Counting Down The Days to Christmas- A German Tradition

I would like to share something very special with you in this post. As most of you know I was born and raised in Germany. For people like you living in Ireland or the UK or anywhere else in the world you might not know how we are preparing in the run up to Christmas and what we do before Christmas even arrives. I managed to put a little collection of traditions together. Christmas is always a special time of the year in my opinion. There is Halloween and Easter during the year too of course but Christmas makes it always that extra special to me. It is where all the family gathers together. I might live in Ireland for ten years now but I love taking my home country traditions with me.

Come December 1st the Advent time starts. Every Sunday of December is an Advent. So there is 4 Advents until Christmas. In this time we create a wreath with 4 candles around it. Each candle represents an Advent and will be lit on the Sunday. My mum used to make these from scratch. We would go out in the garden or the graveyard (out garden had door onto the local graveyard, I know spooky but I grew up with it) and pick up some branches to make it. She did some gorgeous pieces. I have been continuing making these myself. The first is actually the coming Sunday this year. I really need to start on the Christmas stuff very soon.

adventskranz

I love this time of the year because it’s so cosy having candles in the house and it makes it even more special and exciting to look forward to the Christmas period.

The next tradition is particularly for all kids out there. I used to love this day as a child.

On December 6th it’s “Nikolaus Day“. The night before the 6th every child cleans their shoes and puts them out hoping that Nikolaus will call during the night and fill them with sweets and fruit. I had 3 pairs out or even more but they were always filled with lovely things (thanks mum, you were too good ­čÖé ) But beware, the bold kids get a rod from Nikolaus (That actually never happens- even though I remember getting one for fun)

Nikolaustag Karte Hintergrund

Next up is a tradition that would be popular all over the world at this stage. The advent calendar.

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24 Windows filled with chocolate that represents each day in December. Doesn’t have to be just chocolate though. There are so many cute advent calendars out there now that can be filled with anything. Last year we actually had a toy advent calendar from WOW toys. Matthew loved it. I think this year it may be just a chocolate one for the kids and one that we have to fill ourselves.

If you happen to be in Germany the middle of December you definitely have to go to the Christmas Market. It’s a market normally in the centre of town or in the market square of town.

weihnachtsmarkt-in-dortmund

A must is to drink a hot mulled wine. Yum, even the thought of it I would love one right now.┬á Wrapped up warm and the wine standing in the middle of the market is the best thing ever. There is something I love eating at a Christmas market too and I actually made it last year for Christmas. They were going down a treat. They are called “Mutzen”. I published the recipe last year so you can find it again here. I made a whole batch. It’s basically dough which you fry in the deep fryer. DELICIOUS.

Because I live in Ireland now for the past ten years, I am trying to keep both traditions, Irish and German which is only fair I think.
This means come Christmas Eve December 24th we unwrap some presents after having coffee/tea and cake around 5pm. Half of the other presents will be kept for the morning that the Irish Santa left.

In Germany we normally put up the Christmas tree December 23rd. I like the Irish tradition better as the tree goes up December 6th. I love my decorations so I am always getting so excited being able to put up the tree so early. It will be interesting this year because Chloe is on the move.

What’s the tradition in your country? Would you do any of the ones listed or maybe plan to add on, now that you read about it?

#Blogtober17

Berlin – A Long Weekend Full Of Fun

I’ve been quiet on the blogging front for the last week. The reason is I was on a mini holiday in Germany visiting my bestie in Berlin. We celebrated her 30th birthday. It’s always nice to get a mini break away particularly when it’s in my home country Germany.

We didn’t make any massive plans because 30 is only a number after all. I still have my 30th birthday (January) ahead of me but I don’t plan on doing anything big either. It more than likely will be me and her going away somewhere again. To get the most out of my visit, I flew over on Friday early morning. When I say early I mean early. The flight was at 7.20 am.

With such an early flight and a journey of 2 1/2 hours to the airport, I booked a hotel 10 mins away from the airport for the night before. The Clayton was the one I picked. First time I stayed there. Such a big, lovely and family orientated hotel. I can’t recommend it enough. Plenty of room.

Last week was first time for everything. It was also the first time that I flew with Ryanair to Germany. It’s always Aer Lingus. Wow…the check in was a bit confusing. You basically have to do everything yourself. That is scanning your boarding card, make sure the bags aren’t too heavy and put the tag on the suitcase. It’s supposed to speed things up. I didn’t that. The queue was extremely long and you were seriously wondering if you are going to make it on time.

Ryanair Checkin
Ryanair Self Service

First day was a chill out day. I did my usual shopping. I brought everything back that I can’t get in Ireland. This can be quite a lot sometimes but because I flew with Ryanair this time, I was pretty limited as I only booked 15 kg.
In the evening we had a BBQ. The eye always sees more than you can actually eat. But oh my god the meat, skewers and sausages were so good. On the side a bit of delicious potato salad.
We made some delicious cocktails Karo found on Pinterest. One of them was Sangria. Very refreshing and tasty.

cocktail

Saturday was shopping and sightseeing day. Would you believe it, even though I was born in the Eastern part of Germany, I have never actually seen the Berlin wall in the East Side Gallery. I have to say Karo is a great little tour guide.
We also went to the Mall Of Berlin which is a huge shopping centre. It’s two buildings connected with a bridge. I didn’t actually buy anything, very unusual I know. Karo always wanted to go to this place called “Wonder Waffle“. They basically make waffles and you get to choose what you want to put into it. It’s oh so yummy but yet so filling. The coolest thing is though that they take your name and write it in chocolate writing.

berlin wall
Berliner Mauer
mall of berlin
Mall Of Berlin
Wonder Waffel
Wonder Waffel

In the evening time we took the train to “Alexander Platz” and met one of Karo’s school friends for dinner. We went to the ALEX restaurant. The food came pretty quick but other than the waiters were really slow. I was told they are quite good and efficient most of the time. When I am in Germany I always need to have a portion of chips, Schnitzel and mushroom sauce and that’s what I had. They also made this delicious lemonade which they have in different flavours. I had the Pink Passion one. We all had two lemonades because they were so good.

Schnitzel

Lemonade

On Sunday┬áit was one of the hottest days… 29 degrees. That didn’t stop us from doing a bit of sightseeing. Karo, her mum and I drove down to Potsdam. There is not much you can do on a Sunday in Germany because shops are closed. We walked around Sanssouci Park. Jackson, who is Karo’s dog came with us. He loved it. He did need to have a pit stop and drink some water in that heat.
To everyone who doesn’t know what Sanssouci is:

Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park.

Sanssouci
Sanssouci
SanssouciPark
Sanssouci Park

When we came back to the house, Karo and I went off and got some ice cream for us three from my favourite restaurant “Madlen”. At that point it was only an hour to dinner time. You can probably gather from my post that I ate a lot in those 3 1/2 days. I still needed to eat my favourite meal… a doner kebab. Just around 8 pm we decided to get one. I enjoyed every bite of it. The rest of the evening we watched a horror movie and had some cuddles with Karo’s new kitten called “Fussel” (Fluff). She is only 8 weeks old. It makes me want to get a third cat.

Fussel

Monday┬áwas spent with a bit more shopping in the local town, some lunch and off I went to the airport to catch my evening flight back to Dublin. I had a great time and can’t wait for our next trip away. Of course I need to consult this with hubby first. Our next trip away will be Spain at the beginning of August. I might be going away on a short trip with Karo for my 30th in January.

My Break Away in Berlin

A few weeks, even months ago, my bestie Karo and I decided we are going to meet up for her birthday and I was to fly over for it the beginning of July. So I asked hubby nicely to see if I can book it and if he is able to handle 2 kids. This was my mini holiday away from the kids. It was nearly 5 days.

Friday, 10th July, the day finally arrived, I flew over to Germany to visit my bestie. Originally it was planned to go Thursday to Sunday but under work circumstances for hubby I changed it Friday to Tuesday which gave me an extra day.

At lunch time I drove down to Dublin so I have plenty of time in case there is traffic. The flight didn’t depart until 6pm which meant I didn’t have to rush. In fact the flight was delayed like all other flights for some reason. By 21:45pm I arrived in Berlin Sch├Ânefeld Airport. Karo collected me and we drove to her hometown Panketal which is outside Berlin. It was nice to see her dog Jackson and the 3 cats and her mum again. After giving everyone the presents we went to bed as it was a long day, not just for me. Karo worked all day.

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Saturday, 11th July, it was a lovely warm day. I got up pretty early. I guess I am so used to it. We all had breakfast together and Karo and I drove to the next village called Eberswalde that had a cool little zoo. We had the perfect weather for it.
First let us take a few selfies…whether it’s human or animal…

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It was an amazing start of a fun holiday. So much to do there too. We fed the goats, the donkey we took the selfie with, bonded with lemurs, went onto the playground to discover the child in us again and took lots and lots of selfies.

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Tiger *ROAR*

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This was the most fun part. Karo can’t agree more. She took a video of this whole thing and found it quite amusing. I have to admit it does look amusing but I have to disappoint you guys the video is just between me and her.

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As you can probably make out in the photo above, I like looking through things and have photos taken with those things.

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Lemur selfie time. One of them even licked her finger. They are too cute, aren’t they? They were running around freely in the park.

After the zoo we went back to Panketal and had lunch in our favourite cafe “Madlen”. Schnitzel for me of course. YUM YUM.

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Admit it, it look delicious! Even looking at it now I could kill that meal right now.

We then chilled out a bit in the house and got ready to head to ” Disney in Concert” in Berlin. I recommend it to anyone out there. It was lovely and brings you back to your own childhood watching all those movies like Aladdin, the Lion King or Arielle. I might have even cried a little but no one noticed.

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I’ve taken some videos as you actually have more from it than photos. Listen into 2 of them.

The Lion King – Circle Of Life (GERMAN)

A small world (GERMAN)

Sunday, 12th July, was a lazy day. Ireland and the UK might be used to going shopping on this day but in Germany shops are closed every Sunday unless it is some special day. So what else can you do other than making a Banoffee Pie and going bowling after. It was raining that day too so 2 of the most perfect activities you could possibly do. The bowling shop was only 2 mins down the road.

2015-07-12 17.10.08

Who wants a slice?

Monday, 13th July, we wasted over an hour in the morning. Why you are wondering? Well, as you know I sold my family house in Germany last year and I wanted to keep my bike. So Karo and I went into the next village to a bike shop and he put it into a box to send over to Ireland. We went to the post office and to 2 other possible courier. All rejected as the box was too big. How annoying and how annoyed and speechless were we. Just because of 10cm more length. So unless we find another courier it either stays there for bike journeys whenever I am over, I am going to have a sell it or take it over by plane.

12.30pm that day we finally headed our way into Berlin city, Potsdamer Platz to watch the Minions. I got Karo a voucher for her birthday which she loved by the way. The movie was alright. At least we can talk to other people about it now.

minions-film

It was onto shopping next. H&M and othe shops we passed. I tried on so many things and I only ended up with 2 tops in the end. What did Chloe get? At least 10 things. But is it not always that way? You always buy more for you kids.

After all that shopping we got hungry and walked to Vapiano across the road. They make delicious pasta, salads and pizza in front of your eyes and add the ingredients. It’s lovely but you need to have a huge amount of patience. It is always packed and you could wait a long time. I think this time I must have been in the queue for at least 30 mins. And I destroyed my pasta pesto within 2 mins, I was that hungry from waiting.

Around 6/6.30pm we headed back to Panketal. I’ve done a little of shopping and we watched a movie in the evening time.

Tuesday, 14th July, my last day. You wouldn’t believe how fast those days flew. Way too fast. We can’t stop the time can we? Karo had an appointment early in the morning so I relaxed in the house a bit and played with Jackson and the cats. Some breakfast after and off we went to do the big shopping. To give you an idea I came with 13kg luggage, that includes presents and stuff for Karo and her mum. I left with 22kg. 2kg overweight. OOPS, but because I flew with Aer Lingus they didn’t say anything. Ryanair I am sure they would have charged me for every gram I am over.

Lunch time we had a yummy BBQ. Sausages, chicken and meat. It was amazing and a lovely way of ending my holiday. A bit of chilling out and eating sweets on the couch after, last cuddles with the cats and Jackson.

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7pm it was time to hit the road and take the train back to the airport. Karo came with me so I didn’t have to find the trains on my own. As always the flight was late. Originally we were supposed to land 23.20pm. It was midnight by the time we left the plane. I am so glad I booked a hotel last minute as there was no way I could drive home safe that late. I had to be up again at 6am but at least I got a few hours sleep.

What a lovely trip it was and guess what, we are already planning the next one. This time Karo is coming over to visit me again in 2 weeks time more than likely. We are using the time before I am back to work again in 3 weeks.

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