Thursday, 31 July 2014

Stadt in Überblick: Kassel

After almost 2 years of living in this town, today I must bid it adieu. Well, I'm actually all moved out by now. It has been real but it's time for new adventures. Kassel was the in-between of Karlsruhe and Halle. It's not as run-down as Halle and has the classical charm of Karlsruhe. Living cost-wise, it's also somewhere in the middle, which was why I decided to dwell here in the first place. I can't say it's always been filled with happy memories but that's mostly because I have a habit of looking at the grass on the other side. But it's been real and you've been rather good to me. And I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I was glad I came here.

My favourite local store ever! Sadly, uhh, way too pricey for me...
The best part about Kassel is its geographical aspect: it is located right in the middle of the country! It takes about the same time from here to reach each corner of Germany. It definitely doesn't qualify to be a big city but it is very rich in culture. There are many people from all over the world coming to visit or eventually call this place home. One of the reasons they come to visit is the documenta exhibition - one of the biggest art exhibitions in the whole world - which is held every 5 years. Two years ago the town was packed with hundreds of tourists from all over the world to visit the exhibition. It was pure madness! Another reason why people might want to visit Kassel would be the Brothers Grimm Museum. Although Kassel wasn't their place of birth, they once lived in Kassel for a very long time. In fact, Kassel's long-distance trams each have a name based on their fairy tale characters, with a little passage from the story pasted on the window. Their annual christmas market is also lined with the Brothers Grimm theme.

The best looking building in the modern world ♥
Due to the huge damage from the second World War, most of the town was destroyed. There are only very few old buildings left in Kassel, which are pretty much restricted to the Vorderer Westen. And this is my favourite part of town! The streets are lined with old buildings, local stores and various cafés as well as florists. One of the stores being Wild Wood. Not just that, Kassel is adorned with secondhand stores, which have such immaculate selections. Also, the uni students hold a clothing flea market twice a year. It has been such a blessing shopping in this town. Another fact that I love about this town is how it's so close to nature. You can practically walk a few metres and constantly find greeneries around you. Such a pleasant place to take pictures. And the uni is incredibly welcoming to foreigners. They hold amazing events, such as international orientation and international dinner. Really, a good way to make loads of friends...and try out other country's food. Speaking of which, here are my favourite hangout spots in town:

Location: tram stop Mittelring, you'll see it on the way down

Despite the number of Asian grocery store spread all around Kassel, this one is my favourite. It's the most complete one, the environment is well-tended and the service is always adorned with smiles. They have everything, starting from instant seasonings and frozen goods to asian plants and cooking utensils. This is by far the most well-stocked grocery store that I've ever been accustomed to. What's more, they also take deliveries from their website! I don't really know how much it costs but I think it will take up to no time to get your order delivered to your home, if the items are in stock. All kinds of people also work there, not just Asians like in most cases. Granted, various kinds of people also shop there - again, not just Asians - so they might have seen the "Help Wanted" sign.

Location: right by the Ständeplatz tram stop

One of the hardest things to find in small towns in Germany is cute cafés, especially one that serves crêpes and the like. Crêpes are normally for sale in stands in festivals or in an almost beaten down place by the street. Really unglamorous. Which is why I was over the moon when I found this place. The crêpes are incredibly tasty, the prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is rather nice. And they deliver! Not that I've ever used their delivery service. They also sell macarons, muffins and other delicacies which will make your mouth water. In case you're curious what the insides look like, I've written about it here.

Location: demolished (formerly in the Kürfursten Galerie, behind City Point)

Ever since I moved to Germany, hunting for the cheapest and highest quality buffets has become a habit of mine. This one was informed to me by my friend Rezy, who once lived here too. This is definitely the cheapest and most delish buffet I've ever stumbled upon! For 4,99€ you can eat a meal of salad and main course. You can get seconds all you want. And they serve rice! If you're Asian living in Germany, you'll tell me that this is a rarity in non-Asian places. Drinks are not included within the buffet, obviously, but it was still a bargain. The buffet was open from noon until late at night - which is probably why they went out of business. But, seriously, I wish I could eat there just one last time. I've also written about this place before.

Location: tram stop Bebelplatz then go uphill to an intersection

During my portfolio-making time - and actually once before, I went back and forth here to get everything printed. I love the quality of their papers and colours! They also helped me print my first ever book. They accept various kinds of printing, up to DIN A0 paper. I would totally recommend this place to get your stuff printed, if you're a designer. The quality is just unmistakable! The process is also rather quick since you can just send your data online and they will tell you when you can pick it up. They don't only do printing, they also sell cute and witty stationery next door. I always stop by to check out their adorable collection. They never fail to make me swoon.

Location: go downhill from the main train station, it's on the left side

This one is located so close to home that I often came out here just to have a meal. It doesn't matter whether or not someone is willing to come out with me because their food is just so good. My friend Rezy liked this place so much that every time he came to town, we had to eat there. And he came almost every week! The atmosphere is rather nice. I mean, it's nothing fancy but it's clean and quaint. With or without company, I always really enjoy eating here. They also have the vegan choice, although not quite written on the menu card. But you can trade your normal tzatziki sauce with hummus. They used to serve free glasses of tea too but somewhere along the way they stopped. Still would recommend to everyone who hasn't tried it, though.

Unlike Karlsruhe and Halle, where I ended up there without a choice, Kassel was purely my choice from the beginning. I can't say it was the best choice of my life but I sure don't regret it. I met many people and learnt a lot here. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that this town describes me. It certainly has a mix of aesthetics spread all over, some of which are to my liking and some others I couldn't care less for. But it has been very real. The last 2 years made me do things I'd never done before and stumble upon troubles I never thought I would ever have to witness. Though premature, I've always known this farewell was daunting. I was always sitting at the edge of my seat in this town, ready to flee. It's not your fault, Kassel, that you contain none of my loved ones, making our relationship almost unbearable. May we be better friends in the future. For now, I bid ye adieu!

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