A few years ago, my younger sister was set to graduate from her baking program. Students were expected to get an unpaid position and gain a set number of hours in the workplace. Through connections with some friends, those workplace hours were spent in Germany. Both she and my mom were gone for three weeks.
Now, my mom spent several years of her youth living in Germany. She speaks the language fairly well and we do hold a few German customs at home around Christmas. When she returned, she told us that after being gone for so long, she forgot how much she missed Germany.
December was my parents’ 25th Anniversary. As part of the celebration, we spent two weeks touring the famous Christmas Markets. It was probably one of the best trips I have ever been on. The experience was so amazing, that I don’t think I can properly convey it in a single blog post.
Therefore, I won’t.
I’ll start off by telling you a few things I learned about Germany (which probably apply to other parts of Europe):
- Smoking isn’t nearly as stigmatized there. While no one smoked in restaurants, shops, or on public transport, smokers has a lot more freedom than I see in Canada. All their depictions of Santa still show him with a pipe, as opposed to a bottle of Coke.
- Neither is drinking. The Germans do love their beer.
- The food there is so good. The bread? Amazing. The meats and cheeses? Amazing. I actually liked the cheesecake there, and I hate cheesecake usually. I did not have one bad meal when I was there.
- Coffee is much stronger though. And there’s no free refills. Plus, when you ask for water, they give you bottled water.
- I learned to say a few things in German, but the phrase “Excuse me” was completely useless. It’s a bit jarring for me as a Canadian (stereotypes ahoy!). People just tended to weave their way through the crowds. The only time a “sorry” was used was when I turned at the same time as another girl and we smacked into each other by accident.
- The architecture is beautiful. Lit up by the Christmas Markets, even more so. There’s a blend of structures that are hundreds of years old alongside thoroughly modern ones.
- The churches deserve their own point because they are insane. Beautiful, elaborate, and absolutely insane.
- I wish we had their public transport system.
Our trip held a distinct pattern near the beginning. We would book a hotel in a city for a few days. The first day, we would explore the city and visit its Christmas Market. Over the next few days, we would wake early, go to the train station, and take day trips to surrounding towns. While we mostly toured Christmas Markets and shops, we did venture into several museums and go on a few tours. The only exception to this pattern was when we stayed in Rothenburg. It was nearing the end of our trip and we were content to just enjoy the town.
Prepare yourselves for the next few weeks, for there are tales and pictures ahead.
First on my recollection: The Arrival and Frankfurt.