Tuesday, December 31, 2013


In my last post, I was in the car on the way to Munich. Well now we have been to Munich, so here are some of our adventures. 
First of all, getting all of our things into the car was an adventure. 

We went to the circus, shortly after we arrived, with Simon's parents, brother, sister, and the part of the family we are staying with: Simon's aunt Martina and uncle Stephan, and cousin Nina. 
Simon had told me how different an American circus was from the circus he had known as a kid, and now I have seen both. They are most definitely very different! I personally enjoy both but the one we went to in Munich was like the circus you see in books or in cute movies or old TV shows. One act at a time with a small round arena in the center of the tent. We laughed at the clowns,  ooed and awed at the lions and elephants, and gasped in fear as the tight rope walkers and acrobats performed "impossible" stunts.  Here are a few photos:

My favorite: the elephants 

Lea, Simon and me at the circus. 

Although one of the main planned events in Munich was sledding down south, there didn't  end up being any snow! :( 
So instead we made a plan B and went shopping.  No complaints.  We said goodbye to Simon's sister and cousin that morning as they headed off to a church camp for a week.  I'm so thankful to have gotten to spend so much time with Lea on our trip!
 Our "plan free" days are few on this trip, so it ended up being really nice, despite our disappointment, to not have the snow day.   Simon and I walked through downtown Munich, got in a lot of shopping, and then met up with Hannes, Martin and Irene at the Hofbräuhaus for dinner. 
Munich still had a lot of Christmas decorations up so we were able to enjoy a Christmas tree :)

Simon had made a reservation to avoid a wait but what we didn't know was that  a reservation was only for the more private second floor rather than the beer- garden style downstairs with the loud music and the promise of interesting people-watching at the community style tables.  Although we were surprised, it ended up being a good thing for us. We were able to still enjoy the good food and beverage, and even some quaint live music while we spent the evening together. 

Us outside the restaurant 

Simon and his beer :)
The menu

Our delicious strudel for dessert. 

Our waitress was so sweet, and even took a photo for us.  CHEESE!

The next morning Simon's Oma and Opa came over to where we were staying.

 We enjoyed a nice lunch and even snuck in a couple of group photos. 

Please note the impressive, accidental color coordination: Gray and Navy.  :)

I must say a big thank you to Stephan and Martina for their hospitality and putting us all up for a couple of nights. It was nice to spend time with them and enjoy a few days in Munich. 


Right now, Martin (Simon' dad), Hannes (Simon's brother), Lea (Simon's sister), Simon and I are all smooshed into the family car driving the 6 hour stretch from Wunstorf to Munich to visit family.
 It is not comfortable.
 I am sitting in the middle of the back seat wedged between my sleeping husband and my sweet sister-in-law. The whole car kind of smells like BBQ Pringles because after almost a week of bread, potatoes, cheese and various foreign-to-me meats, I was dying for a familiar flavor. Yes it is pitiful, but there is nothing like a family road trip to bring out those things in you. Not to mention I can definitely say I have been listening to, and attempting to speak, more consistent German than ever before; That wears me out. So, while that is a terrible excuse to break down and indulge in junk food, it makes me feel less wimpy... Sort of.. Well that is at least what I am telling myself. 
Anyways, between trying not to inhale my precious, incredibly expensive Dr. Pepper, and stuffing my face with BBQ Pringles, I decided it was a good time to blog a little bit about some of our trip so far. 

Our first days consisted of pre-Christmas festivities like Christmas markets, baking cookies, wrapping presents, decorating the Christmas tree and, of course, seeing The Lion King Musical. I already blogged on Christmas. Sorry these posts are out of order. I made a mistake and accidentally posted the other one earlier than I meant to. 

The whole fam, along with Hannes' sweet girlfriend Vicky, met up in Hamburg Sunday afternoon for dinner and the musical.  It is one I have been wanting to see for a long time so I've been looking forward to it for months! We have been listening to "The Original Hamburg Musical Soundtrack"; that was really good, because I had never heard the songs in German, and it gave me some time to try and sort out the lyrics - and get even more excited. :)  We had to take a boat to the little island designated for Der König der Löwen.  The whole thing was, of course, even better than I'd imagined, and I can't even say thank you enough to Simon's parents for inviting us all to that great night!! The costumes were beautifully colorful, and every minute was so full of creativity that you almost forgot that there weren't really any animals on stage at all. Elephants, zebras, giraffes, and even flying birds came down the aisles and off the balconies to the sounds of African chants. Whether they were rejoicing in a new birth or mourning the death of a king, you couldn't help but get sucked into the magic of it all. It really was just wonderful. 
We weren't allowed to take photos inside the theater, so I snapped a few outside.
This was a boat taking some people to the little island. 

While that musical was something I had alway hoped to attend, Simon has long been hoping to visit the Miniatur Wunderland exhibit, also located in Hamburg.  So, after the musical Martin, Irene, and Lea went back home but Simon and I, along with Hannes and Vicky, stayed the night in the city. 
The following day, we took a guided tour of the "behind the scenes workings" before exploring all of the exhibits. Each exhibit is the replica of a place; with moving cars and trains, flashing lights and everything. There were dozens of different miniature lands to see. To read more about the exhibits, Click HERE
Here are some pictures from Miniatur Wunderland:
I thought this was a pretty neat picture, because it was an exhibit of Hamburg, and it showed the theater where we saw the Lion King. So this is both a photo from the Miniature Wonderland and a view of the theater from the night before :)

Street scene
This might help you picture what the whole thing was like. Every 15 minutes it would slowly turn to night and then shortly turn back to day. So you are able to see the worlds in both. There were SO many people there that day.  It probably took us more time than normal to see all we wanted to see, because we had to fight our way through think crowds.  That was really the only negative thing I can say about the museum.  

Here is a night scene. 

After that, we piddled around Hamburg a little until it was time to head to the CHRISTMAS MARKETS!!  I love Christmas so much and one reason I really wanted to come to Germany at this specific time of year was to enjoy the tradition of Christmas markets. There were several good ones in Hamburg, so a few weeks ago we decided to alter our initial plans of traveling several hours to visit the Nuremberg Christmas markets and instead, just lengthen our Hamburg adventures.  The things I wanted most out of the Christmas market were Glühwein, some wooden Christmas ornaments, and a nutcracker. I found 2 out of 3 :) no nutcracker. But we had a great time, and it was all I had hoped for!  
After we had made our way through 3 or 4 Christmas Markets, we picked up our luggage at the hotel, said goodbye to Vicky as she went home to spend Christmas with her family, and the three of us went back to Wunstorf.  That concluded our Hamburg adventure.  Here are a few more pictures of our fun time.  

This is a picture of Hamburg as we walked to the Miniatur Wunderland


All of us walking around Hamburg.

 Christmas Market!!

It was cold y'all. 
This is me all bundled, about to enjoy my first Lumumba (hot chocolate with amaretto) yummy!!! 

Look what we found!! 

A night-lights photo


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

One thing I quickly learned about a German Christmas is how different the whole holiday is from the Christmas I grew up loving. These realizations began a few years ago, but this was my first first-hand experience with it. 
My childhood Christmas consisted of stockings, hung by the chimney with care, a fake Christmas tree busted out the day after thanksgiving, beautifully wrapped in lights and then sprinkled with a mixture of embarrassing hand made ornaments from my childhood and much nicer, store bought ones covered in glitter, depicting a holly jolly something-or-other. 
I always got to unwrap one present on Christmas Eve (I'm pretty sure that tradition began because I begged until I was blue in the face to open presents before Christmas). Then on Christmas morning we would have a yummy breakfast and open presents from Santa in my pajamas and crazy bed hair.  
As Simon and I have began to form our holiday traditions, we have kept some, lost some and added some of our own. We ditched the fake tree for a real one, our stockings are hung on... whatever surface we can find that fits them because we don't yet have a fireplace, and St Nikolaus comes to visit on the 6th of December. 
After this year, I now have a glimpse of what Simon's childhood Christmas looked like. 
For starters, Christmas is not on Christmas.  How's that for a curve ball? 
On Christmas Day you don't actually do anything except stay home because all of the stores are closed for the holiday that everyone celebrated the day before. I don't understand, but I can say, it was nice. 
Christmas Eve day we wrapped presents and decorated the tree. THAT DAY! Like... It is just a tree until the eve day of the holiday that you celebrate on the eve.  At first I thought it was kind of sad because I love having our tree "on" for the whole season. But I do have to say it really puts you in the Christmas spirit pulling out all of the ornaments, attaching the Christmas CANDLES (yes real candles, to all who have inquired), and singing along to.. What else?.. The lion king sound track.  We had a yummy Christmas Eve cheese fondue dinner next to the illuminated Christmas tree before opening all our presents. 
It was a festive, quiet, night full of candle light, gift giving, good food and family. All the things christmas should be about. 
Irene lighting the tree

Little Simon on the Christmas tree! :) 

Here are some gift giving pictures :

Christmas Day, NOT to be confused with the day we celebrated Christmas, (everyone keeping up?) we didn't really do anything festive. We enjoyed a long, relaxing morning and afternoon. Lea and I eventually pulled ourselves together and baked some yummy lemon cookies before everyone settled down to dinner. It may sound like I missed something but no. It really was wake up, eat breakfast, bake cookies, eat dinner, day over.  It was wonderful. Especially after a few non-stop days. 
Dinner was an adventure. Apparently Raclette is a thing. And now I know about it. And it is awesome. 
First you cut up everything you can think of and put them into tiny bowls: Pears, asparagus, broccoli, ham, olives, corn, tomatoes, etc. 
Dinner prep 

Then everyone sits around the table with a hot stove thing in the middle. Each person has a little pan (like really little) and you fill it with the items from said bowls-not too full! You still have to put the magic ingredient on top: a slice of Raclette cheese. Then, under/into the stove it goes. Then you wait, and complain about waiting, and talk about how hungry you are, and how good it is going to be (this is an important step) on and on- for the WHOLE 5ish minutes-until your little pan is warm and the cheese is all melted.  Then you plop the delicious, random contents atop the squished, boiled potato on your plate (and then quickly make your second pan, and stick it in the oven so you don't have to repeat the waiting step) and enjoy!! You eat 5 or 6 or 10 pan fulls while you laugh at the greedy ones who burn their mouths on the hot food and discus which concoctions taste the best until you are full.  Then you complain about how full you are and how much you ate and then eat dessert. Really, it is a bonding experience and I highly recommend it!  

After all of that, Simon and I scooted out and met up with some of his old friends for a few hours. Our "free days" are quite limited since we have scheduled so many fun activities! 
And so, that was Christmas. And then Christmas again.. Kind of. 
I have to say that my first German Christmas experience really quite lovely! I'm thankful both of Simon's siblings were able to be there and make that time even more special. 
Merry Christmas from the Reinhardts!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Because of our travel plans at Christmas, my parents graciously came to us for the thanksgiving holiday this year.  Living in a state where we have no family, it is always nice when we have visitors! 
They arrived on Wednesday in the late afternoon just in time for dinner. Afterwards Mom and I got to work preparing the turkey for our little thanksgiving feast. 
Because time got away from us on the days leading up to my parents visit, we hadn't been able to get a Christmas tree yet, like we'd hoped, so after dinner and turkey-ing, we went out and got one all together.

It was perfect having Dad's truck here! Exactly the right tool for Christmas tree transporting!
Dad and Simon workin' hard.  Two flights of stairs and lots of rogue pine needles later, we had a christmas tree in our apartment.  

Thursday was a family day, a cooking and baking day, and a being-lazy-around-the-house day. In other words, a perfect holiday :) 

I made a big breakfast, trying out a new recipe for apple cider pancakes. I have to say, I think they were the best pancakes I've ever made! 
Mom and I decorated the Christmas tree until it was time to make the final meal preparations. 
Then we enjoyed the big thanksgiving meal as an early dinner. 
The table. It is lucky I got a picture, we all scarfed it down in like 15 minutes! Pigs

      My favorite part and Simon's least    

           favorite part: the dressing :)

           Pumpkin pie! 

Friday afternoon Mom and I ventured out and did some shopping while the men lounged around some more. Then we all met up and saw Catching Fire. It had been hard waiting a whole week so we could watch it together- per Dad's request.  Awesome movie, as was expected! 

Saturday, Simon and I took my parents up North to the apple orchard, Sky Top. It is a cute little place, perfect for a fall outting.  For apple season, we knew we were a little late, but the drive up there is beautiful and it was still fun to walk through the orchard munching on the homemade, mouth watering apple dough-nuts and sipping hot cider. 
Don't let the blight sun fool you, it was REALLY cold!
The ducks were the only animals out.  Too cold for the farm animals I suppose. 
Simon and I with the empty orchard in the background.

Apple picking... Kind of...

Having our cider and dough-nuts

Mom and Dad left Sunday morning before Simon and I left for church. We had a fun, long weekend and I'm thankful they made the trip to spend time with us! We all really enjoyed it!