Christmas in Germany 2013
This year's Christmas holiday took the boyfriend and I to Germany, more specifically, Hamburg (because we wanted to) and Düsseldorf (because we could fly directly home to Birmingham from there). I still can't get used to not being abroad for Christmas after all the years I spent doing just that. But it's a compromise and having had our big trip of the year just seven weeks ago, for my birthday in October, the festive trip seemed frankly a little extravagant. As there were no trains on boxing day, we found ourselves on the coach, for which we arrived 30 minutes early to be sure to get on and have decent seats and the coach arrived 20 minutes late. Still, 50 minutes waiting on a sunny, dry morning with many, people joining us in the huddle before long, doesn't seem as bad when you're going on holiday. It worsened when we missed our paid for connecting coach because we were late, but happily we knew the proposed tube strike had been called off and we just paid again to jump on it.
After all this, I didn't even mind we were flying on my least favourite flight airline, BA (long story, has 'dirty tricks' and 'Virgin Atlantic' in it) because terminal 5 is pretty good.
So we get to our hotel in Hamburg pretty late and couldn't I be arsed to argue when they had me down as 'Mr' even though they'd asked me to declare my sex on the booking form. Sigh.
The suite, was lovely; it had a separate toilet by the front door, which drives me crazy normally but I understood why when I discovered the dividing wall; you can separate the room if you're receiving people or having meetings, so the guests have loo, sofa, table, chairs, coat wardrobe and shelf space! Or it's great if one person wants to watch the plentiful supply of German dubbed American films (fun for about four minutes) and other wants to work at the desk. The bathroom' had a bath tub, which is why I picked the hotel AND shower plus the 'kitchen' had a teeny sink, fridge and microwave. There was a kettle, which I don't always see so I was wishing we'd bought one of our tubs of hot chocolate from home. We went out and bought another one, which is why we have so many at home in the first place.
Of course the Christmas bears came with us. Well actually it's a first, but they've become such a big part of our festivities that we just had to make room for them. They had to travel in the hold but I'm sure they had parties with the other Christmas bears in suitcases, that no-one admits to.
I preferred Hamburg over Düsseldorf although I think we saw the bigger city in a better light. We happily wandered around Hamburg for four days and loved every neighbourhood. We'd heard the area was pretty affluent and that became apparent, but we managed to eat and eat well, very much within our budget every single time.
Düsseldorf was geared up for new years eve, possibly my least favourite day of the year but promptly followed by one of the best, new year's day! I do love fireworks and they went on for about 40 minutes past midnight and we enjoyedglass of bubbly looking out of our windows at them. What we don't like is people letting them off extremely dangerously in the streets, something we disliked in Milan last year too. However, we did want to get out for a walk before we settled into our room to bring the new year in.
We had good coffee everywhere, not one bad cup; always hot and cheap. Food generally was fantastic, maybe because we just allowed ourselves to have different things every day, just like at home and I didn't force myself just to try lots of German dishes that I really don't like. So every meal - we had lots, eating approximately every couple of hours, little and often, especially with the amount of walking we do! - was lovely and nicely priced. I even managed to have my normal weekend choices, pancakes and French toast for breakfast but boy was it hard to find a hamburger place in Hamburg!
Having got more than a little bored of the way too big Frankfurt Christmas market we have in Birmingham, I just knew the actual German markets would be better. They are compact, clean and most importantly, with far less drunken idiots. I would never stroll through our markets, in fact I do what I can to go around them, albeit it's impossible, when going to the post office. But here we happily wandered through.
Now, where will we be next Christmas?