Burg Hohenzollern Weihnachtsmarkt

Weihnachtsmarkt

Yesterday, I went to the Christmas market at Burg Hohenzollern (a castle near Stuttgart) with Jan and two of our friends. We booked a day trip through a company called Binder Reisen, so we were picked up in Pforzheim in a mini bus, switched to a larger bus in Vahingen and were brought to a car park near the castle from where a shuttle bus took us the rest of the way up. The Christmas market is only on for the first two advent Sundays (and this was the second), so if you want to go you’ve unfortunately missed out this year, but there’s always next year. We paid €27 each for the bus and entrance to the Christmas market.

Down in the valley it was raining, but up at the castle it was snowing and apparently had also snowed a lot in the days prior… the trees looked beautiful! Unfortunately, it was also foggy so taking photos was difficult but I did my best!

There were a few stalls inside the main bit of the castle as well, but no photos were allowed in there.
After checking out all the stalls and partaking in a few Glühweins, we decided it was time to eat something. I had a venison steak, which was delicious (and not something you find at just any Christmas market!). Jan went for the wild boar sausage, which I tried a bit of, and which was also amazing. After trying some hot red mead (seriously delicious!) it was time for a walk around the castle grounds. Away from the market, it was freezing but also beautiful.

I may have gone slightly overboard taking photos of the snow-covered branches, but it really was beautiful!
Somebody had built some little snowmen on the wall and I couldn’t resist photographing them.

After our walk around the castle, we were all freezing so we returned to the main market for some more hot red mead (told you it was delicious!) and to listen to the carol singers before heading for the shuttle bus that would take us back down to where our coach was meeting us. When I first realised we would only have about 3 hours at the market, I thought it wouldn’t be long enough, but it turned out to be the perfect amount of time. It ended up being a lovely day, and definitely different to an ordinary Christmas market. I would highly recommend checking this out if you get the chance. In my opinion, it was well worth it! (Even if we did spend more time travelling than actually at the market!)

Look Up, Look Down – Großes Walsertal

I haven’t taken part in Look Up, Look Down for a while, and today seemed as good a day as any to join in again.
This is an old photo, from when I still lived in Austria. It was taken from up in the mountains of the Großes Walsertal (a Tal is a valley, so technically the Großes Walsertal is somewhere at the bottom, but I couldn’t tell you the name of the mountain!). Is anyone else reminded of The Land Before Time when looking at this scenery?

Großes Walsertal

This photo was taken at the end of May, and it was actually quite sunny down in the valley (although some stubborn bits of snow were still hanging on). It was freezing up in the mountains, though!

To take part in the Look Up, Look Down challenge and see all the other entires, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post.

Spot the difference 2

About a month ago, I posted two photos of the same view taken at different times of year. My point, at the time, was to show you all that it was still flipping snowing. In fact, as some people pointed out, the March photo had more snow than the December one. What’s that all about? You can see that post here.

A few days ago, I took another photo of the same view… this time because the tree looked so pretty. I thought it might be fun to compare that photo with the snowy one from March. So…

25 March 2013
25 March 2013
17 April 2013
17 April 2013

And the difference this time? The tree still looks white, but now it’s blossoms, not snow!

Roughly two weeks after taking the second photo above, everything’s changed out again. The white blossoms have all fallen of and been replaced with green leaves and the buds of what will later be cherries (we think… whatever they are, the birds loooove to eat them!). Maybe I’ll do another Spot the Difference some time soon…

Spot the difference…

After posting about the snow the other day, it occurred to me that I had taken a strikingly similar photo back when this never-ending winter first started. Once the idea was in my head, I naturally had to go and find the other photo. So here you have it:

2 December 2012
2 December 2012
25 March 2013
25 March 2013

The difference? This time there are no Christmas markets to make the cold more bearable…

Return of the snow

I thought Karlsruhe had managed to escape the latest round of snow. Berlin has been ankle deep in it for ages and Frankfurt Airport was recently closed because of it (again!), but until now, every time the white stuff was forecast for Karlsruhe, we got rain instead. Our time, it appears, has now come. Here’s what I woke up to this morning:

DSCN2457

I wouldn’t even mind the snow so much – despite the fact that it is now officially spring and I want daffodils – if it hadn’t brought freezing wind with it. My gloves did absolutely nothing for me this morning!

Thank goodness I only have four days at work this week. After that it’s Easter, and since practically everything is closed on Good Friday I have an excellent excuse to hide in the house and drink endless cups of tea!

Dustbin humour

Quite a few of the bins in Mannheim currently have speech bubbles stuck on them, saying things like “Don’t throw it away, give it to me!” (in German, obviously). I assume it’s part of some campaign to get people to keep te place tidy.
There’s one particularly bin that used to say “Bekomme ich deinen Kaugummi?” – “May I have your chewing gum?”

Dust bin

As you can see, someone has stuck a white sticker over the “Kau” part, leaving the word “Gummi”… German slang for condom.

Why yes, dustbin. If I’m ever so overcome with lust that I can’t resist stripping and getting down to it right in that carpark behind you, you may certainly have my chewing gum.

It made me smile anyway.
Simple things…

Here’s something else that made me smile recently:

Mini snowman

I spotted this tiny little snowman sitting on the roof of a car yesterday evening. I’m glad somebody managed to find some enjoyment in the March snow! (What season is this again? Last week I could have sworn spring was on its way…)

Friday letters

Another Friday (hurrah!)… another round of letters from me to the world.

lettres
Photo credit: christing-O-

Dear snow. You looked very pretty this morning and I wanted to take photos, but I was already running late to catch my train. Please stick around til I can get out there with my camera.

Dear new boots. You are beautiful and I can’t wait to show you off! (Post with pictures to follow soon).

1° Flickr-compleanno. 1st Flickr-birthday.
Photo credit: mao_lini

Dear S. Happy first birthday! I can’t believe you’re one already! This year has gone so fast…

Dear unread books. I see you eyeing me up from the bookcase every time I walk passed. Please be patient – I promise to get round to you soon. (Pride and Prejudice, you’re next. You can stop glowering at me now ;-))

Dear self. STOP SPENDING MONEY! And yes, that did need to be in caps!

Dear readers. Thank you for sticking around despite all the “I’m going to be 30 soon” and “All my friends are having babies” induced whining I’ve been doing lately. You are all amazing.

Dear TV. We are hopefully coming to get you this weekend. I can’t wait to be able to watch DVDs on a proper screen!

PhotobucketI hope you all have a great weekend, however you’re planning to spend it. I’m at a party tonight and hoping to spend the remainder of the weekend getting a lot further with my current cross stitch picture!

Always take the weather with you?

brainstorm
brainstorm (Photo credit: Graela)

Yesterday afternoon, while I was at work, the sky suddenly went incredibly dark. The next minute, the heavens opened – I’m talking torrential downpour! Then the thunder and lighting started. Hail came next, followed by snow; proper big flakes that actually stuck. All the while it was still thundering. Then the storm stopped, as quickly as it had come. The sun briefly poked out from behind the clouds and all the snow melted.

Around eight hours later, I was in Karlsruhe at the pub quiz when it started thundering. Within seconds, it went from drizzling a little to full on torrential rain. This was followed by snow (I’m not sure about hail). By the time the quiz ended and we went home, the rain had stopped, it had warmed up considerably and most of the snow had been washed away (although there was still some on the cars).

Apparantly the weather followed me home from work yesterday. Do you think maybe labelling the image I put on my last Friday letters post “All the weather” was tempting fate?

More Friday letters

Yep, it’s that time again! I haven’t really had much to post about this week (as you may have noticed…). January is such a blah month, don’t you think? Nothing really seems to happen – at least not in my life. Nevertheless, here are my Friday letters for the week…

English: Wormgate letterbox 19th century lette...
19th century letterbox in Wormgate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear snow. You are very pretty, but must you also be so slippy? I’m sure I’m going to break my neck before long!

Dear self. I know Amazon is really tempting with its e-mails full of recommendations and ridiculously cheap second-hand books, but  you really need to stop spending money… at least until pay day!

Spending Money
Spending Money (Photo: 401(K) 2013)

Dear weekend. I’m so glad you’re here! I know we’re going to have lots of fun together.

Dear exercise DVD. I have done a circuit from you three times this week (I skipped Wednesday for no other reason than laziness, and tonight I seriously don’t have time! Been home long enough to type this and as soon as I’m done I’m off to put some washing on and start cooking tea). When do I get to start seeing results?

Dear self (again). The answer to the above question is when you stop allowing yourself a treat every. single. day.

Dear new gloves. You are soft and fluffy and, most importantly, warm. I think I’m in love!

Dear brain. One day you are going to produce a translation in which my colleague doesn’t have to suggest stylistic changes in every other sentence. Please work with me on this because seeing so many corrections every single day is starting to make my wonder whether I’m actually in the right profession.

Dear lips. I know it’s cold outside and central heating sucks the moisture out of everything, but please could you stop being dry and chapped and sore? I can only put lip balm on so many times a day, you know!

Dear tea. You (and chocolate) have kept me sane this week. Thank you!

For more Friday letters, see: http://www.thesweetseasonblog.com/2013/01/fridays-letters_18.html

Happy weekend, everybody!

Sometimes staying home alone is the best policy

In September, Jan’s choir took part in an event called “The Westside Festival”, a musical and culinary event that took place in and around a square in the western part of Karlsruhe. One member of the choir was involved in organising the festival, which is how the choir came to be involved in the first place. The “headliner” (so to speak) of the festival was a group calling themselves “The Westend Girls” and because those who were organising it weren’t actually able to watch the performance – being too busy dealing with organisational matters – the group are performing again, just for those who were involved in arranging the festival. T – the choir member who was one of the organisers – managed to get the rest of the choir invited as well, so that’s where Jan is as well. Apparantly there was some space for extra people (although it would quickly run out if everyone brought a plus one), so he invited me to come along. After much deliberation, I decided this morning that I didn’t feel like it. I was tired and didn’t think I’d be in the mood for staying out late.

This evening, waiting on the platform to come home. I was pleased I had decided against going out. It was cold, my train was delayed and every now and then a gust of wind would drive a flurry of snow into my face. Not pleasant! So instead of listening to a group of singers on the opposite side of town, tonight shall consist of pyjamas, nice hot tea and my latest cross stitch project. Sometimes, staying home alone is the best policy!

Tea anyone?
Tea anyone?