Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mannheim and Faschings

I went to Mannheim last weekend. From what I understood, Mannheim is the largest city around here, only 15 minutes on the train. And yes, there are plenty of shops. I've been told that the city was destroyed, which explains the lack of street names in the middle of the town. Each block has a letter and a number. It actually makes a lot of sense because D1 is right next to D2. Street names do not correlate with each other in any way, which makes getting around just a little harder. But if you're standing on P2, you know that P3 is the next block! 

Wasserturm in Mannheim. 

This past weekend was also the last weekend of Faschings. Or Carneval. Or Karneval. Or Carnival? I'm not sure. So in Mannheim, there were stalls (food, of course) lining the streets. Interesting mix of new shops and old things. Lots of Wurst, Crepes, more Wurst and so on.

Nutella Crepe! Doesn't look like much, but yummy when hot. 

I'm still not quite sure what this is all about, but it seems like a lot of fun. It all officially ends tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, and so things are seemingly closed tonight. I've seen lots of people in fancy dress, big hair, weird glasses, cool shoes and the like. 

Back Altstadt Heidelberg, there are lots of old churches. One in particular was advertising a Faschings Orgelkonzert, so off I went. 

Yes, the concert did actually start at two minutes past five. 

In hindsight, I don't think I was expecting anything in particular, which was probably a good thing. First thing I see when I walk inside is a guy wearing a clown suit, big clown feet, a wig and a funny nose. Inside a church. I then see the organists wearing blue and green wigs and funny ties. Definitely not anything resembling a church service. Once inside, I was handed a program of sorts, a sheet with questions (alles auf Deutsch), a pencil, a balloon and a toothpick. We were meant to answer questions in response to snippets of music. The only questions I did manage to answer were the Disney-themed ones. Yes, kid-at heart. 

The organists at Providenzkirche.

Oh and the balloon! We had to blow them up. Not easy, because they were tiny. And then pop it at the right time. It's quite difficult to get 50 balloons to pop at the same time. All a bit of fun. 

My balloon. And my (very blank) question sheet. 

Other things
I've settled into my room and into my fume hood now. I'm hoping Lady Luck extends to Germany and my fume hood, in particular. There will be a chemistry-centric (mythbusting) post at some point in the future, which will probably make a few eyes glaze over. But in short, everything I have here, I can get at home. Chemicals still behave the same way, Schlenk lines still work the same way and solvents still have the same polarity. All good.

So here's to you, my "We want more blog posts!"-friends. I know entries have been a long time coming. They will get there eventually! Quite probably in reverse order too...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Heidelberg for real

So this is it! I'm in my new room (home!) and I finally have internet. So I think all is well. Almost. I'm living with three other people (2 Germans, 1 Italian) in a little apartment, which is new for me. I've just realised that I've never really lived with anyone else. Speaking of living with people, weekly chores have just come out and I'm in charge of one of the bathrooms this time. So yes, I have a room, in an apartment, which means I have a postal address...if anyone is interested. 

I'm only 5 minutes away from the lab, which means that I will be uber-productive once I figure out where everything is. I'm trying not to think about it now, but going home and getting used to having to travel an hour each way will be hard to get used to again. Then again, I don't have bench space or a fume hood in Sydney at the moment, so who knows where I'll end up.

Over the next few weeks (maybe months...) I will be writing more about the various places I've been and also putting up more photos. There are still so many stories and pictures. And so much snow! 

More soon.