Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Time in Berlin

Because we are unable to be home with family this year, Ben and I chose to spend our Christmas in Berlin, Germany.  We left Dubai in the early hours of December 21st and arrived in Berlin around 1:30 pm.  Our flights were mostly uneventful although we weren't able to accomplish much shut eye. After landing we made our way through customs, figured out the train system here and made our way to our hostel. After we checked in around 3:30 pm, we decided to take a nap prior to exploring and finding something to eat.  We set the alarm so we would wake up after a couple of hours which turned into 16 hours.... Oops....

We awoke, showered and headed out into the city early the 22nd. Many, many places were still closed even though it was after 8 am, but we did find this cafe that had a large selection of German pastries and good coffee. Ben had a cherry strudel and I had some delicious thing that I cannot remember what it was called.  After breakfast we continued exploring on foot and purchased tickets to a few of the museums.  There were displays from Germany's past, as well as Egypt, Rome, and Greece.  Since it was about 27 degrees and we are used to thinking that 70 degrees is cold in Dubai, we were happy to get out of the cold for a bit.  I found the museums to be a bit lack luster since most of the cool looking things only had descriptions in German...

When we were finished at the first museum, we decided it was time to check out the Christmas markets.  We went to the closest market and the first thing we grabbed was a warm mug of gluhwein, or mulled wine.  Holy bajeezes it was delicious! It tasted like adult Christmas in a cup! The tasty nectar of the gods came in actual mugs which you pay a 3 Euro deposit for the first time and then continue to have the same mug refilled as you go.  You can have additional alcohol added, such as rum, but we chose the traditional wine sans the rum.

Next it was time for food! The Christmas market had many stands with traditional German food for us to choose from. Ben and I decided to share a bratwurst so that we would have enough room to try other foods as well. The brats were cooked on this large circling grill over an open fire and the guy spun the grill himself.  The brat was hot and delicious and the bun was very fresh.

There were many stands with yummy treats and I was drawn to the candied almonds.  They had many flavors to choose from including chili, rum and Baileys. The woman at the stand was very kind and allowed me to try most of the flavors and I purchased a small bag of the Baileys almonds for munching.  We also tried traditional Berlin lard cookie things and a pretzel covered in cheese - both we're outstanding!

After going through one more museum we headed back to the hostel. We stopped at another Christmas market where we tried chestnuts that were actually roasted on an open fire! They are so tasty! Ben thinks they taste like a potato with butter and I think they taste similar to edamame. Either way they are delicious! When we got back to the hostel we talked with the K's and decided to go see Stomp.  We jumped on the train and made our way to the theater, purchased our tickets and went next door for supper. Ben was excited to have a good beer and we were both excited for pork and sauerkraut. Ben had a brat with sauerkraut and I ordered the shank which turned out to be a huge chunk of meat still on the bone and incredibly hard to eat (but was still good).  After supper we went to Stomp which was AWESOME and then headed back to the hostel for the night.

My favorite part of the day was being able to enjoy the snow. It began in the morning and continued throughout most of the day. It helped to make Germany feel a bit more like Christmas even though we were away from the people we love.