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. :)