When it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you’re wandering along an empty road five miles from your flat attempting to thumb a lift, you really begin to contemplate your life choices. The conclusion I came to? My lifestyle is mad, and I couldn’t be happier.
In the middle of exam season I was lucky enough to get an invitation from a friend in Regensburg. Within two days I had booked my tickets, jumping at the opportunity to escape the tedium of lectures and bad student food. Using Skyscanner, GoEuro and Rome2Rio I managed to organise a weekend in Bavaria with two weeks’ notice using only the money I would have spent on a couple of nights out at uni.
The downfall of my scheme was evident when, just a few days before take-off, I checked the time of my flight: 6 am. In my excitement at the time of booking I had not contemplated the thought of spending a night in the airport, which is just as fun as it sounds. But you can’t beat return flights for £24, even if some sacrifices have to be made, especially when your friend’s sanity is at stake.
By 9:20 am I had landed at Memmingen Airport, and two minutes later I was through security. It didn’t take me long to remember everything I loved about Germany when I was working there two years earlier. The greenery and natural beauty are quite astounding, but coming from the UK you really have to admire the efficiency of the German people. In Memmingen, I had two hours to kill, and luckily I arrived just in time for the Saturday food market. One of my favourite things about travelling is visiting the local markets and figuring out how I would shop if I lived there. Memmingen did not disappoint me. Set in a beautiful square overlooked by an impressive church tower, with sausages, beer and brown bread everywhere, the market completed every stereotype I had had of Germany as a child.
Another two hour bus journey later, passing and stopping briefly in Munich for forty-five minutes (though I will definitely return, perhaps for Oktoberfest…). I was finally in Regensburg, 24 hours after leaving Nottingham.
Regensburg is a beautiful city, divided down the centre by a wide river with many impressive buildings. It’s definitely somewhere I could imagine living when I eventually settle down. Another thing I noticed was an overwhelmingly young population. In general this means that the prices are lower, but more importantly that the city centre has one of the highest concentrations of bars and clubs in the whole of Germany. I had my chance to experience this later that night after spending a wonderful evening ice-skating at a disco at the Duomo Arena, something I would recommend for anyone visiting the area.
My top suggestions for Regensburg: the cathedral is spectacular, especially at night. Take a walk along the river and stop at one of the bars with a view, visit the holocaust memorial, go iceskating, and then end the weekend with a few too many in the Irish bar by the cathedral. For me the main objective was to make sure my friend was in a good place by the time I left, which I did by making sure we drank our body weight in alcohol, and getting her set up with a nice guy from Detroit on the sunday night.
My journey home was even more eventful than the way there. After three hours in a car with a Czech man I met on blablacar, who didn’t speak a word of English to match my complete incomprehension of German, my hopes weren’t too high for my Couchsurfing arrangement later that night. But I was pleasantly surprised. I stayed with a pair of Greek horse trainers who were kind enough to welcome me into their home at 1 am, and then still stay up talking to me for two hours and drive me to the airport the next morning. For such a short stay, that was probably the best experience I’ve ever had using Couchsurfing and I will definitely stay friends with the couple.
Back in London at 9 am, I had twelve hours to explore the city before my bus back home at 9:30pm. There is so much you can do in London for that long that I ended up exploring the city centre and spending 3 hours in a music shop before heading to Camden (my favourite place in London) for evening drinks.
The lessons I learnt this weekend are simple. Firstly, take every opportunity you are offered. Secondly, every friend you have is a connection to something bigger than you. Finally, everything happens for a reason, and most of the time it will work itself out.
This article was originally posted on The Wayfaring Student