Category: Germany

Christmas in Bavaria

Eight Ph.D. applications submitted, and now I’m ready for the holidays… on January 1.

I’ve definitely been staying busy with my applications, German class, visitors, holiday events, and Daniel being home during a two-week vacation, but this has been an amazing Christmas season. Southern Germany is known for its Christmas markets (Munich has six!), and Daniel wanted to see as many as possible.


The markets generally open a month before Christmas and last until the day before Christmas Eve. Each stand is a formidable wooden structure that is built just for the one-month selling period. In theory there are inspectors walking around to ensure that the items for sale are all hand-made or at least not factory-made, but I’m not confident that all the snow globes I saw came from the Black Forest. Although the markets draw a huge tourist crowd, the locals are also out in large numbers to meet friends after work, drink mulled wine, and enjoy the atmosphere. The fact that the temperature hovers around freezing is irrelevant.

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Sehr Praktisch!

I got what is perhaps the highest form of German praise this week: “Sehr praktisch!” (Very practical!)

I had ordered a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, somewhere between 7 and 9 kilos, but I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never bought or prepared a turkey before, so I wasn’t sure how much I should order per person, or what size that weight would yield. I went to Viktualienmarkt to pick up the bird, but I needed to see it first so that I could buy a brining container to carry it home in. I offended the employee in the hardware store by mentioning that my paint bucket needs involved a turkey, and he sent me away to the kitchen department. I managed to find a heavy-duty mop bucket that seemed like it might work.

As I went back to the poultry stand to get my turkey, I was just praying it would fit. There was another woman at the stand when I arrived. The owner handed me my bird, and it slid right in. Perfectly. Small victories go a long way when planning complex events in a foreign country (you’d likely be shocked to learn, if you live in America, how difficult it is to find a proper pumpkin here in November), but the cherry on top was the other customer’s response: “Sehr praktisch!”

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Nuremberg, and a Medieval Festival in the Moat

For Daniel’s birthday this year, I planned a surprise weekend trip to Nuremberg. He’s wanted to visit since we arrived in Germany, and his new interest in Medieval architecture only made the trip more urgent. We were lucky since on this particular weekend, there was a big artist market and also a Medieval festival.

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Giulia Bar

Edit: Giulia Bar closed in April 2014, but another cafe — Joon — has opened in its place. I’ve been in once for coffee and a tremendous plate of fresh pasta. Let’s just say I’ll be back.

It’s small enough that you might miss it if you’re walking by during the day, but after the sun goes down the funky light fixtures cast warm starbursts across the walls and you can’t help but want to linger.

After having walked past this bar/café countless times, Daniel and I stopped by for drinks one night, back when the evenings were chilly, but nice enough to want to take advantage of the outdoor tables. It wasn’t until this week, though, that I actually made it inside. I met my language exchange partner here for an afternoon snack  — we were both excited about this tall glass of Ciocolata (a steamy chocolate drink reminiscent of a rich pudding)…

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Here Comes the Sun

After two weeks without sun, just when the crazy was setting in, I decided to get out and make the best of the seemingly endless cold, moist, gray weather we’d been having. Armed with my winter coat (I had to dig it out of the box where it had been banished after the week of beautiful weather in April), rain boots, and umbrella I set out to get some fresh air and take some pictures. Despite the fact that I could see my breath in the air at noon in the beginning of June, it turned out to be an enjoyable day.

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