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Published: April 8th 2012
An old bit in the middle of newness.
Going back to Japan isn’t travelling any more, it’s going home, but I’m back on the ‘road’ again. I’m studying in Germany until probably the end of June, and that certainly merits blogs. Being in the Fatherland, especially for more than a few days, presents an interesting set of emotions. Not only does it allow me to make progress on my research and gain German insights into my topic area, but there’s a personal discovery side of things, too. Being here allows me to connect with the German part of myself that I rarely get the chance to ‘talk to’, and inhabit the world as something less English. It’s hard to explain, and I suppose those with mixed heritages can relate with this more than ‘pedigrees’. I suppose this is something my kids will have to negotiate. Being here has also been quite powerful in triggering memories and feelings from when I lived in Germany after I finished school. It’ll be the first time I’ve spent significant amounts of time here since then, and gives me a chance to see how my rose-tinted memories compare to the test of the here and now.
Well, that was cathartic. Having ‘abandoned’ Mitsu
The white cliffs of Dover...
...receding into the distance.
to be pampered by her folks for a few months, I got the Toad checked out, loaded up, and over to the continent. I haven’t taken the ferry for years, and I’d forgotten how fun it is; it’s somehow more natural than flying, because it’s a physical, ground-level connection, rather than teleporting on planes. Then it was motorway all the way across Belgium, into Aachen. Nothing major to report other than picking up some students from Sheffield University doing a sponsored hitch-hike to Bulgaria.
I’ve never been to Aachen before; it’s the first German city as you cross from Belgium, and really is just across the border. Batu, a very nice little boy, lives there, looked after by his parents: my cousin Suat, and her husband, Max. Batu was kind enough to allow me to stay, and to play with him, chase him round the flat, and to feed him rolled up slices of sausage at breakfast. It was great to really be part of their family for a few days, and get to know them better. Time with German family is largely snatched at weddings and reunions, and although I love my cousins, it’s only now that I’m
Designed by the architecture firm that both Max and Suat work for. Funky lines.
really getting the chance to find out who they really are on a personal level. The first night was boozy and cool, the first night of the long Easter weekend. I got the tour of the city in the morning, along with none of its the history, they didn't know ANYTHING. Aachen is a pretty chilled out place — especially at Easter, it was virtually deserted — and while most of it is 1950s-60s, the centre is very Medieval German, very picturesque. The cathedral is something else, very Byzantine inside. I wasn’t allowed to take photos, something to do with it being a Friday; that must be one of the commandments I missed, hurumph. We spent the afternoon at the park, and watching Batu play is hilarious. Then it was another evening of a few beers and some sambuca from the freezer (quite potent). Suat and I stayed up late, solving the world’s problems, but Max was obviously quite tired out, bless him, and bailed early. That was that, really. More sausage meat for Batu in the morning, and then on the road. Thanks, Schoeneichs, I had a brilliant time.
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