Dec 082011
 

Frohe Weihnacht!  Merry Christmas Season!  Bubby and Zany are visiting with us this week, so we have had many adventures.

First off, here are a couple photos that I stole from Zany’s camera.  Folks on FB have seen these before.  But, I like them!

Bubby and DS.  Two loving people very happy to have each other around.

Bubby, Me and the little man in Offenburg- yes, I still have the brace, but (knock wood) not much longer!

I had a nice warm cup of chocolate glühwein.  Yeah, it is as decadent as it sounds.  I really like this photo of me.  Tough to get a good one when I am usually the one with the camera.  Thanks Zany!
Strasbourg
Sunday, we decided that the only thing that might be open was the Weihnachtmarkt in Strasbourg.  It is supposed to be one of the better ones in this region, and it was indeed!  The markt has been in the square of the cathedral since the late 1500’s.  Though, I dare say it was likely a bit different during any variety of war years!  About every ten feet is a stand selling hot spiced wine called glühwein or vin chaud, depending on your language of choice.  The rest of the stands mostly sold little gifts and craft fair sorts of goods.  Nice place to pick up a few holiday presents (which, I am told, is perhaps the whole idea…..)

The little tramp greeted us and other visitors as we arrived at the Weihnachtmarkt.  I actually had a really hard time getting a photo because large numbers of oblivious tourists would always seem to walk in the way just as I was about to click the shutter!  I stole this photo from Zany’s camera- apparently his superior size, patience and perhaps pushitude yielded him the superior photo!

The Cathedral and its Christmas Market.  It has been going on here in this square annually since 1570!
That is the tourist offices with the huge gingerbread decor.

See the lady with the stork on her head?  She was an American.  She had no rhythm.  And she didn’t know the words to Jingle Bells.  I don’t know why she thought that the two Santas wanted her to sing with them.  But, there was a LOT of glühwein for sale.  Perhaps that had something to do with it.

This Year’s theme was “The Swiss are your Neighbors”- I wondered how many of the Strasbourg natives needed the reminder?

I suspect that the gentlemen with the enormous cowbells are who we heard parading when we were eating dinner.

Swiss Bell-men
A Jules Verne themed merry go round- but of course!
There may have been a few folks in town.
No, really.  Even more than that (Mom, DS and I are at the front of the shot)

All the side alleys are decorated with fun themes.  Teddy Bears or Angels or ornaments of all kinds.
Zany with a blue LED lit tree and a statue of Gutenberg.
The English language version of the menu at the restaurant where we ate… David wasn’t with us this day or I am sure he would have gone for the boar stew!
Muscat- highly recommended!

The French apparently use the entire scallop, not just the round white part.  I didn’t know they had another part!  Honestly, I found I preferred just the sweet white rounds.  The orangy bits were more strongly flavored- and they really did have visible antennae and faces.  After a 1/2 dozen or so, I decided I didn’t need the extra calories anyways, and just went with the good parts!

Bubby and her cheesecake- the green spot on her sweater is the result of the green paper napkins at the eatery.

Zany and his apple strudel

When we got upstairs, the heat in the room fogged my camera!  Ah, the Hollywood starlets would love it!
Zany’s camera did the same thing!  I don’t look less wrinkly, though- just in a haze….

Dumbwaiter- to the left, the guy on the right seemed to speak several languages.

DS liked his dessert- a sugar cube from my coffee!

My dessert, Black Forest Cake!!! First one I have eaten since being in the Alsace region. (yea, I am sure the little scallop heads I didn’t eat gave me plenty of spare tummy space for this!)

We had to go up via this elegant but daunting structure.

More decorations in old Strasbourg- sort of a different style than the American Shopping Decor I have seen.
DS and Kaan, one of his good friends from school.  Kaan’s family owns a cafe in Gengenbach, so we decided to have lunch there.

Gengenbach
Monday, we picked DS up from school at 1, and headed over to the restaurant run by the family of a friend of his.  Lovely place.  Delicate pizzas and wonderful tea!

This is definitely the Right Way to serve tea!  Mmm… Orange!
Bubby, DS and Zany outside the townhall in Gengenbach

Every year they make it into the “world’s largest advent calendar!” (each window and the panels above are opened one night at a time to reveal a new image, if you squint you can see a few random ones have pictures instead of regular window coverings)

The Chocolate Museum
Tuesday we went out to France for another pass at the Chocolate Museum.  Bubby had missed it last time and really wanted the experience.

Zany and Bubby in the Mayan Chocolate fields

Yup, zombie slave children are still creepy!

And that poor Mayan woman is still stuck cowering behind Cortez.  What IS that?

 But, I don’t have a photo of the oddest part of the trip.  Like many such establishments, it is laid out so that you exit in the gift shop- of course!  But, when we emerged this time, the place was overrun.  There appeared to be two groups spread out through the cramped store.  The first was some sort of school group with kids in their early teens- maybe DD’s age, maybe a year older or younger.  They were well behaved, but, they were pretty typical teenagers.  Lots of little clutches of kids trying to decide what presents to get for family and friends, gossiping (in French) the whole time.  The second group was all disabled elderly folks!  We are talking ancient people in wheel chairs or with crutches and fearful, bemused, sometimes glazed looks on their faces.  Between the stranded wheelchair-bound seniors and the swirling gaggles of giggling boys and girls, movement was, shall we say… impaired!

An enormous line formed at the cash register.  To my horror, I realized that there was only one employee who was buzzing around with a shell-shocked look on her face, trying to make some sort of gift basket.  Oh No!  As I continued looking up I realized that poor Zany was standing there looking completely flummoxed.  He and Bubby had put their purchases in a basket like the ones the local venders use for gathering small items.  But, this particular one was actually meant to make attractive presents for the holidays.  And, since he doesn’t speak French, there was no explaining what was up to the saleslady!  In slow motion, I tried to make my way through the molasses of people, but it was no use.  I put back my potential purchases and called myself lucky to get away without waiting through the line.  The whole experience had been some sort of surreal comedy routine.  If I were into such things, I might suggest that it could have been better enjoyed with a little herbal enhancement!

Outside, things weren’t much better.  Some pushy German lady *really* wanted our parking place.  There were others, but ours was apparently the best one.  Mom got a little flustered, but successfully pulled out and gave the woman a clear berth.

Next it was my turn to be flustered.  What was that sound?  The scraping noise couldn’t be good.  We stopped and I got out to investigate.  OH.  The “chin spoiler” had fallen off.  That is the lower piece of plastic under the bumper.  Thank goodness Zany was there.  He knew just how to pop that baby back on!  Woot!  Zany magic for the win!

Zany and the Chin Spoiler

Lying on the wet road in France, putting our car back together!

 
St. Nikolaus Nacht
St. Nikolaus Nacht was that evening.  This is a German tradition in which the good saint shows up at the house with his switch and beats the tar out of anyone who has been naughty.  Then, depending on your area, either he or a nice lady named Kris Kindele fill everyone’s hausschuhe (slippers) with trinkets, nuts, fruit, candy or whathaveyou.   I guess there were no bad children in our house, or we were lucky because the old meany never showed up with his switch!  The next day when the kids got out of school, though, they came home to find their shoes filled with treats and trinkets.  So did the grownups!  I guess someone thought our ears were cold because among the best presents were a series of animalistic knit hats! (prepare for a long string of family photos, sorry!)

DD’s shoe

DS’s shoe

Mine and David”s

Zany with his and Bubby’s

DS Likes his gifts

DD seems a little confused by hers, really….

Hmm, is this how you wear this?
Mimicking St. Nick’s finger pose

Bubby seems to like her Nikolas offerings, too :-)

Spiffy New Hat!

Letting Loose the Monkey In Me (It was suggested that I got the monkey hat because my favorite kid-friendly swear word is Crudmonkey…)

Pensive…

Er… long-suffering?
A man who knows how to wear a spiffy hat!

I think it adds a certain gravitas to his presentation.

DD decided to take the photos rather than be in them, but her cat hat is getting an assist from DS

There are worse photos of us.
But this is my favorite!

Myconids- St. Nikolas at least knows our bizarre family aesthetics!

Gasthoff Tritschler & Bubby’s Birthday
 We were going to miss Bubby’s birthday celebration with the family, so we all decided to go out to a local gasthoff that Tom, my physical therapist, had recommended.  Getting there was a bit tricky because our car only holds 5 and there are 6 of us!  So, David walked over from work.  It was pouring rain most of the day, mind you.  But, he managed not to get too soaked.  The restaurant itself serves traditional German fare…. very, very slowly.  We were there about 3 hours for our 2 course meal (entree and dessert).  Probably could have skipped dessert, but the food was better than good and quite filling, as you can see from the photos!  After dinner, it was Bubby and Zany’s turn to walk back to their hotel, while David and the kids and I took the car back home. Nothing in Germany is without at least some work!

Gasthoff Tritschler has a self portrait!

Bubby and Zany.  Awwwww.

David and Me.  Yeah, I think that is us.

I suppose this is, too.

That is a Rump Steak on Bubby’s plate.  This place may have had largish portions of meat!

David’s pork cordon bleu.  The thing probably weighed in at a kilo or so!
Lervley!

Leontine!

Speaking of leontine, there are typically dogs in restaurants and shopping malls everywhere in Germany.  Tritschler there had at least two.  But, some canines draw attention even here.  This fellow’s name is Kito- he is French.  He had lunch with us today at a different gasthoff in Offenburg.  If I understood the conversation correctly, he weighs upwards of 200 pounds.  Yow!

I will never think of the Hound of the Baskervilles quite the same way again!
Finally, what family visit would be complete without a picture of your mother with Dobby?

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