dusseldorf HauptBahnHof (main train station) Tim obviously couldn't believe what he'd heard when I asked if that wasn't enough drink for the party? (Dusseldorf, Sat night. Münster. It seems random town parties/celebrations were the order of the week. Not that I'm complaining - bring on the revelry! :) Stopped into a church I passed along the way... Another cute church
An urban regeneration project as far as I could tell. Still in the early stages but it reminded me of Auckland's Viaduct Harbour before the America's Cup...
It was kinda random, new restaurants and cafes with the old industrial bits still lingering in the background... We went to Münster with Tim's friends, some of whom I'd met on Sat night at the party. On the right side: me, Becky, Jamin, Andes. Becky & Jamin are Kiwis and the girl in the middle on the left side is Kirthika, from Tamil Nadu in India. We ended up having a bit of yarn in Tamil (I'd never have imagined that I'd be having a conversation in Tamil in Münster!!!) The masses of bikes parked at the train station. Münster is a student town and all the students leave them at the train station when the head home for the weekend... A pretty little restaurant, snapped just before leaving Münster to head back to Lippstadt. We decided to skip visiting any castles and instead biked out to this lake for a bit of swim. (I know I should have seen the castles instead given NZ has lots of lakes and no castles, but it was such a hot day it was perfect for a swim!) And my last German supper was in this gorgeous little restaurant with a lovely garden view. With oxen eh Tim? And how better to end a trip to Germany than with a local beer! :)
Thanks again Tim for being such a wonderful host. I had a simply fabulous time and I'm so glad that I made the decision to come! I'll hopefully be able to repay the hospitality at a later time!