Winter is officially here in Germany!

Krämerbrücke in Erfurt after the snow storm Photo taken by Jason D. Smith

This morning was supposed to be an ordinary morning for yours truly as he was heading to work at the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt. A quick ride on my bicycle “Galloping Gertie” and a half hour drive until I reach my workplace in time to teach the first of three groups of students. However little did  I realize is that the half-hour trip became an hour trip as “Gertie” plowed her way through drifts upon drifts of snow, and the driver had to make sure he was not slipping and sliding around on his way to work. Adding insult to injury was the fact that additional snow was falling right in my face. In the end, instead of looking like one of the Norwegian Nordics making their way through the forests in the north on skis, I ended up looking like Frosty the Snowman. Needless to say winter is officially here in Germany, and despite getting only a fluff of snow to satisfy the giddiest of visitors at the Erfurt Christmas Market last Wednesday, this snowfall was a small gift from the folks in the Midwest of the US, who got nailed with over a foot of snow in many places including Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota, just to name a few, a few days earlier. Many who left Thuringia and other places in central Germany, including Franconia, Vogtland, and other places to the east for a day, came back with an awfully big surprise this afternoon, as the snowstorm crippled traffic in every aspect, including those in the cities, like Erfurt, Jena, Leipzig, and Magdeburg, just to name a few. People driving on the German Autobahn had to figure in delays due to accidents and icy conditions. Trains were late due to rail lines being snowed under. And people like yours truly, who bike to work on a regular basis, had to treat their bikes like 4-wheel drive pick-up trucks, plowing through the snow and keeping on the trails because it was icy in many places. Areas that were spared snow, like in places in the north, including of course, the City of Solitude-Flensburg- are surely going to receive a dose over the course of a couple days, with waves battering the shores of cities along the Baltic Sea, including Kiel, Lübeck, and Rostock. In the end, when the storm ends and the cold weather kicks in, with temperatures dipping as far below the freezing mark as possible, it will make the Christmas Markets throughout all of Germany look even more Christmassy, with spiced wine (Glühwein) and other hot drinks selling like hot cakes. Furthermore, it will beautify the landscape in ways that people will take advantage of it through a bunch of pics with their cameras. This is especially the case with old Medieval bridges, like the Krämerbrücke in Erfurt, the only bridge of its kind left in Europe. And finally, it will present commuters with an adventure on the roads as they will be dealing with patches of ice as long as the ice skating rink. Let us just hope that there will be enough salt to go around, unlike last winter when cars slid around on the streets in ways that would amuse the ice-skating greats, such as Kati Witt.

As for “Galloping Gertie”, the bike which I’ve had since May of this year, has passed the first endurance test of the season, with more yet to come. After all, the bike is made in Germany by Diamant,  but regardless of the make, I’m thankful that she can get it done for me when I need it the most; especially in the winter time.

Snow cover on the expressway in Erfurt- Photo taken by Jason D. Smith
Snowfall adds to the already snow-covered bike trail.

Useful links (both in German):

http://www.shz.de/nachrichten/top-thema/article/111/sturmflutwarnung-fuer-die-ostsee.html

http://www.otz.de/startseite/detail/-/specific/Schnee-sorgt-fuer-Behinderungen-300590483