My first journey on my own abroad took me from Köln to the town where my school is, Langen. At Köln HauptbahnhofI had my first bumpkin moment since arriving: their luggage storage system is AMAZING. I may be over exaggerating this slightly, but it's pretty good. Essentially there are large containers with little sliding doors. Behind these are lockers for your bags. There are 3 lockers in each container and 3 containers. So only 9 people can use them at a time? Oh no, my friend. With the press of a button the inside of the locker rumbles away and your bags disappear somewhere underground and a new locker takes its place. Nifty, eh?
Despite what I thought, train stations in Germany are easy peasy. So getting from Köln to Langen, changing in Frankfurt, was a breeze. What was really good was that on the way you have the best view of inland Germany. Picture verdant valleys with red-roofed villages nestled in the folds and then roll it past the window for two hours. And my town is no exception. Named 'Langen' for a reason, the main street, the Bahnstraße is easily a mile long and from the station you can see the street all the way down, lined by a row of trees on either side. From there the Alt Stadt, complete with 18th century tower and gate, lies at the bottom of the Steinberg, and above it is the newer suburb.
My host family are renting me their daughter's room while she is on her Year Abroad. They live at the top of the Steinberg (bit of a trek home!), but they live right next to one of the woods that surrounds the town. They have a four month old puppy, who we take for walks in the woods - it's lovely there, so green and peaceful. We're about 15km from Frankfurt, one of Germany's largest and busiest cities, yet in the woods it's so quiet - I think I've found a running route. My host family live in an upside down house - so my room and bathroom are downstairs, but I really like it - although it's really common here for families to live in private flats. So all in all, my town looks absolutely gorgeous, old fashioned and traditional and my host family are so kind and welcoming. I can't wait for the coming year!