...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Borta bra, men hemma bäst"

- Being abroad is good, but being home the best.
(a Swedish saying)

From experience, it's always a little more chilly when we go down to Germany than it is here in Sweden, for some strange reason. After days of German frost and a bit of snow, we were looking forward to coming home to a white New Year – only to discover that there wasn't even a centimeter of snow nor the slightest sign of frost here. Strangely, it was even much warmer in the air than when we left. Funny, two years ago we reportedly had one of the coldest winters since the 40's!

Our German trip was event-filled, hectic, and a little dramatic. We arrived in Mannheim earlier than expected and toured the Mannheimher Christmas market with Liz, Rob and Ian on Day 1. Christmas markets in Sweden – even the ones I went to in central Stockholm – look like a cheap excuse to sell junk next to a German Weinachtsmarkt. Street food (from steak sandwich to Nutella crepes), glühwein in different flavors, Christmas bands and kiddie rides just make the German ones feel more alive and vibrant. People stand in circles drinking alcohol to keep warm, and by the third cup, they probably won't need another excuse to buy more food and handicrafts.

...Or how about this chunk of marinated fat, Lardo, for 2 euros?

On Day 2, we drove down to Rothenburg ob der Tauber (click here for the wiki article), a medieval town at the edge of Bavaria. In the same region as the Neuschwanstein (a.k.a. Disney) castle, Rothenburg is also a tourist magnet as the rest of Bavaria, and there were probably just as many Japanese and Chinese tourists there as Caucasian ones. Menus and store signs are even in Japanese, and it's not uncommon to be greeted "Konichiwa!" at a postcard shop.

A stone wall surrounds Rothenburg's inner town. Think Intramuros, but much older – in fact, so old that the steps at the stairs are crescent-shaped from centuries of use. The names of donors for the wall's upkeep have their names engraved on the stone, sometimes including how many meters of wall they've decided to fund. One has a good view of the town from the walls, especially of the church's two towers:

The two towers look different. Which one do you think looks more beautiful? (Click it for a high-res photo)

According to the story, the two towers were built by master and apprentice. Many thought the second (further) tower was much more elegant, i.e. the tower which the apprentice built. Dispirited, the master climbed his own tower and jumped off, followed by his dog.

After heading back to Mannheim on Day 3, we toured our third and last Christmas market, this time at Heidelberg. Drinking glühwein and eggnog to our limits, we not only had to pay 30 cents for a piss but also went home quite dizzy.

The Burger Prince and Princess never drink so much alcohol as they do in Germany! (We're at BK to drink water!)

Day 4 was pretty uneventful in comparison with the other days. On Day 5, Christmas eve, Marcus got sick, threw up everything he ate, and went to bed without Noche Buena. Quite a lonely and kind of awkward Christmas dinner, if you ask me! Rob drove us to the hospital early morning on Day 6 – Christmas morning. Marcus got medicine against the symptoms after being told that every third person who entered the clinic had the same "winter barfing disease", as the symptoms are apparently called here in Sweden. After resting some at Rob's parent's place in Gaggenau (where we had dinner on Christmas evening), he was luckily able to eat some of Ian's Christening Lunch on Day 7.

As we've been warned, the baptism lunch was pretty big, understatement meant. The family cooked the next dish between courses and the whole affair lasted 5 hours, including dessert-after-dessert-after-dessert.

Window shopping on Day 8, our last day, was a deserved rest, and finally, we got back home the other day after a (thankfully) very smooth Ryan Air trip. We of course couldn't resist "being Swede" – or at least living in Sweden where alcohol is gold – and bought alcohol tax free at the airport, only to confirm that there were of course authentic Swedes around: one guy bought six bottles of booze, sat down in the waiting area and proceeded to stuff the bottles into his empty suitcase. Talk about hoarding with intent, bringing an empty suitcase into the X-ray inspection! :-)

Anyway, we've settled down at Norrköping now, washed our clothes, done our groceries and are prepared to run the normal course of things again in the 24-square meter space we call home. I must say it again though: "borta bra, men hemma bäst."

More pictures at my Multiply album!


Anonymous pj said...

Lardo?!?! That's either the most appropriate or least appropriate name for that product. Can't decide which.

8:06 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Sounds like a Filipino guy's name, Nardo heheh :-)

1:06 PM

Blogger aka Cheryl said...

i was thinking Lardo/Gardo Verzosa (u know, the bold star, hahaha)

10:00 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

um, no I don't know. Haha. Hay Cheryl, the movies you watch! LOL!

10:02 AM

Blogger aka Cheryl said...

aw, cmon. Machete!? i'm sure you know him. bwahahahaha!

1:16 PM

Anonymous american_expat_in_germany said...

i'm sorry to hear that the stuff they sell in Stockholm seems like junk. you know Weinachsmarkt originated in Germany, so there you go. should you guys plan to go to the Christmas Market again, try to go to Nüremberg (north of Bavaria). it's the biggest in the country (28.11. – 24.12.2008)

4:26 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Hi there! Yeah, everyone was telling us about the Nüremberg Christmas market. When I go there, I want to see the Nüremberg ring too. Haha!

11:24 PM


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