Harz Journey

Into the Woods
Into the Woods

The winter excursion came to an end with ECLA students dancing to the tune, “Neun und Neunzig Luftballons,” with local Germans in a small town restaurant. The excursion was full of merriment and joy, partly because the students had gotten to know each other so well and partly because of the scenic beauty of the area.

The excursion took place right after fifth week of the term. Although most of the students decided not to join and the bus was half empty, the trip became one of the most memorable in the lives of many. The excursion took place in the Harz Mountains near a town called Braunlage. Many had planned to ski and sled but the weather did not allow for these activities. The excursion was small, simple and yet very much needed and rightly timed in the term.

The first evening Zoltan convinced one student out of twenty, to join him for a walk in the woods. The rest of us planned to go ice-skating. For someone who had never ice-skated ever before in her whole life, it was like learning to walk on the moon. Those who already knew how to skate danced to the beat of Black Eyed Peas and helped people like me to at least reach the center of the rink by the time everyone decided to leave.

But if there was one thing which ice- skating taught me it was to balance myself. I didn’t learn much about skates in general — they still would haunt me, I guess, in times of falling down and crisis — but I did learn that what would really matter is my ability to balance myself.

The ice-skating left us tired and hungry and we all headed back to our youth hostel at the top of a small hill. On our way, some of us ran into a very interesting German lady. It is very interesting how locals of small towns differ from people of bigger cities. The lady smelled us right away as tourists and started giving us some useful information about the city.

After a while, we were all looking at each other, wishing and hoping that our German language skills would magically re-appear and we would understand each and every thing. But that lady didn’t stop. Rather, there came a point when she told us about a place, verbally motioning, where we can find men and women with very delightful physical appearances. Her description was so explicit that we labeled her as the crazy lady of the town.

By the time we got back, we heard some people talking about a “naked peoples’ festival” which was to take place the next day. On further inquiry, it was discovered that every year in this town there takes place a “naked sledging competition.” And so the next day was pretty much planned, a long walk in the woods for those who wanted to go and then off to see naked people.

What happened during the festival can be summed up in two words, boring and overrated. Not only were the people sledging only topless — which meant that the women stood out as being slightly more naked than the men — but also the view was blocked by people. The competition was an excuse for many to party outside during the afternoon.

One of the most interesting and everlasting experiences was the long walk in the woods. The woods were all covered with snow. The trees were sliver and shone brightly in the clear sky. Only seven of us including Zoltan decided to go for the walk, as the Harz trek was to last for almost about five hours. The biggest moment of the walk was the climbing of the Achtermann Mountain.

Difficult and tiring as that whole walk was, the way back in the cable car made things oh so memorable. As evening fell, it was hard to tell whether my legs carried my body or my body carried my legs, but an amazing feast at the restaurant did not stop me from dancing the night away.

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