Sunday, 28 October 2012


Today (Sunday) is the close of another challenging week, not because I’ve been besting and befriending armored polar bears (sadly), but because a lot of menial things have all begun to pile up. A lot like the unwelcome sight of the snow on my sun roof (I can’t remember the official name for attic windows, maybe if I call it sun roof it will know what it has to live up to). There isn’t even a blind to block it out, I have to physically hide under my duvet and sniffle. Have been trying to melt it away with exorbitant amounts of central heating but it's not really economically viable. So instead of watching Disney films in bed and drinking tea I thought I'd cheer everyone up with a new blog post. 

I keep wanting to take photo’s of where I live and the things I'm doing to belatedly share the moment with someone. I particularly wanted to capture autumn, in my mind I took some pretty cool artistic photos of multicoloured umbrellas and petals on a wet black bough etc. But as I was waiting impatiently for my money to arrive so that I could buy a cheap camera I realised it would be gone before I had the chance. Plus, taking cool photos probably isn't as easy or satisfying as my imagination makes out. Soon it will be winter and the leaves will have faded and crumbled to be replaced by sparkling lights and perpetually cheery music and alcoholic hot drinks. So, I realised that I would have to (try) to share my experiences the old fashioned way – with words and “illustrations”. I can’t draw, but then again I can’t speak German yet I somehow manage to communicate… just quite badly and with much frustration; a collage of words and gestures. Today I have written a bit about the town I live in - Radolfzell, because although it is very small and not at all grand or impressive or chaotic it is where I live and I think it is beautiful. Plus, I have had the chance to spend a fair amount of free time there. 

About Radolfzell
The view from the steps
Conkers have been stored in generous piles inside wicker bicycle baskets. The bikes, which lean against a grey stone wall dappled with slick, wet leaves curling auburn at the edges, have been abandoned by their owners. Their laughter and chatter can be heard through the surrounding hedges of the park as they squeak higher and higher on the swing set. Stone steps lead down away from the children and the gardens and into the hazy blue sky reflected in the calm Bodensee. Boats are resting on the water, side by side with bobbing black moorhens and neurotic seagulls making their fray. Couples canoe gently past. A dark haired woman with a beige shirt and red collar leans happily over her balcony with dark red geraniums to laugh with her passing friend. Her view of the lake is panoramic as it curves outwards on all sides allowing a glimpse of Radofzell’s modest skyline; the white sail of the concert hall (Konzert Segel) and the ocher Gothic spire of the town church are revealed by intermissions between the trees. The afternoon is serene – it seems as though it could always stay this way, frozen azure, the white glare of the afternoon sun lashed in streaks across the water. There is another view I know, just outside of Radolfzell, where you can climb to the top of lookout tower and see the Bodensee surround you on three sides. The final side, behind, is a scorched umber field of wheat-like flood plains. It is in a place called Halbinsel Mettinau roughly means Half Island, it’s a kind of fjord or finger of land pointing into the lake. Every few minutes the train makes its circular progression around the other side of the lake, you can track its progress through glimpses between the olive and golden trees.

A typical church clock tower
The shadows have begun to lengthen and the water, steel grey only moments before, begins to ripple and burn. Across the lake orange lights flicker into focus in the blue shadow of the hill and a small village reveals itself, tucked away arboreal hills across the Bodensee. Against the setting sun's last notes the pier is silhouetted black against thick daubs of pink ribboned with violet. The church bells have begun to ring, loud clear peals chiming through the crisp evening. All of Radolfzell can hear their toll; even those already warm behind double glazed windows. A swan makes her shimmering escapade across the lake side splintering the clarity of the reflected dusk. Gold threads spin away to be absorbed by the indigo ink seeping from the edges of the lake. The clouds are soon just swirls of ash against the fading light of day, evening brings a new peace and new character unfurls from the darkness. 

A side street in Radolfzell
The boats now moored neatly in a line burble and grumble like a brood of hungry goblins. Strangers alight together from their train and begin their solitary walks home through the Marktplatz. It’s has reached that time of year where darkness falls and yet the shop windows are brightly lit, their wares  -fur collared suede coats, whiskey leather bags and uncut, rough emeralds set in burnished gold -  are supervised by store clerks who watch the darkness anxiously for supper time. Fires are lit inside popular German restaurants and bars as the Italian coffee-and-ice-cream shops begin stacking their chairs and refrigerating the tiramisu. There’s a frosted star on the window left over from last Christmas and anticipating the next, and 70’s rock and roll overflows through the open door of the local like plumes of cigarette smoke and tumbles out across the cobble stones.  An emphysemic marionette maker puffs on a filterless roll up as he doggedly scans the crowd for someone to talk to. It doesn't matter if they can't speak any German.

By the lake in Radolfzell
So that's my experience with Radolfzell so far, it's different now because of the blanket of snow. I also went to Meersburg with Klauss my housemate from Taiwan. We went last Sunday and it just so happened to be one of 2 special market days throughout the year in Konstanz. We ate a free lunch of chocolate tasters and different types of cheeses. And I started classes this week - even though I haven't managed to register with the University yet due to a long chain of stupid - which was exciting. Looks like I'll be taking quite a few! Hope everyone is feeling okay, I miss you all and hope to hear from you soon!

On the Ferry to Meersburg


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