Welcome to my new blog! Following many years of graduate study in musicology (see my bio if you don't know what musicology is), I am finally embarking on my fieldwork portion of my degree, spending one year in Germany. For all the latest updates on Music, Life, and Travel, read on, friends!

Thursday, December 20

Post-Salzburg Bliss!

After my Salzburg adventure, I have barely slowed down. After getting some good work done on Wednesday (I had my first interview for my dissertation research!), I spent the rest of the week working on getting ready for going to San Diego over the holiday.

Friday I continued my quest for Weihnachtsmarkt greatness! I spent the day with my friend J, from the department store excitement photo here. We first took a quick trip to Siegburg, which is a small town near Bonn. Siegburg is actually fairly significant, as one of Germany's main fast train lines runs through Siegburg on its way to Frankfurt Airport. I haven’t taken a train from Siegburg before, but lots of train searches suggest that I do so. Siegburg has a medieval Christmas market. What is a medieval Christmas market, you may be asking? Well, they aren’t that uncommon in Germany. Apparently Bremen has one, as well as other cities. In Siegburg, visitors are treated to a medieval atmosphere: some of the vendors use an antiquated version of German, vendors only use candles to light their booths, ancient delicacies, like “Met,” or mead, are offered to visitors, and most of the wares are hand-made. I was very tempted to buy this guy:

Dragon wind chime. This is something that no one needs, but it was really cool!
J and I got mead and walked around, checking out the guys in jester costumes and watching some of the craftsman build their products on site.
Kids were also trying their hand at wood carving. The carousal in the background was also hand-powered! 

Here is a good example of the candlelight and lamplight at the Medieval market.
Mead, or "Met," is an alcoholic drink made of honey. I found it to be very sweet, but I should have expected it! All of the mugs in Siegburg were made of clay - very cool, and authentic, I guess!

In case you needed some pottery, this place had you covered!

We then left Siegburg for Aachen, a city on the Belgian-Dutch-German border. I have wanted to go to Aachen for awhile, as I had heard the city center is quite beautiful. I also heard good things about the Christmas market, so we checked it out for a couple of hours. Some of the highlights were visiting the cathedral, finding a boot-shaped Gluehwein mug, and eating Flammkuchen.
Here is a shot of the market from the Rathaus. It was very pretty at night.
The Christmas market is located around Aachen’s cathedral and city hall (Rathaus). Aachen is surprisingly hilly, and the Rathaus is up the hill from the cathedral. Aachen was a significant part of the Holy Roman Empire, and Charlemagne (Karl der Grosse) hung out there for a bit. The cathedral’s octagonal structure was first built in the 8th(!!!) century. The mosaic tiles are so beautiful. It reminds me of Ottoman architecture and style, thanks to the inclusion of lots of blues and abstract images (vines, flowers, and shapes), as opposed to portraits (although this church has those too!). I need to go back during the day, and it was difficult to take photos, and the sanctuary portion of the church was very difficult to see in the dark lighting.

Here is a good example of the blue mosaic tiles and the different shapes on the ceiling.

Mother Mary

Yet another example of the beautiful tile work!
I knew the Christmas market was a real winner when I saw that they had boot-shaped mugs! I am not one to collect things, as I still maintain a semi-nomadic lifestyle as a graduate student and I don’t have the muscles or the space to transport and store objects. I do, however, have room for another boot-shaped mug a la the mugs from Chicago’s market. B and I have three different mugs from Chicago, and I finally have chosen a German mug to take home with me to add to the Gluehwein mug collection. I got another Eierpunsch at this market, this time with whipped cream and no cinnamon. I still compare the experience to drinking cake batter – sweet, and semi-thick, but hot! I also got Flammkuchen, which is a thin, pizza-like food with a cream sauce and toppings, like onions, bacon, and green onions. It was soooooo good! It certainly was a nice change from the greasy items, like Reibekuchen, that I still love, but probably don’t need to eat any more of this year. J got a fried fish filet, which she said was also great!

Here is my Flammkuchen. It was very tasty!
Finally, the long-awaited boot-shaped mug! I liked the color too!
Aachen is also known for Printen – a gingerbread-like cookie specific to this region. I bought a couple bags, tried a couple of types, and I really liked them! Some are hard, some are soft, some are covered in chocolate or sugar, others are plain. Aachen also has a confectionery that makes “Dominosteine,” which are chocolate-covered cubes of gingerbread, apricot, and a bit of marzipan. So wonderful!

Giant inflatable Printen man! I don't think I would try to eat this one!

Enjoy your last days before Christmas!

M is for Mistletoe

I finally got some great mistletoe shots in Salzburg. While you all wait for the scoop on my trip to Hamburg, enjoy these mistletoe shots!
There is no mistletoe in this shot, but I liked the tree a lot!
So much mistletoe!
This is another shot from Mirabell Gardens. Everything looked so magical in the snow.
The flying horse fountain. Not to be confused with the unicorn statues nearby.
Again with the mistletoe!


Back in August, I suggested to one of my BuKa friends that we should go to Salzburg in December. Sure, it would be cold, possibly snowy, and during a busy time of the year for us all, but I am so glad we went! I lived in Salzburg during Spring 2005, where I attended Salzburg College and lived with a host family. 2005 was the first time I had gone back to Europe after my first trip in 2000, when I was still in high school. I loved all things about my semester abroad, except for the expense. Still, I got to travel a lot during that semester, and highlights included learning how to ski in the Alps, taking voice lessons with a professor at the Mozarteum Conservatory, and improving my German. Clearly I caught the Europe bug after this trip, and as soon as I got home in June of that year, I was already trying to figure out how to get back.

I missed Christmas in Salzburg in 2005, but I did not miss the snow. We had tons of snow during the winter months, which made everything seem so much more magical and surreal. Our trip this week felt very similar. I was so excited that we arrived with snow already on the ground, and it continued to snow almost the entire time that we were there. Maybe that meant that we were a bit damp and cold at times, but I completely thought it was worth it!

Enjoy the photos, and the video from Rick Steves' Christmas Special: Austria edition!

First Salzburg drink: Radler (half beer, half grapefruit juice)! So tasty and refreshing!

S and E were lacking in winter outerwear. The umbrellas helped with blocking the snow.

Cold Beautiful stroll along the Salzach river. E and S were not as excited about it!

Awesome snow-covered tree!

It's my city! Salzburg! Sooooooo pretty! This is the view from Mirabell Gardens, facing south towards the Altstadt.

Much happier after a night's sleep, even though we still were lacking one travel buddy.

Mozart duckies! Have I mentioned that Mozart was born in Salzburg, and that he hated it here?

Fortress plus new sculpture art.

We walked up to the fortress, and we found these cool Christmas decorations. Each ball kind of looked like it had a Santa hat on.

E, S, and I, with the Dom in the background.

E taking a picture. We nearly slid down the path to the bottom of the mountain. Snow is pretty, and dangerous!

This is Bob's father.

Salzburg College Alum '05. We hung out here for a bit, getting a free coffee and using the free WIFI. Back in my day, there was no WIFI at Salzburg College. How things have changed!

Spinach dumplings with browned butter and Parmesan. This was sooooo yummy, even though I couldn't finish it. 

Famous Salzburg dessert - whipped egg whites, sugar, and raspberries. Very delicious, very big!

This photo is awful, but I had to post it, because the idea behind it is so marvelous!
Augustinerbraeu - my favorite hang-out in Salzburg. Monk-brewed beer, without preservatives, and a spirited atmosphere. The beer is great! L even finished hers, for the first time ever!

S and her four beers. Actually, we each had one; she didn't drink all four!

Many Humboldtian greetings from Salzburg!

Sunday, December 16

Salzburg Christkindlmarkt

Salzburg's Christmas market is a serious business. Their brochure remarked that about 1,000,000 people visit their market every year. That is crazy! I already had seen some scenes from Salzburg's market, as have you all, if you watched Rick Steves' video from my last post. I feel like this market is really professional. The organizers know tons of people are coming, so they have made it possible for these mobs to make it through the stands. The stands are very spaced out, and there are just two main squares with vendors, one in front of the Dom, and one to the south of the Dom. Enjoy the pictures!

The Christmas market!!!! I found the backdrop of the church to be wonderful! I love how Europeans like to light up their churches at night.
More little animals! These guys were super cute! A lot of vendors had intricate items for sale! If I knew what I'd do with all of these things, I would buy some. I am already wondering how I am going to get everything back to the USA after my year here, not to mention what I need to bring with for Christmas!
Such a pretty tree! The two trees in Bonn look like Charlie Brown trees in comparison to this. I think that people are afraid someone will steal the lower light strands from the trees in Bonn, so they look very dark close to the ground. This tree, however, is much better!
Me and Gluehwein! Here you can see how wide the walkways were. This Gluehwein was pretty good, but nothing too earth-shattering. My friends tried the blueberry Gluehwein, which apparently tasted like the traditional version.
The garland and light strands were a nice touch!
The ladies with their mugs!
One last market picture. I don't think all one million visitors were there on Monday night. I imagine it is completely packed on the weekends.
Mozart! This plaza hosts the ice rink, and it is right next to the Christmas market.
Goodbye, Salzburg! Bis zum naechsten Mal! I hope I can get back sometime soon, but I really need to go back to Freiburg. I lived there even longer, but it is more difficult to get to than some other places in Germany and Austria.

Get excited for my  next posts! Siegburg, Aachen, and Hamburg are all on the books for the next couple of days.

Friday, December 14

Hark the Herald Angels Sing!

Saturday was a great, and tiring, day! I had my first choir concert in Germany. I sang with Vox Bona, the chamber choir of the Kreuzkirche in Bonn. This Christmas concert was a "thank-you" concert for those who donate to the music ministry at the church. I got to invite a lot of friends to the concert, and two of my friends from my fellowship program even made it! I really enjoyed having them there! Of course, E and I went to the market before the concert! Following our Bonn concert, everyone had to drive to Cologne for an encore performance. I met up with E and S in downtown Cologne, allowing me to add to my Christmas market count: +2 markets in Cologne!

E with her rum Gluehwein. This is right before she was introduced to Poffertjes, when her life changed forever, for the better!
Enjoy these videos that E took for me!
Here is Ola Gjeilo's "Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium)."
My favorite, and my director's favorite, "Ave Maria" by Morten Lauridsen.

Here's a shot from my concert! I am the second person from the right in the first row.
Cologne Christmas market No. 1. The main market is right by the Dom, near the main train station. The church in the background makes this one of the prettiest markets, but the cookie-cutter, mall-kiosk style stands make the market feel generic and sterile. The Gluehwein was okay. The walk around was a bit stinky; I think there is some sort of stinky cheese dish that you can buy at this market.
The tree and lights at the center of the market are stunning! 
Cologne Christmas Market No. 2. I am not sure if this was the Neumarkt market, but it was less generic and the decorations were unique to each stand. We were trying to get to a restaurant I had eaten at this past summer, so this market was an accidental find.
The lighting was cool here too. I loved the purple!
S and I at Loewenbraeu, the only place that had space for us to eat! Generally I don't go to Munich-based restaurants in places other than Munich, but the food and Gluehwein were tasty!
Schnitzel "Hawaii" with Bratkartoffeln! I haven't eaten this much food in awhile!
Get excited about the next posts: all snow and Salzburg!