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!

Friday, January 4

Mainz Markt

While G was at work on Thursday, D and I went to Mainz, his home city. I think he really enjoyed showing me around, as we wandered quite a bit, and really got to enjoy the Christmas market before it was completely full of people!

Mainz is famous for its Medieval Cathedral, and the creation and legacy of the Gutenberg printing press. I’ve been to the Gutenberg museum with B before, and I of course got to go to the Mainz soccer game!

At the market, I got my last Reibekuchen (potato pancakes), and I could barely finish them. They are oh so tasty, but they are not light fare at all. I also got a nice Christmas surprise for B, a medieval-style red suede bag for his new copy of Carcassonne!

Muenster and market lights!

Another one of these!

Vendors everywhere!

Again with the Romanesque cathedral!

Game of the year! Kingdom Builder - who would have thought that such an advertisement would be in a major city!
Another nicely-decorated Christmas tree!
With this post, I end my ode to German Christmas markets! Below is a summary of each that I went to, and what stood out to me.

Aachen – I found this market almost rivaled Bonn’s, in that it was very cute, had lots of interesting stands, and it had boot mugs!

Bonn – I am a loyalist, and Bonn’s market was my favorite. It will be truly sad come January and the market is gone and I don’t get to walk through it on my visits to the city center.

Cologne – Great Christmas tree, great background (the Dom!), but too mall-y. It was also very crowded.

Hamburg – Crowded, and multi-faceted. There were a lot of great small markets, all near each other, all offering a little something different.

Koblenz – Small, spread out, and not worth the visit if you can make it to one of the markets nearby.

Mainz – Here I tried “Heisse Marone” for the first time, and I really liked getting to experience the market through the eyes of my host dad.

Salzburg – Magical! I really like this market, and having the snowy weather, the backdrop of the Altstadt, and experiencing it with great friends made this my second favorite market!

Siegburg – I kind of wish I had bought that dragon wind chime…

Wiesbaden – I really liked the vendors at this market, and it was so fun to check out my host mom’s favorite stands. She knew so much about each, so that I really was able to appreciate the shopping experience!

Adding Freiburg (2006) and Chicago (2009-2011), I have been to eleven different cities for German Weihnachtsmarkten. I am hooked, and I hope you are too! If any of you ever need travel advice concerning these markets, I am your girl! Or, if you would like a personalized tour in Germany, pay my way and I’ll be by your side in a heartbeat!

Bis zum nächsten Weihnachtsmarkt!

The Wiesbaden Market

My German host family loves the Wiesbaden market. It is different from other markets, in that the theme is shooting stars, and all of the lights and decorations are more in this motif. G, D and I headed out shortly after I got to Wiesbaden, and we first checked out a quick organ concert at the Protestant church near the market. It was a real treat, and my host parents really enjoyed it too! We then met some of G and D’s friends, who were super cute and nice! We wandered around the market some, and then later met G and D’s son and his girlfriend. So far, when I hang out with these Wiesbaden folks, a common theme concerning me is that I am not really an American, or at least not a stereotypical one! I like that I can be a connection for them all to the USA, all while knowing the language and the traditions well in Germany, so that we understand each other well and appreciate all that we learn from each other every time we are together! They love me so much, and they even picked me up again from the airport when I got back to Germany this week.

Following the requisite Glühwein, we went to the “Ratskeller” and got something small to eat and some beers to drink. Ganz Gemütlich! G and I went to the market again on Thursday night, including another visit to the organ concert at the Protestant church. We stayed for the service, which was randomly bilingual (English-German). We sang “O Come Emmanuel,” one of my favorites, but I did not hear a single other person singing along. It is not widely known in Germany, and we only got a copy of the text, not the music.
Overall I really enjoyed the Wiesbaden market, as it was definitely an example of something different, and the company was wonderful!

Here is a view of the church where we attended the organ concerts.

Me and a tree made of poinsettias! It was so beautiful!

One of the many Wiesbaden vendors.

Here you can see the unique lighting of my market. So pretty!

German Christmas tree!

Super Gluehwein in Wiesbaden!

These look like little marshmellow cakes. Mine was mocha flavored!

Geputzt, Gepackt, Gebacken und Gekauft!

Between my trip to Hamburg and my slow trek back to SD for Christmas, I had one day in Bonn to wrap up all of the above activities: cleaning, packing, baking, and shopping. I should also note, that even after arriving late Monday night, I still fit in washing a load of laundry and hanging out with some of my choir friends after their rehearsal that night. I was really glad I got to see them before heading home, as more people were at the bar than usual, and seemed to drink more than usual and were very friendly in wishing me a merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Tuesday was an extremely overwhelming day. I had to return a gift, plus pick up four or so final items to bring back to the USA. I think my favorite purchase is a bottle of “Holunderblütenlikör,” or elderberry blossom liquor. Germans and Europeans are big on elderberries, in both blossom and fruit form. I have no idea what type of cocktails I am going to make with this liquor, but I didn’t even know it existed before this year, and I have no idea if it is even available in the US. (I would welcome any comments on if this liquor is in the USA, or if you have a favorite cocktail using it!)

I also vacuumed most of the apartment, picked up my two rooms, washed the bathroom and toilet room, and baked a double batch of molasses cookies to share with my other choir, my host professor, and my host family in Wiesbaden. I admit that I was very disappointed that only ONE of my many cookies was eaten at my choir Christmas party, especially since I had made a double batch. To make up for that, though, one of the women in my choir said my cookies were delicious, and the department secretary in Koblenz was so impressed that she insisted on having the recipe!

Santa showed up to our choir party!
Christmas tree!
We had so much food!
After an entertaining and tasty Christmas fest on Tuesday night, I prepared for my Bonn departure Wednesday morning. I spent the midday in Koblenz, and then went to Wiesbaden to spend a day and a half with my German family (of Mainz soccer fame). I admit that the most stressful part of my holiday travel was Wednesday afternoon. My bus was almost 20 minutes late, between the traffic and how full it was, and I had to run to catch my train. My bus driver kept cursing all of the students who take the bus I ride. Of course there are tons of students on the bus that goes to the university. I really don’t think the better solution would be that they all have their own cars. I don’t like it when people hate on students being students and environmentally friendly. All in all, I was relieved to get to Wiesbaden, where I got to spend some quality time with my German friends and included visits to two different Christmas markets! More on those later…

Hamburg - Hafenstadt and Freistadt

The weekend of December 15, I took a less-planned, more relaxed and at times spontaneous, trip to Hamburg. Hamburg is my first German love. When I traveled to Germany in 2000 with my German class, we spent about a week in Munich and its environs and then headed north to Hamburg to stay with our German host families. That previous fall, my family and I hosted a girl from Hamburg, and I traveled to the old country in June to experience life as a teenager in Germany. I loved Hamburg. I loved the freedom people my age had there. I loved the harbor and seeing the evidence of the city’s strong shipping past and present. I guess I have always liked big ships, and Hamburg has tons of them. Hamburg is one of Germany’s largest cities, and in the past four months, I have actually spent time in the four largest. I had been to Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne before, but never during the same visit to Germany. From that experience, here are some of my thoughts on Germany’s super-cities:

·         Berlin is the biggest hippy city of the four. People in Berlin are a bit more casual, and the cultural diversity and communist past (former east only) of the city marks a lot of its neighborhoods.

·         Munich is the conservative city. It is always packed with tourists, and you notice them more than in the other four (except for maybe when you hang out at the cathedral in Cologne).

·         Cologne seems small compared to the other three. Maybe I have spent the least amount of time in Cologne compared to the other cities, but I also don’t want to go to Cologne as much as I would rather be in the other three cities. The people, however, are very nice, and the melody of German speech in Cologne is probably the most attractive of all the regional dialects in Germany.

·         Hamburg is the city with the beautiful people. With the shipping industry, there is a lot of international companies with influence throughout the world. Of the four, I would want to live here the most. The Elbe River is beautiful. The center of town has a lake too, the Alster, and there are so many great neighborhoods. Plus, you are close to the sea!

I was visiting my friend, EJ, who is also conducting fieldwork in Germany this year. We spent our days visiting as many Christmas markets as possible (I think we saw four or five!), and checking out some of her favorite places. On Saturday we had Persian food, at a restaurant where we had our own private concert. Sunday we went to her church, where I choir-bombed her choir and sang along with the rest of the members. Then we went carol-bombing! EJ goes caroling every year, and she was having a hard time getting her Hamburg friends to join her. Luckily, I also am a seasoned caroler and have no qualms about singing in public, as long as there is a purpose to do so. We brought much joy and good cheer to those who stopped to listen to us, and we tried not to take any donations. What we did get EJ has donated to a Hamburg charity.

One of our low points caroling was when the police stopped us in the underground station. We of course did not have a permit to perform in the underground, but we were there because it was warmer, not rainy, and provided good acoustics for singing. Thankfully the two police officers didn’t arrest us or make us pay a fine. In their stop, they also said we sounded nice, and they didn’t even interrupt us when we were singing one of our longer carols!

We went to a posh bar Sunday night that had a great view of the harbor, and Monday we attempted a walk along the river. It was too foggy to really see much, unfortunately.

Enjoy the photos! Hamburg, I hope to see you again soon!

View of the Rathaus and the Alster. The lights were beautiful at night!

The market at the Rathaus was so packed! But, it was fantastic!

Part of the entrance to the market.

Another view of the market, because it was awesome!

Here I am in one of the many shopping centers in Hamburg. I liked the arched lights!

Another Weihnachts-moose! So cute!

Here is a shot of the harbor from the bar EJ and I went to. I bet it is nice during the day too!