In Berlin, Germany now... in the Berlin neighborhood of Steglitz, to be precise. Will start three weeks of German classes tomorrow morning. Got here about 10pm last night on the train from Cologne... Was a bit of a struggle in Cologne, with platform changes and broken escalators (ohh... my aching back!) but the train ride through Wuppertal and Hannover to the east of Germany was really nice.
I'm happy to say that my host family is quite nice. The Ladendorffs consist of Mechthild (the mom), who is a Religion teacher, is very talkative and well-traveled; Manfred (the dad) is rolly-polly and very sweet, with a ready smile and a jolly laugh. If I understood correctly, he owns a company which does human resource consulting for medical facilities, supplying nurses, doctors, admin people, etc.... They have a 17 year old daughter, Lisa, who just took off on a plane for a 6-month exchange in Cairns, Australia (so I won't be seeing her again) and a son, Sebastian (20) who is a painter/artist and lives at home. I take it he's moving to his own apartment at the end of the month, though.
They have a huge apartment in an older building in a nice part of the city called Steglitz (south west of the center). I'm the only student staying with them at the moment and my bedroom is very large with a 12-foot tall ceiling... two twin beds, tons of bookshelves and two desks, a standing closet, a 2-seater sofa and a rattan armchair surrounding a round, glass coffee table, as well as a large dining table with 4 chairs. The coolest part is, its one of the main rooms at the front of the building, so there's a large bay window right at the front with 9-foot tall windows. Lots of natural light comes in, so its very comfortable and somewhere I can eat, sleep, study, read and relax these next few weeks. Of course, I'm welcome to use their kitchen whenever I want and can sit and eat with them, if I like. (I didn't pay extra to have my meals with them, so will be cooking for myself).
Today, I walked around the area, which is very nice. Window shopped along the shopping street, walked through the neighborhood park, took photos, checked out the U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations (the subway and above ground trains, respectively) and found the bus stop I'll need to catch a bus from the get to school every day...
Its Sunday today, so all the stores are closed. Just a few bakeries or cafes open up for breakfast/lunch and, of course the cinemas and internet places are open the whole day. (That's where I am now, since the Ladendorffs don't have wireless internet). Will head back soon and eat the slice of quiche I bought today, and maybe have some Pfefferminz Tee before showering and then hitting the sack early. Must be up at 7am to get ready for my first day at school! =D