Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why not Weinachts? Part 2: Trips!

As mentioned in the previous post, we went on 3 lovely day-trips over the Christmas holiday. The first of these was Lüneburg. It's a scenic little town on the Ilmenau River. There are a ton of Medieval buildings still around, and it has a really charming atmosphere.

We found an amazing little hand-made candy store that had the BEST vanilla rhubarb hard-candy EVER. We of course spent too much... And of course we had the same problem at the specialty chocolate shop that we found as well... but, whatever, it was Christmas time. :)  There was also another Christmas market - every township seems to have their own. Though, none were as cool as the Hamburg Rathaus Weihnachtsmarkt.

Next, we visited Lübeck - a place reknowned for it's delectable marzipan. And delectable it was. Again, we spend WAY too much, but - we had 100% pure awesome Marzipan for like 2 months, plus some to send home to our favorite peeps (friends and family - if you're reading this blog post and you didn't receive any marzipan from us, don't worry - it probably got lost in the mail... ahem... yeah... we still love you).

The town itself was super crazy cool. The whole town is a world heritage site, and for good reason. The churches, the town hall, the houses, and most of all the amazing medieval gatehouses, were truly awesome. Lubecker Tor was so cool that I wasn't even offended to find out how many of my ancient Danish invader ancestors it repelled. And of course, there was another Christmas market (more hot chocolate was in order).

Our final Christmas break day-trip was to Schwerin, where we hoped to see a super cool castle. And that's exactly what we saw - there was another big church that was pretty cool, though it turns out that the Schwerin palace is really the only super unique thing in the area. But that's okay - the palace was awesome, as evidenced by the pictures. We did however find some more delicious specialty hot chocolate. I think it's become a tradition for us. And it's worth every penny. Every time.

Anyway - traveling in Germany is really cool. Within an hour train ride, you can see all sorts of amazing little medieval treasures.  Stay tuned - more to come next time!!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why not Weinachts? Part 1: Holidays in Hamburg

Before I begin, let me explain - Weinachts is pronounced "Vy-knock-ts".  See what I did there? Eh? Eh...?

Anyway - we had our first Christmas in Germany this year. We had always been told that Christmas in Germany is super cool... and the faceless mass feeding us such hearsay was right!  Christmas in Germany is cute, fun, delicious, festive, and traditional. And cold - which isn't always good, but... whatever.

Speaking of traditional - this was the first year we've had a REAL tree, and REAL chestnuts (roasted, and over an open fire - if you consider our kitchen oven open and/or firey).  It was like a Christmas fairy tale.

Let me say - Christmas Markets are cool. Definition: an awesome open-air shopping bonanza that always includes amazing food (potato pasta-ball covered in vanilla sauce - below), superior hot chocolate, and hand-crafted Christmas decor - not to mention a ton of alcohol (mostly in the form of gluwein - but we wouldn't know much about that). 

Even outside of the "Weihnachtsmarkts", Hamburg is decorated all over with lights, Christmas trees, and pine boughs. It's very cool.



And look - it even snowed! Once... 

We ended up spending Christmas eve with our good friends the Fischers. They treated us to some lovely dinner, gifts and family time with the kids (formal dress no less), and a heaping smorgasbord of chocolate and cookies. It was awesome. 

One of the greatest things about working in Germany is that people get a lot of time off from work. I get more than double the vacation days I got in the U.S.  As a result, I had over 2 weeks off for Christmas vacation! It was awesome. We decided to use some of those days to take 3 day-trips to some amazing towns near Hamburg: Lüneburg, Lübeck, and Schwerin (pictures and details in following posts). :)


The last account I will make here is regarding New Years. We spend New Years Eve with some other friends of ours, the Gerulats. They threw a party which involved lots of card games, junk food, Bionade (amazing soda), traditional "Berliners" (jelly / cream-filled doughnuts that are eaten for New Years), and of course fireworks.  Now, when I say "fireworks", don't imagine that it's anything like the U.S.  It's less like the 4th of July, and more like a war zone. They love gigantic firecrackers here - the kind that sound like a grenade going off next to your face. Also, airborne fireworks are both allowed and encouraged, but more than that - they're cheap.  And boy oh boy - when midnight hits... let's just say I now have a clearer vision of what Armageddon might look like and I must say - it's AWESOME.  It was super crazy fun. I should also mention, there was a pretty serious Sing Star duel that went down between me and Helmut Winterstein. There may have been Journey involved. Never mind that.

Anyway - that's that. Christmas was awesome. And to all a good night. :)