Saturday, 7 September 2013

Stadt in Überblick: Karlsruhe

There are places in this world, no matter how much time has passed and no matter the absence of the tie between you and that place, it will remain a home to you forever. Or maybe I'm just being overly sensitive. For kids with migration backgrounds, home probably varies or has no actual place at all. But I was never a kid with such a background, so I get emotionally attached to things and places. The place I got attached to the most, despite the fact that not many of my loved ones live there anymore, is Karlsruhe. Our first destination. Our home. Way back when.

These are, by far, the comfiest trams in Germany
Geographically, Karlsruhe is located in the middle of Baden-Württemberg in Germany. It somewhat borders not too far from Straßbourg, France. By chance - and probably fate - did I end up in this town. It is rather small and simple with a comfortable transport system - that is, until they started the whole construction to make subway railways in town. In my memory, this town is always sunny and warm, always filled with joy and laughter. My summer town. It was also featured in They Draw and Travel, where I learnt that it's also known as the fan city due to the way "the streets go out like rays through the houses and the huge forest." I am very much smitten with its classic architecture, spread all across town, especially around Durlach, its old town - where Firu and I used to reside. Durlach felt like a whole town all by itself. It was always so beautiful and I always enjoy taking a relaxed stroll around that part of town. To me, this was forever the town where inside jokes were made, obstacles were overcome and laughter was shared. Oh, me and my sentimentality.

Student-friendly copyshop: every town needs one
Mountain railway in Durlach (near where I used to live)
Though I'd only lived here for 8 months - less than my time in Halle - I came to love the town in a heartbeat and knew more of Karlsruhe than of Halle. For instance, Karlsruhe was apparently the birthplace of Carl Benz. Yes, it's that gentleman who manufactured the Mercedes-Benz cars. Every year, on Karlsruhe's anniversary cars of his creation from every period are paraded down the Adenauering - the street  circling the Schlosspark. I actually once saw a steam-engine car still running on the street. I wanted to hop on it pronto! This town also houses one of the most prestigious technical university in Germany (KIT), at one time or another. Aside from the usual tourist landmarks you definitely should visit (i.e. the Karlsruhe Castle, Kunsthalle, Orangerie, the Botanical Garden and Städtische Galerie), here are some of my favourite places in town to be. I used to hang out here with Firu, Iva, Wilson and Edwin or just stumbled upon these places by myself. 

Location: Ritterstraße (two junctions before Herrenstraße from Marktplatz)

This is one of Firu's favourite places in Karlsruhe. We used to go here all the time - even when we didn't purchase a thing. It is divided into 4 floors - including a basement, whereas each floor houses different kinds of toys. Our favourite corner would have to be the board games and cards corner. I love how the interior structure of this place and how many types of dices they have (yes, I have a mild dice obsession, so sue me). Plus, the exterior is also very enticing. This has got to be the most complete toy store downtown. Of course, it's probably nothing in comparison to the Toys'R'Us on Starckstraße. I've never been there myself but Firu said it was rather big, despite its absence of Gundam plastic models.

Location: one junction over from Europaplatz (before Vapiano)

One of the most annoying thing about Germany is, so many places don't have actual names. Granted, places I can actually afford to eat are no franchise so there really doesn't seem to be the need to have a name. But still. There are several phô places in Karlsruhe but this one is Indonesian students' personal favourite - including myself. Not only is it cheap, it also provides delicious bubble tea! The people are also so friendly and the food so delish! Plus, the atmosphere feels like a noodle place somewhere back home. I never say no to mentally flying back home for a small price of delicious food.

Location: Europaplatz (take a turn towards the Bayer building)

When I lived in Karlsruhe, I haven't figured out the art of thrifting just yet - heck, I wasn't even into figuring out my personal style just yet. All that being said, being environmentally conscious and helping the less fortunate is always something I try to do. I'm sure, if you're living in Europe, you've heard of Oxfam already. They're a non-profit organisation, whose sole goal is to help reduce poverty. They set up store almost everywhere across the continent. They sell not only clothes, but also books, cutleries, chinas, CDs, vinyls, you name it. Every Wednesday, this store here holds an auction of the items they put on display. I also wanted to volunteer here once but seeing as I only lived there for another 2 months, they rejected my offer. They appreciated it, though, and had the situation been a little different, they'd love to have me.

Location: Europaplatz (take a turn towards the Bayer building, turn left at the intersection)

Is it any surprise to any of you that this one should land into my favourites? I happened upon this place by chance, of course, when I was roaming town on my own. It looks pretty small from the outside but it's actually a three-story art-supplies store, each floor houses different branches of art. The ground level is filled with jewellery materials such as sequins, pearls, etc. The first level houses all sorts of paints, starting from acrylic, water colour, oil even markers of all kinds for all materials. This was my favourite floor. The topmost level has all kinds of items for handmade crafts such as wood, various papers, etc. The customer service is top notch. I love the ladies who work there, they always engage me in the friendliest manner. Sometimes I go there just to look at the art materials. They bring me such simple bliss nothing else can.

There are actually plenty more places that I want to share with you guys but I haven't had the pictures and I'm not sure when I'll go back there. Maybe some other time? Though instagram hadn't been made available to me when I lived there, I took some old pictures to be put on there because I love the town and memories so much. Karlsruhe was a dear town to me for so long, even long after I moved out, long after Firu did. Now my feelings for Karlsruhe are less strong, though when I go there and am able to reminisce about all these things we used to do, I would be hit with a pang of nostalgia. I love how Karlsruhe has a mixture of antiquity and modern. It gives you as much modern facility as you need without taking the old-school aspects. I know it's futile but how I wish you will never change. Let me just tell you, these pictures don't do the town justice and I regret not taking as many pictures as I probably should. Until we meet again, my friend.

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