Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chad's 30th birthday

December 3, 2009;

The big 3-0. Wow, have we gotten this old? ;) For Chad’s 30th birthday I made 30 cupcakes for him to take into work. Well, he took some into his office, I took some into mine, and we still had plenty left over. I was proud of myself, though, because I made the chocolate cupcakes from scratch, along with both chocolate and vanilla icing. They were yummy.

I wanted to do something special, so for a surprise, I planned a weekend trip to Cologne, Germany. I didn’t tell him where we were going, just what to pack. It was a quick 3.5 hr train ride. The nice part about going at this time of year was that they had the famous German Christmas Markets all over town. I think we heard that there were seven different markets in all.

We did not go to a restaurant once for the whole weekend. Instead, we “grazed” on all of the delicious foods from the vendors at the Christmas markets. For example, we had, bratwurst with bread & mustard (of course), a dumpling (dumpfel) with vanilla sauce & cherries, potato pancakes with applesauce, smoked salmon sandwich, brick oven pizza with bacon and onions, pork sandwich, grilled pork on a stick, mac & cheese, and even a crepe. There was also a nice warm dish with sauerkraut, pork, seasonings & sour cream on top.

The most popular vendors by far at all of the markets were the Glühwein stalls. Glühwein is a mulled red wine with honey and spices that is served warm. Perfect for a cold day. They had these booths spread throughout each market, and each one had their own unique mug. We collected a few of these mugs to take home. You have to be careful, though, because a couple mugs of Glühwein can sneak up on you really quickly!

Aside from the seasonal Glühwein, the Germans of course love their beer. The typical beer served in Cologne is a light pilsner called Kölsch. It is usually served in small, long, thin, cylindrical glasses. A waiter can carry several of these small glasses in a special round tray that has holes to hold each glass. Another interesting observation was that they serve the beer out of small, traditional kegs. The kegs were kept on the counter and had a tap at the bottom. When the keg got low, they would place a wooden board under the back end of the keg to tilt it forward.

Cologne is best known for being the birthplace of the fragrance of the same name, Cologne #470. However, today, it is also well known for having the largest cathedral in Germany, the Dom. It is a beautiful, ornate, stone Gothic cathedral right in the center of the old city. The city of Cologne sustained severe damage during WWII, however the Dom miraculously remained unscathed. The old city, or Altstadt, is also an interesting area, because it has nice small brick streets and historic buildings.

We both enjoyed being back in Germany again, and it was a nice weekend getaway. I loved the German Christmas markets. They were beautifully decorated, especially at night when all of the lights made for a nice festive atmosphere. Each vendor’s stall looked like a little wooden hut in the theme of that particular market, and each market had a different theme. Next year I’d like to go to another city and see more of them.


Pics from Cologne:

No comments: