|Nadine and I in Heidelberg!|
For my last weekend trip of the semsester (my last voyage before going back home - it's crazy to think that 4 months have flown by so quickly!), I took a train from Paris for 3 hours to Karlsruhe, Germany to visit my good friend Nadine. She studied abroad at Westfield High when I was a junior and we became great friends over the course of the year, so I figured I'd swing by to catch up and to see what Germany has to offer. As I speak no German - aside from the incredibly handy phrases "Hello, my name is Rachael" (Hallo, ich heiß Rachael) and "It's windy outside" (Es ist windig) that I learned in 6th grade - it was great to be with Nadine who could translate for me and offer great insider tips about everything!
Nadine and I at my Junior Year Semi-Formal (2007)
While probably not one of Germany's more well-known cities, Karlsruhe has lots to offer. It is located in southwestern Germany right along the banks of the Rhine. The city is part of the state of Baden, renowned for its famous spas at Baden-Baden, and was badly damaged during World War II but has since been rebuilt. Meaning "Carl's Repose," the city was named after Kaiser Karl Willhelm III and built in 1715. The Kaiser (German king) had wanted to find a spot to build a hunting lodge, and thus picked this location on the edge of the Black Forest.
Over the years, the hunting lodge turned into the Schloß (castle) that acted as a royal residence and is today a museum. For anyone familiar with French history, King Louis XIV had already turned his hunting lodge at Versailles into the giant palace we all know today and served as inspiration for the Kaiser's constructions. Interestingly enough, the centrally-planned city of Karlsruhe served as one of the inspirations (alongside Paris) for the construction of Washington, D.C.
|Map of how Karlsruhe was originally constructed in the 18th century|
I met many of Nadine's friends over the course of the weekend, and to my surprise they were all super friendly and very eager to chat in English with me! This was a much welcomed change, as French students are very reserved and don't go out of their way to talk to foreigners. We got together almost every night and I had a really fun time with them all!
|My new German friends!|
On Friday, we went to one of Nadine's classes. It was a lecture on some sort of engineering given over the course of an hour and a half - and I'd have to say that math is the only universal langauge, because the equations and diagrams drawn on the board were about the only things I was able to follow! After class, we biked downtown int Karlsruhe to check out the city's castle. Everyone here rides bikes, which is a nice change from Paris' crowded, stuffy metro, except that it was freezing cold outside and rained all weekend - definitely put my coordination abilities to the test!!
|Nadine and I at the castle|
|View from the top of the castle's tower, with the Black Forest in the background|
|The castle grounds|
|Karlsruhe's Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market)|
|The city of Heidelberg lining the Neckar River|
|Ruins of Heidelberg Castle overlook the moat|
|View from the Castle's inner courtyard|
|The other half of the Castle, from the courtyard|
|A giant Weihnachtspyramide|
|Over the Neckar River|
Overall, I had an amazing weekend! It was great to see Nadine again, and even better that we were able to pick up right where we left off the last time we saw each other 5 years ago! Despite the weather, I loved exploring Germany and it was cool to see it from the eyes of a local and her friends! Definitely a great "last hoorah" trip before I head home in less than 2 weeks.