Deutschland and beyond

Living in Germany

Pre-Christmas (by Mom)

This is the last of the family updates, and it’s out of order. Sorry. Chronologically, this one should come first but then the rest all fall into place. It’s been nice and easy having ‘guest bloggers’; now I’ll have to go back to actually writing and updating. Anyway, here’s mom’s take on our few days before Christmas:

Whew!  I wasn’t quite sure if we were going to make it to Germany for Christmas this year.  But on the day we flew out, they had just re-opened the Frankfurt airport, so I knew all was well.

Maura and I had an uneventful flight after that.  We caught our connection in Amsterdam, although I wish our layover had been longer- I would have loved to have done some shopping at that airport.   We landed in Frankfurt, connected with Tim and Cala, but  looked frantically for our luggage for 2 hours. Fortunately, those scanning baggage claim tickets saved us and Maura would be able to see Germany (she packed her daily contacts in her checked suitcase)  Off to the train to Wurzburg to see Colleen!!

We found our way to the hotel, settled in and Colleen came over after her lacrosse practice.  We headed off to a quaint pub/restaurant for dinner, where I took her suggestion and had currywurst, and the rest dined on schnitzel (veal,) and pasta and toasted  the holidays with their great beers. Off to slumber early as it was a long day.

Wednesday we had planned to attend an authentic Christkindl (Weihnachts) market and we definitely weren’t disappointed.  The weather was perfect, cold and a little snow to add to the atmosphere, just like Chicago. We walked around the market, enjoyed some Gluhwein, Cala found a place for chocolate crepes, and did some souvenouir shopping for friends back home. Colleen’s friend Jessie was arriving that day, so she went to meet her at the train station while we continued shopping. Our plan was to meet at 3:00pm at the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Würzburg’s Residenz.

 

This is one of the most important Castles in Europe (so they say about all of them, don’t they?). Built in 1720-1744 based on the design by Balthasar Neuman  with help from L.von Hildebrandt and M.von Welsh of Mainz. Not destroyed in 1945 were the magnificent staircase with its self-supporting vault and the brilliant ceiling painting by the Venetian artist G.B Tiepolo. Also known for its ornate stucco ornamentation by A. Bossi. This is also the site where they were filming the 3 Musketeers with Orlando Bloom, Colleen does claim a sighting of him during the production (not claim, it really happened. And I ran into him and his wife Miranda Kerr at our outdoor market. My only celeb sighting but pretty awesome).

On our way back to the hotel, we opted to stop for coffee/hot chocolate at a cute little place. We warmed up, then headed back out into the cold, back to our hotel.  We asked at the desk for dinner recommendations and they suggested a great Italian restaurant within walking distance.( No wonder the people are thin, they do walk a lot, but their one bad vice is smoking!) Everyone was able to find something on the menu that tempted their tastebuds, as well as dad,  though he wouldn’t quite splurge for a 50 Euro bottle of red wine, which led us to out last stop for the evening, a very nice Rathskellar. We did indulge in a very nice red (can’t quite remember the name) but the bottle was intriguing (note from Colleen: I’ll look for a picture but all of the wine bottles here in Franken are shaped differently than normal ones- see here if you’re really curious).  The shape reminded me of a fatter Hershey syrup container, short and fuller in the middle, but the wine was delicious, the conversation was constant and the company was priceless!  Back to the hotel to get ready for Christmas.

(for real continuity, you can refer back to Cala’s blog from here, if you’re desparate). I’ll add in pictures when I can; unfortunately the wi-fi on my laptop isn’t working but once I move (Feb 1st!) it’ll all get settled. Some brief updates other than the move:

– currently working on my mid-term report for Fulbright. It’s due by the end of the month (whoops)

– successfully applied to grad schools and am waiting to hear back

– teaching is going well. We dont start our new semester until the end of February so I’m on the same schedule until then.

– We’re working on getting a few scrimmages/practice games scheduled for lacrosse which would be awesome

– I have no idea where I can watch the NFC championship tonight (it doesn’t start until 9pm here.. uh oh). But  GO BEARS!

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January 23, 2011 Posted by | Germany | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holidays in Hamburg

I swear the closer we get to Christmas, the more slowly time moves. I can’t believe I was in Hamburg only last weekend! After school on Thursday, I booked it to the train station as quickly as possible to make sure I made it up to Hamburg in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Brendan, an American Fulbrighter from BC, graciously offered to play host to me for the weekend, ensuring I wouldn’t be spending such an important American holiday alone. I made it up with plenty of time to spare, and joined the group of four American Fulbrighters in Hamburg and one American Fulbrighter visiting from Berlin. Our group grew to a size of 8, including a French Fulbrighter as well as a German who wandered into the kitchen claiming that ‘it smelled good and he was just curious to see what was going on’. (of course you can’t turn anyone away at Thanksgiving…)

Fulbrighters and our Thanksgiving meal!

What may be most impressive is the fact that the group of boys cooked the entire meal! We had a turkey that I think was about 4kg (so 9lbs), mashed potatoes, carrots in brown sugar, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and to top it all off, a pumpkin cheesecake complete with a walnut maple glaze. This whole time, mind you, we two girls sat at the table, chatted and drank wine- a welcome change of pace! The meal turned out really well; everything tasted wonderful. We even all ended up going around the table and saying what we were thankful for- it started off as half-joking but we all had a lot to appreciate- that much was clear by the end.

Oh I should also mention that Germany has perfect timing in welcoming the winter season. Thanksgiving day was the first day it snowed over here, and it’s snowed at least every 2 days since. Granted, we don’t have a huge accumulation of snow but it definitely helps get you in the Christmas spirit. That being said, the next day Brendan and I went out and enjoyed Hamburg in the snow. Hamburg is different from any German city I’ve visited for a number of reasons:

It’s actually the second largest city in Germany with about 2 million people. (Berlin is first with I think 3 mil and Munich comes in 3rd with a little over 1 mil). Hamburg is a huge shipping port and there was no shortage of boats/barges/cruise ships out on the water. Due to its proximity to a major body of water, seafood is abundant. That translated to fish sandwiches for breakfast, something I wasn’t totally on board with at first but ended up being pretty good (I still prefer the southern German breakfast of bread and butter/jam/nutella/cheese/meat). So we walked around the harbor for a while and then took a ferry ride so I could see a little bit more of the city. Stopped in St. Michael’s Church (because every good self-respecting German city has at least one must-see church), walked through town some more before finally ending up at the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market).

at the Weihnachtsmarkt

Almost every German city has a Weihnachtsmarkt, with the one in Nuremburg being the largest and most famous. They tend to open the weekend before the first Sunday of advent and stay open until the 23rd or Christmas Eve.

The stalls at the Weihnachtsmarkt sell anything from socks to cooking utensils to the more traditional ornaments and candles. We spent a good amount of time just walking around, taking everything in before warming up with some Glühwein. There really is no American equivalent for Glühwein, though the Brits call it “mulled wine”. It’s basically warm wine with spices. This was the first Weihnachtsmarkt where I saw white wine Glühwein (though it turns out they also have it here in Würzburg). You have to pay a 2.50 Euro deposit for your mug, but that’s because each city, or sometimes even stall, has unique mugs which they use to serve the Glühwein in. (obviously I thought 2.50 was a good price for the mug and took mine with me).

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the same manner (Glühwein, walking around Hamburg, back to the Weihnachtsmarkt) before going out that night with other American, French, and Spanish Fulbrighters. That was one thing I was really jealous about, that there’s such a contingent of Fulbrighters/international students in Hamburg. Then again, it is a much larger city, but still.

Hamburg town hall and Weihnachtsmarkt

This week back in Würzburg was actually pretty busy too. It snowed here as well, we had our usual lacrosse practices three times this week (two of which are outside. yes in the snow and negative-celsius-degree weather), our Weihnachtsmarkt is open, I signed my subletter-lease for my apartment AND successfully celebrated my 23rd birthday! A group of girls from the lacrosse team joined me in celebrating which included Glühwein, beer, champagne at midnight on the bridge over the Main river, and dancing away until the late hours of the night/early hours of the morning. Very successful overall.

December 5, 2010 Posted by | Germany | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment