We have been in our new home in Tübingen, Germany for over a month now.
And I have to say that I have struggled to put together this first post from Germany, because I want to strike a balance between the two extremes of HELLO GORGEOUS PHOTOS OF OUR NEW HOME TOWN and HEY WE MOVED TO ANOTHER NEW COUNTRY AND IT IS HARD.
I think we all know that reality is usually different from how things look.
Even when they look super cute. Which they do.
In reality, Tübingen is one of the cutest places I have ever seen. If I was a visitor here, I would probably wish I could live here.
Tübingen is a university town in Southern Germany of 85,000 people, but if feels more like a big village. A big lovely village.
But in reality, our boys would be quick to tell you that they don’t find it lovely.
In my first few days here, Ben and I walked to the top of a hill in the center of the town and looked out over the rooftops.
Looking super far out into the distance you can see a high rise at the top of a hill, and we are living in some temporary housing right next to that high rise. (In a couple of weeks we are moving to a flat in the same neighborhood.)
It’s about a 30 minute bus ride to the center of town. Or a 45 minute walk.
It’s a bit longer than that to the south side of town where the boys are going to school.
The reality is that we spend a lot of time at bus stops or on buses.
People leave books that they have finished at bus stops, which is super fun.
I bet it is even more fun if you can read German.
The reality is that because we live at the edge of town, we can be in the woods in about five minutes.
And in the woods there are trees with books inside of them that you can take for free. And that is super cute.
Of course the books are all in German.
The reality is that school is hard and learning a language is very, very slow and you mess up and feel stupid a lot. But also on every corner there is a place to buy a scoop of gelato for about a dollar.
The reality is that we eat a lot of gelato.
This is really and truly the center of the town where we live. People sit on the edge of the river and eat lunch on pretty days.
There are these long boats called punts that people ride up and down the river.
And it is pretty dang picturesque.
And next to the river is a long island lined with old trees. It is a gorgeous spot to walk or take a picnic or a book.
In the old town are two different squares. One is where the church is and the steps next to the church serve as sort of a constant gathering space. We meet up there often to grab something to eat from one of the stalls or shops in town.
On every corner there is a bakery where you can get a pretzel or a loaf of bread for dinner.
Or a coffee. So much coffee.
Heading to town after school for a treat is a super regular occurrence.
Or sometimes I just bring pretzels from the bakery straight to the bench where Simon and I meet after school.
The treats are many in this town. And I keep finding new ones.
Food is definitely a theme of our new life in Germany.
The reality is that I love shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables at the many markets that happen around town.
I got a basket to fit in with all the other mamas and papas doing their daily shopping for dinner.
What I can fit in this basket is about what I can carry. And also what will fit into my fridge.
So daily shopping it is, at many different shops and stalls.
Including a frequent stop at the farm up by our flat where you can fill your glass bottles with fresh milk or buy cheese and eggs out of a vending machine when the farm shop isn’t open. I. Kid. You. Not.
Also sometimes we just grab an apple off the tree while walking.
We didn’t have any bowls or coffee mugs at our current apartment so I spent my birthday money carefully selecting a few pieces of locally made pottery at one of the weekend markets in town.
Serving meals on these dishes and drinking coffee and tea out of these mugs makes me smile every day. Small, simple beauties are powerful.
On Sundays we’ve been attending a little international church that meets in a room underneath a grocery store. The service is in German, and while I sit there for two hours listening and not listening, tuning in and tuning out, I get a little window into what school must be like for our boys.
But there are notes/handouts in English and also my Bible is in English, and the pastor’s wife serves lunch after church every week so you can stick around and visit with people.
It’s not home to me yet but there have been moments.
Glimpses of what heaven will be like when I sit at a table and share food and conversation with people from all over the world. Last week, Simon and I sat with new friends from India, China, Taiwan, Nigeria and Mauritius.
This town is HECKA international.
And when you walk across the main bridge in town, you can imagine why people might be drawn to come and spend a season here, but really the university is attracting the world because of a little detail called Free Tuition For Everyone In Germany.
Like for reals. At least three of the people I met last week came here for a few months to study German so they could apply to go to university here. You just need the first couple of levels of German to get in, and there are classes everywhere you can enroll in for a summer or a few weeks at any time of year.
I am starting my language classes next week, but not so I can go to university.
I’m just hoping to be able to tell the lady at the bakery and the man at my vegetable market to have a nice day.
Three or four times a week I walk through this park on my way to meet Simon at school because he and Ben don’t always get out at the same time.
I also walk down this long stairway.
And past this building covered in graffiti. There’s actually loads of street art in Tubingen.
These are the stairs to the office where Taido studies and writes, and they also lead to the room where his classes are. The reality is that Taido loves it here.
We had our first visitor last week. Major highlight for sure!
Nicola was so kind to come and visit before we really know what we are doing as far as traveling around Germany. As a result we spent a lot of time waiting for trains and buses, but she was such a great sport!
After we looked out over the rooftops and took in the surrounding hills,
we found a table in the square below where we had coffee and sat and watched the people. It’s turning cold, but there are blankets draped on the chairs in the squares so you can still sit outside and chat with your friend over coffee.
We also made a trip to the nearby Ritter Sport chocolate factory.
Hello every kind of chocolate imaginable.
Our biggest outing with Nicola was a hike to a nearby castle.
Fall is definitely in the air here in Germany, and Nicola and I were very cold, but flowers were still in bloom in the windows and it was so nice to have my friend with me in our new home. Also she speaks German.
This week the leaves have turned bright yellow all over town, and we got a few more days of blue sky.
We did a walk to a chapel on a hill last weekend in the sunshine.
The trails around Tübingen seem to be super well maintained and they lead to lovely places.
This little village is called Bebenhausen and I walk the five mile loop there and back a few times a week because it’s my favorite so far.
So that’s pretty much our first month: lots of walking and meeting up with the boys and praying for them while they are at school.
Plus searching for a new place to live and filling out eleventy million forms and fumbling through German, shopping for Brot, Wein und Kase (bread, wine and cheese).
There is a chocolate festival here on the first weekend of December so more friends are coming from Aberdeen, because hello CHOCOLATE + FESTIVAL = good idea.
And then the Christmas Market happens in Tübingen the next weekend.
So the reality is that there are good things in store for us.
I’m hoping maybe one of those things is that the boys start to like it here as much as Taido does.