Monday, February 06, 2006

Christmas Day

I was joined by Megan and Michael from Australia, and Mayumi from Japan (incidentally, all of them live in the UK). They were all part of the group of us that went out my last night in Nuremburg. I had invited them all to join me, as we were all traveling alone, and had nowhere special to be on Christmas Day. They met me as I walked out of my hotel’s dining room where I had just finished breakfast. We dropped some stuff off in my room, and went to explore the city. It is exactly like how every brochure and guide has ever said it is: old, charming, colorful, authentic. Unfortunately, everything was closed for Christmas. We walked around the old walls, explored a few small streets; and found a Schneeball* shop that was actually open, so we went in to see what the fuss was all about.
Lunch—for me, was potato dumplings, schnitzel, and a cup of potato soup at a small (couldn’t have sat more than 20 people) restaurant offering Christmas specials for 5.50 euros. I didn’t get the name of the joint, but it was run by a young couple (both of whose waists were bigger than the bar); very quaint atmosphere, with great prices for good local cuisine.
A few souvenir shops were open, and although I didn’t buy anything that day, we all stole handmade ornaments from various trees poised in the church squares and around town. I got a wooden Santa head complete with beard and hat.
Wparted ways around two in the afternoon. It is, for me, always awkward to say good-bye to people with whom, while we’ve only just met, I have bonded and share new memories. I often opt for the friendly, but quick and wide-berthed hug. Handshakes are too impersonal, cheek kisses too pretentious, and what else is there, really? I will probably never see most of these people again. If I like them enough, I’ll get their e-mail and maybe even tell them about, but most likely, I’ll never see (or hear from) them again.
On my way back to the hotel, I decided to pay the 4 euros admission into the Christmas Museum in the center of town. It is above a giant Christmas store, and an actual museum with antiquities, dedicated to the history of Christmas and its conservation. It’s small, but worth the 4 euros.
After a nap and a few hours of American movies dubbed in German (Long Kiss Goodnight, Ski Patrol, 48 Hours, etc.), I put on every layer of clothing I had with me, and joined a torch-lit tour of the ancient city.
Sadly, much like the petite ballad I went on in Auvergne, this was nothing like the brochure. It is not a tour of the city, but a hike-ish type excursion, into the dark, surrounding countryside. Everybody gets their own torch** and nobody can see beyond their own torches’ light. We were an angry mob storming the castle/village. And by ‘an angry mob,’ I mean Burberry- and fur-clad, middle-aged tourists and their bored-out-of-their-skulls teenage children. There was a guide, but no tour as there was nothing to see. Black forests and the occasional car. All alone, I began eavesdropping on groups around me. An American couple with two teenage boys were playing a creepily intimate game of “Grosser than Gross” and “Would you rather…,” and a giggly French couple made out while walking the narrow path—almost setting me and several others on fire.
Halfway down the trail, the group is led to a clearing with a giant bonfire in the middle. Gluwheine and cookies are served, and two men—dressed as medieval night watchmen, no less—sing Christmas carols. I whipped out my cell phone and played games for the show. When we finally started back, I was given a new torch, and with it, endless hours of pyro-maniacal fun.
The tour costs 6 euros and lasts a little longer than 2 hours. Don’t waste your money. The countryside is ONLY seen in the daylight, and as much as I enjoyed the torches, you can stick a sock in a bottle of wine, light it on fire, and walk around in the dark for free… on your own.

*A schnee ball tastes a bit like what I imagine a mothball would taste like, covered in chocolate, caramel, wrapped in sugar, or perhaps filled with Marzipan. Rarely have I put something in my mouth so big, and so unfortunately bad tasting (but really, does that say more about me or the company I keep?). Strips of dough (think pie crust dough without any sugar [read: flavor) are wrapped around each other to form the schneeball, once it has reached the desired circumference , it is baked, then the outer layer—and only the outer layer is dipped, glazed, dusted. Schneeballs start around 2.50 euros, and are available on every corner in Rothenburg. Avoid them at all costs.

**Who knew torches bring instant fun. Have a party that’s a pooper? Bring out the torches. Saddened by a recent loss? Run around the block with a torch. Not only will your recent loss excuse such eccentricity in the sight of neighbors, pretending to carry the Olympic Torch through the ‘burbs is just as fun as it sounds…er, um… I assume?


Blogger European said...

Night hikes are all the rave in Germany - for teenagers (it makes sense, doesn't it?!!). I've never been to a retreat without one. Sadly though, teens and torches don't mix, so it was flashlights for us.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I always wanted to play "Angry Lynch Mob." But I think I would have needed a pitchfork to go with the torch.

I'm a little surprised no one has started a forest fire yet, though.

4:45 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

You need a castle and a monster too......

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know they say that distance makes the heart grow fonder. But I am tired of initiating in this relationship. I feel neglected and frankly, unwanted. I keep telling myself that I am worthy of love! I am beautiful, funny and vivactious - I am worthy!

Anyway. I wanted to be the first to tell you that I am moving on. Laura has been around a lot lately and well... love the one you're with right? It just seemed natural and our relationship has progressed a lot especially since she took your job.

So goodbye for now. There will always be a little space in my heart for you.

2:27 AM  
Blogger JgStephan said...

Hi Serena
I am back, some days ago I had a big computer crash and have lost all my addresses and links...

6:23 AM  
Blogger UrbanCannibal said...

I am most intrigued by Ms. Anonymous’ comment.
Dollface, what’s going on over there? The Pig and I miss you too!

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You haven't heard from her either? Well. At least I know I'm not alone in this. I've been trying to contact her for months! I have to wait for these blog updates to know she's alive! So I posted my letter to her here since she updates this blog more than emails. That and I wanted to create some buzz!

5:44 PM  
Blogger Serena said...

SueAsian loves making waves, doesn't she.
I am alive-- barrely, and am trying to take care of stuff. also, the internet at school has been less than reliable for several weeks.
Everyone will receive an update in due time.
Nice to have you back, Stephan.

7:21 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

Hey Serena, if you havea moment, my sister is thinking about a spendign afew days in Paris and wants to know a fun inexpensive place to stay. Got any suggestions. (it willbe the begining of next month) You can drop a comment on my blog to anser or email me at xmi62 at the yahoo.

5:03 PM  

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