All has been quiet on the blog front lately…but not the Brosnahan front! On an unassuming Tuesday in October, I travelled about an hour South for a job interview at the Institute for Tropical Medicine (part of the University) in Tübingen. Three days later I started my new job!
The past month has been an exciting and exhausting whirlwind of learning a new job, contracts, registering in town, finding an apartment, moving from Ludwigsburg, arranging compulsory health insurance, setting up power and internet accounts and in general just settling in. After a couple of quiet weekends we finally feel as though we’ve surfaced, and have the energy to tell you a bit about our new home town.
Tübingen has a long and proud history of being a University town. The Karl Erberhards University of Tübingen was founded in 1477, although Tübingen itself has been around since 1078. Yes that’s right, they had an established educational institute before anyone even knew New Zealand existed. Tübingen has been referred to as “Athens on the Neckar”; a reference to the cultural identity brought to the town by its educated inhabitants, reputation for critical thinking and creative flair, and no doubt the beauty of its architecture.
The University really is the hub of the town, with multiple campuses and associated hospital clinics spread throughout, and students providing a vibrant,
bustling atmosphere. The town charms its visitors the minute they arrive with its picturesque bridge over the Neckar, on which Stockerkahn boats cruise in the summer, watched by students eating their lunch on the old stone walls built upon its embankments and of course the coloured houses in the background completing a scene worthy of an oil painting.
Although the population of Tübingen is small (about 90,000), its heart is anything but. On any given day cyclists will be whizzing around on dedicated cycle paths, buses will be rumbling down narrow streets and families will be strolling through the pedestrian only centre of town. Numerous sidewalk cafes are enjoyed by young and old alike, and there are plenty of vegan, artsy and kitschy locales to satisfy the student population. At lunchtime the most popular place to enjoy a meal or an icecream is the steps of the church in the wide open Marktplatz – the perfect position from where to watch the world go by. On weekends, the parks and nature areas are always being enjoyed by couples and families out for a stroll.
We have got into the spirit of things,using our bikes just like the locals do, to get everywhere. We’re now used to not wearing helmets, and I can zip from home to work in high heels in under 10 minutes! We load up our carriers with groceries once a week and ride our bikes to the gym, out to dinner, to bars and just because.
Aside from bikes, the river and the university, Tübingen has a beautiful old town and a castle. In the old town are cobblestoned streets and buildings dating back to the 1400’s. Poised atop a hill is the old castle, which is now a museum and in the grounds of which the local archery club still practices. Surrounding the town itself are forest areas, through which paths and trails connect the neighbouring villages. We’ve enjoyed a walk in the woods to Schwarzlocher hof, an old restaurant in the country which raises its own geese for its traditional dishes, and I’ve run through part of the woods just behind our suburb. There is even a large nature park with hiking and biking trails within 10 minutes drive which we’ve yet to explore.
Tübingen has most things on offer – plenty of cafes and traditional restaurants, some clothes shops, a disproportionate number of shoe shops, the major grocery store chains, a big electronics store and loads of little boutiques with specialty goods. If we need a more broad ranging shopping experience we can travel 19 minutes by train to nearby Reutlingen, or for the city experience it takes 45 minutes to get to Stuttgart. This is also where our nearest airport is, so we’re looking forward to snapping up some cheap flights to exotic destinations next year!
For now, our lives have settled into a routine of work for me, commuting to Stuttgart for daily language classes for James, searching for new eateries, hairdressers, entertainment and generally navigating life in Germany. The days are getting shorter, but the autumn has been beautiful; still and crisp air, clear skies and cool evenings. We’re looking forward to the first snowfall, the Christmas markets and the Chocolate Festival – the largest and most famous in Germany – which is held in Tübingen every December.