GERMANY, 30th NOVEMBER- 7th DECEMBER 2017

GERMANY.

How can you possibly explain how much you appreciate people getting out of their beds and picking you up from an airport before it’s even sunrise!

Our plan had been to call Andrea and Thomas once we had our bags so they didn’t have to wait for us unnecessarily at the airport, but after we had picked up our bags and went through to the departure area to call them we were thrilled to see the beautiful face of Andrea waiting for us.

After big hugs we went and met Thomas at their super flash Tesla car and drove to their equally gorgeous home, stopping on the way to buy fresh out of the oven rolls and pretzels for a traditional German breakfast.

Along with the rolls, there was cold meats, cheeses, salad and grapes and coffee!

Having flown overnight on Cathay Pacific in premium Economy, with decent seats and a champagne and a couple of sleeping tablets I felt pretty rested, although James said he didn’t have such a great sleep and he’d had 4 tablets!

But when Andrea and Thomas said, hey it’s looking good outside, contrary to weather reports let’s go drive up the mountain and see if the snow has stayed on the mountain, we couldn’t get in their car fast enough.

Unbelievably not only had the snow stayed, it snowed while we walked through the forest to the restaurant for hot chocolate.

The scenery was pure Christmas card magic. And the snow on the tree branches was just so pretty, some reminded us of coral.

We couldn’t have been more excited and thrilled, it really doesn’t normally snow till January so for this to happen on the last day of November and our first day here, was like our dream come true.

Back home and a bowl of homemade chestnut soup inside us, we had a little rest till we were called to get ready to go to the local town Christmas market, it is on only one weekend a year, from the Thursday till the Sunday and it just happened today was the week it was on.

It was an easy walk and we started in the medieval part of the market where the stall holders were dressed in costume.

Totally delightful and after a few different warm wines and little treats we were rewarded with a little bit more snow.

What a top day.

Day two, we went walking through the town with Thomas before meeting Andrea who was at the dentist.

The town is so quaint, a real village atmosphere, with plenty of old Tudor style homes and a lake that freezes enough for ice skating.

That afternoon we drove into Frankfurt for the Christmas markets there.

They are huge and this year boasts the tallest Christmas tree.

We caught up with friends of Andrea and Thomas’s, Christian and Petra. A lovely couple who were also good enough to speak in English with us.

We were there for quite some hours as there are so many stalls and things to see.

Four tired but happy people hit bed that night.

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Day three, a beautiful drive through the country to Marburg where we visited the old castle and Christmas markets. Marburg is yet another gorgeous old village.

Andrea and Thomas hadn’t been together before either so it was nice to do something new for them as well.

They had friends coming over for dinner Uwe and Biata so we all helped get things ready for the cheese fondue dinner.

Another wonderful couple with great humour and conversation. James bailed at 1am and I at 2am and it was 3pm before the guests left. So it was a sleep in the next morning the beginning of day four and we woke to snow falling out our window.

Thomas dropped James and I off at Hessenpark, an amazing place where old buildings from around the province have been bought to make up a village display. There are people showing how things were back in different eras and just for this day only the entrance fee was half and included their Christmas markets as well.

We had such a great time for hours, going through the different buildings, looking at the markets, just being in awe of the beautiful scenery with fresh snow falling all day. We had warmed beer, hot chocolate, potato pancakes, soup and fresh made hot crisps.

Thomas picked us up and at home we decided we didn’t need to go out again and would enjoy just relaxing on the couch. We had another lovely healthy meal and we used one of the vinaigrettes we bought at the markets on the salad, then it was snacks and gluweine while we played scrabble. James and I rank amateurs compared to Andrea, but it was an enjoyable way to pass the evening as we chatted and laughed.

We have been humbled by Andrea and Thomas’s hospitality and they keep making it harder to think about leaving by offering such great plans of things to do together.

Day five, and we had decided on a trip to Strasbourg all together, but after a late start we decided a trip to Mainz and a shopping trip so James could buy better gloves and an extra pair of warm pants each was a better use of the day.

We also got a SIM card from Aldi so hopefully when all the registration etc goes through we’ll have internet when we’re on the road.

The shopping trip was successful in not only that we got what we needed quickly but at a great discount price due to Andrea and Thomas knowing the salesman.

Onto Mainz and after parking the luxurious Tesla at a charging station, we walked into the pretty centre of Mainz and it’s lovely old worldly charm and gorgeous markets. As usual Thomas and Andrea introduced us to more traditional German fare and as usual we all ate too much and after several pleasant hours four fat and happy bellies packed into the car for the drive home.

We had another home cooked meal at home and an early night for us all.

Day six and we are still here enjoying the hospitality and great company, we have decided to leave the suitcases here and come back for them on our way to Munich.

This way we will get to see our friends once more and we know our belongings will be safe.

So the morning was spent getting the SIM card registered, booking our first return day trip to Cologne and I finally finished and posted my blog on Hong Kong.

We had an amazing lunch at home before going into Bad Homburg just after three for a walk through the park and shopping precinct, also to walk some of our lunch calories off too. What a beautiful town! Massive old mansions surround the outside of the park and it was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

We had dinner booked at The Lame Donkey for dinner where they serve great schnitzel and other traditional food and drinks are on offer as part of the menu. The restaurant is in huge Tudor style building and the meal, drinks and atmosphere were a winning combination.

Another great day here in Germany.

Day seven and we use our rail pass for the first day.

From the local station into Frankfurt and on the ICE train to Cologne. The day all went smoothly and Cologne train station was right next door to the amazing Cathedral, where we also went to the first Christmas markets of the day.

Cologne lies along a river so there is quite a tourist trade from there as well with the river cruises so popular these days.

We discovered a little Christmas train express which for 10€ took you around to 4 of the cities markets, a real bonus as there would have been too much walking involved otherwise.

James photobombing Saint Nickolas.

Each Market had its own theme and so although some foods are available at all the markets there have been a few different crafts etc on display.

As the afternoon closes in quickly and the lights come on throughout the stalls and overhead, a real festive atmosphere envelopes everyone and everything and the specialness of it all sinks in. This was why we wanted to come here and what we wanted to experience, haven’t been disappointed at all.

We made it safely back to Andrea and Thomas’s for our last evening meal with them and their son Dennis arrived just as we were going to bed, was great to meet him.

The next day it would be time to say goodbye to ur friends and use the rest of our rail pass to discover more of Germany and their world famous Christmas markets.

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