Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Christmas in Germany

With good fortune by my side, I got the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in Germany thanks to Ann-Kathrin and Julia! Let me just say that everyone in the visiting group were scientists except for yours truly. Yes, I roll with some awesome people. Jealous much!!

Warning: This post is flooded with delicious food and humongous + very cuddly dogs.

All right, let's do this!
Flight from Heathrow to Stuttgart.
Ann-Kathrin and Julia came to pick us up at the airport. Now, I know Germans are known for their impeccable efficiency but we had to wait for 2 minutes at the arrival gate. 2 minutes! Not acceptable! Hahaah, joking aside and in all honesty though, this was the most detailed and planned trip I have ever been to, and this itinerary was prepared like 3-4 months ago.

Day 1: Land in Germany
  • From the airport to Stuttgart Christmas market. 
  • On the way to home, saw 10 Leonberg puppies and cuddled the shit out of them.  
  • Got to our new home aka Ann-Kathrin's, unloaded the luggage, and prepared for Julia's dad's birthday party.  
  • Enjoyed the party!
Day 2: Christmas Eve
  • Woke up and had breakfast at Gnaier bakery
  • Visited Heidenheim, including Hellenstein Castle
  • Spent some time with Lillie and Clarence
  • Had a very filling Christmas eve dinner at Julia's
Day 3: Christmas
  • Lush breakfast at Ann Kathrin's
  • Afternoon tea at Julia's
  • Massive Christmas dinner
Day 4: Sightseeing and Italian food
  • Visited Ulm and climbed up 768 steps of Ulm Minster 
  • Dinner at local Italian restaurant; Bella Italia 
Day 5: Fin
  • Dog walking and photo session 
  • End of fun, returned... T_T 

Day1: Hallo Germany

From the airport we headed towards Stuttgart Christmas market. At first glance, the market seemed a bit small, however, the structure of this market was very cleverly laid out like almost like a labyrinth so was one helluva surprisingly long market. Still in awe, we decided to take the chance to taste German sausages and had my first currywurst. I think I am a bit addicted to this now (German sausage in curry ketchup, sprinkled with curry powder, who would've thought eh? only flaw then was the portion).
Ho...ho...ho. Finally, it felt like Christmas as we explored the market with all these heavily decorated stalls covered with fairy lights and fir branches. Breaming with the suddenly gained Christmas spirit, I started taking pictures of pretty much everything, uncontrollably I might add (I may have turned into a stereotypical Asian tourist, wait a min... I am Asian). Anyway, something interesting caught my attention; a couple of old fellas chess hustling in middle of the market, SNAPP!! I took their picture! The photo was pretty crap so I tried again. Then one of the old fella started to have a "very nice conversation" in German. I only know a few German greeting phrases and swear words so, just like any other tourist, I nodded my head insanely while pointing my finger at my mouth and ear and responding "Sorry, no German". After a few seconds of battle of the gestures, Julia stepped in to the rescue and explained that the guy wanted €2 for the pictures. We both shook our heads unbelievably and I deleted them in front of him, continuing our market tour!

Meat! Meat! Meat! 

Currywurst sausages with bread roll

Beer Stall

Nuts, nuts.. want some honey glazed, caramelized nuts (almonds, peanuts and macadamia)?... lol

Market: Check! Now, time for puppies!  We had been anticipating this during our journey there. Unfortunately, due to compact space I was unsuccessful in taking proper pictures. But truth be told, we were all too busy aweing and playing with those cute little fluffy pups (10 pups and 3 dogs!).

Puppies: Check! After the adorable puppies and 3 big furry dogs (who were oblivious to the power and strength of their wagging tails and knocked every possible bric-a-brac on their perimeter and whiplashed our legs), we headed to Ann's house.  
As we pulled over at Ann-kathrin's, the welcome we received from Lillie and Clarence was even more epic. The excitement of these two was extremely contagious; Lillie lunging on everyone trying to kiss/slober on everyone and Clarence, although growling like Darth Vader, was also seeking attention in his own way.  

Note: Lillie is around 50kg whereas Clarence weighs around 75 kilos!

After living for 4 days with Lillie and Clarence, the temptation of owning a dog grew very strong and why wouldn't it? They do silly little things which make you laugh, are always waiting eagerly and are forever happy to see you. They pretty much have the power to extinguish sorrow and offer comfort. With all these perks who wouldn't be tempted, nonetheless it is a big commitment which requires serious contemplating. As Dogs Trust says  "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas".  So, for now I'll just bother Lillie if I need some unconditional love (if she still remembers me); and my gratitude to Ann-Katherin in advance. ^_^  

I didn't get the chance to take photos at Julia's dad's birthday since I was busy enjoying their party and their musical concert. There were many tributes to her dad (in German) which made me realise that he is like a celebrity in the surrounding villages. The whole get-together was very entertaining with great live performance, lots of delicious food and amazing desserts! The only way I can summarise this is; Good food, good beer, good music and great company. We couldn't stay until the end as we were exhausted from our early flight and the next morning Julia told us the party finished at 6 am! Seriously!! You folks know how to partaay!!!   

Day 2: Christmas Eve
Per to itinerary, brunch was at Gnair Per (http://www.gnaier-baeckerei.de/), one of the well known bakeries
Had the birthday breakfast and it wasn't even my birthday...

Done and dusted!

Hellenstein Castle from the town of Heidenheim

Entrance to the castle 

Heidenheim city

There were some awesome photoshoots in this exact place. 

View of Heidenheim city from the castle 

Dog walking in Lillie and Clarence's hood. 

After some smothering to and bothering Lillie and Clarence, we took them for a walk and what did I see? This freaking amazing scenery! My inner photography geek kicked in.

Picture time!

Lillie and Clarence with Ann-Kathrin

Clarence should be in a fashion ramp with that walk. 

Breakfast, city visit and dog walking: Check! Now was the time to make our way to Julia's house for Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, I was busy indulging all the delicious food, again, prepared by Julia's mum so there are no pictures. All I can say is it was delish!! Nom...nom..nom. However, did manage to find this picture on my phone of Ann-Kathrin's panna cotta. 


Day 3: Christmas
Finally, it was Christmas day!!! This picture of our grand Christmas breakfast. 

Ann-Kathrin, I know you praised a lot about Gnaier bakery's breakfast but to me, this breakfast was much much better. 

Clarence and Lillie sulking after being chased out.

Christmas dinner time and this is the only picture I could find. 

Day 4: Ulm and Italian food

Neresheim Monastery, Photography was prohibited inside, sadly.

Ulm Minister, the tallest church in the world with 768 steps from the bottom to its peak; I climbed it all so I had to get a badge (paid € 2.00, which I could've bought even without climbing) as proof. 

Inside the church

Took this from one of the windows of the spiral stairs whilst on our way to the top

These are the final flight of stairs to the peak. It was pretty congested actually so not advisable for claustrophobic individual. If there are people coming down, you literally have to paste yourself to the wall to give way. Anyway, great place to visit if you're thinking about leg-day!

Took this picture from the top of Ulm Minster

Italian dinner @ Bella Italia. 

Day 5: Return home :(

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