Liv Hambrett

Germany + Australia + Culture + Motherhood + Home

Life in Kiel, Travel + Life Abroad

Snow & Seagulls

I am bright eyed and bushy tailed, bristling with that kind of energy that can only come from a malfunctioning body clock. Let’s talk about the flight over, the drive up here, the feel of snow crunching beneath my snow boots that had the dust blown off them 48 hours ago and are about to be worn to death. Again.

So I’m not too sure if I’m sold on Europe via the Middle East. 14 hour legs are nobody’s friend, particularly when there’s the crushing realisation there are another six hours to go, nine if you count the three spent adrift in an airport. That aside, the 20 hours in the air passed in a whirl of goulash on a bed of rice, systematic film catching-up and the sort of desperate, uncontrolled sleep where you offer up your vulnerable, naked sleep face for hundreds of people to observe.

I appeared in Frankfurt airport with feet too swollen to fit into boots, therefore shoved, sock-coated, into gold flats. Passport control took an age, my own subjected to the beady eyed question of ‘and why are you back this time?’ I could have, had I the energy, and were I not saddled with carry-on luggage that seemed to have birthed new bags as the flight progressed, sprung into the policeman’s box and throttled him, shrieking, ‘because I made the fatal error of falling in love with a German, why else, why ELSE?’  which would have likely transferred SG and my romantic reunion to an interrogation room. Besides, my swollen feet were stuffed into my boots so firmly I couldn’t get the leverage required to spring.

Our reunion wasn’t particularly romantic anyway. By the time I had wrestled my suitcases off the belt – almost the last two left, passport control had taken so long – and piled up the 40kg that had cost me a heart-stopping amount in excess baggage to get across, and walked through the doors as fresh as a trampled, 24-hours-in-transit daisy, there was no romance left about me. I eyed SG from beneath hooded lids as I made my way down the ramp. Later, he would say to me, ‘I loved our meeting. Before you came out, women were dropping their luggage and jumping into their boyfriends’ arms. But not us.’ I explained the boot issue. And that, post passport grilling to enter this God forsaken place, I was in no mood to jump anywhere. I even went so far as to role-play my dream response, which was along the lines of, ‘I come from a country far better than yours, why would I …’ before SG calmly stopped me.That’s romance for you.

The drive to Weiden took three hours. Bavaria is under a blanket of snow and those naked, stark trees against the wintry blue sky were so familiar. The fields that I left lush and green in the summer are now white, the lakes that had seemed to inviting, now frozen. Darkness fell completely at around 6pm and soon after we crunched into the driveway of our apartment in Weiden. Winter air over here has a smell to it, this cold, fresh smell. Everything is being cleaned by icy water and inky, freezing nights. We lugged my stuff up into our apartment, turned on the heaters, woke the place up a little bit.

The house devoid of food, drink and tea/coffee making appliances (all of them perched up in Kiel waiting for us) breakfast the next morning was sourced from a beautifully stocked, warm, inviting bakery up the road. The woman serving pink faced customers was dressed as a lemon. I didn’t even notice. After we ordered our coffees and I resolutely avoided making eye contact with the vast array of donuts, pastries, cheese covered breads, cakes, biscuits and pretzels, SG said, conversationally, ‘she is wearing a costume.’ Even tiny bakeries in Weiden get into the spirit of Karnival.

The drive to Kiel, embarked upon after more packing, zipping, stuffing and stocking the car with heavy winter wardrobe garb, took six and a half hours. Add that to the 24 hour flight and the three hours to Weiden. Nearly 34 hours in transit to get to this little apartment in the sky. Bavaria became Saxony, the snow blankets thickened and then, the further north we drove, it all seemed to melt away. We pulled into our new street and lugged bags to the top floor, both of us egged on by the notion of pizza, wine and beer, which had dangled like a carrot since we’d both eschewed McDonalds somewhere around Saxony-Anhalt.

And now, Kiel. The third city/town in this country I have had the pleasure of calling home; the setting for the tales of the next six months. I’ve almost finished unpacking. A solid grocery shop needs to be done. I need to fix the coffee machine, buy flowers, wait until it’s a decent hour to put a load of washing on (I had almost, but not quite, forgotten the dutifully respected silence rules when it comes to apartment living in this country). Outside the sky has lightened, begrudgingly. From our windows I can see the red tiled roofs are covered in snow. It has just started snowing and the tiny little things are falling on my window, melting as soon as they touch glass. There are seagulls wheeling about – I have never before associated their mawkish cry with snow. But that is what this is all about, isn’t it. Changing expectations, newness. Snow and seagulls.


  1. Konstanze

    12 February, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Welcome back, Liv!! I followed (and envied) you your sojourn in in your native country but can’t help looking forward to what you will make of living with our northern cititzens. You will meet an different mentality yet again . Many times our nothern bretheren are described as closed and a bit stark in their personal makeup but there is more than meets the eye. You may find a very dry sense of humor and a surprising openness and cosmopolitan attitude. Good luck!

    1. Bubisch

      13 February, 2013 at 10:04 am

      I really like the way those people are. Oh, Liv, i highly recommend a visit to the Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft (between Rostock and the border to poland, it is one of the most beautiful landscapes of germany (and it is only three hours away from Kiel)!

      1. Liv

        13 February, 2013 at 11:34 pm

        And apparently Wadden Sea is also a must see! Will definitely be doing some mini tripping while we’re in this part of the world.

    2. Liv

      14 February, 2013 at 12:02 am

      Thank you so much! I am really looking forward to getting among the Northerners – I have heard they are the most aloof, the most standoffish of all the Germs. Challenge accepted! But I think I will like them … they have a certain sparkle in their eye.

      1. Bubisch

        14 February, 2013 at 9:58 pm

        Naa, i wouldn’t call it aloof, they just have … deep characters 🙂 No really, it sometimes may be hard to make friends with them – but once you got them, they’re wonderful people!
        I love their taciturnity: every word counts 😀

  2. Sarah @ Chasing Aphrodite

    13 February, 2013 at 7:57 am

    I don’t know how you still had THE ENERGY to blog after those whirlwind days. Other things I loved about this post: the carry-on luggage that birthed other luggage, noticing that you are not one of ‘those’ couples (I probably would’ve picked a fight with James instead), and the ‘my country is better than yours statement’.

    1. Liv

      13 February, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      Jetlag! It tricks one into feeling they have boundless energy at about 5am. Carry on luggage definitely births … I went on with one (enormous, 10kg) bag and came out with two. As for the ‘my country is better than yours …’ the classic default when passport police are being mean (or, really, just doing their job.)

  3. megsfitness

    13 February, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Welcome back, Liv! Wonderful post. I find myself wondering what SG stands for.. I mused to myself that perhaps it stood for “so good” or “suave guy” or “small Gunter” (who would be friends with big Mike, the American). Maybe it stood for Samwise Gamgee. Small grin?

    1. Liv

      13 February, 2013 at 11:33 pm

      Oooooh, some of those options were even better than the actual thing. It stands for … Significant German. I think I went to call him my Significant Other in a post and thought … no … let’s make this German.

      1. megsfitness

        14 February, 2013 at 12:35 am

        Lol! Significant German!! Why didn’t I think of that? maybe I should call Jeff my SC… Significant Canadian 😉

        1. Liv

          17 February, 2013 at 2:53 am

          It feels so much more personal when we give them their country of birth!

  4. Lulu

    14 February, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Haha! Loved this post.
    What did SG think of Australia? I would be so interested in perhaps a guest post from SG himself including what he thought of our country and its inhabitants, etc. Did he love it enough for you to move down under eventually or are you too in love with Germany?? Either way I’m sure your aussie family welcomed him with open arms and love him as much as you do.

    Love your blog! XO

    1. Liv

      17 February, 2013 at 2:52 am

      He LOVED Australia. Slid right in, started using ‘mate’ a lot, got used to the noise and chaos of my family gatherings. I might suggest he do a guest post on Australia, how hilarious! I think both of us would like to at least experience living in Australia at some point in the future, but for the moment we are bound to this little land. Thank you for your kind words! x

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