Where I Go in Frankfurt when…

SONY DSC

This is a post that has been living in my brain for a few weeks – a list of places I like to go to in Frankfurt when I am needing certain things. Call it my basic guide to Frankfurt. If anyone has any additions to the list, please leave me a comment!

So, these are the places in Frankfurt that I go to when…

I want to feel glad to be in Frankfurt – the river Main.

I love walking or biking by the river. In the evening it’s gorgeous and I often walk back from my friend’s house over the river and stand gazing down the river for a little longer than is needed. Even during the day, a walk from the apfelwein glass tower into town via the river is enough to clear the brain and make you glad to be in Frankfurt. Sharing the riverside space will be dog walkers, runners, bikers, teens practising their skating skills… and everyone in between.

…I want to study – Coffee Fellows.

I’ve already blogged about Coffee Fellows, but I’d like to mention again how much I love this coffee shop. I don’t know why it’s my place of choice for studying… it’s pretty noisy and there are lots of good opportunities for people-watching, but somehow it’s just nice to sit there and drink one of their great drinks and study a little bit of German.

…I want a good breakfast – Maingold Cafe.

Another place I have blogged about… but seriously, this place has the best breakfast in town. Their muesli is the best thing ever. No, I mean it. Since going to Maingold Cafe, I’ve been to a fair few places for different brunches. Nothing compares to this place. Not only is it good for breakfast, but on a balmy summer evening it is the perfect place for a drink. Pretty outside lights and a chilled out atmosphere makes it my go-to summer spot.

…I have people to show around town – the indoor market.

There’s not that much to do in Frankfurt. I always describe it as a place for living, not a place for visiting. But one great place is the indoor market – also known as “Kleinmarkthalle“. If you like food, you will love it here. You can sample some of the best foods in Frankfurt, find that obscure vegetable Rewe isn’t stocking, or maybe even queue up for an hour for the “best wurst in town”. It is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly and should be on your to-do list if you need to entertain people here.

…I am taking visitors for dinner – Paulaner Am Dom.

When people come to Frankfurt, they want to eat German food. But people are rarely ready for a whole menu of different slabs of pork and pickled cabbage. Paulander Am Dom is a Bavarian restaurant which not only serves enough slabs of pork to keep me happy for years, but also has a wide range of other kinds of food and also massive plates of different meats which is always a dad-pleaser. This restaurant is known within the Nintendo circle as the place where you take your parents when they come to visit. Always a crowd pleaser.

…I want a nice view of Frankfurt – Top of Galeria Kaufhof.

If you go all the way up to the top of Galeria, there is a lovely canteen that serves very good coffee and tea and has a great view of Frankfurt. If you are after the view and not the tea then you can walk through to the balcony and start snapping some awesome photos.

So there you have it, some of my favourite places in Frankfurt! Do you have a favourite place in Frankfurt? Let me know in the comments if you do!

Notes on German – Beating Myself Up

20130129-160426.jpg

So as you may or may not know, I am pushing myself in German so that I can have a basic conversation by June. I have my weekly private lesson, not one but two exchange partners, am reading Greg’s Tagebuch, and force myself to go to a weekly Facebook meetup for German people.

I can feel myself getting better – it doesn’t take me 30 mins to read a page of text and I’m checking much fewer words than when I first started. But it only takes a little bump in my road to set me off course.

Last week I went to the Facebook meetup, walked in and looked around. I saw one guy I went on a date with once, but who has since ignored the couple of texts I sent him. He was talking to two girls. I went to the other side of the room, bought a beer and stood, as I usually do. Normally this is when someone else who is on their own comes over and starts to talk with me. I explain that I can’t speak German that well, but I want to practise. They say “sure, let’s do this” and we have a semi-butchered conversation.

But this didn’t happen this time. I stood awkwardly for 20 minutes.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I just go up to someone and say “HI I’M HERE TALK TO ME”? Well, I know that my German is terrible. I know that Neu in Frankfurt is somewhat of a meat market and, like my past date, people have things other than talking to an awkward short British girl on their mind when they go there.

After a while, I joined a small group of girls. They were ok, but it was obvious that they would have preferred not to talk to me. I spent a total of one hour at the event before I just gave up and went home.

It’s almost a week since that meetup and I still feel crap. German friends have been trying to coax me into speaking in German with them but I just snapped back. Truth is, I know I’m so much better than I was even a month ago and when I go back to my German class tomorrow, my teacher will probably have some kind of comment on how much I’ve come along over Christmas. But I see friends who have been here a while just breeze through German conversations and I just stand there being awkward.

There are times when my language learning hits a plateaux, but in this case this isn’t the problem. One small hiccup creates so much negativity in me which in turn blocks my language learning progress.

I’ve been here before with Japanese, though not on this scale. I hope the feeling goes away soon, but I hope to overcome this phase by creating small goals for me in German. Small things like being able to go get an eye test and new glasses in German are real boosts for me. If I can push myself into more of these situations maybe it’ll coax me back into the Neu in Frankfurt group again.

Language learners! Have you ever experienced something like this? How do you overcome it?

Ladurée Paris

20130128-103810.jpg

So when I was in Paris I was invited to brunch at Ladurée, which is a very famous tea shop in Paris. They’re famous for their macaroons and are apparently listed in every Japanese guidebook because in the 10 minutes I spent waiting for my brunch buddy, I watched a constant stream of Japanese people taking photos outside the shop (but only a few going in to buy something).

20130128-103828.jpg

Brunch was around 30 euros, and included breads, pastries, macaroons, sandwiches and eggs. I had scrambled eggs, which were nice but a little bland. I loved everything else in the meal, though. The breads were really great and the pastries were sugar-coated-nom-ness. I especially enjoyed watching the Japanese father at the next table take a bite out of the stick of butter, thinking it was some kind of sweet.

20130128-103820.jpg

The tea was awesome, too. I had the Marie Antoinette tea, which I loved. I may even buy a tub of it some time so I can enjoy it whenever.

It’s a little on the pricey side, and apparently not everyone got the same nice experience I did there, so I guess it’s not for everyone, but I’d go back there for sure. It’s right up my street with the quaint low ceiling, the antique furniture and the tiny tables full of yummy food to eat.

There are various locations for Ladurée, and even some that are not in France! Check their website to find the one closest to you!

Notes on Being a Woman

20130125-155618.jpg

German Bakery, Anjuna #placesiwishiwasatrightnow

So last night my friend Gemma cornered me and demanded that I tell her about my bad massage in India and also demanded that she gets a shout out on this blog. Gemma, as always, your wish is my command.

The reason why I hadn’t spoken about it until now is that there’s a lot to go into this. India was a trip that allowed me to understand a lot of about how I feel about various things. One of those was how I feel about unknown men.

This all started a few months ago when I read a post by the wonderful Cranky Giraffe in which she says how she fears men in various situations and I hadn’t even realised that I do the same things. When I went for my lady check up, I waited over a month for it just so that I could be seen by the only English speaking female doctor. I guess that’s normal. All this hollaback stuff really connects with me too because I get really upset when a guy feels the need to judge me as I go by on the street. Sure, no one has ever attacked me, but just a guy saying “not bad” as I go by, or come up to me asking if I’ll go somewhere with them will set me off and make me really upset. I often am grateful for my lack of German so I am kept in the dark about what exactly guys are saying about me.

My family have been to India many times. I have two gorgeous sisters and although they all say that they got hassled in Morocco and Turkey, in India it was pretty quiet on that front. However, when I went onto Couchsurfing and posted in the Goa forum to find people to hang out with there, for every one post I wrote, I’d get 10 messages from random Indian guys there offering me a place to stay (which I did not ask for), or to show me the “real India” or just a random “You are so pretty let’s hang out!” message.

Now, maybe I’m being too harsh. We’ve all been there. You see someone on facebook/twitter/whatever who you fancy and you send them a sneaky message. But here’s the thing 1. It’s probably not a good idea to hit on solo female travellers if you are going to do this. They are (probably) going to be a bit nervous about their trip to an unknown place and if they are savvy about the area then they are going to be savvy to your game as well. 2. If you come to me like “HI PRETTY LET ME SHOW YOU THE REAL INDIA BABE” I will not even reply. If you actually like the look of me and want to hang out, a normal message would probably be enough to get me to hang out with you. I met with one local guy in Goa – he is a very nice guy and sent me a normal message telling me about local restaurants to eat at and offered to show me some. We hung out a fair bit in the week. So it’s not that I’m batting away any message from a guy.

So before I got there I had an idea of what I could expect. I arrived in Mumbai at 2am scared because I had a 10 hour wait in a place that looked pretty dodgy (Mumbai airport – not my favourite place) and on top of this there is the thing that if you let anyone help you, they will expect money. When I stepped out of the airport men wanted to “help” me with my bags at every step. Maybe I’m being a bitch, I mean, they were just trying to earn money. But come on, a 20 something girl, alone in an airport at 2am, with guys who are trying to get money from her bugging her constantly… I think my scowl was pretty natural. I found that I was snapping back at pretty much any man there. At Goa airport when I was waiting for my suitcase the staff there were pretty upbeat and were welcoming me as they went by. My scowl remained, mainly because I was scared. Why were they being so nice to me? Did they want money? I feel really bad about how I felt this way even though there was nothing at all to suggest that they were a threat to me. It’s a kind of discrimination that I feel really ashamed about having.

Anjuna was a lot better. I had calmed down a lot, and though there are guys asking if you want a ride in their taxis all the time, I didn’t feel vulnerable at all. Then I went for a massage.

I chose to have my massage at the back of the German Bakery because the restaurant is pretty famous and also it is now probably my favourite place in the world. A man served me, and I was a little nervous about him also being the person to give me this massage. But I went with it. It’s his job, right? And so when I was lying face down with just my bikini bottoms, he came into the room and starts this really long prayer. I didn’t understand what it was about, of course, but I imagine it was something like “please forgive me for rubbing this fat white chick who isn’t my wife”. Well, if he’s praying about touching me, it means he won’t rape me… right? I relaxed a little. So the massage starts and it’s ok – nothing to write home a blog post about… but then he does this thing where he puts a towel over my lower half, tucks it into my bikini bottoms and then pulls the towel down, pulling down my bottoms. I am clenching my thighs so hard so that it doesn’t reveal more than my buttocks and he keeps telling me to relax.

Then he starts to massage those very buttocks. I was not a happy bunny. He knew it, and when I wouldn’t relax, he got his wife to come and complete the rest. I still didn’t want anyone to go anywhere near my buttocks, but somehow it wasn’t so offensive when the woman did it. Since coming back and talking to people about it, I have found that it is pretty unheard of for a guy to give a woman a massage in India. Yeah, another way in which I was naive.

On the whole, though, it wasn’t as bad there as it could be. I didn’t feel that I was oggled a lot, though I dressed conservatively (I suck for saying that since women’s clothes should not be the catalyst in men’s actions but you know what I mean). The other encounters I had were pretty… cute, actually. When walking on the beach, teenage boys would ask for photos with me, I guess to tell their friends back home that they “hung out” with a westerner. The taxi driver who was assigned to me seemed to have a crush on me, and on the way to the airport he was telling me how he would have loved to take me on a date, or get to know me better. And as we arrived at the airport he grabbed and squeeze my hand in a very awkward fashion and made me promise our paths would cross again. I didn’t feel this was scary at all… though it was undoubtedly inappropriate, he was a skinny runt around my age who was all too happy to tell me about how his mum was spending time to find his future bride and how he wasn’t so enthusiastic about it. Sure, he could have pulled a knife on me and attacked me, but I knew he wasn’t the type to do this.

So… conclusion. I feel really bad that I am unreasonably hostile to certain guys who probably just want to be friendly. But I feel that when I let go and go with the flow, like I did with the massage, I just get into trouble. I learnt a lot… next time I will be less grumpy with men just trying to be friendly, and learn to understand when a situation isn’t good. Considering my wanting to go to Morocco and Egypt next, I think these are things I really need to get sorted in my head.

 

Expat Blogs

SONY DSC

I LOVE the blogging community and how I can enjoy pockets of awesome people who are expats, travellers, German-livers and many more.

And that’s why I’m so happy that Expats Blog have chosen to feature me in an interview this week! I just love sharing my experiences and helping others who want to follow my footsteps, so I’m so happy to be on their site!

They have a super awesome website with so much information for people who live – or are thinking of living – abroad, so go and check it out if that’s up your alley!

Making Friends Abroad – Germany

SONY DSC

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about finding a partner in Japan, but today I’d like to write a little about how to make friends – focussing on doing so whilst in Germany.

Making friends abroad is probably one of the hardest things I have done. In Japan, I felt very lonely; it took me a long time to find people I really connected with and then once I found these people I couldn’t see them until the weekend – often every other weekend. Now in Germany, once I started to see the pangs of loneliness in myself, I knew exactly how to get myself a social circle.

I’d like to point out now that all these methods require effort, patience and a lot of guts. When looking for new friends you will find yourself being forced out of your comfort zone, into a group of people you don’t know, maybe in a language you don’t speak, with people you don’t know you’ll even like and repeating the same conversations over and over and over. “How long have you been here?” “Did you come here for work?” “Do you like it here?” If you go to a meeting and come away with one phone number of one person with whom you meet up with occasionally, you’ve been successful. If you don’t, then don’t worry. If you don’t find someone who meets your friendship requirements to a tee, then that’s ok.

In a certain sense, you need to drop your friendship standards somewhat when you’re abroad. Most of the people I’m closest to here are people I have very very little in common with. But at the end of the day, they are amazing people and I love them very much. You need to let go of the idea that you’ll find your BFF at these meetings and focus instead on finding someone who will go to the cinema with you at the drop of a hat, someone who will try out that new restaurant with you, someone who will sit and listen when your boyfriend has been a wombat yet again. This is what’s important. So, let’s jump right in to finding friends….

Once I knew I was going to be in Germany, I soon found the online forum Toytown Germany. Being a forum, it is of course full of grumpy people, people who only want to argue, people who are mean and unhelpful. However, there are also lots of really good points and pieces of information for living in Germany. (Pro tip, unless you are looking to get shouted at by the long-timers there, you should always do a search of what information you are looking for before you start a new topic of conversation).

Within this forum, you can find people new to the area who want to meet up, and also long standing groups of people who meet more regularly. I joined one women’s dinner group once and met one girl who I became very good friends with, so it was a good success for me. I also go to a few of the meetups when I have time.

A step up from this would be Couchsurfing.org. I joined it after a good friend of mine mentioned how he has made a lot of friends from that site. On the surface it’s a place where you can find somewhere to stay for free when you are traveling. But it is so much more than this – from weekly meetings to random messages from people wanting to meet up, it is a hotbed of people wanting friendship. Within a week of joining, I saw a message from a lovely French couple who wanted to invite people to their house to play boardgames. It sounded right up my street so I went along and managed to befriend not only the lovely couple but also a person I consider to be a close friend. Aside from that time, I have also been to a massive brunch meetup and a handful of Christmas market spontaneous meetups. The thing that makes Couchsurfing different is that all the members are explorers. They are people who have been places and know what it’s like to be on your own in a place away from home. The website has changed for the worst in recent weeks in an effort to make money from the site and now the helpful forums are replaced with Facebook style pages, where one has to almost call out in order to connect with people. I’ve lost the details of the people I was to meet up with in Paris, as well as those in Goa and have to repeatedly write on the pages of these places, asking if anyone will be in those areas at the same time as me. Bewelcome.com seems to be the next Couchsurfing so be sure to check that one out as well.

Though mainly a dating site, Okcupid.com is also a good place to make friends. I like to call it a social network rather than a dating site. I have made one guy friend and one girl friend from this site. It might be a little scary for some people to venture into but I do say it’s well worth at least making a profile and seeing what kind of messages come.

Speaking of social networks, Facebook is the king as usual. Try to see if there are groups for your area – for Frankfurt I am a member of the English Speaking, Neu im Frankfurt, Photography, Friday Night Drinks Club, Drinkstag, International groups and many, many more. With these groups, I can go to a meeting pretty much every single day, meeting new people. The hardest one of these is the German Stammtisch events I go to with Neu im Frankfurt.

Other websites worth a mention are My Language Exchange and Shared Talk which are primarily language exchange partner websites, but I have actually made friends through them as well.

If you have any more links to great friend making websites, please link them in the comments!

Sunday Night Face Mask

IMG_0619

 

When I was in Paris, the lady doing my eyebrows said to me that I have terrible skin and should start using face masks. So, I’m going to try to do one every Sunday night!

My mask last night was the Iroha Magic Day Nourishing Facial Mask. It’s a pretty big pack, and I think I have at least 3 more applications in there. The scent is LOVELY, like honey. It happily sat on my skin for 20 mins then was pretty easy to wash off. This morning my skin isn’t exactly softer, but it feels… plumper (?) like more nourished. Perhaps that’s just me imagining it…

Like I said, I don’t usually use masks so I have nothing to compare it to. But In a few weeks hopefully I’ll be able to see how good this is in comparison to other masks.

Do you have a favourite face mask?

Holiday Beauty

SONY DSC

Holidays in winter give a great chance to bring out products that get neglected during the colder months. Here is a short list of the things I used when I was away in India:

The Body Shop Banana shampoo and conditioner

I LOVE LOVE these. They certainly do not get neglected even when I’m back in Frankfurt as these Body Shop beauties keep my hair SO shiny. I’m tempted to say that they are the best shampoo/conditioner combo I’ve ever used. I know a lot of people dislike bananas but they don’t smell so much of bananas… I’d say more of a honey smell. Certainly after washing, the only scent left over is the honey one.

Ritessens Gommage Visage Teint d’Eclat

This creamy exfoliating face wash is very creamy and rich yet contains a small amount of beads to exfoliate the skin. Usually this is a little too creamy to use at home and it just makes my skin a little dull looking. However, on holiday with my sun kissed (read – lobster red) face it’s a welcome drink for my skin, with a small amount of exfoliation to get those pesky bits of skin away. The scent is also very exotic which made it fit perfectly with the location. I got this in a JolieBox in December.

Jergens Original Beauty Lotion

Another product which is too rich to use at home. I’ve been using this for a little while now and it’s a pretty thick moisturising lotion for the body. The scent is a tiny bit sweet for me – I think it’s the almond in it. But again, this was perfect for the days when I got a little too much sun.

Lancaster After Sun Tan Maximizer

I got this in a beauty box so it was only a little sample. I used this on my face in the evening, and it’s kept my tan nice throughout without letting it flake away. I wouldn’t say it was any better than a normal moisturiser, though.

(Not shown) Eau Thermale Avene 50+ Sun Cream

This was a medium sample that I got last year… perhaps in a GlossyBox. It was just the right size to last me all week, and it was very good at protecting my skin. It says that it is “very water resistant” and after a dip in the sea, it still was good on my skin. The only places I got burnt were places I couldn’t reach by myself.

Has anyone else used any of these products? Let me know what you think!

 

Back Home – Thoughts on Solo Travelling

SONY DSC

 

So I’m back home in Germany now, where my sunburn stings under my layers of clothes against the cold snowy air. I didn’t blog in the last few days, even though I could have, because I felt really rotten about the whole trip. I was in a real funk and not even blogging could have brought me out of it.

So, what went wrong? India is an amazing country, and Goa is a lovely area, but I think the key thing wrong with my trip was that I went alone. Most of the unpleasant things that I experienced could have been avoided had there been someone with me, for example, someone saying “hey, sleepyhead, don’t brush your teeth with tap water” or “do you think you should be eating that?” I had a massage from a shop (as opposed to on the beach) and it was a guy doing the massage. I’ll speak more about it later, but it got a little inappropriate and I think had there been someone (or a guy) with me, he would not have felt able to do that to me.

I met some really great people there, so I didn’t feel lonely, I just felt vulnerable. I would still travel alone again, and I love travelling alone, but I think for an “level: difficult” country like India, it is best to have someone there to look over your shoulder and to take care of each other.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time in India – I really did. In fact, I was just in Rewe and I got a pang of sadness when I was picking out a morning fruit juice for the week and I thought that a little over 24 hours ago I had the choice of all the juices in the world available to me for no more than a euro. And I miss the local people who came to speak with me just because they were interested in me – the taxi driver at the hotel who (I think) almost proposed to me, the rare market women who were speaking with me not just because they wanted me to buy something, the kind friend who took me to an Indian wedding.

Before I went away, when people asked if I was going to India for business or for fun I would reply that it was for neither – that I was going for an adventure. India certainly gave me that; it pushed me to my limits, took me out of my comfort zone and made me think about things like how I cope around things like a drug scene. I’m sure I will post about these things in the coming days, but for the time being, I am shattered after 24 hours of travelling (there was a delay on my flight to London, so I had to stay put there overnight as well).

But as they say – it’s all good stuff for the memoirs.