Archive for December 2008
D and I did the Christmas market in Aachen last Saturday.
Christmas markets in Germany are a big deal, many of the big cities host multiple markets, this creates a Christmasy atmosphere for the entire month of December. It’s a huge tourist attractor, with people from all parts of Europe visiting. The Aachen Christmas market rates high, or so I’ve been told. It’s location makes it attractive – at the center of Aachen, between the town hall and the old cathedral, is wide open which makes it perfect – both big enough and cozy at the same time.
I had already made a quick visit on the market opening night back in November but I wanted to see it again, and I wanted to see it with D. We
made plans to meet up with our work friend Steffen and his wife Lina.
Coordinating with Steffen where to meet:
The holiday goods consist of: hand-made ornaments (as well as a hefty portion that probably
was made in the China), wood and metal sculptures, toys, nutcrackers, puzzles, hats and scarves, linens, candies, chocolate and printen…
Of course, the other big thing to do is eat & drink. It’s best to come hungry. That’s mostly what we did. After a once around the market, in which D bought a pair of wood carved dice and Steffen and Lina found a wood xylophone for their son, we stopped at a gluhwien booth and procured 4 extremely hot mugs of steaming spiced wine.
Gluhwein = German hot spiced wine
I think there is an official specification for gluhwein, and probably thousands of secret recipes for the stuff, but it’s generally it’s red, sweet, spicy and hot.
After the wine we decided we needed to eat. Steffen ordered battered and fried cauliflower, Lina got a baked potato with sour cream and D and I both ordered sauted mushrooms:
After our ‘healthy food’ we bee-lined to dessert. Lina ordered a crepe with cinnamon and sugar, Steffen, a waffle with cherries and whipped cream, and D and I had ‘apfelpfannkuchen’, apple pancakes:
We went to a bar for a drink after.
This post’s title was originally ‘Midweek’. But that didn’t happen.
We had the work Christmas dinner Tuesday night last week. Nice restaurant, okay buffet food. Beer flowed freely, but Germans in general, drink large quantities of beer, in general. Thus there was no resulting silliness or rowdiness to be found. Probably a good thing since it was a work function. It was a l-o-n-g dinner. And we got there late and they were still setting up the buffet area. Dinners like this are better when there is more mingling but the place was not really set up for that. D was exhausted from his work trip, poor guy, so it was even worse on him.
We have all holiday travel plans set as of last Wednesday. We popped into the Europcar in town, on the way to work. Renting a car for 1 day(24 hours), to get ourselves and our luggage to the Dusseldorf airport on time next Thursday, will run us 60 Euro. Plus maybe 15 Euro for gas. It’s not less expensive than the taxi/train, which is ~45 Euro, but it is much more convenient. Our flight on Thursday is later this year too, we don’t depart Düsseldorf until 11:30 a.m., last year we had to wake up at 4:00 in the way too early.
We are going to spend two days in St. Petersburg (FL) at my Grandmother’s. I hope the weather is nice, if so we might go to the beach Friday. I always have ideas of what we could do ‘in my stomping grounds’ but the reality of one free day means we should keep it simple. There is already a family get-together planned for Saturday, the 20th. Then we go to my mother’s, about 1.5 hrs north of Tampa, for the week before Christmas. My aunt and uncle are staying at my mother’s, and both my sisters too, so it’s going to be a full house.
On the Saturday after Christmas we fly to Quebec to see D’s parents and his family. I hope there is snow. I know it’s a pain, but it’s so beautiful, especially at Christmas. There is a family party planned by D’s mother at his father’s business in Beauce. Beauce, for those who aren’t familiar, is region of small farming towns about 1 hour south of Quebec city. Small towns in the true sense of the word, which strangely, makes it all the more intriguing.
It’s already Sunday. Where did the weekend go? It always happens like that – you are excited about something and then all of the sudden it sneaks up on you.
I should do some pre-packing planning today if I can get motivated. We’re going to be gone for 3 weeks and I need to limit myself to one large (not XL) suitcase. To be fair, I’ve gotten damn good at packing – D and I have been doing it semi-consistently for quite some time now. But I still get a little lazy when it comes to actual day-per-day planning. My packing pattern goes something like this:
“I’ll wear these pants, with that shirt BUT I’ll also bring X, Y, Z, and W just in case I change my mind…”
Of course, D would argue that I should have plenty of space since my pants and about 3/4 the size of his and you can get about 6 pairs of my underwear in the space of one pair of his… and he’s right. hah. But then there is the shoe thing, and last year I felt like I didn’t bring enough dress clothes.
We are actually planning to take three suitcases but one is going to serve as a Gift Repository, or GR. The GR this year is my medium-sized luggage and we’ll use it to bring some gifts we have bought here, mainly consumables and a few souvenirs, and then use it again to bring back whatever we receive. I was going to include a photo of the goodies but D just said “What?!?!” So the contents will remain a mystery for now.
written for about 3 days now.
I do believe anticipation is the best part of Christmas!
I’m thankful by dear boyfriend is home this week and giddy to be seeing our families over the next 3 weeks!
For now I have to get back to work. A longer post is promised for tonight or tomorrow.
Looked like fun on Olga’s blog, so I tried it too.
1. Put your iPod on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it sounds!
IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY?
problem girl (Rob Thomas)
WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
cocoon (Jack Johson)
WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
99 problems (Linkin Park/Jay-Z)
HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
big pumpin (Jay-Z) *I tend to like rap when I’m running at the gym
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
hold up (Chris Brown)
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
bug a boo (Destiny’s Child)
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
message home (David Usher)
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
hot dog (Limp Bizkit)
WHAT IS 2+2?
dec 4th (Jay-Z)
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
fortunate fool (Jack Johnson)
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
to know him is to love him (Amy Winehouse) *I swear I didn’t rig this one!
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
somewhere in between (Lifehouse)
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
bootylicious (Destiny’s Child)
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
dot (Destiny’s child)
WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
we’ll never know (Lifehouse)
WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
if you tolerate this (David Usher)
WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
holes to heaven (Jack Johnson)
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
merry christmas, merry christmas (Home Alone 2 soundtrack)
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
question existing (Rihanna)
WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
rodeo clowns (Jack Johnson) hahaha
HOW WILL YOU DIE?
sleep through the static (Jack Johnson)
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
regrets (Jay-Z) nice one!
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
everything is alright by me now (David Usher)
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
it’s all understood (Jack Johnson)
WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
take a look around (Limp Bizkit)
WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
christmas time is here (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
moment of clarity (Jay-Z)
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
damage (Chris Brown)
WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
tears dry on their own (Amy Winehouse)
WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Jules: Tonight is the St. Nicolas night
Jules: in Germany
Jules: you put out your boots and he gives you chocolate and what not
Verne: oh cool
Jules: he doesn’t come on Christmas
Verne: of course not!
Verne: that’s why we have gluhwein in boots, right?
Jules: yes, probably
Verne: he’s busy with North America on Christmas
Verne: I’m not sure when he does Asia or Africa….
Jules: A angel type figure
Jules: called the Christkind
Jules: comes on Christmas Eve to bring presents
Jules: Though I guess this is sort of in decline because of advertising from North America
Jules: “The Christkind is a sprite-like child, usually depicted with blond hair and angelic wings.”
Jules: “Children never see the Christkind, as parents will always tell them that the Christkind just disappeared before they came.”
Jules: “Since the 1990s, the Christkind is facing increasing competition from the Weihnachtsmann in the American version of Santa Claus, caused by the ad industry which used Santa Claus as an advertising figure.”
Jules: what I can’t figure out
Jules: is if christkind is male or female
Verne: only since the 90’s?
Jules: What’s interesting is that the christkind was introduced
Verne: I thought santa claus was popular before that
Jules: in the 19th century
Jules: to try to get rid of the kris kingle stuff
Jules: “In German lore, the Christkind, or Christmas Angel leaves presents under the tree on Christmas Eve.
The Christkind was originally introduced in the 16th century by religious reformer Martin Luther; until then, it was always Saint Nicholas who brought gifts on December 6th. But as Protestants can’t have saints, Luther needed a new Christmas tradition for his followers. Luther wanted to move the gift-giving away from the Catholic holiday on December 6th, so he reinvented the tradition for Protestants by moving it to Christmas Eve and making the Christkind – really, the baby Jesus – the person who brought the gifts. ”
Verne: “Kris Kringle may refer to:
* an American (mis-)pronunciation of Christkindl or Christ kindel, the German Christmas gift-bringer”
Jules: st. nicolas then
Jules: it’s all rather confusing
Verne: and pointless… as long as I get presents, baby
Jules: here the christkind is a chick http://www.cnn.com/2007/TRAVEL/getaways/12/21/christkind/index.html
Verne: but I don’t think it’s female
Verne: because ‘christkind’ means christ child
Jules: From that link: “How does a female Christkind fit in the Christmas story? Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther — the church reformer who hailed from these parts — wanted to shift the focus from St. Nicholas back to the Christ child. But as Germans had a hard time getting their mind around baby Jesus giving gifts, the Christmas gift-giver gradually morphed into a sweet girl who was still called the Christ child (or Christkind).”
Verne: yeah, that makes no sense
Jules: i know
Verne: In italy, he’s still a boy
Verne: no transexual jesus, thank you
Jules: no wonder Santa is pulling ahead
Jules: he’s not calling himself an old jesus that let himself go
Verne: thank god for coca cola…
Jules: maybe the WWF could work that angle
Jules: endangered polar bears give christmas presents
Verne: right before they eat your young!
Verne: it’s a fair trade
Jules: hah, maybe only the bad kids get eaten
Jules: that could be the official story …
One rule to remember about Christmas lights and decorations. There should be at least one Christmas icon adorned with lights and shiny. This does not mean your front yard will necessarily look good at night but it almost certainly assures it will look bad during the day. Look bad and be potentially dangerous.
Example one, the view out our front door:
It may be hard to see but the power cable starts on the opposite side of the courtyard, gets wrapped around a water? pipe, then over the door to a tree branch on the left, twisted a few times, and then loops down over to the Christmas tree.
Since we ride our bikes in this way, usually in the dark, I am thankful that at least the cables are attached to something that illuminates. Hah.
To be fair, I’ve included Example 2, mixed-holiday-decorations tactlessness currently existing in our apartment: