Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Monday, December 26, 2011

christmas is...

- eating too many freshly-baked croissants with nutella...so that I have to spontaneously register for a half-marathon in May...I’ll start training tomorrow.

- wandering to church while the church bells are ringing like crazy -I love the insane ringing, like they are so darn excited about something which they want the whole world to know…think I’ve heard that somewhere before.

- cleaning up…after a great meal, after opening presents, before guests come, after guests leave.

- lighting candles for our mothers...hi mom.

- getting a Christmas care package from ‘home’ filled with stepmum-baked Christmas cookies, some small presents and a package of Kraft macaroni and cheese…how funny! Of course I cooked it up for great guy on Christmas Day. He thought it was interesting and I just giggled and ate!

- missing, with an aching heart, the first Christmas my brother is celebrating with his boy.

- schrille nacht…not stille nacht – partying with max and bärbel, rock‘n roller, and a bunch of other friends into the wee hours on Christmas Eve.

- reflecting on the past year, and hoping the changes that will come upon us in the new year are good ones.

- feeling blessed.

- a birthday.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

trés bonn(e)!

The wait is over. It finally snowed! I woke to a powder-sugared, wonderland of white, and it made me happy. The banks of the, now swollen, river were all white. The cathedral and burg, all lovely and white, were covered with heavy white snow. And, as I drove to Mickey’s weinhaus to pack up wine to send to some very late customers, I laughed at my grumpy co-workers who weren’t at all happy about the snow. But, unfortunately, by the afternoon it was basically gone, with only slushy remnants left behind.

On Saturday evening, great guy and I zipped off (after he put in another long, long day at our baustelle) to Bonn. I really wanted to experience a bustling, new-to-me city on the Rhein, packed full of history…and Christmas revelers. Bonn used to be the German capital city, before the wall came down in 1989, giving the capital city reigns to Berlin. The architecture of Bonn’s buildings in the altstadt is beautiful, and along with a flowing design of the pedestrian zone along the river, it has a comforting feel about it.

‘Magical’ is surely defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘wandering the evening streets admidst a German Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market)’. I had heard that Bonn had an amazing markt, and it did not disappoint! In three different squares of the altstadt huge, 10 meter tall, wooden Christmas pyramids were turning, displaying shepherds with their sheep, mary and joseph heading to Bethlehem, angels trumpeting in star-filled skies. The markt stands were full of happy, glühwein drinkers and tourists purchasing Christmas ornaments and last-minute gifts. We walked arm-in-arm, soaking in the amber glow of the street lanterns, sipping at terracotta mugs filled with steaming wine while snacking on baked, sugary almonds. Yum yum.

Our weekend was book-ended by two wonderful parties, one at max and bärbel’s on Friday evening (I think max turned 29 again) and the other on Sunday night at jülchen and rock ‘n roller’s (jülchen actually turned 29, or is she only 28…oh man, I feel old). Both fests were filled with terrific, new-to-me, very nice people; such as kerstin#43 (everyone here is named ‘kerstin’…it’s like the American ‘linda’, only much prettier sounding) and dave, the half-breed (his dad is American, and as jülchen introduced us, she said ‘dave, say hi to nina, she’s from Canada!’-he said hi-it was magical).

The best thing about both evenings, other than being in the homes of wonderful friends, was that great guy and I just laughed. Especially Sunday night. It is a great thing when someone just wants to see you laughing, and whether it’s because of snow falling or great guy’s silliness, it feels so good to laugh. I hope that wherever you are today you will share a laugh or two with someone you love…or don’t. Just laugh.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

a christmas reim.

For anyone who speaks a little bit of German...and a little bit of English, this is pretty darn funny. I, actually, spend most of my days speaking like this..sounds kind of horrible auf der dauer, as great guy will tell anyone, but hopefully I'm getting a bit better. He probably thinks I wrote this poem!! But, I didn't. I would love to give credit to the writer, but I think it's one of those viral emails with an unknown writer, which came to me via great guy's sister. Thank you for the laugh! Enjoy!

Anglo-germanisches Weihnachtsgedicht

When the last Kalender-sheets
flattern trough the winter-streets
and Dezemberwind is blowing,
then ist everybody knowing
that it is not allzuweit:
she does come - the Weihnachtszeit.

All the Menschen, Leute, people
flippen out of ihr warm Stüble,
run to Kaufhof, Aldi, Mess,
make Konsum and business.
Kaufen this und jene Dings
and the Churchturmglocke rings.

Manche holen sich a Tännchen,
when this brennt, they cry "Attention".
Rufen for the Feuerwehr:
Please come quick to löschen her!"
Goes the Tännchen of in Rauch,
they are standing on the Schlauch.

In the kitchen of the house
mother makes the Christmasschmaus.
She is working, schufting, bakes
hit is now her Yoghurtkeks.
And the Opa says als Tester:
We are killed bis to Silvester!

Then he fills the last Glas wine –
yes, this is the christmastime!
Day by day does so vergang,
and the Holy night does come.
You can think, you can remember,
this is immer in Dezember.

Then the childrenlein are coming
candle-Wachs is abwärts running.
Bing of Crosby Christmas sings
while the Towerglocke rings
and the angels look so fine –
well this is the Weihnachtstime.

Baby-eyes are big and rund,
the family feels kerngesund
when unterm Weihnachtsbaum are hocking
then nothing can them ever shocking.
They are so happy, are so fine –
this happens in the Chistmastime!

The animals all in the house,
the Hund, the Katz, the bird, the mouse,
are turning round the Weihnachtsstreß,
enjoy this day as never nie,
well they find Kittekat and Chappi
in the geschenkkarton von Pappi.

The family begins to sing
and wieder does a Glöckchen ring.
Zum song vom grünen Tannenbaum
the Tränen rennen down and down.
Bis our mother plötzlich flennt:
The christmas-Gans im Ofen brennt!"

Her nose indeed is very fine
Ende of the Weihnachtstime.
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Friday, December 9, 2011

rock'n roller is from china

Rock’n roller came by last night. He knocked on the door, let himself in, asked if we had a schluck wein for him, sat down and lit a cigarette. Great guy and I sat there and just looked at him. Then, he casually mentioned that the women are sitting over in the haus, in pitch blackness. What? There’s no electricity. Don’t know why, but don’t worry, we’ll deal with it later….let me tell you about my day. Great guy clarified, ‘Are julchen and angie at home?’ ‘Ja, they’re sitting in the dark. But, you don’t have to go over there right now. Let’s have a cigarette first and relax. They’re fine over there.’ Oh my.

Last weekend, at our fest, with 25 people cozily packed into our little stellwerk haus, rock’n roller and I got into politics. I should know by now that talking with him, beyond a certain point in the evening has no real productive outcome, but I kind of miss chatting about the world’s craziness. At the point in the “conversation” where rock’n roller said to me, in all seriousness, that he is not a German right now, that I should not consider him German, I knew that I might burst out laughing at any moment (at least I wasn’t going to cry this time!). Of course, I interrupted his rant and asked him, ‘where are you from right now?’ And he said, I’m not kidding, right now I’m from China. Of course. Then, thankfully, before I had to listen to him spew about the current situation there (because of course he knows all about what it’s like to be a Chinese person in this current global climate), I excused myself to concentrate on our other guests.

Amidst the lunacy of the week, great guy and I managed to head out for a dinner celebrating the actual day I arrived here a year ago. We followed dinner in the Goldener Engel (which sounds way less cheesy in German than in English – Gold Angel) by a romantic, yet freezing, stroll beneath the lit-up burg (castle) of the Ingelheim Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market). With glühwein in hand to warm us, the smell of gebrante Mandeln (roasted almonds) wafting in the air, we walked among the stands set-up within the castle walls. It was very cool, cool. I asked great guy where he thinks we might be in a year from now, and in his not-so-romantic way, he said, ‘maybe we’ll be right here’. I guess that wouldn’t be too bad.
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Friday, December 2, 2011

bomb

A 4000 lb. bomb is lying in the Rhein; an HC 4000 out of England, for all you who know your bombs. 'They' will explode it on Sunday, after evacuating 45 000 people in Koblenz, including a hospital and 2 nursing homes. This giant bomb, along with many other newly-discovered, smaller bombs have been lying in the Rhein since WWII. And, because we are now experiencing record water-lows in all the rivers around here, lots of interesting things are being found in the now-barren river beds. A bomb. Cool.

Two weeks ago, they found a little bomb which 'they' said is only a fog bomb. Since it's already really foggy out, the news station said that nobody needs to worry about when it will be 'dealt' with because nobody will notice.

Great guy asked if I wanted to go to Koblenz on Sunday and engage in some 'bomb tourismus'. But, as anyone who knows me well or who has gone camping with me knows, I am petrified of anything that has even the slightest potential for exploding...including propane tanks. I think I will pass on this little piece of German-British history.

P.S. A year ago tonight I arrived in Germany, on the Rhein. It was nowhere near as explosive as this weekend could turn out to be...we are having a huge party tomorrow night!
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