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Diary of a New Würzburger: First Impressions

Veröffentlicht von Administrator am Oct 12 2017
NEWS » Diary of a new Würzburger

I left my home in Southern New Zealand almost two years ago to live in Beijing and this year I have made temporary homes in the U.K., Naples, Lower-Saxony and the Black Forest. After the hectic first half of 2017, by the time I was sitting on the train from Freiburg, I was looking forward to settling down again and finally getting to know Wuerzburg, not to mention being able to unpack for the last time. When I first arrived this August all I knew about the city was that there was a university, the Residenz and the Babelfish Hostel. I knew of the university because it was the reason I was there; as of last week I started a two-year Masters program in Chinese Studies. I knew of the Residenz because of a German photographer I met in April; she gave me a long introduction to it, making artistic references to which I could only smile and pretend I knew what she meant. As for the Babelfish, I had a job interview scheduled there for the following day. 

My knowledge of German was also fairly sparse. What I did know I had picked up from language-learning apps (“The horse sees the apple”) and work-and- travel experience in hostels. This was why I arrived in Wuerzburg two months before my program was due to start; to take a German language intensive course. I stumbled off the train on that first day into a steaming mid-summer afternoon, and what followed was a busy four weeks drinking wine, sightseeing, drinking beer and at some point learning the imperfect tense. As September arrived I got to know Wuerzburg in the context of daily life; picking out my favourite bakeries, memorising office hours of the Rathaus, and no longer afraid of getting lost on a walk through the Ringpark. 

As for the previously mentioned job interview – it was a success! In September I started working part time at the Babelfish hostel in the centre of town. I chose to apply there because I’ve both stayed and worked at hostels before; I knew what I was getting myself into. To be more specific, I knew that being at an independent hostel would mean working in a friendly and inviting atmosphere with an overall positive energy. My favourite thing about being in hostels is that it’s so easy to strike a conversation with anyone around (and there’s always someone around!) and everyone has something to contribute – especially as there’s such a mix of perspectives. Babelfish in particular attracts foreign and domestic tourists, students, and even locals of the area who live outside the city centre and want to enjoy a weekend in town; chances are someone will have an exclusive tip. What I didn’t know about Babelfish until I started to work there was that there is always something happening – every night there is something planned whether it’s a pub-crawl or a bratwurst or beer tasting (I mean, it is Germany after all!). Even when I don’t think I’m in the mood, I can easily be persuaded and I think I’ve learnt more about Wuerzburg from those nights than everything in my course put together!

Being such a new resident of Wuerzburg I thought I should write about my first impressions of the city, or more specifically a few things that have made me feel lucky to be here for the next two years:

1. A glass of wine over the Main River: Lower Franconia is the region that Wurzburg is the capital of, and also makes up the majority of the Franconia wine region. If the numerous wine cellars in the city didn’t make this obvious, the  hills around the Main are also covered in vineyards. Although this region produces a lot of wine, most famously Silvaner and Mueller-Thurgau, the majority is found and drunk locally rather than being exported overseas. One of the best ways then to take advantage of this is typically to spend an evening on the 500-year- old Alte Mainbruecke bridge in the centre of the city, drinking wine from the bar built on an old water mill. Being on a budget I usually decide on the BYO option, but still enjoy the sunset, the bands and the view of the fortress. That was how I spent my first night in Wuerzburg and it was one of those moments of traveling when you can’t believe there are people who are so lucky to have grown up seeing this sight every day.

2. The Ringpark: I didn’t go to the Ringpark for the first month I was here even though it is hard to miss; built on the site of the old town walls it surrounds much of the inner city. It wasn’t until September and the weather significantly cooled that I started to spend much time there. It’s a fantastic place for squirrel watching and dog spotting (dachshunds and German shepherds are so popular here – it’s not just a stereotype!). The leaves are changing colours now, which means I’ve recently been bumping into a lot of people because I’ve been looking up at the trees instead of where I was going.

3. The Chapel at the Residence: Built to be the home of Bishop-Princes, the historic rulers of Wuerzburg, the Residence itself is both lavish and spectacular. Of course you would expect nothing else from a man who commissioned an entire fresco depicting himself as the most important person in the world, yet it is the chapel that I am always drawn to. It seems as if the decorators decided to put every aspect of the Rococo period into the design. From pastel pillars, stucco figures, unrestricted use of gold leaf and a ceiling painting that seems to be coming to life the more you look, it is total sensory overload and I can’t stop going back.

4. Pretzels: Admittedly these are more of a general Bavarian specialty, but my first words in Germany were ‘ein brezel bitte’ (or with my accent a ‘pritzil’) so I feel they deserve a special mention. I don’t know why soft salted pretzels aven’t made it to New Zealand but I am so happy to now be living somewhere I can eat them every day. My top pretzel in Wuerzburg so far has to be from Cafe Kiess, on Kaiserstrasse. Chewy, soft, salty and crispy they really do have it all; I could probably write an entire post about pretzels alone, but I’ll leave it here for today. 

Looking back on the first two months it is hard to comprehend that I am now the one giving advice to newcomers, remembering to take a reusable bag to the supermarket, and able to answer questions from tourists who stop me on the street (okay, that only happened once…). I’m looking forward to being able to write fortnightly about seeing the city even busier when the semester starts, experiencing the lead-up to my first German Christmas and exploring more of this region I now call ‘home.’

Until next time

Zuletzt geändert am: Dec 01 2017 um 3:57 PM

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