Solo Adventures: Downtown Kaiserslautern

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Solo Adventures logo

Solo Adventures: Downtown Kaiserslautern

by Tamala Malerk
Stripes Europe

I used to hate going places by myself. Moving to Germany added to those hesitations because upon arriving I didn’t know much German.  It also meant that I had no one to go places with as I left everyone I knew (besides my spouse) behind in the States.

With my near non-existent German speaking skills, I have learned techniques to navigate around alone. Google Maps lets me know what bus or train stop to get on and off of. The English language option on the ticket machines allows me to purchase and pay for my public transportation and parking garage tickets. Free language translation apps allow me to translate food menus and signs as well as let me figure out phrases to communicate with others.

Armed with these tools and my longing to get out of the house, the idea of solo adventures came to me. Every month, we will present a new way to get out and adventure Germany all alone. This month we are talking about venturing out to downtown Kaiserslautern (which everyone lovingly calls K-Town).

I live in a small village in Germany where we don’t get a lot of traffic congestion and some days I see more cows than cars, so driving in K-Town is very different than driving in my little village. Upon arriving in downtown K-Town, I was a tad overwhelmed by the narrow paths and seemingly quick turns. Yet, the more I drive down there, the more I get used to it.

I circled the area and found a parking garage near the mall (which actually has its own parking garage, but completely missed that one in my search). I drove into the very narrow road into the garage, I pulled up to the machine and pressed the button to receive my ticket. As I looked for a parking spot, I was happy to find that they had parking spots designated for women near the openings so they can quickly find their cars. Safely parked, I began my adventure in downtown K-Town.

Something that I was craving that I hadn’t had since being back in the States was boba tea, so, my first stop was Babe's Boba Tea, which opened in 2020 and was founded by an American who also had a craving for boba and didn’t want to have to drive long distances. They even have adorable bear-shaped souvenir cups that I personally use to store all of my German wine corks. If boba isn’t your thing, they have plenty of teas, coffees and add-ins that will delight any taste bud.

As I walked around drinking my delicious boba, I came upon a variety of cafes, restaurants, yoga studios and stores. As a self-proclaimed nerd, the multi-story bookstore Thalia and the manga store Manga Mafia piqued my interest. The person behind the counter at Manga Mafia spoke excellent English and I had a great time talking comics and manga with them and, yes, they had English manga onsite and available for purchase. Although I haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, Gerds Comicladen and Battle Bear Trading Cards & Games are on my list to check out for the comic, trading card and board game selections.

Loaded up with a stack of German-language manga that I bought because it will definitely give me an excuse to learn the language, I continued my adventure. I was very excited to see some familiar logos and names, such as Gamestop and H&M. The thing that excited me the most, as a former American teenager, was the unmistakable building that was the mall, K-in-Lautern.

Inside the mall, there are familiar places such as Starbucks and TJMaxx (here it is TKMaxx), but also an amazing variety of clothing, accessories and food stores that I spent a couple of hours perusing. One of the places that really caught my attention was Woody’s Real American Store. I was curious to see what Germans believed was the epicenter of  “real” American food culture: Turns out it is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Jelly Bellys, Pop Tarts and Miller Hi-Life.

As the sun started to set, I walked back to the parking garage and grabbed the parking ticket out of my bag. I walked up to the ticket machine and quickly found the “English language” button (usually a British flag), tapped the button, paid for my ticket with my Visa, walked back to my car, drove to the exit, inserted my paid ticket into the exit machine and drove home. After such a successful shopping day, my downtown K-Town adventure came to an end.

 

*Know before you go: Always carry euros. You never know when someplace may not accept cards or when the card machine will be down. If you pay for your parking garage tickets with euros, the machine does have the ability to provide you with change. If you are taking public transportation you can take the RE1 to K-Town from Baumholder, the RB67 from Ramstein or the ICE518/ICE 596 from Stuttgart. Google Maps or the DB Navigator app can help you navigate which stops to get on and off.

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