Lost In The Autobahns: Experiencing My First Snowfall In Germany

8th Jan 2012

Munich resembled the perfect blend of rustic, old-school charm with modernity

Photo of Lost In The Autobahns: Experiencing My First Snowfall In Germany by Akhilesh Gannavarapu
Day 1

It is difficult at times to savor the now, while registering the moment for another day -- the duality of existence. Moments that are magical, demanding your unwavering and absolute attention, whilst you try to caress its charm, hoping for one of your senses to hold its magnificence long enough, so that you can someday look back and still remember. Remember how it made you feel. Remember what you were doing and where you were exactly in that moment.

I still remember my first trip abroad -- solo or otherwise. I got the opportunity to go to Germany for a period of three months in January 2012. I had never been to a different country until then, and the magnanimity of the occasion, and its importance weren't lost on me. It was daunting; I arrived in Hamburg, caught the train to Altona, and couldn't find one person who spoke in English to know what I had to do next. It was a deer-caught-in-the-headlights moment for me. At the same time, I was excited: excited to go through the process. It almost felt like the rite of passage, and I wouldn't let anything boggle me down.

Photo of Heide, Germany by Akhilesh Gannavarapu

I had my own little room, and while it was difficult at first to understand the local culture, Germany, and especially the little countryside I was staying at, were breathtakingly beautiful. My morning walk everyday to the university where I was interning, and my walk back in the evening were extremely pleasant. Just 3-4 days after my arrival, I remember looking out the window at work, and watching the first snowflake hitting the ground, signalling the arrival of the snow -- my very first time seeing the phenomenon.

Day 13

Hamburg: The City That Never Sleeps

Two weeks after my arrival, I was encouraged to see a bit of Germany. I was made aware of carpooling, and I quickly scheduled my trip to Hamburg. It was a culture shock for me to say the least; whilst I started my first hour in Hamburg by eating samosas in a little shack offering Indian food, my stay at the Generator Hostel, and my walks to take in a bit of the city were memorable. I made a friend in the hostel, and we spent the night going to an Irish pub, visiting Reeperbahn to see the absolute wackiness of the place, and just have an amazing time. At least for a kid that was experiencing a different culture for the first time in his life, it was more than what I could've wanted.

Day 30

Berlinale: Where The Stars Shine Bright

My supervisor, on a cold Friday afternoon, visited me asking where I was going for the weekend. I was planning to stay in and watch some movies. However, he urged me to take a trip down to Berlin, as it was during the International Film Festival - Berlinale. I was never a fan of films, but I thought it would be better than spending two days inside my room, feeding on chocolates and other unhealthy food.

The experience left me with many memories and a painful evening, staying in freezing temperatures. I made a couple of friends while standing outside, where the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra were scheduled to arrive. To avoid frost bite, my friends and I took turns visiting a nearby hotel, where we could dip our feet in warm water.

Photo of Berlin, Germany by Akhilesh Gannavarapu

Did I manage to see the stars in the end? Yes; I also had a very brief conversation with Farhan Akhtar about his father, where he thanked us for waiting for them. I visited an authentic Italian restaurant, walked around the city for two days with little to no rest, and returned to Heide with a smile on my face.

Day 45

Carnival in Cologne

My next trip was to Frankfurt, for the Carnival in Cologne. I was exhausted from the trip itself; I had to go to Hamburg, then take a train to Frankfurt, which had me running around for about 8-9 hours. It was mesmerizing to see people in costumes, having an absolute blast. I only had one night to stay in Frankfurt, as I had to come back Sunday afternoon.

Day 60

Munich: The Last Hurrah

The last place I traveled to in Germany was Munich. It was the perfect blend of rustic charm with the contemporary modernity. It was another road trip for me; as we passed by the Allianz Arena, I was informed by one of my fellow passengers that Bayern Munich were playing a match at the time. While I would've loved to watch them, I was excited to go to Munich.

I arrived in the city late in the evening, and met a couple of Chinese travelers, who wanted to walk and explore the city together. We passed by numerous street performers, which made me think that I was living in the early 19th century.

Photo of Munich, Germany by Akhilesh Gannavarapu
Photo of Munich, Germany by Akhilesh Gannavarapu

I made many friends in Heide -- from my colleagues, to international students, to a local Doner shop, where I used to go every evening for dinner.

Germany was the place where I matured, as my mind opened up to different possibilities. I was told to come back to the country very soon, and while I still haven't returned to Germany, I fully intend to do so soon.