Part 2: Weiden

A few months after I moved to Münster, I met a German man who came to be rather significant. He is known, on this blog, as the Significant German (SG). His job is a rather inflexible one, for a rather unyielding institution and this little fact, combined with a few others, led to this moving to Bavaria eighteen months later.

I am moving. To Bavaria. More specifically, to a region known as Franken and Oberpfalz. Even more specifically, to a town called Weiden. Let me tell you a few facts about Weiden.

– It has a population of around 41,000 people.

– It is 35 km from the Czech border.

– The city has been around since 1241.

– The US Army has a base there.

– Weiden means ‘pasture’ or ‘to graze’ in English.

– It has long, hard winters. Which is great, because Lord knows I love winter.

Here is a handy map that I borrowed from the internet and defaced:

When I have told my German friends where I am bound for, most of them have looked at me strangely and repeated ‘Weiden’ slowly and clearly, a few times, then admitted to not knowing where it is. Upon hearing where it is, they have all warned me, without fail, about the following:

– the dialect.

– the fact that Bavarians are, essentially, not Germans.

And after this, they have all said, ‘but … why?’ This is perhaps the best question of all. Why Weiden? Why a town of 5 people with an unintelligible way of speaking when, for the past few months, I have been missing my town of 4.5 million and can only just muddle along in a conversation with clear, ‘high German’ speakers? Because I am mad? Because I have completely relinquished any control over my life? Because Weiden is actually one of Europe’s glittering, unknown gems? Because I am being paid millions to write a novel set in Franken and Oberpfalz?

Yes, yes, no and no.

For a little while now, I have been feeling that a new adventure is in order. I love Münster (on particularly rainy days when the bus driver is an arsehole to me, I have less positive feelings towards it) I have some extraordinary friends here, and I love my job. Münster has been the host city of the original Big Life Veränderung/change. It has officially lodged itself in my heart and I hope to return to it time and time again. But I didn’t move to Münster to settle down. It was the first stop on an adventure that, sure, had no specific stops beyond it, but stops nevertheless. The UK was in the running for the next stop, as was Berlin or Hamburg, somewhere in the Mediterranean and Shanghai. Even home, for a little while. The marvellous thing was, I didn’t know. I would make that decision when the time came.

But the time, when it came, coincided with the SG and I beginning to talk seriously about what was next for us. He had to move to Weiden for three years. What was I doing to do? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I wanted to try a new city, that my time in Münster was up. But, as it became more and more clear, my time in Germany wasn’t. Suddenly Shanghai, with SG in Bavaria, lost a touch of its lustre, particularly when the idea of flying back and forth regularly for the sake of our relationship entered the equation. No problem, it would have to be a German city. Hamburg? Berlin? I could move to one of Germany’s bustling metropolises and we could take turns travelling back and forth to each other on weekends. 600km between Weiden and Hamburg and about 100€ one way on the train in in petrol, so 200€ and about 12 hours round trip every weekend, for one of us. Berlin was a couple of hundred kilometres better. We could do it – we could bank on having every weekend free to travel to one another, bank on not being too tired or too poor to make the trip. Where there’s a will, quite often, there is a way.

The more we spoke about it, the more living 600km apart in the same country sounded pointless. Expensive, stressful and pointless. SG is what is keeping me in this country – why orchestrate it so we are so far apart and it is so costly and exhausting to maintain the relationship? Why not try living together in Weiden. Sure, it’s in the back arse of beyond, miles from nowhere, it will be another culture shock and difficult to find work for me. But we would be remiss not to give it a go.

Weiden isn’t as bad as it sounds. It is actually a pretty little town, and because it isn’t a bustling metropolis, the rent on a very spacious, very central apartment is very reasonable. And it’s 2 hours from München, 2 hours from Prague and in a whole new area of Germany I have never explored. It will be, as we have come to call it, The Weiden Adventure. Who knows what it will hold? Most likely a lot of Czech beer and even more meat dishes, but also trips to Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic. New people. New friends.

I am, frankly, as terrified as I am excited. I will not understand a word anyone says to me and probably eat schnitzel everyday. But I am so, so ready for something new and this tiny little border town is just the ticket.

22 thoughts on “Part 2: Weiden

    1. Absolutely – and really, if one more person tries to make some sort of witty joke about being in the middle of nowhere, I am going to punch them. Obviously it isn’t my number one choice, but you can’t have everything.

      1. I like to tell people (from the US) that I’m just in the ‘dirty south’, which is how we refer to the Atlanta region of the East Coast. Because that’s exactly what it feels like, with a lot more Wurst and black socks.

  1. …and what’s wrong with being in the middle of nowhere?
    Enjoy your Big Bavarian Life. Embrace it. Not many people will understand it if they aren’t from the same roots as you and exactly where you are now, at this particular time..because we’re all different…but that’s the fun of this Big Life….make it yours but THANK YOU for sharing it! Viel Glück!

  2. Wow – how lovely to have so much adventure in life. So many people barely go any further than their own garden gate. Life is short and its here to be lived. Your gorgeous new little town Wieden sound beautiful. The country beats the city hands down – always!

  3. this is a fantastic post! i really enjoyed reading it. it’s always exciting to discover fellow travelers/writers/adventurers who go out and explore the world – and are willing to admit it scares them sometimes! 🙂

  4. Discovered your blog recently, and it fills me with so many things that I can’t really explain right now. But it has filled me with thoughts, and I am going to be a regular visitor of this space. Also, I love the way you write.

    1. Thank you so much, your comment means a lot to me. I am so very pleased you have found something in here and within my words, that has meaning to you. Looking forward to keeping company!

  5. What a cool story. I did something similar, minus the romance of living in a European country. I lived in a very tiny Canadian town for 2.5 years, and I’m a city girl, through and through. It was definitely an experience. And one I wouldn’t trade (or go back to, now that I’m in a city again). I hope you are having a fantastic, adventurous time. I look forward to reading more!

    1. The Bavarians divide themselves into their little regions and are as fiercely protective of those regions as they are of being BAVARIAN and NOT GERMAN.

      1. There’s some truth to that, but it’s not as easy as you think: Those regions actually are different. Nonetheless Bavaria remains always united against the Preußen 🙂
        Well, I don’t know what your experiences have been in Bavaria so far? I am not your typical Bavarian nor am I your typical German (if there indeed is such a thing).

        On Saturday there’s a demonstration against ACTA in Regensburg. Might relevant to your interests, too.

  6. I studied in Regensburg, only an hour away from Weiden. A VERY NICE town with lots of bars, restaurants and nightlife all in a historic city dating back to the times of the Roman Empire. Defintitely worth checking out!
    I loved my life there before returning to my native North (importing my wife from Bavaria to hamburg)…

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