fly the seven seas

Observations of a Sydney girl rocking Germany


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Shades of grey

It’s officially here. I don’t have to look past the long faces on the train passengers every mornings to know that its that time of year again. That time where, everyone would happily donate every woolly jumper in aid for some small hint of warmth.

After the excitement of Christmas has worn out and a few days on the slopes have been enjoyed, the sight of snow is just bleh. The once-dreamy, romantic and festive love of snow is replaced with awkward-looking piles of icy mounds on the side of the road.

The days of sunshine here and there are too easily missed when most days are just plain grey. The nights’ frost draws a silver grey outline on trees. Street pollution paints the unmelted snow on the roads with a dirty grey. Frost and snowfall shadow cars in a dark grey. Look around at the train station and you’ll notice the sea of blacks, browns and greys (with the odd fur trim) of coats and scarves – this grey is contagious. And simply just endless. (I’m not going to dare post any photos of this bleak grey – no thank you!)

This feeling is not just because I’m a “displaced” aussie unaccustomed to the endless winter – with every third person down with the flu, or simply just over it – its quite obvious that if a petition to end winter now were created, we’d be seeing the buds of the crocus’ popping out of the grass next week. Sadly we know this just isn’t going to happen. It also doesn’t help to see the latest spring fashion flood all shop windows, knowing that anything new bought will sit in the cupboards for at least another 5 weeks.

Now I agree, this post is far from being cheery – and rightfully so – what I wouldn’t give to be sitting on the balcony in a loose singlet, listening to the hum of bees sucking the nectar from the parade of lavender, while the sun beats on my cheeks causing sweat beads to drip down my arms. Much better than shielding my eyes from chaotic snow flakes. So – what do I do when I know that such days are simply out of reach? I dream. Of sunny days. Of endless blue. Of shorts and flip-flops. Of sticky nights. Of days by the lake. Of sand-covered ankles. Of mango smoothies by the pool. I dream. And it helps.

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I also like listening to these guys.

Join me – let’s fight this grey.

Cheers,

Alex


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Winter wonderland

My alarm bell went off yesterday at 5:45 am, which for a Sunday does not go down so well (or so often) within these four walls. But – I rolled out under the warm covers, peered under the small slit left open in the blinds to see a fresh layer of white, powdery snow and reconsidered whether I really wanted to join the crazy snow freaks in their bulky and uncomfortable boots to hit the slopes.

It was a tough call but the little devil on my shoulder didn’t win – I woke up with an aim; to master that snow plough*. And after a few hours, sore shins, frozen fingertips and an elegant fall in an unexpected mound of deep, fresh snow, I had mastered it – and even on some “proper” slopes. I wouldn’t be lying if I said that I’m a little proud of myself. Having donned the skis for the second time after almost 27 years of missed opportunities, I don’t think I’ve done too bad for myself – but I won’t be seeing any black runs any time soon thanks.

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Alongside the skiing, it’s safe to say that this winter is really feeling like winter.

We were blessed with a winter wonderland one only dreams of over the festive holiday.

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We built a snowman outside the apartment on New Years Eve, who resembled my grandfather but was sadly defaced with leftover fireworks.

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I enjoyed watching my brother and my Alex shovel the sidewalks, only to have them recovered in snow only three hours later.

We escaped to the alps, where we sipped fancy drinks by wooden fires and woke up surrounded by snow-covered peaks.

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I’ve even had more than one opportunity to wear my favourite ear muffs (not that one should really have to find a reason to do so).

And while December brought some unbelievably rare, blue skies for German winter standards, January has seen my tally of sunny-winter-days looking a little sad. Let’s hope this changes.

And with my newly acquired skiing skills, I’m happy to say that I’ve so far made the most of these below-freezing temperatures.

I hiked across landscapes to see wild deer grazing and icy waterfalls.

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Bavarian charm

I hiked up a mountain purely to fulfil a childhood dream; to sled all the way back down. While I sled down with a little caution (on a natural mountain track, your only barrier are the trees that line the hillside) there was not a moment you couldn’t see a grin across my face.IMG_5609 3

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I have laid my exercise mat in the icy snow of my favourite nearby park to complete a good set of burpee frog jumps, lunges and high jumps (thanks Freeletics) and as a result, eat a good mouthful of snow.

I put on an awkward looking and even more awkward feeling pair of snowshoes to trek up untrodden tracks while listening to the mountain stories of a local.

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And I hit the ground countless times as I made a brave attempt at cross-country skiing.

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No winter adventure is complete without an Apfelstrudel

So, from someone who had only known winter to be a 15 degree sunny day, who’s winter wardrobe contained only one wool coat and who’s hands would be ice cold in 26 degree heat, you could say that I haven’t shied away from the German winter. By dressing warm enough, I’ve finally realised why so many Germans don’t seem to be bothered by getting out there and embracing winter.

But let’s not get too carried away here, over the last few grey days I have been constantly dreaming of the blazing sun on my skin, seeing the heat steam off the asphalt roads, the sand found at the bottom of every handbag and how much I’m definitely going to miss a truly sticky Australia Day celebration (code for lamingtons). Hurry up summer!

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*Yes, I managed a little more than this – but there’s no need to talk it up too much…


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The festive days

And just like that, Christmas has come and gone. Just when the magical feeling finally manages to become a welcome distraction, I find myself taking my last bite of the Christmas pudding, wishing the past few days would extend a little longer.

This year however, we created something extra special, something for the books. This year saw two families unite for Christmas – my parents and younger brother flew from Sydney to join the Christmas rituals with Alex’s immediate family. And although this meant that the usual Sydney contingency was a little smaller than usual, we hope the crew will understand (perhaps not with all the tempting photos of snow and oversized portions of turkey we sent)…

Our german Christmas celebrations, in comparison to my Sydney celebrations, stretch over a few days – appropriately titled by Alex’s father as ‘the christmas rally’ – with multiple meals shared together, elaborate brunches, nights of singing and dancing until the candles burn out, walks in open fields, some Christmas socks, indulgences and the wish for snow. And given the extra special occasion this year, we had it all – including a good 20cm of snowfall overnight.

The rally officially kicks off on the eve of the 24th – with special family rituals and traditions – and usually ends on the 26th, known as the 2. Weihnachtstag (Stephan’s Tag / Boxing Day). This year we were lucky enough to extend this for another day – any excuse to let the rally continue.

I’ve infiltrated some “australiana” in to the festivities, for it wouldn’t be Christmas to me without the annual booze-filled Christmas cake and Christmas pudding (with lucky coin of course). And with the addition of mum’s true blue accent and dad’s recurring cry of “oh sheeeet” – the australiana was definitely present among the Stollen and tunes of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Since I’ve joined Alex’s family celebrations, Alex and I have taken responsibility over the official bird served on the 26th. This year it was a mega Turkey, served with baked sweet potato and Schmorkraut (sweetened sauerkraut) – boy it was good.

Rather than bantering on, I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the festivities while I go and burn off the extra something I’ve found around my waist.

I hope the festive days were just as special where you were – Happy Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten and bring on 2015!

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Weihnachtsmarkt München

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Rindermarkt, München

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Roasted chestnuts

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The mother of all drinks – the Feuerzangenbowle

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Last minute butcher action in the old town

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The Christmas cake

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Langoustin

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The hilltops of Bronnbach

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A snowy Altstadt, Wertheim

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The Wertheimer Burg, all dressed in white

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