Monday, December 19, 2011

A little sister-time

After our wet and chilly experience in Rothenburg, I was a little concerned that all my plans with my sister during her visit would be somewhat washed out... We were armed with a little hindsight this time, and decided that watching the radar and being a little more in tune with little r's mood would do us some good and help the experience a bit.

Big R has had Erfurt on his radar as a day trip for some time now, and a friend of mine verified that the Weihnachtsmarkt there was a must see, so it was on our itinerary.  The weather was iffy at best, but we watched the radar closely and decided to let little r get in a good nap before heading out the door.  This looked like a place to see after the sun goes down anyhow.  Unlike our Rothenburg trip, the Gods were smiling on us and our Erfurt trip was a great time. It was an easy and uneventful drive (including a series of tunnels one of which was nearly five miles long!), and Big R's fancy new camera rocked the pictures and really captured the essence of our experience there.  Turns out going at night was just the ticket...

This was by far my favorite Weihnachtsmarkt yet.  It wasn't a terribly large market as it only occupied a small square in the Allstadt of this eastern German town, but it had so much character.  The ferris wheel alone (or "sit down wheel" as little r likes to call it) was cool all by itself.  Everything was festivally decorated and the mood was jovial.  It was just pretty darn neat.  There were also several other carnival rides, and quickly recognizing there was no escaping them, we decided "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," and let little r have some fun.  He has to learn at some point how this whole thing works right?  My soft spot was the little choo-choo train.  This was a must, so we got in line right away, and let little r take a ride around the track.

After a few rides around the track, little r was pretty sad to say "good-bye" to the train....

He got over it quickly though, and we were proud of him for that.  Of course, it did help that daddy road in the bumper cars with him...
Hard to tell who is having more fun in this picture - Daddy or little r!
All was going well, until little r figured out that the objective of the whole ride was that people purposely crash into you.  Big R did a great job avoiding any collisions until the last minute or so of the ride.  Let's just say it made for an easy exit...

Despite Big R's incredible fear of heights, he was insistent that we take a romantic ride on the Ferris wheel.  It provided some amazing views of the Weihnachtsmarkt, although I'm not sure Big R saw any of them.  We found some yummy grub, grabbed a few tasty glasses of gluhwein, and enjoyed all the sights this beautiful little place had to offer.

The rain started as we were walking to our car.  Guess you could call it pretty amazing timing.

The rest of the trip was all about sister-time.  The little man is not only going through the fabulous terrible twos stage, but he's also getting in those dreaded two-year molars. Yes, still.... Big R graciously sent my sister and I out the door while he wrangled the little monster.  Big R is usually my photographer, so I don't have nearly as much to share in pictures.  I took my sister to Bamberg on the bus and we enjoyed an afternoon exploring the Grunermarkt and the Bamberger Weihnachtsmarkt.  The crowds were busy as we were easily reminded that this was the last weekend before Christmas.  We had lunch at a cafe that was super delish and then spent the afternoon quite literally shopping.  It was too much fun.  That evening I had our newly found and much adored babysitter take care of little r so that we could enjoy an adult night out at the local brewery here in Bischberg.

After many bouts of changing my mind and our plans, we finally decided with much persuasion by Big R, that he would stay home and take care of little r while my sister and I took the train into Munich.  She had a flight out the next day and had a friend from college she could stay with to avoid a ridiculously early rise making a long travel day even longer.  It was pretty clear from the minute he woke up that little r was just not going to have a good day, so the decision ended up being a good one even though it would have been just as much fun to have all of us there.

Seeing the Munchen Weihnachtsmarkt was a lot of fun.  The flavor is about the same at all of these markets, but this one was at a much grander scale and the crowds were bigger and more raucous.  It was also REALLY cold.  We had no plans in Munich other than heading to the Marienplatz to check out the festivities.  This was the first time since I was a little girl that I actually saw the Glockenspiel.  It has been under renovation for YEARS, and just finally was revealed to the public again this summer.  The Marienplatz looked beautiful with all the Weihnachts decorations and the large Christmas Tree or Christbaum.

We simply strolled around taking it all in with absolutely no agenda.  It was kind of a nice place to be. We had no idea what we would find, including the beasts. Yes, you read that correctly, we ran into a back of noisy beasts.  Sometimes you come across things in life that you decide would be best to not ask any questions.  This was one of those moments.

We still have no clue... we think it might have been some sort of tradition.  Whatever it was, it was at the very least truly BIZARRE.  Without realizing it, we found ourselves walking with this crowd of beasts as they clanked and prodded down the street frightening onlookers and whipping, yes, WHIPPING, folks with their furry hands.  Very, VERY weird.  It was so weird in fact that we couldn't draw ourselves away.  So, we joined them instead...

Once we escaped the mysterious enclave of beasts, we found ourselves a nice cup of gluhwein and bought some Weihnachts treats before settling down in a cafe for dinner.  

We had such a great time, but unfortunately it all had to come to an end.  We said our good-byes at the train station and headed our separate ways.  Man, I'm really going to miss her...

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