Friday letters on Remembrance Day

It’s Friday at the end of what has been a bit of a weird week for me. On Monday I had a doctor’s appointment, one that had been arranged for a while and was nothing special. Tuesday I called a doctor because my left knee had swelled up again after being almost normal for weeks. They had no appointments and suggested I call their emergency clinic, which I did and was told to come by in the early afternoon. I duly did so, waited around for 20 minutes, was shown to a bed and had blood taken to check for signs of inflammation and thrombosis then waited around for even longer to see the doctor before waiting around some more for the results of my blood tests to come back. Luckily I had a book with me! Bloods were all fine and I was referred to an orthopaedist. On Wednesday I called my GP for a referral, which they promised to send me, then contacted the orthopaedist they recommended. They managed to fit me in yesterday afternoon. The doctor says nothing is broken and he would expect an injury like that to take at least six weeks to heal. So I have some gel and instructions to be patient. So hopefully that’s the end of the knee saga! And now for some letters.

mailbox

Dear rain. Okay, you’ve made your point… you can go away now! (And take your friend sleet with you.)

Dear Christmas market. I saw some of your stands already up and waiting when I passed on the tram the other day. Only 13 days to go!

Dear birds. You don’t seem to have seen the nice ball of fat we’ve hung outside for you now that the temperature has dropped again. I hope you discover it soon!

And, to end on a more serious note:

Dear soldiers and veterans. I don’t have a proper Remembrance Day poppy, but I’m wearing my poppy earrings and poppy necklace. To all of you who are still fighting somewhere, or who are out there on peace-keeping operations. To all of you who gave your lives for your country, or who made it back home but will never be the same. To all of you who have made sacrifices. We shall remember you!

I hope all my readers have a wonderful weekend, despite everything that’s going on in the world. Love and virtual hugs to everyone.

 

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Karlsruhe Christmas market 2013

I did go to the Christmas market last night, but my train was delayed so I went straight into town from the station and had no time to pop home for my camera. It was dark and my phone has no flash, so photography was impossible… but I had to go into town today and I made sure to put my camera in my bag before I left. Sooo here are a few impressions of Karlsruhe’s Christmas market for you…

There's always a children's carousel at German fairs...
There’s always a children’s carousel at German fairs…
Glühwein pyramid
Glühwein pyramid

The Glühwein pyramid may look cool, but be warned… they make you queue twice for your Glühwein! First you have to buy tokens at a stall off to one side, then you queue again at the actual pyramid to order your drink.

Just a few of the yummy treats on offer...
Just a few of the yummy treats on offer…

 

All the stalls have something on the roof...
All the stalls have something on the roof…

KA Weihnachtsmarkt

Mainz

We are now over a week into the third month of this year, which is exactly the kick up the backside I need to continue with my 30 German Towns Before 30 series.
Today’s location of choice is Mainz.Mainz

I went to Mainz with some ex-colleagues of mine from the place where I completed a year-long internship. For a while, all the southern branches of this major translation firm would meet up a couple of times and do something together, inviting ex-colleagues and (ex-)interns along as well. Sadly, the people who organized these outings have since left the company so they don’t happen any more.

On this occasion, it was the turn of the Mainz branch to organise the day, and so the rest of us converged on their town. The plan was that the locals would show us around before we all headed to the Christmas market for yummy Glühwein (this meetup being in December). I actually mentioned the trip briefly here, but now it’s time for a proper post.

Mainz is a bit of a strange place. Parts of it are really pretty, with gorgeous buildings and views of the Rhine river (not the Main, as I originally thought), but then there’s this random square full of clothes shops/office buildings that’s just awful. All concrete and steel and glass with no character whatsoever. It’s right around the corner from where the Weihnachtsmarkt was being held as well, so if you stand on that square and peer through a gap between the shopping center and some other building you can just about see the prettiness on the other side. Most bizarre. You’d think they’d have at least tried to make the shops fit in with their surroundings!

One of the first things we found on our walk was the Narrenbrunnen (Fool’s Fountain). Mainz is one of the carnival towns – along with Cologne and Düsseldorf – so of course it has to have a Narrenbrunnen – although this particular one calls itself a Fastnachtsbrunnen, Fastnacht being the word for carnival in that part of the world (in Karlsruhe I’ve most often heard it referred to as Fasching, and occasionally Fastnacht, but Karlsruhe doesn’t really do carnival).

Fastnachtsbrunnen

Behind the Fastnachtsbrunnen is the Schönborner Hof – former home of the sovereign princely Schönborn family. Apparantly it now houses a “Maison de France” – an institute that aims to make French culture, language and France itself better known in Mainz. The University of Mainz also uses parts of the building.

Schönborner Hof

The next stop on our walk was the cathedral. It’s quite an impressive building, towering above the old town of Mainz. And inside is quite nice too.

Mainz cathedral

Organ

We also found this guy in there… kind of creepy.

Headless statue

Once the cathedral was done, it was time to head to the Christmas market for lunch and Glühwein. The Glühwein was average, but cheaper than at most other Christmas markets.

Mainz

Later I went and looked in some of the clothes shops on the ugly steel and concrete square (no photos of that!) at the suggestion of another ex-intern. I didn’t buy anything though, and after a while we headed back to the Glühwein stand to join the others.

In the evening, we headed to another part of town for a meal, walking down Christmas-light adorned streets on our way.

Mainz street

After our meal, which took a while with such a large group (and I can’t remember where or what we ate), we had to take taxis back to the train station to avoid missing our trains home, so I didn’t get to see any more of Mainz. Not that I would have anyway – being December, it was dark by that time.

Mainz seems like an okay town, although as I mentioned it’s a bit of a weird mixture of really pretty and really, really not – mostly the fault of the second world war, I’d imagine. I also didn’t get to see as much of it as I would have liked, being with such a large group of people and having mostly been invited there for the Christmas market. I think this is a town that I might have to visit again in order to form a real opinion of it.

Freiburg Christmas market

Wares at a stall on the Kartoffelmarkt
Wares at a stall on the Kartoffelmarkt

Last Saturday we went to Freiburg Christmas market. (Yes, a week ago. Despite blogging pretty much every day, I’m totally behind. *sigh*). I had been to Freiburg once before, during my year abroad. Jan and I went to visit another girl from my uni who was doing her year abroad in Freiburg. However, as our visit basically consisted of going for pizza with her friends then heading to the Messe (fun fair) which was in town at the time, I took zero photos and saw just about enough of the town to decide I had to come back some day.

Jan and I had been planning to go to a Christmas market in a nearby town one weekend, and when I spotted a giant poster at the train station informing me that Freiburg Weihnachtsmarkt is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year, it was settled. So off to Freiburg we went (Jan, myself and my Scottish friend K, that is).

Freiburg im Breisgau, to give it it’s full name, is known for being the warmest place in Germany. Not that that means anything at this time of year – it was still -2°C when we were there! It is also actually in the Black Forest (whereas Karlsruhe only almost is).

Freiburg’s town centre is full of pretty little streets and, being December, naturally they were all decorated with Christmas lights.

Freiburg Christmas lights

Freiburg lights

I’m sure they would be much more impressive at night 😉 As for the Christmas market (our reason for being there!), you could certainly tell that Freiburg attracts a lot more tourists than Karlsruhe. Our first stop was for food, which just had to be Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes). I chose to have mine with garlic sauce (I love potatoes and garlic, remember). Along with German, the stall we went to listed its wares in French and English as well. Yep, touristy! After my potatoes, I was still hungry so I decided to be a traditionalist and go for a Bratwurst in a bun. Yum! After food, it was time for Glühwein! 🙂 But first Jan had to find a bank and I had to take this photo:

Freiburg Martinstor

The tall tower thing you can see is the Martinstor (Martin’s Gate). Note the Macdonalds as well. Although the cuty council couldn’t prevent them from putting up their sign, they were able to stop them from using their usual horrible yellow logo, which I think is excellent! (The only thing better would have been no Macdonalds at all in such a lovely old building.)

After a few Glühweins, the natural response to lots of liquid kicked in 😉 so we headed off in the direction that the sign for “WC” was pointing. After using the facilties, we spotted some stalls that I don’t think had anything to do with the actual Christmas market, but were selling some pretty things so of course I had to have a look. I wanted to buy this hat, but decided not to in the end.

It's a lion!
It’s a lion!

Since we had a while to wait before we could get a train home, we decided to go and check out the Christmas goings on at the Kartoffelmarkt (literally: Potato Market). It’s basically a pretty little square which, as the name suggests, was once used for the selling of potatoes. It has its own little Christmas market offshoot, which is smaller and slightly less crowded. Here’s a photo:

Kartoffelmarkt Weihnachtsmarkt

After a quick browse of the stands, we finished our trip with more Glühwein – blueberry for me and cherry for K (I’m not sure what Jan had). Very tasty 🙂

The market was pretty crowded, but not nearly as bad as we were expecting (or as bad as Heidelberg for that matter!). I would say it’s worth a visit if only to get yourself a cup with 40 Jahre Freiburger Wiehnachtsmarkt on it (ok, that will only work for another week ;-)). Freiburg itself is pretty, too and certainly worth a visit even when the Christmas market isn’t in town.

It’s Friday letters time!

Another Friday, another chance to write letters to life, the universe and everything…

Letters
Letters (Photo credit: alto maltés)

Dear spammer. Thank you for giving me a laugh this morning. “Your website is like an encyclopaedia for me, thanks“. That’s very nice, but I’m still not clicking on your casino link!

Dear post office. You have made a small fortune off me this week – and I’m not finished yet! Still three packages to be sent…

Dear Karlsruhe Christmas market. I haven’t been to you once yet (passing through doesn’t count). Something needs to be done about this very soon!

Dear new cousin. Welcome to the world, little baby girl! I hope I get to see you one day, even though you live in Australia.

Dear relatives. Only 10 days til Christmas! The chances of my packages reaching you in time are now slim. I hope you don’t mind opening New Year’s presents instead! (Actually, I know at least one person who will. Sorry Grandma!!)

PhotobucketAnd now I’m going into town. In the pouring rain. I need to get at least one of the aforementioned parcels sent (at the only post office that’s still open… and just happens to be halfway across town!) then try to get presents for the last few remaining people on my list. Right now, I’m just not feeling the Christmas spirit!

Need more time…

I can’t believe December is a week old already. Where is the time going? I could have sworn it was only just summer…
Anyway, I’ve been a really, really bad blogger lately. Between illness, seminars and Christmas shopping I just can’t seem to find the time for anything! The good news is that I’ve almost finished buying all my Christmas presents. The bad news is I’m also almost out of money and I still have to send several packages to England. Oh, and then there’s the little matter of paying the electricity bill but we won’t talk about that…

I put Christmas decorations up in the flat at the weekend. Very exciting! I’ve never had a place of my very own to decorate before 🙂 Between that and all the presents I’ve wrapped the living room currently looks a bit like Santa’s grotto. A very messy Santa’s grotto admittedly (I desperately need to tidy the flat but the whole no time thing just keeps getting in the way!) but it’s all very festive. Jan and I also went to the Christmas market on Saturday and I tried some cherry Glühwein, which was delicious. Definitely getting in the spirit over here 🙂

I promise to come and visit you all soon, but right now I have to go and do the computer marked assignment for my science course. I haven’t been able to work on it much lately but I refuse to fail now that I’m so close to the end!
In the meantime, why don’t you leave me a comment and let me know what you’ve all been up to….

I aten’t dead

I am exhausted though. Is it really only Wednesday? I feel like I’ve already lived through an entire week and I still haven’t managed to get through everything on my to do list.
Our work Christmas meal was cancelled so instead I did my Spanish homework last night and then went to the Christmas market with Jan and his friends. Tonigh I have Spanish until 9pm and tomorrow my floor is having their Christmas party. This doesn’t leave me much time for sorting out my room, wrapping presents (still not finished with that!), getting my last few Christmas cards written and posted and packing for England.
You can see why I haven’t managed to get everything done (or write any blogs this week – I wonder if anyone noticed I was gone?).

Only today and tomorrow left. I can do this…..