A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about round the world

From 'Burgh to 'Burgh to 'Burg

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Post-Grad on ctamler's travel map.

PITTSBURGH
i haven't blogged here this summer, because i've been helping to blog here: http://farmsandfables.blogspot.com/ -- try it. you might like it. it chronicles the Of Farms and Fables work exchange with Broadturn Farm, W. H. Jordan Farm, and Benson's Farm in Southern Maine. the work exchange will provide the basis for a play i'll be writing over the coming months, to be performed next season, about farming in Maine.

on August 20, we had our wrap-up party.

IMG_3074.jpg
the Of Farms and Fables artistic team: Keith, Jennie, me, Claire

in standard form, i had no time for a relaxed transition or even a satisfactory "so long". i think it comforted us all that it was Aufwiedersehen and not goodbye. i left straight from the party, stopped in Boston to pick up James and Yarsky, and after a night of coffee, highwayside bathroom hunts, figuring out creative ways to play music in Mindy's amazing but radio-less car, coffee, sleep-dep giggles, and COFFEE, i pulled up to my old Murray Avenue apartment in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill around 10:30 the next morning.

two good days ensued. i saw my family. i saw most of my friends who are still around. Parag made delicious food. i felt less sad than i thought i would. an 8-hour megabus ride took me, Charlie, and Parag to NYC, where we spent my last stateside evening with Patrick and Christina, doing "American" things (eating burgers, enjoying a view of the Brooklyn Bridge, eating a second dinner of New York-style pizza), and then...well, that was pretty much it. Parag and Charlie took me to JFK and something like 13 hours later, i was in Berlin. got a German cell phone, had coffee with a friend-of-a-friend, spent the night at the apartment of another friend-of-a-friend (with whom i was proud to have a somewhat extended chat auf Deutsch over pastries), and in the wee hours of the morning embarked on train/bus/plane travel that brought me to:

EDINBURGH
that's right, folks. the reason i didn't have time for a relaxed transition? i'd decided i couldn't pass up the chance to go to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. i've wanted to go to the Fringe for years; it was the festival's last weekend; my friend Regina was still living there finishing up her M.A.; and some of my Augsburg friends were going to be there at the same time. the stars had aligned. i mean, duh.

despite the stress of getting there, it was totally worth it. we saw some awful shows and some fantastic shows -- one of the goodies was a Welsh group, Nofit State Circus, performing a piece called Tab├╣, and a troupe from Chicago, Baby Wants Candy, that does full-length improvised musicals. made me miss that city and its mind-blowing improv.

i also hung out with Regina and her friends. she's at the end of a year of studying abroad (though she may stay in the UK); i'm at the beginning. that felt like it made sense. hearing about her year made my year feel more manageable, less scary, more exciting. also, in Scotland, they love to fry things. even more than we do in the States. like, whole slices of pizza. i had a Scottish breakfast, because let's face it, i love breakfast. it included beans! and black pudding...which is actually blood pudding. but i liked it.

AUGSBURG
on Monday, Nora, Vinz, and i headed to my German home-away-from-home. i've spent a lot of my time here setting up appointments to look at apartments in Berlin. for now, i'm still feeling good about my decision to stay away from the student dorm route and look for a real WG (Wohngemeinschaft -- shared apartment) on my own...but there's no denying it is stressful and requires a lot of patience. this time of year is particularly nuts, since students are all moving around and into and out of Berlin before the semester begins. it's tough not being in the city yet, and i send a lot of emails that get no response, but i do have five or six appointments set up, finally. i may end up taking a short-term rental (Zwischenmiete) for a month or two, that'll give me more time to do a thorough search for a place to last til July.

Nora and Vinz are moving in together, and moving business is going to take most of our day today. then we'll pasta-party at Basti's, dance-party at the Schwarzes Schaf with Mareike, and tomorrow night i head to Berlin for real...

i've thought a lot over the past months about how giving and warm-hearted and wonderful my friends are. there's a song we sing at Passover, "Dayenu," which means "it would have been enough," addressed to G-d: "if He had brought us out of Egypt, but not split the sea before us...it would have been enough" -- and verse after verse to that effect. my friends and family are like that.

if Sara had given me advice and love and support during my Chicago move, but not let me crash on her couch for 2.5 weeks;
if Charlie and Mindy and Mary and Patrick and Sarah and Parag and Nicole and Alex had all taken the time in one way or another to help me through those first tough months in Chicago, but not all made it out to visit me;
if Mindy had given me her car for the summer, but not driven out to Chicago to teach me to drive it;
if she had taught me to drive her car, but not let me borrow it for free;
if Brandon had offered me tools to pack my bike in a box, but not spent 3 hours in the sweltering heat helping me figure out how to do it;
if Lauren and Ryan had helped me to move out, but not driven me to the train station;
if Mary had helped me put my bike back together, but not replaced my brake;
if Jennie had hired me to work on OFAF, but not let me live with her for free;
if Parag and Charlie had made time for me in Troy, but not met me halfway in New Hampshire;
if James and Yarsky had been super supportive friends, but not made the 10-hour drive from Boston to Pittsburgh with me;
if Parag and Charlie had made as much time as possible to see me during those 2 days in Pittsburgh, but not come to NYC with me;
if Patrick and Christina had spent an American Abend with us, but not let us take over their apartment for a night;
if Leonie had given me advice about coming to Berlin, but not set up a place for me to stay and keep my baggage;
if Regina had shown me around Edinburgh despite crazy dissertation stress, but not let me sleep at her place and made me oatmeal every morning;
if Nora and Vinz had invited me to join them for Fringe magic, but not been such wonderful hosts in Augsburg even during moving...

it would have been enough.

except my friends always, always go above and beyond. the big jerks. the world is a big and wonderful place, and moving around it is the greatest feeling, but missing such wonderful people all the time is a hard, hard thing. well, here's to my old good friends, and to a year of meeting new wonderful ones.

Posted by ctamler 21:14 Archived in Germany Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

first days in augsburg

bicycles and beer

sunny
View Autobahn, adventuring, and Outside Inn on ctamler's travel map.

augsburg is beautiful. i wish that i had taken some pictures already so that i could show you, but there's been quite a bit too much to do and process the last few days. i was deathly ill for about three hours the morning we flew out of pittsburgh -- though i pulled through, thanks to andrew and my mom. i didn't throw up on any airplanes, and felt well enough to have a sip or two of chardonnay, courtesy of air france. they give out a lot of free wine. i didn't even steal their airplane blankets.

thirteen somewhat grueling hours of travel later (our connections in jfk and charles de gaulle necessitated sprinting), we met up with melanie (our professor) and cassidy (her son) in stuttgart, and then took the train to augsburg. the train was sleek, clean, fast, nothing like the trans-siberian. glass sliding doors on the inside and everything smelling of new. two hours of that and we were in augsburg, welcomed by klaus and his small army of german university students.

we are staying with leonie, who goes by leo, and her boyfriend joel in their apartment. it's in a picturesque part of the city, all narrow, narrow cobblestone roads and ivy. they treat us too well: big german breakfasts and our own beds and they cleaned their books out of the bookshelf so we'd have a place to store our clothes. leo insists that we use her shampoo. she's one of the students performing in our production (the others are vinz, nora, steve, sebastian, 2 evas, and ulli, most between 24-28 years old). we went straight to her apartment to get rid of our stuff on friday, and then some things happened very quickly:

1. she told us they had arranged bikes for us.
2. she asked us if we wanted to go to vienna with the two of them.
3. she told us to put on our shoes and come to the train station.

so here we are on about 4 hours of sleep out of the past 24+, and our first introduction to the city not two hours after our arrival is navigating what seemed to be their rush hour on our new bikes. we dodged planes, trains, and automobiles and were only marginally terrified, or at least managed to make it appear so. after the train station (we bought the train tickets to vienna, so that's where we'll be on thursday and friday), we rode to the university, which was thankfully much less stressful. it's a very bike-friendly city; you can tell by the bicycle on the "walk/don't walk" lights, which might actually be better called "walk or cycle/don't walk or cycle" lights here. also, there are usually bike lanes. so we had the worst first and it's been much less daunting since.

we had our first rehearsal, which was really just a meeting, and then christina and i went to dinner with most of the students, at a bavarian restaurant, where i had kaesespaetzle, which is delicious and like fancy macaroni and cheese with fried onions on top. also my first radler, which is beer and lemonade. we had some schnapps that tasted like drinking concentrated mouthwash at a finnish bar and went to bed at a reasonable hour to kill our jet lag.

in the morning -- this is yesterday -- we did some rehearsal planning with melanie at her apartment. maybe you are wondering what we are doing in augsburg, exactly. well, we're mounting a bilingual production of neil labute's autobahn, sort of, except we are only using three scenes from autobahn. we're using a scene and monologue that nora wrote, and one scene that i wrote. christina is acting, and i am assistant directing and doing dramaturgical duties, as well as revising my scene. i do a lot of scene-cutting (some of labute's scenes drag), schedule-wrangling, note-taking, and such duties, at the moment. the german students are mostly inexperienced but also, mostly, quite game. german directors are apparently very dictatorial and melanie is not like that, but they're taking to it well.

did i mention that we bike? a lot? it's about a 20-minute ride to the university, and we bike everywhere we go, so yesterday after rehearsal it was to the park for a picnic, and then to another restaurant (this one italian) for dinner and beer, and then to the move theater, mephisto, for a short film festival. i am always hungry because i am always on a bike. also, my butt kind of hurts. i bet this will improve, though.

today, we rehearsed, and then melanie, christina, leonie, cassidy, and i went with klaus and his wife to a biergarten. these are absolutely fantastic things, a bavarian institution, big outdoor areas where you can buy beer and food and listen to music. this one was in the middle of a big park. there are bikes and kids everywhere, and lots of trees, and where there aren't trees, people barbecuing. leo says this is very typical of germans: first day of sunshine and they all try to barbecue. she is taking her toefl this week (in vienna), so our deal is to help her with her english until then; after, she will help us with our german. i ordered the beer myself for us: drei radler, bitte. we drank radler because it is the cyclist's drink -- less alcohol because it's mixed with lemonade, but still beer.

well hey, then we came back to the apartment and did some work for this coming week, and i'm taking a break from my cutting/wrangling duties to write a substantial blog entry.

Posted by ctamler 09:42 Archived in Germany Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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