The adventures of a born-and-raised-in-Michigan girl (OK, woman) who's moved to Bavaria with her husband, kids, and dog.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Belated Happy Holidays!

I thought I should report on what it's like to celebrate Christmas and New Year's over here. This year we got out and about quite a bit, since we had our friend Mike (from Livonia) visiting. He had a "use it or lose it" vacation time problem, and we were happy to oblige. He arrived knowing that he'd be camping amongst our boxes and mess with the rest of us.

In between continuing to get settled in, trimming the tree, and accidently locating fresh Ocean Spray cranberries at the grocery store (a big shock), we got in a fair amount of local sightseeing, as well.

We went almost immediately to one of the larger museums in town, the Bavarian Army Museum, known for the most complete WWI collection in Germany. Housed in the "new castle" (15th c.) in Ingolstadt, we were impressed right away by the size of the doors:

The rest of the museum was just as impressive, albeit mostly in German.

We spent Christmas Eve in Nuremberg's famous 1200-year-old Christmas Market, which was just the thing to get into a gingerbread mood:

Lots of booths with ornaments, wooden toys, and everything from little people made from prunes to 1/2 meter wurst (beats a foot long dog any day!):

There was a whole children's market area, too, complete with antique double-decker carousel, animated puppets on top of every booth, and a small ferris wheel, too. It was pretty cold, so we pretty much kept the kids bundled up in the stroller:

Christmas was very nice, Stephanie got her first doll, and Nicholas had a special "choo choo" surprise under the tree from Santa.

After Boxing Day (yes, everything is closed for three full days here), we took a short drive over to Rothenberg on the Danube, a well-known medieval town fairly untouched by WWII and post-war construction. It's a very picturesque town, and we had a nice time just strolling along and window shopping:

Lastly, we celebrated New Year's Eve in traditional German style... we actually got an invitation in early December to a small party nearby. When Martin was looking at neighborhoods and housing, he often knocked on doors to find out what it was like to work with that particular builder, etc. He met a lot of people, as you can imagine.

The first weekend we arrived, he drove me around to show me the towns and neighborhoods he ruled out during the big search for the house. As we drove through one neighborhood, he recognized a young couple who had chatted with him for quite a while, out walking their dog. Well, one thing led to another, and we ended up joining their NYE celebration.

Sylvester, as it's called in Germany, is often celebrated with individuals setting off fireworks at midnight, so that you're outside from about 11:45 to 12:15 and can see fireworks wherever you turn, quite a sight!

This particular party focused on the at-home fireworks and the food (pot luck); the spread involved lots of smoked fish, seafood, as well as pork roast in gravy. I brought my mushroom pate and cranberry salad, both went over well. The party guests consisted of two other couples, all with young teens who were coming and going throughout the evening.

Nicholas gave us a xylophone concert, and had a blast playing with their 18-month old daughter, Nia. He was a real live wire... you will just have to trust me that he actually attacked the xylophone with his ad hoc avant garde composition:

We all had a great time, the two other women there took great pains to converse with me in my barely-there German, about the move, parenting issues, and housefrauery in Ingolstadt. We put the kids to bed upstairs around 10, and stayed up talking until 4:30 a.m.!

I was really stunned when both women gave me their full address and phone, for followup contact. It was really a nice gesture, and seemed very "above and beyond" what you might do when you run into a stranger at a party. Apparently I struck them as both "nice" and "brave" to make this move (per Martin), and they want to get to know me better. So who am I to argue with that? I can use all the friends I can get at this point... :)

It is now nearly a month later, and I haven't done anything to follow up with any of them, other than to mention in passing that Nicholas would like to have Nia over for a play date.

But I have made some progress in finding area playgroups, and am going to another new one tomorrow. So I'll have some more news to report soon! TTFN...


Anonymous Lisa said...

Of course you are brave which is a perfectly good reason to get to know someone you've stayed up to 4:30 A.M. with.

Nicholas looks more and more like Martin to me. He's very focused on that Xylophone! Julia got a kid sized guitar - not completely schlocky, a musician friend tuned it and played Hendrix on it - and has given us several strolling minstrel serenades, making up both the music and the song (very Modern).

Best wishes in the new year. Lisa

P.S. Those cookies are gorgeous. I can take or leave the wurst.

2:15 AM

Blogger mich-girl-in-bavaria said...

I can hear the guitar chords from here... how fun! I think the cookies and gingerbread are used as ornaments, not for eating, FYI.

7:00 PM


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