I’ve been really lucky this year. Not only did I have the opportunity to live in France, but I have been able to see some other countries with my girlfriend who is doing an Erasmus study placement this year. She has already spent six months in Spain. Now she is studying in Essen, a large city in western Germany. I recently went to stay with her – it was my first visit to Germany! Essen is a very large, urbanised city. Essen has all the conveniences of any large city so I felt immediately at home. I loved the variety of shops, restaurants, shopping malls, cocktails bars, nightclubs, parks and even a lake. There is also a city-wide network of trams, which makes getting around a breeze!
I found the people to be really friendly, and most Germans speak very good English which made life easy for me. I was surprised by the casual attitude to alcohol in Germany, where it seems normal for people to drink beer on the street, on the tram, or even enjoy a bottle of sparkling wine on the train. My girlfriend and I visited two famous local cities, Düsseldorf and Cologne (Köln in German) which are both on the Rhine River. Dusseldorf is an urban metropolis with a great variety of restaurants. We took a boat cruise on the river and went up the Rhine Tower, a really tall building which offers great views across the city. Cologne, as you might know, is world-famous for its perfumes. The cathedral there is an unmissable landmark. We made the effort to climb to the top of one of the cathedral’s towers. The spiral stairs seemed endless, but it was worthwhile for the impressive sights from the top.
We also went in a cable-car over the river and sampled a German delicacy called ‘spaghetti eis’ which is vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce, made to look like spaghetti bolognaise! I also got to try the famous German sausage called ‘bratwurst’ and also ‘currywurst’ which is German sausage served in barbecue sauce with curry power on top. I must admit, I really enjoyed the food! Overall it was a brilliant visit. The only disappointment was the grey and rainy weather, which proves that Britain does not have the worst weather in Europe!