Someone grab me a granddad Christmas jumper! Crack out the mint Baileys! Set me the stuffing! I’ve got to baste me a turkey because… It’s Chriiiiiiistmaaaaaas!!!
Well, not yet, but it genuinely feels like Christmas has been settling in throughout the whole of Germany for the past month. I mean, since mid November, Glühwein (German mulled wine) has been served in the Mensa, which I must say I have capitalized on immensely. There are dazzling Christmas lights on every street, gipsy looking street performers singing carols and baubles dangling from every shop window. Although to my surprise, weirdly tinsel in not very big here. I think Germans they are more into the bespoke tasteful homemade Christmas decorations unlike Christmas at home where it is tinsel galore and for some reason we have multicultural pink and blue Bollywood themed baubles… very PC Mum.
Now I myself have never been a hardcore Santa’s little helper as I have experienced some shocking Christmases, from my dad having to give the turkey a hot bath because it was still frozen to my mum taking the tree down on Christmas day because she had ‘had enough of it’. In fact my Nanan used to refer to our Christmases as ‘a few fights and a few mistakes’. But fear not. It’s a Christmas miracle! I have been cured of my tinselitis with a huge dose of Weihnachtsmarkt (German Christmas market). Now I know we have the Christmas market in Leeds but compared to Germany it’s like drinking weak watery Ribena when all you want is a strong hardcore pint of mulled wine with a Jägermeister shot (yeah that’s a thing here). These Christmas markets have engulfed the town of Heidelberg. You can literally step out of a lecture and into a wonderland of Christmas trees, bratwursts and crêpes (I am not sure why this French delicacy is so big in Germany but let’s just roll with it).
WARNING: Glühwein is stronger than mulled wine. Do not drink two cups just before you’re meant to meet your tandem partner otherwise you will be an embarrassing mess!
I also made it over to France to sample their version of this German tradition in Strasbourg, otherwise known as the capital of Christmas. Let’s just say they didn’t stop at baubles in shop windows. No, Olivia (one of my only friends here, so sad I know) and I were confronted with flying unicorns, chandeliers as festive streetlights and a Christmas tree covered in roses and top with a Hedwig lookalike, not to mention a sea of real fur coats. I may have been slightly blinded by the bourgeois culture and the sexy French voices and tripped into a chapellerie (it’s a hat shop darling) and found myself spending a chunk of my grant on a fur hat. But before you grab the red paint and scream ‘animal murderer’, it is one pompom of raccoon fur and honestly who even likes raccoons? (Oh god I feel like Marie-Antoinette!)
Aside from Christmas I have been doing exactly what an Erasmus student normally does. No, not working every day in the library, planning their dissertation for next year, I went to Amsterdam! Don’t worry gang! I have not come back with a dreadlock, pupils the size of Jupiter and tattoo of the Bulldog Cafe on my bum! I felt more like Will from The Inbetweeners than Bob Marley. Amsterdam is a breathtaking city. All the canals flowing through the streets of tall and slender town houses are truly stunning and as they eventually trickle into the somewhat seedier quarters such as the red light district, the views were eye opening to say the least. However, I must admit, my most eye-opening experience was in our hostel. We were a group of 4 in a dorm with two other girls we didn’t know. On the first night we decided to head to bed reasonably early so that we could crack on the next day with Van Gogh and various other tourist sights. Unfortunately we were rudely awoken at 3am by one of our roomies and a certain gentleman caller. He wasn’t the most charming man I have ever met. To keep this blog as PG as possible I shall simply say that this couple shared a night of passion and also produced a lot of vomit. Thank God I am not squeamish!
Our trip to Amsterdam was quite a contrast to the rather civilized German house party I went to a few weeks ago. Now, I have been to some shocking how parties in my time, whether it be tipsy teenagers smashing plant pots in our parent’s back garden whilst being drunk on WKD or people taping bin bags to the walls at classy Leeds house parties so their house looks like a quintessential crack den. But this was a completely different experience. There was a spread of party nibbles and beers in the fridge that were actually provided by the host for the guests, rather than people nicking whatever booze they could find! I have to say the music was a bit lack luster: there was a lot of old kind of classics but not being played in an ironic Oceana Kingston cheese room kind of way. It was pretty sincere and some of the dancing was very odd. I genuinely thought this one girl was going to take my eye out with her violent grooving! We also learned that it’s a bit of social faux pas for girls to go to the toilet as a group in Germany, so bear that in mind folks (we found that out the hard way). Oh, and if you try to be remotely edgy and roll your jeans up so your ankles show, you will be bombarded with questions asking whether your ankles are freezing or not. My God these Germans would get a shock if they witnessed the scantily clad locals at Halo! Nevertheless, it was such a mature but fun night out and of course I got myself another tandem out of it! (OK, I have to stop this weird tandem thing now, I know).
So as you can see Germany is the place to be at this time of year! I am growing quite attached to the place and surprisingly I am not chomping at the bit to go home. I could happily knock back another Glühwein and party on till New Year. Just one and a half weeks and I’ll be in London with Mutti and Vati, but before then a trip to Munich and Nuremberg to sample some more Christmas markets!
Happy Holidays Everybody!