Friday, December 18, 2009

Busy Times

During the holiday season, we are all busy. I have not blogged recently because we have been overwhelmed with everything going on around here. Here is a list so you can catch up!
  • We got our Household Goods! Woo Hoo! I guess Santa thought we were awesome this year and wanted to grant us our only Christmas wish...our stuff!
  • Last night, we attended the St. Barbara's Day Ball in Nuremberg. One benefit to the Army...the many opportunities to dress up in evening gowns and dress blues! Pictures to follow at a later time.
  • Since we just got to Germany in November, we have decided to not go home to the states this Christmas. As opposed to sitting home, we are off to Italy for 13 days. We will be visiting Venice, Florence, and Rome! We can't wait!!!
  • Tim will be getting Lasik eye surgery in January. He is very excited!!
  • We have had very chilly weather along with some snow. Tim is use to the snow but I can't help but to get giddy when I look outside and watch the snowflakes fall.
Once we return from Italy, we will have plenty of pictures from our trip, from our home, and recent happenings.

It is a bit early but we want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. May the miracle of Christmas fill your heart with warmth and love.

Frohe Weihnachten!!! (Merry Christmas in German)

Enjoy the video...we elf'ed ourselves!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree...

Christmas is approaching and a Christmas tree is a necessity especially with Tim missing the past two Christmases. We headed to the PX parking lot where Boy Scouts were selling freshly cut trees. The pickings were slim but we figured since we probably will not even be here for Christmas, we just needed something for the Christmas spirit. We had to buy 220v lights along with ornaments and a tree skirt. Yet another reason I am wanting my household goods so badly.

We returned home and turned our "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" into our very FIRST Christmas tree together. It certainly isn't a Griswold tree..."Little Full, Lots of Sap" but it is ours!

The job of organizing the lights is never fun.

Tim looks quite "Grinch-Like" staring at this ornament.

I am smiling but really thinking that our tree would look better with white lights. Starting with Christmas 2011 (Tim will be gone for Christmas 2010), we decided we will have two Christmas trees and we will decorate our own. This way, we are both happy!

Oh Christmas Tree... how lovely are your branches (however you would look way better with white lights!).

One of our Christkindlesmarkt purchases...a pyramid!

Another purchase... a smoker. It smokes incense. This isn't Amsterdam people!

Nuremburg's Christkindlesmarkt

Can you believe it is already December? We have almost been in Germany for a month now. We have been busy learning the culture, getting moved in, and trying to do some nearby travel on the weekends. We are still lacking HHG (household goods) and would be surprised if we received them before we rung in the New Year.

Since Thanksgiving hit, Germany has gone into Christmas season full swing. Every town, big and little, decorates for Christmas. The streets are full of garland and lights and a massive tree is displayed usually in the town square. Each store decorates along with all the German homes. It is extremely festive here however we are wishing some snow would make an appearance soon.

As I said in the last post, our Thanksgiving was very low key. I now believe such a relaxing day was preparation for the Friday after Thanksgiving. Most of your probably woke up super early to brave the Black Friday sales. The PX (the Army's Wal-Mart if you need a comparison) had a Black Friday sale however we were not interested. Instead our focus was on a Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market). Many German cities host this annual event. We dared to brave opening day of the largest Christkindlesmarkt in Germany, Nuremburg's Christkindlesmarkt. The opening ceremony was set for 5:30pm on the dot. We decided to head down to Nuremburg in the morning to make the most of our day with our neighbors and friends, Chad, Gloria, and Nico. We had our first German autobahn experience. Many people know that the autobahn has no speed limit and boy do the Germans take advantage. Tim drove a whopping 110 miles per hour at times. And believe it or not, he was being passed!!! The traffic was smooth and we obviously got to Nuremburg in no time at all. However as a side note, there are times when the autobahn has a speed limit. You will find a speed limit through construction zones, city limits, and certain weather conditions.

Downtown Nuremburg is rather crazy in the sense of narrow streets, street cars, and an overabundance of people trying to get places. So we stopped at the first parking garage we could find. We adventured out to the streets and came across a restaurant. We entered and quickly learned they served Turkish food and spoke no English. We dealt with it and ordered rather blindly. I had a Turkish pizza. It was edible but very tasteless. Tim got lucky and ended up ordering Lamb Kabobs. Even though we ate every bite, we agreed we would not be eating at the restaurant again.

After lunch, we moved our car to a different parking garage. The one we were in closed at 8:30pm and we wanted to be closer to the Market Square. We took separate cars and got separated while trying to find a different parking garage. We tried to backtrack however with all the one way streets, you get lost very easily. Luckily they arrived quickly and they were able to read the address of the parking garage. We entered the address in our GPS and we were saved! Also parking garages are ridiculously small. Tim and I watched the side mirrors as we turned each corner. When we finally get my car, we will be driving that when we travel. His Jeep is not the ideal car in Germany.

As soon as we approached the Market Square, we were all in amazement with the beauty of the Christkindlesmarkt. The 180 wooden stalls had red and white cloth roofs along with garland as decoration. The surrounding businesses were also adorned with seasonal decorations. We felt as we literally stepped inside a book. We quickly took a peak at several of the booths making note of which ones we wanted to visit later. Even though the Christkindlesmarkt had not officially opened, each booth was in full swing. Before walking the rows of booths, we headed up the hill to the Nuremburg Castle.

We are beginning to realize that every town has a castle and they just keep getting bigger and bigger! The Nuremberg Castle is located on a sandstone rock north of the historical city of Nuremburg, Germany. It comprises three parts: the Emperor's buildings ("Kaiserburg"), the mostly built buildings of the rulers of Nuremberg ("Burggrafenburg"), and the buildings on the eastern side ("st├Ądtische Burganlage"). The castle was damaged in the Second World War but then reconstructed; today it is one of the main landmarks in Nuremberg. We took in all the elements of the castle before we headed to the Freiung, where we enjoyed one of the best views of the old town. There are tours offered so we would like to take one when we have time to spare.

The view of the old town.

Gloria and Amanda

The family crest.

Heading back down to the Christkindlesmarkt.

We headed back down the hill and eagerly to the booths of the Christkindlesmarkt. Our first priority was to get some famous Gluhwein (pronounced glue vine). Gluhwein is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. There are several recipes found online to make your own. We highly suggest either seeking this beverage out at your local liquor mart or trying a homemade version. Our second priority was the brats. Tim had his eye on several vendors cooking and selling this delicious brat sandwiches. I would be lying if I said we both only consumed one brat sandwich. They were hot and extremely flavorful. Along with the Gluhwein and brats, we also enjoyed homemade gingerbread cookies, chocolate covered waffles and a Nutella crepe. Needless to say, our tummies were extremely full and happy.

While at the Christkindlesmarkt, we shopped for Christmas gifts, took a picture with St. Nicholas and the Christmas angel, and took in the sights and smells of such an incredible event. We unfortunately did not see the opening ceremonies. We made the mistake of not finding a place an hour before the ceremony. Luckily we were able to hear it. At 5:30pm, the entire Market Square turned black. The trumpets were blown and the local music school sung Christmas songs. Then the bright lights of the Our Lady’s Church were turned on and the Nuremburg Christmas Angel stood on the gallery and recited her famous prologue, officially opening the Christmas Market.

It was an amazing experience and we were so happy to have witnessed the opening of the Christkindlesmarkt!

Walking the streets of the Christkindlesmarkt.

Tim's, first of many, brat and Gluhwein.

Just some of the goodies...

The famous Prune People.

Standing in front of the massive German pyramid.

Our Lady's Church during the daytime.

Enjoying another brat sandwich.

Absolutely beautiful!

Us with St. Nicholas & The Christmas Angel

Our Lady's Church right after the opening ceremonies.