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Travelog for: Eebee

Saarland, Germany - 3rd December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

I arrived save and sound at my first host's. I was told that I am just in time for a great adventure this weekend. It's a surprise though, so I cannot yet tell you what it is. For now I will relax with some tea and chocolate.

* Posted Dec 3, 2009, 3:23 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 4th December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

Today we drove about 350 km north to Essen, a big city in the west of Germany. It was one of the first city to have "light weeks" during winter where the city is decorated with lights, rather than just regular lanterns. There's a different theme every year. Next year, Essen and the Ruhr area in general will be the European Capital of Culture, so that's what this light illustration is about.

There are also artificial trees of light like this:
and real trees are wrapped with little lights.

We'll take a closer look at the Christmas market tomorrow.

* Posted Dec 5, 2009, 5:06 pm Last edited Dec 5, 2009, 6:39 pm by Apperveilchen [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Christmas market in Essen, Germany - 5th December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

I was very excited thismorning. Today I got to meet many other toyvoyagers and lots of people from postcrossing. There's a meeting here in Essen to go over the Christmas market together.

Here they all spent a long time writing (and mostly signing) around 140 - 200 postcards. It might not sound like that much, but imagine signing 140 items one after the other. I spent the time looking out the window over the roofs of the city:
There to the left you can see the city hall.

Of course I also chatted with all the other toyvoyagers and learnt about their adventures.

Shortly before 1 p.m. we came to this carillon.
We stayed and waited for it to chime.
You can barely see that the lower doors are open then and little musician played a German Chirstmas song.


Next we went to the ferris wheel.
We got ourselves some tickets to ride it of course.
There's the Old Synagogue and the former engineering school.

Here's the minster of Essen. It was founded by a very influential ladies' convent (they werent nuns but unmarried or widowed ladies living in a (religious) community without taking any vows) in the middle ages that was the basis for the city of Essen.
We couldn't take pictures in the minster because there was what looked like the drees rehearsal for the concert of a youth choir. We did walk through the cloister, though.

Much later, after getting a traditional Bratwurst in a bun we visited the largest part of the Christmas market. The postcrossers had to drop off their postcards at the post stand to get the special Christmas cancellation.
Here you can see me in front of one of the big stands that sells Christmas decorations. The nutcrackers on the top are a typical and often still handmade German product from the Erzgebirge region in eastern Germany.

By that time I was freezing and really wanted to go home. It was also windy and rained on and off all day, so I am happy to get home to some hot tea.

* Posted Dec 5, 2009, 5:33 pm Last edited Dec 5, 2009, 6:40 pm by Apperveilchen [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Merzig, Germany - 14th December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

We had some errands to run today. It gets dark so early nowadays that there's already very little light when my host comes home from work.
The first building is right next to the church of St. Peter, a building in the rare Rhine-Maas Romanesque style.
The secone one is the tiny Fellenberg castle, now a museum, decked out in Christmas decorations.


* Posted Dec 14, 2009, 8:34 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Saarland, Germany - 17th December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

Today we decided to make muffins for our host to take to work with her.
We mixed butter with sugar, vanilla sugar and eggs, added flour and baking powder andmilk. Later one batch got some chocolate splits, the other some buttermilk and juice.
Don't they look good?

* Posted Dec 20, 2009, 4:50 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 20th December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

We have snow!
Yesterday it wasn't much fun. We had a 4h drive and for 3h of those we could see nada. At down to -14°C (6.8°F) had to stop 6 times to wipe frozen snow-salt-sludge off the windshield. Luckily we got somewhere it was a little warmer (-8.5°C/16.7°F) and less new snow before it got dark.
But today it was great. We took a long walk in the snow. I really need something warmer to wear, though.

Today is also the 4. Advent. All the lights on this more modern "Advent wreath" are burning now.
Behind you see a little poinsettia, Christstern in German, the traditional flower here for this season.

People also put up some window decorations
and lights in their windows and gardens, mostly just plain white lights in the area for this year.
In other years there used to be blinking colored lights or stars, reindeers etc. and some people still use those, but most of the decorations we see are simpler. There are traditional Schwibbögen, handmade wooden candleholders from a region in eastern Germany. Maybe we can show those some time later.

* Posted Dec 20, 2009, 9:35 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

christmas market, Essen, Germany - 21st December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

We went to the Christmas market again for some last minute presents. I got another picture with the nutcrackers and the pyramids, in daylight this time so you can actually see them.
The multistoried wooden structures are called pyramids. On can get them in all sizes. Little candles are placed in the holders around each level and when they are lit the warm air rises up and turns the little propellor on top. That moves not only the propellor, but also the plates of the different levels on which figurines are arranged. They often show Mary, Joseph and the Christ in the manger, shepherds and their sheep, the Magi and/or (choirs of) angels, depending on the size.

Here's one of the many booths selling hot spiced wine, hot cocoa with liquor and other hot drinks.

This is an oldfashioned children's carrousel. Unfortunately we were too small to ride and it's more fun at night anyway.

* Posted Dec 22, 2009, 2:58 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 22nd December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

In preparation for Christmas Eve we are wrapping presents.
Sumi and I are very helpful:
Isn't it pretty?

And another bow:

The presents will stay here and come with us to grandma's house on Christmas Eve where they will be put into neat stacks for the different people in the 'chimney-room'. No young people are allowed in there before the official present opening because they might accidentally surprise the angels and the Christkind. That woudl turn their hair all white like grandpa's and who wants that?

* Posted Dec 28, 2009, 3:29 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 23rd December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

The day before Christmas Eve, time to put up the Christmas tree. We bought a big one. It was packed into a net and now has to be shortened and put into the holder. Then the net can come off:
Is it turned the right way?
Later lot's of tiny lights are put in which is the biggest piece of work. A few hours, 3 different chains of lights, some replaced little lightbulbs and lots of frayed nerves later it looks like this:
Then comes the fun part. There are many different ornaments in big and small boxes: stars made of straw; glass orbs in many different sizes and colors, shiny, matt or transparent, with or without little pictures or stripes; wooden angels, Santas, skiing children, moon and stars...
We decided to go for the very traditional Christmas colors: red, green and gold this year.

* Posted Dec 28, 2009, 3:40 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 24th December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

In Germany most families celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve. On that day the shops are mostly open until midday and many offices are also open for half a day. The Christmas Days, 25th & 26th of December are holidays: no shops are open and only people in emergency services have to work.
We started out the celebrations with "Kaffee & Kuchen" as they say here, meaning coffee and cake, even if you have tea or cookies instead.
The advent wreaths are in use and many older people have self-embroidered table clothes for holidays.
Here's an old nativity set. Some people leave out baby Jesus until this night and only add him to the scene now.
After dinner everybody gets to open some presents and many people go to midnight mass.

* Posted Jan 10, 2010, 7:02 pm Last edited Jan 10, 2010, 7:07 pm by Apperveilchen [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 31st December 2009

By: Apperveilchen

It's Silvester (Sylvester). Actually that's the name day (saint's day) today but it has prevailed as a description for the last day of the year. A long time ago, nearly all the dates were given not as a day and month but as a name day. We are running some errands.
Tonight everybody will do their own small fireworks. Fireworks may only be sold to non-prefessionals in these few days before Silvester because it's the only time of the year that people may do their own fireworks display without needing a special permission. There are also some big organized fireworks of course, but most people do their own tonight. The tradition goes back a long way and is suppposed to chase away evil spirits. Unfortunately it's not a very good photo opportunity, so we can't show any pictures.
People also give each other little talismans like horseshoes to protect home and hearth, chimney sweeps, who used to be the first ones out and about on New Years Day, clover leaves and little pigs made of marzipan or other sweets or simply of plastic.

* Posted Jan 10, 2010, 7:27 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 3rd January 2010

By: Apperveilchen

To begin this year we had a lot fo snow and since temperatures remain below freezing day and night and since the city doesn't do a whole lot about clearing the roads, it's pretty much all still there. Perfect for a long weekend of course. We have kind of a winter wonderland:

* Posted Jan 10, 2010, 7:33 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 6th January 2010

By: Apperveilchen

It's Jan. 6th, Dreikönigstag or Epiphany. All over Germany children are designated as offcial Sternsinger (star singers). They dress up as the Magi, carry a star and go from door to door to pass on the message of Christmas by singing carols and to collect money for charity. The houses where people donated money are blessed and get a sign on the doors:
year +C + M + B + year (CMB for "Christus mansionem benedicat" (Christ bless this house) which nicely conincides with the common names for the Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar)
They also leave a flyer explaining the tradition and this year's purpose for the donations.

* Posted Jan 10, 2010, 7:50 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 9th January 2010

By: Apperveilchen

The weather forecasts predicted snow storms all over Germany for this weekend. We had a few new centimeters of snow and a lot fo wind but nothing too terrible here.
It's much too cold for me to go out into that, though. I really need some warmer clothes. My host was nice enough to make a scarf and a cap:
Do you like them?

* Posted Jan 10, 2010, 8:29 pm Last edited Jan 10, 2010, 8:35 pm by Apperveilchen [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Essen, Germany - 10th January 2010

By: Apperveilchen

Yay, I could finally go out into the snow! We are planning to walk around 3 km.
Here's a playground in the snow. I doubt anyone will play on this for a while. All the childern we passed were dragging or riding on sleighs.
Directly behind it are some fields where it seems like there's nothing else but fields and sky but in reality we are in the middle of the city.
This is the farm.
Some of the area is protected. The sign says Landsschaftsschutzgebiet (landcape protection area) which isn't quite as strict as a nature protection area but should still be a place where migrating birds can rest etc.

Look how deep the snow is. And we are only standing in a footprint.

In the tree behind us some blackbirds are eating the red fruit, one of the few things they'll find at the moment. 

Here's a city graveyard.
Right next to it ia a protestant one. The catholic graveyard is a few hundered meters away.

Behind the field there are some half-timbered houses.
One photo for the background.

Look, we came all the way along the line of trees to the right.

This is a hospital and the little building in the front is a hospice. There's a nice private park behind the buildings, mainly for the patients in the hospice.

There are many townhouses from the early 20th century in Essen, but most aren't in very good repair.

Here are some relatively typical multi-family houses:
and some row-houses from the 1960s:

* Posted Jan 10, 2010, 8:54 pm Last edited Jan 10, 2010, 8:56 pm by Apperveilchen [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

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