Well, the Mr. and I had a very nice Christmas, and a lovely, quiet New Year’s Eve, too (except for an incident involving a Jelly Belly and a crown, but we’ll get to that later).
For Christmas, we travelled to a little town outside of Stuttgart where the Mr.’s sister and her husband run a hotel. They’ve done quite a bit of renovating since they took over, and it’s absolutely lovely. We were there for Christmas Eve (it’s the big event in Germany when the children go upstairs while the candles on the tree are lit, and the gifts are put underneath because Nikolaus has visited!) and left late on Christmas Day. I think Christmas Day might be the emptiest day on the autobahn here in Germany as it was practically deserted except for the occasional car. Now that’s my kind of driving! I was planning to share a few of the photos I took of the family gathering, but like a nincompoop I managed to delete all of my photos before they were actually saved. I partially blame Picasa, however, as it didn’t warn me! Since I have a terrible memory and need photos to help me remember my life, this will probably go down as the Christmas that never happened (at least in my head). Still, we had a great time and on Christmas Day we did a really nice walk around the village where we discovered an open-air used bookstore that operates on an honor system. They even had an English book section, which made me squeal with glee. I found a book of essays by my favorite writer, Barbara Kingsolver, that I had somehow neglected to ever purchase and read, and a couple of fiction novels. All the paperbacks I saw were 2 Euros or less.
While my photos from the Christmas gathering are gone into cyberspace, thankfully, I did manage to take and successfully upload other photos I’ve taken in the past few weeks. The Mr. and I took two little day trips, one before Christmas and the other a few days ago. The first village we visited is called Dinkelsbühl.
Dinkelsbühl is near to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of the main stops on any tour across Southern Germany. While Rothenburg is lovely and very impressive with a medieval wall still standing and surrounding the city parameters, it is horribly touristy and filled with busloads of tourists at almost any time of year. Dinkelsbühl, as we discovered, is also very beautiful, historic and interesting but is largely passed over by tourists, most likely due to its close proximity to Rothenburg. That suits us fine. We visited the Christmas market there, and while it was crowded, we didn’t feel it was too packed to enjoy ourselves. The real attraction for us was the town itself.
The Mr. and I were both very impressed. Historic timbered houses and winding cobble roads snaking alongside the old city wall make for a very lovely little town with a lot of character. Just wandering around on the outskirts of the center of town is a treat with each little street offering up “oohs” and “aahs,” but the center of town doesn’t disappoint in any way, either. The Mr. was as thoroughly impressed as I was, and I have a feeling it’s a town we’ll visit again. After enjoying a glühwein in the warmth of a restaurant, the Mr. and I went outside to discover snowflakes falling everywhere. It was the first (and to date) the only snow we’ve seen so far this winter, and it was really magical.
The other village we visited isn’t as well-known as Dinkelsbühl, or quite as impressive, but for a tiny little village out in the countryside we also found it really interesting. Thirteenth century Königsberg definitely has its fair share of historic timber houses and buildings that makes it an interesting place to wander around. We started off by having lunch in a fortress up on a hill overlooking the town. The Schloßberggaststätte offered up a very tasty lunch and nice views of Königsberg below.
The Mr. and I then drove down to the village and had a wander around for about an hour. It was quiet and there were only a few people about, and I snapped lots of photos. It was closed after Christmas until March, but we discovered they have a sort of “craftmall” in the village: workshops connected in one long building where one can buy all different types of handmade wares. I’d love to come back at some point and check that out.
What always amazes me about the buildings in these historic little villages in Germany is the attention to detail on each one. I guess it makes sense. If a building was originally constructed in the 15th century, that gives a person plenty of time to make it nice, so to speak. Still, it’s often the smaller details of a really interesting door or a carving on the side that makes the building so special. I think it’s something that many Europeans don’t appreciate when they’ve grown up with it their entire life, but as an American from pretty much anywhere except the east coast, you’re mostly used to buildings that were built in the last fifty years or so and were built for function, not form.
The days following Christmas and leading up to New Year’s Eve were fairly quiet ones for us. We decided to stay at home on NYE and try to comfort poor Mia who is not a fan of fireworks. She did really well when random ones started going off in the distance from about 6pm on, but at the stroke of midnight she was inconsolable as she scuttled from room to room looking for somewhere “safe.” Sadly (for pets, anyway), there is nowhere safe at the stroke of midnight if you live in any town in Germany as everybody and their neighbor have purchased a big package of fireworks, and they’re setting them off, by golly! We had rockets launching right outside our house which was pretty impressive, but made quite a racket. The smoke in the streets was chokingly thick. Still, it’s good fun seeing the streets lit up with sparklers, fountains and rockets and the Germans seem pretty good about keeping to the designated time for setting them off; the city was quiet by 1 am.
My big excitement on NYE involved one package of Jelly Belly jellybeans, and a dental crown. The first time a Jelly Belly popped off my crown, I thought it had been bad luck. That was several years ago, but I don’t buy jellybeans very often. Well, it happened again, so as much I love them I think I know what my new year’s resolution has to be.
Next week I’ll be flying to the US to visit family and friends. I’m thankful I’m going to get to start the new year spending time with loved ones during what is usually a somewhat dreary and depressing month for me. My new year’s wish (we get one of those, right? I mean, if we’re making resolutions to improve ourselves in some way it seems only fair to get a wish!) is for mild weather next week so my flights don’t get snowed in anywhere. That would be nice 🙂