Exploring: Osnabrück Weihnachtsmarkt

Weihnachtsmarkt 1

You know how I said Christmas was my favorite time of the year? Well, let’s face it, nobody does Christmas quite like Germany and it’s famous Christmas markets.

Once the end of November rolls around, Germany turns into a sea of Jack Wolfskin jackets, hats and scarves (they’re always well prepared for the cold weather) and everyone heads to their local Christmas market. In the German’s case, this is Osnabrück, and last year we managed to fly in just before the market closed – you can imagine the excitement on my face when I realized we’d make it to Osnabrück before the market closed!

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Exploring: Maiwoche in Osnabrück

maiwoche 1
Every May for one week only, the closest city to the German’s hometown, Osnabrück is transformed into a strawberry heaven that is called Maiwoche. Literally translated, this means May Week and the place goes mad. It’s the only city in Germany that has this ‘Volksfest’ which, translated means people’s festival and it’s the largest ‘Volksfest’ in the whole of Germany – wowzers! When I asked the German what the reason was behind it was instead of giving me the answer I was expecting like ‘it’s to celebrate the start of spring’ or something similar, his answer was ‘it’s just an excuse to meet friends and drink.’ Typical German there!

Now, the German first introduced me to Maiwoche a couple of years ago, on the afternoon of our last day in Germany, just hours before we had to head to the airport to catch our plane back to the UK. This was an epic fail on his part (or maybe he planned it that way?) and I nicely asked him to take me to it the following year as I’d missed out on all the fun but instead he decided to get a promotion at work and we moved to America. Shucks.

Anyway, it would appear we planned our wedding well, the week before the big day was indeed Maiwoche! You can imagine my excitement when I figured this out – my time had come to sample the delights of this thing and tell you all about it. So here goes…we’ll start with a few pictures:

Maiwoche 2
So, Maiwoche is a little like a Christmas market but in May. It has the usual little stalls and stands but it has a spring feel. It’s only in Osnabrück for one week and in between planning a wedding and welcoming our guests I managed to visit this thing 3 times and the German 4. I think we did well, we were there within hours of stepping off the plane!

So, the aim of the game is to meet friends, chat, stroll around the stalls, listen to some live music, fill yourself full of tasty delights and this being Germany, there is obviously a few drinks involved! Instead of the warming Glühwein that’s sipped at the Christmas markets in Germany during December there’s a lovely little number called Maibowle instead – see the picture above and the huge smile I have on my face, believe me that stuff is good!

So, strawberries are the center of this tasty drink, basically you mix sparking wine with brandy and sugar, add a load of strawberries that have been soaked in the stuff for a long time and you are definitely onto a winner. I’m thinking there’s some sort of colouring in there too to make it red? At this point during the week I was in a carb-free zone to fit into THE dress so the strawberries fitted into the diet well, despite the huge amount of alcohol they came with!

Maiwoche 3
This thing does have a few other differences from your standard Christmas market, for a start there are the flying chairs that people seem to like to get on after having a few drinks…! The Maypoles, the live music, the carousel bar (it’s basically an old carousel that’s been turned into a bar, it moves and everything!) and the party tent. Yes, you read that right, a section of the city centre is turned into a tent where music and partying takes place all night, accompanied by some Maibowles, beers and of course shots. Those Germans definitely know how to sink some drinks and party but without looking completely trashed like the Brits…I’m still intrigued as to how they do that!

Back to Maiwoche! Sadly the weather wasn’t too good this year, it was a little cold (although I couldn’t decide if that was because we’d been basking in 80 degree heat in Atlanta the previous week) and it rained a few times so we had to find shelter either in the tent or under one of the beer stalls (again, shucks) so it wasn’t overly busy but there was still a good, fun atmosphere and the drinks were definitely flowing!

We also can’t forget the snacks. The German was so excited to get his fill of German goodness at Maiwoche – I think within minutes of hitting the stalls and getting a drink the man was itching to get to the Bratwurst stand for a sausage! I think he ate at least 2 or maybe 3 on every visit. So, apart from the traditional Bratwurst, Krakauer and Kasewurst (cheese sausage) there is every other treat you can imagine – Gyros, another favourite of the German, steak sandwiches, Kartoffelpuffer (deep fried potato, a little like a hash brown), deep fried fish, roasted salmon, caramalised almonds, gingerbread and every other German treat you can imagine. Being on the carb free I need to fit into a wedding dress at the weekend diet I had to choose wisely – I went for a bratwurst without the bread and some mushrooms with a garlic mayo – just amazing! Obviously I took you guys a few pictures…

Maiwoche 4
Maiwoche was definitely a big hit with me, my parents and every other Brit we managed to take there during the week we were in Germany! It’s obviously huge with the locals too, one of our nieces who lives in Osnabrück says she went nearly every night! I don’t blame her either – I think I would too given the chance. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it next year but I’m sure we’ll be back to Maiwoche at some point in the future! If you’re thinking of heading to that part of Germany, make sure you plan your trip to include a visit – I can assure you won’t be disappointed!

Exploring: Tales from Germany.

So last week we jumped on that jet plane (well actually we walked on but jumped just sounds better!) and headed across the pond to the German’s homeland. Our main aim was to get this wedding we’re having sorted along with those all important hen and stag parties. But there were some little things I noticed along the way that I thought I had to share with you.

Germany 1
German’s are, shall we say, different creatures. Not different in a bad way, just different in the way they act and do things. It’s all good though, obviously, if not I wouldn’t have picked one to be my husband! Here are a few observations I’ve made whilst in the country lately:

1. Hot coffee cups
On our way to Mutter und Vater Richter’s house we stopped off for a coffee at a service station. Now, picking up a coffee in the States is something we do on a daily basis, it’s a way of life. But, when we were given our coffees at the service station in their paper cups there was something wrong…the cup sleeve was missing. Cue Rachel burning her hands and walking out of the service station precariously balancing the hot coffee and nearly spilling it all over. What is wrong with these people? Do they have asbestos hands? I think we need to introduce them to the coffee cup sleeve to prevent any serious burns!

2. Actual mugs in Starbucks
Another coffee related observation I know but we had to try to stay awake all day on 1 hour of sleep! After the German took me to a football match (it made him a very happy bunny) we headed into town and stopped off at Starbucks to refuel our caffeine intake. Now in America every trip to Starbucks, whether you’re drinking in the store or taking the drink away, you get it in a paper cup, so imagine my surprise when I was handed an actual mug! Yep, a proper if you drop it on the floor it will smash mug!

Germany 2
Look at those beauties! I think it may have even tasted a little nicer from those mugs instead of the paper cups. Plus there wasn’t any burning your hands with a lack of a cup sleeve problems. Maybe America needs to take a leaf out of Germany’s book when it comes to Starbucks, although having said that it’s probably because of the amount of cups of coffee sold in America and the convenience of being able to throw the cup away when you’re done.

3. Lingerie and Coffee anyone?
Coffee is a big thing in Germany – some people sit down to coffee and cake every afternoon and I think just about every single person must drink coffee more than once a day, along with beer I think it’s their national drink! So, there’s no surprise that observation number 3 is based around coffee. Whilst driving through Osnabrück I noticed this little gem and made the German take a picture when we were sitting in traffic:

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Yes, you’re seeing that right, that is a café called Cup & Cups and combines a coffee shop with lingerie. It’s something I’ve never seen before and a combination I would never put together, however, I can see the appeal – a cup of coffee whilst buying some lingerie…yes please! However, I can’t imagine the German just popping in for a cup, I’m guessing this place has mostly female customers.

4. German’s love scarves.
I think there’s a rule in Germany that you’re not allowed to leave the house without a scarf. Seriously. They are everywhere.

Germany 4
Every woman walking around in Germany is wearing a scarf, if you’re not I think you’re definitely not in the ‘in’ crowd! They come in all shapes and sizes, some a huge around their necks, others medium sized, some not worth wearing. Even in the 20 degree celsius heat we experienced over the weekend, each and every woman we passed was wearing a scarf. Me? Nope, I ditched them this week – it was too hot! My advice to you, if you’re heading to Germany, make sure you take a selection of different scarves, even if it’s the middle of summer.

5. Coloured trousers…for men.
And saving the best for last – German men seem to have a new found love for coloured trousers, particularly red ones. That’s right, German MEN like to wear red trousers. Women I can understand, in fact, I have a pair myself, but men? In one short trip to Osnabrück I spotted a total of 7 men wearing them, including this one:

Germany 5These even came complete with matching red shoes. Isn’t it just a lovely combination? This discovery came on my first day in Germany and it wasn’t about to end there. The following day we went to a restaurant for some sushi, there, we spotted a couple with his and hers matching red trousers. On Monday we went to Münster where the red trouser spotting continued, one older man was spotted with red trousers and a green jacket – red and green should never be seen. And the coloured trousers don’t stop at red either – yellow ones were spotted along with, wait for it, green. Yes, one man in the same sushi restaurant as the his and hers red trouser wearers was spotted with green trousers and an orange jumper! Really? I think these German boys need to be taught some fashion sense. Thankfully my German isn’t in this club!