Hi everyone! I thought that making a blog might be a good way to share with everyone the stories and pictures of our adventures. So without further ado…
It was a little weird jumping in to exploring right away when we still didn’t have our car or any of our stuff. We lived in a hotel room on base for our first few weeks until we got into our house, but even then all we had was our suitcases and a few pieces of temporary furniture. I was a bit bummed to be going through the fall and winter holidays without any of my kitchen things for my usual holiday baking or any of our decorations, etc. But, fortunately, there is always plenty of holiday fun to be had in Germany!
Each town in Germany has their own Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market). In the smaller towns they’re a weekend or a week, but in cities they go from late November til just before Christmas. They all have some parts in common, but each one is still unique and has its own character. They were also a great way to get out and do some exploring (and saved us from being stuck sitting in our hotel room with no transportation). We went to the Weinachtsmarkt in Kaiserslautern (closest city to us) several times, but the really fun ones were a short train ride away.
Our new friend Kate (who we know because of a mutual friend and met up with as soon as we moved) suggested a day trip to the market in Heidelberg. In addition to the month-long market in the Altstadt (old city), they also have a second one at the castle (Heidelberger Schloss) just for a weekend. We had the good timing of going to both, which wound up being my favorite Weihnachtsmarkt experience.
The castle itself is pretty cool looking, especially at night with all the colored lights on it. Parts of it are quite old, with the earliest construction in 1294, but it’s been damaged and rebuilt many times over the centuries.
It’s a bit of a climb up to the castle, but totally worth it for both the market and the view. There is a funicular rail that you can take up, but we figured we should pre-burn all the holiday goodies we were about to eat.
Each market has its own slightly unique collection of vendors, and I really enjoyed the ones at both Heidelberg markets. Things felt more “homemade” and local, rather than just the usual cliché or touristy stands, especially at the castle market.
We tried on some “Drew hats”
This was one of my favorite Weihnachtsmarkt foods – slabs of salmon attached to wood planks and then grilled on the fire – it was delicious!
Eventually, we made our way back down the hill to the market in the old city, which was equally charming.
Each city has one of these pyramids, a giant version of the ones people put in their homes. They were stands serving wonderful hot, alcoholic holiday beverages.
Randolph and I were both on quests for goodies we’d discovered previously at markets. Randolph LOVES schneeballen (snowballs), which are basically balls of pastry scraps with different fillings and icings.
I loved eierpunsch (egg punch), a hot (alcoholic) drink that is actually totally different from eggnog. Kate enjoyed a mug of it with me. And speaking of mugs, when you get your drink you also pay a pfand (deposit) on the mug. That way you’re free to wander with your drink (public consumption of alcohol is totally cool here) and then you just return your mug to get your deposit back. Or if you really love your mug you keep it. Each city has its own design and color, so you could totally collect them if you felt like it. I don’t particularly feel the need to go down that rabbit hole, though.
We’d seen the ice rink when we first arrived and said “we’ll do that later after we’ve explored.” We were so busy exploring that we missed out on ice skating before the rink closed. Boo. We joked that Randolph (who has never skated before) would’ve needed one of these “training penguins” to keep him upright. They’re meant for kids learning to skate – the penguins have skiis on their feet and handles to hold onto.
“Ein penguin, bitte!” – Randolph
More holiday adventures, TBD