Moving to Gehlsdorf

On the 14th of September we were able to move into our lovely ground floor apartment with a nice little garden, across the river in Gehlsdorf.

You can see some pictures here:

Luckily my coworkers are all lovely and Gabbi, the English department head offered to drive our stuff over from KTV, which was quite helpful, since navigating that many bags on multiple trams and busses wouldn't have been ideal. As it was everything went quite smoothly, and we happily began unpacking. The very next day, a friend I met 10 years ago during my exchange in high school in Pforzheim Germany came for a quick visit on her way from Konstanz (waaaay down in southern Germany) to Hamburg. It's always lovely to see an old friend, and it was nice to be able to host Ellen and meet her new boyfriend for dinner in our more spacious apartment. This was from our stroll at dusk:

The view from the other side of the river
The view from the other side of the river

We had a lovely walk around the old town the second night they were here (staying in an airbnb near Steintor, so we could have some space to unpack). We were lucky enough to have mostly good weather too, so they were able to go to enjoy the beach at Warnemünde while I was at work.

Gabbi and her husband Frank offered to take Adam and I on an adventure the following Saturday, and we eagerly agreed. They picked us up around 10 am, and after running into our new neighbor, who owned the small childcare center where their son used to go as a toddler, they had to get a quick tour before we set off. We headed south, and I felt right at home as we pulled onto the autobahn and Frank started accelerating. After a while Gabbi looked over at the speedometer and gave Frank a light smack, after which he reluctantly slowed down a by a few kilometers per hour. It felt basically like being in the car with my parents! Our first stop was in Lalendorf, where we saw the oldest USSR tank still in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Pretty much, it was a tank, but it did look a bit different from the ones you see in the US.

From there we drove on in lovely meandering sort of way, stopping at several intriguing churches, some of which had stars of David in the stone and stained glass work, which was curious. Unfortunately the castle we stopped at in Basedow bei Teterow had been bought by someone as a vacation hope a few years back, so we could only look at it from afar. We did however stop for some refreshments in what was once the smithy, where we could look through the wide variety of knick-knacks they had on display. We were also able to walk up the hill and go inside the little church there, which had some lovely woodwork on the organ and pews. As we walked around we noticed several examples of the classic Hanseatic architecture, with the stair-stepped front facade, complete with little arches. Most impressive to me was the building that was topped by a gigantic stork's nest, completely overshadowing any intentional human embellishments. This bike rack also made me smile—the quote is "Life is like a bike. You have to keep moving forward so you don't loose your balance." which is always a good reminder. Also funny is what appears to be a punny advertisement for the nearby "Old Sheep-Stall" Cafe: "Break sharply!!" turned into "Break sheep-ly!"

Sheep bike rack
"Scharf gebremst" is "break sharply" and you just have to loose one little "r" to get the sheep involved…

Eventually we made our way to Ivenack, our final destination. We parked and set off in search of the thousand year old oak trees we had come to see. Having been to the Redwoods themselves, Gabbi and Frank kept qualifying that these weren't nearly as big, but since I've never been to the west coast of my own country, it was pretty impressive for me! The trees themselves were quite large, but since oaks grow so slowly they were not actually as huge as you might imagine. What was more impressive to me was looking at the timeline, and contemplating how one plant could have existed for so much longer than the country I am from, let alone my tiny little life. I was also astounded by the completely unafraid deer we ran across, who continued to calmly munch on some grass, even though I was standing, taking pictures and talking not 10 feet away. Perhaps the coolest part was the winding elevated tree walk we took. It was a metal ramp that wound its way up above the treetops, so we could see the majestic oaks from above, as well as the nearby lakes, once we got to the top.

In an effort to take a different route back to the car than the way we had arrived at the tree walk, we ended up taking a long detour around the lake. It was a nice walk though, and it wasn't even raining, which in Germany is something you really learn to appreciate, because of how often it IS raining…

On the way back, we stopped in Dagrun at the castle/monastery (it had been both at various points in it's history) and walked around as they set up for a techno concert in the main courtyard—quite an interesting venue choice, talk about old and new mixing! We then ran across some apple and pear trees and grabbed a quick snack before heading back to Gabbi and Frank's house.

Apple Picking
Frank tried to throw rotten apples up at the tree to knock down a fresh one, but jumping for a lower hanging fruit did the trick in the end

Upon arrival, Adam and Frank went out to cut up some wood for the fire-pit at our new apartment, which was a good few-words-required activity for them, as the language barrier was more significant there. Meanwhile, Gabbi and put on the squash soup to warm up, and I chopped up a fraction of one of her gargantuan garden-zucchini's for the cheese tart that would go with it. The language barrier was nonexistent for us, and we chatted away in both English and German.

The food was ready in no time, and it was delicious as it sounds—the creamy squash soup had just enough spice, and the thyme, zucchini and gooey cheese paired perfectly with the crispy crust. Hmmmm…

Adam and Frank continued to bond over their shared love of cocktails after dinner, as we heard stories of their extensive travels, and tried to guess where each picture in their living room was taken. This was all while listening to their extensive CD collection, including some fun modern polka bands and a wonderfully wacky Bosnian band. It was after midnight when Gabbi finally drove us home, but what a wonderful day it had been!

Later that week we finally had a sunny afternoon (more often than it rains, it is extremely cloudy in Germany I have found, so you REALLY appreciate a properly sunny day) so Adam and I seized the opportunity to visit Petrikirche (St. Peter's Church) and climb up the spire for a clear view of the city. There was an interesting portrait exhibit on refugees in one of the ground floor rooms as well: drawing parallels between German refugees who had to flee during the war, and refugees who have come to Germany more recently.

The spiral staircase up to the lookout in the bell-tower really put you in mind of it's roots in the middle ages, since it was so cramped and dark as it corkscrewed it's way up. The first church on the site was built in 1252, but being the tallest thing around, the tower was damaged by lightning and storms several times in the 1500s. Each step was barely wide enough for the width of my feet, let alone the length! Luckily there was a rope handrail to clutch onto, which proved more important on the way down. The view at the top was really worth it though!

spiral stairs
Watch your step!
view from the top
The view from the top: looking northwest over the Warnow River

After leaving, we strolled through the old-town and found several more iconic examples of the hanseatic architecture, which can be seen in the last few photos on the google doc, which, once again can be found here:

On Friday the 24th, we carefully cleaned the apartment, put all of our personal things into the storage room, and left the house to the airbnb guests who had booked it before we had signed the lease (that wouldn't officially begin until the 27th.) We had been able to move in two weeks early knowing we would have to be out for a weekend before the place was ours for good. It was a bit of a hassle, but since we didn't really have other lodging options, it worked out. And the best part was, since we had to find other lodging for the weekend anyway, we decided it might as well be in Copenhagan! So the next entry will be about just one weekend, but since we packed in so much to our time there, I can't promise it will be too much shorter…

Before leaving, we had to clean out the fridge, so I enjoyed this tasty and intriguing snack—cheese salad. I never expected anywhere to be able to out-cheese Wisconsin, but I have to hand it to those Leipzigers, we may try to sneak some cheese into salads of various types, but not even we would call something this cheese-based a "salad" I don't think. So needless to say I did had to try it when I found it in the store. It was pretty good actually!

Cheese Salad: I have to hand it to them—they out-dairy-ed us this time!

And on that cheesy note—see ya next time folks!