Is it summer yet?

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So, the Beast from the East may have left me with no feeling in my toes but I still managed to take a few road trips at the beginning of the month. We had a brief few days of sun, and then another bout of snow which shook me to my very core. The weather had me asking whether summer would ever come, and so far, the answer still seems to be a no.

I made a couple of attempts at sightseeing in sub-zero temperatures – something which I would not recommend even to my worst enemy. Here’s the tragic tale of a perpetually freezing British girl trying not to catch hypothermia on her year abroad:

Leuven

Studying in Leuven was a struggle. The hazardous journey to lectures was made twice as bad by the potential to slip on the snow. I usually have to contend with cyclists and roadworks on the journey – but an added five inches of snow really made academic life chaotic.

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With the snow and the gloomy skies, and almost no possibility of sun in sight, Leuven felt a little sad. Snow is all well and good for the first hour or so, and then things become impractical. You can’t wear your glasses for fear of them steaming up every time you breathe, not being able to feel your face becomes a common occurrence and leaving your accommodation for a drink with friends becomes a truly absurd suggestion. Thankfully the snow melted, leaving some freezing temperatures which were, in comparison, much more bearable than the beast from the east.

Frankfurt

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Yes, it looks pleasant. Maybe that sunset even looks warm, but it truly is an illusion. We had to pop into shops, museums and cafes every 30 minutes to ensure that my hands would not turn purple.

Regardless, the view from the tower was stunning, though a long wait without booking. The art gallery we went to made my brain hurt, in the best way and (very) luckily for me the exhibition was all in English as well as German.

Walking along the river was a life-threateningly cold experience, but definitely worth it. And the city’s skyscrapers almost reminded me of London.

It’s not a very tourist-y city, but if you get the chance there’s a surprising amount of things to do in Frankfurt.

Antwerp

I do not remember how many times I’ve been to Antwerp now but it’s still pretty entertaining. Also, it has a Wagamama– one of the only ones in Europe – so it’s always a priority to go there in my opinion.

Heidelberg

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I honestly have no words to describe how pretty it was. The river, the bridge, the view from the castle… all straight out of a fairytale. We were pretty cold and so it was difficult to stand outside for long, but we did manage the walk up to the old castle. In between all of the sightseeing however, we had to pop into a number of places to make sure our body temperatures did not drop below zero.

We tried to find a traditional German restaurant but it turns out we ended up with Austrian food. We later went into a German pub and I almost ordered some English cider but thought better of it. The number of international students and tourists probably outweighs the number of Germans in this traditional looking town. For such a typical German city, I felt like I managed to miss out on a lot of the culture, the food and the tradition completely by accident?

A lot of the restaurants and shops reminded me of everything stereotypically German, though I suspect that they are just putting on a show for us visitors. Regardless, it was nice to wander around and the cold seemed to have scared off all the other tourists – perfect for getting all the instagram photos. We really should have followed suit and stayed in but this beautiful city was calling, and with only a few days in Germany I was determined to make the most of it.

England

I’ve recently returned to England and mercifully, the weather has been mild. Hopefully this is the end of my struggle with the Beast from the East and my complaints about cold weather – until next time!

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