Sadly, we didn’t realize how late Easter was this year when we booked our tickets to Stockholm, so we’re missing out on the karneval festivities this year (the big parade and party in Osna is this Saturday). One of my friends posted this link and I thought it was interesting.. so here I am passing it along! Anyway, we’ll enjoy Stockholm this year and hopefully next year Morgan and I will both be in town and get to enjoy karneval together!
About.com- Fasching in Germany: http://german.about.com/od/culture/tp/Fasching-In-Germany.htm
Friday night we went to Andronaco, the Italian grocery store Antje had told us about (and thankfully she did because we never would have found it on our own!). It is in a more industrial part of town with warehouses all around and from the outside it looks like a big warehouse itself. They had a huge selection of pastas, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, wine, grappa, expresso/coffee, etc. I was so excited to see they carry ricotta cheese! I haven’t found it in any German grocery stores and have been wanted to make lasagna and stuffed shells several times. They also had a cream based pasta sauce (it was carbonara instead of alfredo, but it is close enough!) which isn’t carried at the German stores either so that was pretty exciting as well. We spent wayyy too much money in there (just like Antje warned we would), so we’ll have to limit it to special occasions otherwise we’ll go broke. For dinner we enjoyed some ricotta and spinach ravioli with the carbonara sauce on it plus.. steaks! This is the first time we’ve bought steaks here in Germany because they are quite expensive, but it made for a really delicious and special dinner.
I’ve been giving Morgan a hard time ever since we got back from the States since every weekend we were just sitting around the apartment / staying in town. So for Valentine’s I wanted to go somewhere new. We’re starting to run out of places close by to visit that we haven’t already been to in Germany, so we headed over to the Netherlands for the day. Our first stop was Paleis Het Loo near Apledoorn (about 1.5 hours away from us) and after we went 30 minutes farther to Utrecht to walk around the canals and look in the shops. Apeldoorn is a city I the province of Gelderland – does this remind anyone else of A Knights Tale? I always thought it was a made-up place for the movie – turns out it is the largest province in the Netherlands!
Paleis Het Loo was finished in 1686, having being built for stadtholder-king William III and Mary II of England. The palace was a residence of the House of Orange-Nassau from the 17th century until the 1960’s when Queen Wilhelmina died and left it to the state to be a museum. Technically it isn’t a palace, but a “Lust-hof” (a retreat or pleasure house), but its Baroque architecture and its “entre cour et jardin” (situation between a court and garden – similar to Versailles) sure made it look like one to me! The inside is really beautiful – it still has all the original furniture, paintings, decorations, etc. The audio guide had tons of interesting information about the rooms and stories about the royals who had lived there (ie. King William III’s first wife Sophie of Württemberg, was buried in her wedding dress because she said her life ended the day she got married). After finishing in the house we walked around the gardens. Half of it was under construction, but the other side was very impressive.
When we finished up here we headed over to Utrecht. It has lovely canals, similar to Amsterdam, and has man buildings from the Early Middle Ages. We had hoped to go up in the Dom Tower (the tallest church tower in the Netherlands) and to see the inside of the Cathedral of Saint Martin, but unfortunately they close early in the winter and we didn’t make it in time. The view from the tower is supposed to be amazing, so hopefully we’ll make it there again. We enjoyed some fries (with frite sauce on top) and a frikandel special (basically a sausage that has been deep-fried and has mayo, curry ketchup and chopped onion on top). After looking in a few stores (they have lots more options than the town we live in) we grabbed a (Dutch) beer at a café by the canal before heading home. It was fun to hit the road again and I’m really looking forward to our upcoming trip to Stockholm at the end of the month!
We got back to Germany just in time for Morgan’s birthday. I got him a new video game and some new wind surfing gloves. Below is a picture of him with his funfetti cake (sans icing – per his request). Since we were still overcoming our jet-lag we postponed a night out with friends to celebrate until the next night. That night we went with Philip and Lars to our favorite Italian place and then had drinks in altstadt.
Two weeks after getting back we finally got some snow! It was only 3 or 4 inches, but that was enough to make everything look beautiful covered in white. Thankfully this was a Sunday so we got to enjoy the snow together- on a work day this wouldn’t nearly enough to delay or cancel work. We walked to town from our apartment (a little over a 30 minute walk) to see the old parts of town and then had brunch at the cafe next to Marienkirche (we were killing some time until the bell tower was open at 1). The brunch was awesome and we were lucky to get a table without a reservation. After making our selves sick trying to eat enough to justify the €17 price per person we took the stairs up to the top of the bell tower to check out the view. We had never managed to be there at the correct time to go up so this worked out perfectly. It was pretty windy and a little slippery up there, but the view was worth it.
That night we had a few friends over to use up the fleisch tüte (translates to “meat bag”) that ZF gave out for Christmas. It had chicken, pork, mettwurst, cheeses, etc) – so it was perfect for utilizing with our new raclette grill! It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to using it more in the future.
Also, I don’t have pictures from it, but we did have Antje and Christoph over for dinner one night.. and we made shrimp and grits (with some corn bread muffins). We were a little nervous about whether they would like it- but everything was a big hit. I’ll finish with saying I can’t believe we’ve already lived in Germany for a year – it has gone by so fast! I’m already starting to worry that we won’t be able to fit in all the places we wanted to see, though I know we’re so lucky to have already been to so many new places. So here’s to two more years of travel!