A Travellerspoint blog

12 Days 'til Christmas and counting

snow 20 °F

With a tummy full of baked, cinnamon apples and a view of a winter wonderland, I thought I'd celebrate the numerous festivals going on at this time of the year. The beginning of December is by no means the beginning of festivals in Germany. I wouldn't even know where to begin in naming them all. But I believe there are some bets going on that there is at least one festival every weekend of the year in this country. So far I have tasted new wine during the wine festival season, tried plantains and other foods from around the world at the Völkerverständnis Fest, "prosted" liters of beers with my father and friends at Oktoberfest, tasted fruit covered chocolate at Tübingen's chocolate fest and collected cheesy snowman-shaped mugs from Christmas markets. But these are only a few of the highlights. I always enjoy walking by a set-up crew on my way to work wondering what could be going on this weekend? Will I see dancing? Or maybe participate myself? The one sure thing is that wurst will be involved in some way shape or form.

I've been trying to let the city of Karlsruhe grow on me and feel more like home, but these past few weeks Tübingen keeps wooing me away to it's festivals. Anthony and I have become experts on the road between Karlsruhe and Tübingen, knowing when the heaviest traffic is and the best detours to avoid road construction. We often trade off fairly between the two towns, enjoying the view from the hilltop dorms and the various events or the quiet hideaway in Karlsruhe and evening dinners with roommates. But I couldn't resist the sound of a chocolate festival last weekend. International food festivals are difficult enough to miss--I even brought Tupperware to the last one in Chico--but chocolate of all kinds? 9DSC_0070.jpgThe old downtown was lined with sweet smelling stands and vibrant images projected onto the buildings. We were escorted into the town center by "torch light" and illuminated globes. DSC_0135.jpgDSC_0103.jpg It was an ethereal combination of tantalizing scents and psychedelic decor. There was hot chocolate infused with the most unimaginable flavors that would outdo the chemists at Jelly Belly, dried fruit dipped in chocolate, chocolate covered rose petals, chocolate shot glasses filled with "Wintertraum" schnapps, chocolate...well I could go on but I'm not Bubba and we don't have three days to swab military barracks together. Oddly enough, I walked away from the event empty handed with an equally empty cup. There were enticingly too many decisions and it felt like the right choice to not make one instead of wondering what the other 67 choices tasted like. Instead I will imagine each one as I look back on the festival.
And after a short but industrious week at "the office", I found myself back in Tuebingen for another tantalizing list of events. Each weekend Anthony and I try to enjoy some down time together but events seem to fill each gap we have. This weekend's agenda includes Shopping in Reutlingen after visiting a medieval Christmas market, but not forgetting the Feuerzangenbowle on Friday night http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feuerzangenbowle. On Saturday We had plans for a fancy tea party followed by a masquerade and would like to top the weekend off with the Tuebingen Christmas market on Sunday.
Well, we made it about halfway through, slept in every day and relaxed instead. After shopping all day on Friday we figured it wasn't much good trying to understand a German movie when we could barely speak in full sentences and it finally snowed on Saturday so it was grounds for a late cozy morning inside and a romp around in the afternoon before getting fancy for the masquerade. We did, however, make it to the Christmas market today but oh were our fingers and toes numb! 7DSC_0248.jpgDSC_0278.jpgUp until now we were perplexed by the strangely warm weather and rarities for wearing more than three layers, but we have made up for all of that in one evening of cold. It is now very clear that we can put off the purchase of winter shoes no longer! But the gluhwein and various stalls full of local crafts was well worth the cold!
So that's about all for tonight but stay tuned for the next German festival which is sure to be on the horizon.

Posted by globestrol 14:39 Archived in Germany Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Christmas is coming to Karlsruhe

watching the work that goes into each twinkling snowflake

rain 42 °F

Over the last few weeks as I've ridden my bike or walked down Erbprinzenstrasse on my way to work, I've woven around cords, construction trucks and wondered what on earth the city was going to do with this ugly industrial metal archway. I've watched them employ an entire crane team to hang mammoth-sized garlands with a shiny gold ball at the end off of the roof of the local mall. But each bit has helped to lift the dampened spirits of a holiday season away from family and filled with work. Last week was the longest ever, pulling in around 50 hours and by Thursday I just didn't want to be there any more. I sat at the table in the breakroom doing the self-prep talk, looking into my cup of coffee for answers, knowing I enjoy teaching. But the star on the top of the christmas tree came as I walked into my classroom and saw from the window a square full of people, twinkle lights and festive treats. It was just enough to bring back a smile through a lesson of "I'd like to make a reservation please".

Posted by globestrol 10:33 Archived in Germany Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Germany: Season II


overcast 39 °F

The t-shirts and sandals are long since packed away and the trees are changing, dropping their leaves upon the soggy ground. Colors of yellow and orange stick to the bottom of my boots, slipping and sliding as i walk to work. On this journey I must always be careful as well not to get my heels stuck in the cobblestone or metal grates.

Monday morning around 7:15am, I'm off to another company. I think I will hit four towns this week. It has been a bittersweet experience traveling more often to companies in the past month. It is a great way to see the area around Karlsruhe, but it also makes for quite a long week. On Monday evenings when I return around 10pm, I generally give into to the defrost a dish culture and pop something quickly in the oven before sliding into bed, my work clothes half on, one slipper on, another on the other side of the room. Hmm... what to watch tonight? A movie? Or maybe I'll try to be a bit more bookish and finally Finish Tolkien's third installment of LOTR. It was so riveting until the shire was saved, but I still have 130 pages to go and I'm not sure what is really left to wrap-up in the epic journey. Or there is always Die welt ist nicht immer Freitag, a book of short stories that discusses life situations I cannot even begin to explain but the corners of my mouth curl slightly upward when I understand a story after reading it for the third time. Or I can stare at at my candy-striped orange and white comforter until I fall asleep--soo many options. Tomorrow I will venture off to Remchingen (for a company class) maybe I should sleep. Tomorrow is lab coat day. Inevitably one or two will walk in with a rushed look and a lab coat still on. You can almost see the gears switching in their minds as they transition from to-do lists and deadlines auf Deutsch to "How was Greece" travel theme in English. Lights off, lights out and dreams of trip discussions flowing through my mind. Maybe I'll have my class take a trip to the moon tomorrow and see if they discover water sources as well...they should definitely wear their lab coats, it will seem more scientific that way.

Posted by globestrol 16:51 Archived in Germany Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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