Life as a European volunteer in Stuttgart, Germany
What a year my friends, WHAT a year! Summer is over and that means more (free) time in Jugendwerk.
Camps are back, memories, new friendships, relationships and God-knows –what-more has been made/established in these 6 weeks of the summer holiday in Germany.
Aleks and I had a couple of days off and an opportunity to drive back from Spain to Germany. So combine these two together and you’ll get a road trip.
That’s exactly what we did 😉
Please tell us more about the idea of going on a road trip?
Aleks: I always loved doing road trips and this was actually one of the best ones I have had. We were only three people and had no certain aim. We only knew we start on this day and we have to be back on this day. In between was free and we kept it that way. We would wake up in the morning, get in the car and choose a destination. On the way we would listen to music and enjoy the amazing landscape France has to offer. If we see something we like, we would just pull over and check it out. Once in the city usually we were already very hungry, so we would start to search urgently for baguettes: D We would take a walk in the city or find a camp where to sleep and just enjoy the rest of the day with no rush.
Milan: Normally, you would drive from Spain directly to Germany, with a one night stop somewhere in France, buuuuut since Jugendwerk is so cool (#diebeschte) , they had given us the opportunity to get the most out of it and make this road trip!
Where have you been?
Milan: We have been to Spain (hola) , France (salut) and Switzerland (hallo/salut/ciao (bella))
Our trip started in Spain, S´agaro with an amazing lunch by the sea side and then we hit the road.
We visited Cerret, the city of cherries, where you can find the Pont du Diable medieval stone arch bridge, built in 1321, and the largest arch bridge for its time. It has a very interesting legend and was not used for years, due to people believing it was cursed.
Then we continued to Carcassonne. We reached there quite late in the evening. Highly recommend to see the medieval Fortress Cite de Carcassonne both in the day and evening. The funny part in the city was that we arrived late and couldn´t decide a camp in which to stay. Eventually we wanted to sleep in the car, but for that you also need to stop at a convenient place. Below in the picture you can see after long rides where we decided to sleep 😀 In the evening while we were searching for a camp, we managed to speak with lots of people. By we I mean Milan and Jona, because it appeared everyone we met could speak Spanish. People were very nice and would always stop and take time to try to help us, ask some more about us, why, what where 🙂
Aaand next stop Montpellier, I am so in love with this city. The city center is very authentic and cozy, everything is in color beige and makes you feel warm and welcome. The streets are so small and there are little coffee places, also little nice shops with handmade stuff, as you walk from here and there you can here people exercising the piano. There are big parks, where you can relax, lots of historical squares.
After long walks, we took our time and spent a wonderful afternoon on the beach in a nearby city. Luckily we spent the night in a camping place. In the morning we enjoyed coffee and croissant in the beautiful city center. While traveling to our next stop, we found a very nice beach, where we spent a few hours, watching the fisherman successfully catching fish after fish. While walkign and passing them, everyone would greet us.
Nimes greeted us with a serious traffic jam. In the end luckily the waiting paid off. Arenes de Nimes – a tour to remember. It is an audio tour, sending you back in time. For a while I was feeling that I really am seeing what I am hearing. Great experience.
The tour was long and after that we were so hungry, we started looking for a place to eat and found our selves in a labyrinth, very small streets each having a few extensions. On every street something was going on. We chose one pizza place and we asked do you have an English menu, the waiter almost laughed. So we don´t speak French, but the whole evening the service was in french 😀 After that off to a karaoke bar, more details in the anecdote questions.
In the karaoke bar in Nimes, we met a girl, who comes from Avignon and she gave us a to do list. We traveled early in the morning and reached exactly in time for breakfast. For the first time in our trip, it was really easy to find a parking place. So we headed to the center, on the way we found a really nice coffee place, it was almost as if we were in a commercial. A nice lady and her sister own the place, they were always smiling and speaking with people. Very nice atmosphere. After that we visited the Palace de Papes, the cathedral and the Pon´t Avignon. We spent the whole day in the city, diving into the history of Avignon Papacy and the surroundings.
We found a camp near by and walked back to the city to party, eventually the unbearable prices of the beer got us to bed quite early 😀
Last but not least – Lyon. The city is very beautiful and has a lot to offer. I would recommend a longer visit there. My impressions from there, very tasty, but so expensive beer, great french fries and burgers, amazing view of the city in the evening. Through the city go two rivers, everywhere are bridges. We witnessed a roller competition, something i have never seen before 😀
What was your favorite city to visit?
Aleks : As a city itself Montpellier is my TOP. I love the little streets in the city center, the colors of the buildings and the whole atmosphere.
Milan: Mhm, it is hard to say, it was not like, ‘’you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all’’. Every city had something to offer and I had really enjoyed it. If I would have to choose one, I would still say Lyon, even though beer is freaking expensive there, because of the view over the city at night. Spectacular!
How did you interact with the locals, were there any language barriers?
Milan: First thing that you learn about French is they speak English ‘’a little bit’’-pronunciation / a litul buit/ and even if they could, they won’t. But in the end we understood each other perfectly, especially when alcohol was the moderator.
Aleks: I can also add, that most of the people we met wanted to communicate. Language was no barrier, they were speaking to us in french, we were replying in English and in the end just smile or sing or dance 😀
Please share an anecdote from your trip.
Milan: The city of Nîmes.
After dining in a fancy restaurant 😉 (ha ha ha) we headed towards the car when Aleks yelled out ‘’Oooh I love this song’’. Turns out there’s a Karaoke bar and the average age of the guests is 52.4.
We went in ‘’ just for one beer’’ and had the best night of the roadtrip. There was a ‘’komische’’ couple and while I was on the stage, singing ‘’ El Perdon’’ the wife was shaking her bum behind me, and her husband was simultaneously approaching Aleks and eventually got her to dance with him 😀
After a while they wanted to leave and the guy just had stop by and say goodbye to us, followed by kissing Aleks’ hand (sogar twice). His wife was not very happy about it, and after a blow to his shoulder, she said ‘’OK amigo’’ and pushed him out of the bar J
We were the stars of the evening, everyone wanted to talk to us (in French of course), and waiter was coming every now and then asking if we want to sing something… it was simply a night to remember.
Aleks: So many things happened, but I find really fun what a person is ready to do. When we had no place to sleep in Carcassone, we stayed in the car, but of course in the morning we needed a shower. We decided to go to a camp and ask to shower there, but when we reached the camp it was to early. There were two hours before the reception would open, while wondering what to do, e noticed that the showers are open and so we crashed in for a free warm shower 😀 😀 😀
This was the crown of my EVS. I travelled a lot during this one year, learned to tackle the problems, difficulties, culture shock, at what angle should one hug a German friend, Schwäbisch, working with kids/teenagers/young adults, increasing intercultural sensitivity, simply having the time of my life!
So, without further ado, I want to use this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to the Jugendwerk team who has made my year unforgettable!
And to the all young souls reading this post, if you are having second thoughts about doing an EVS-don’t! #justdoit