Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Christmas, Birmingham!

So we hear a lot about Christmas markets out here; better check out a popular one on a Saturday evening!  Birmingham's Christmas market is "twinned" with Frankfurt, whatever that means.  Basically there's a lot of German fare to be had and it's all very festive.  I think folks enjoy going to these to get themselves in the Christmas spirit - but they seem to all come at once.  I wasn't surprised it would be busy on a Saturday night, but I haven't been in a crowd like this since I tried to walk down Georgia street in Indianapolis the weekend of Super Bowl XLVI while LMFAO was performing.

The lowenbrau was flowing in 1L mugs beneath Santa

No surprises here, exactly what I imagined a Christmas market stall would look like.
 To start, I filled up on some German treats.
Hard to beat a real German pretzel with butter 

Hard to beat an authentic 0.5m bratwurst (doubled up) with mustard

Hard to beat...nevermind I'm stuffed, I'll just look.

Kerry by the merry-go-round

I wasn't joking about the crowds, especially near the beer stalls.

Festive lighting across the street

Gluhwein!  The main reason to go to the Christmas market - hot mulled wine.  Out of a ceramic mug no less.

The funny thing about the Christmas market was that everyone was walking around with giant glass beer mugs or hot wine mugs - no paper, foam, or plastic anywhere.  You pay a 3 pound deposit (5 for the 1 L mugs), and get a token.  You have to return both to get your money back, and you get to enjoy the experience of real drinkware.  The problem with this premise tonight, of course, is the crowds.  To get your deposit back meant you had to enter the fray of drunk Brits which increased significantly during the hour we walked around.

A life size Christmas pyramid - something tells me the candles on this one are just for show...

The bottom line - maybe we're a couple of Scrooges, but this experience did not make us feel very Christmasy.  I always enjoy German sausages, but I just didn't get the rest of it.  Sorry folks, if you added barn animals and put it 6 months earlier you'd have an American midwestern county fair.   Frankfurt may want to find a new twin - I might suggest Cincinnati.  I don't even blame the drunk crowds, but that did certainly detract from the experience.  We're going to Edinburgh next week, so maybe that will be better?  I'll keep an open mind.

To be fair, I'm sure a lot of Europeans would struggle to understand a lot of our traditions back home.  I have fond memories of going to Chicago's State street with my parents and sister to look at the Marshall Fields window displays which tell a different story every year.  It's all about what you grow up with, really.

The one thing Kerry wanted was a fresh slice of gingerbread (not the hard cookies).   This was nowhere to be found, so in an effort to salvage the night we went back home and baked our own then watched The King's Speech.  Kerry did put some effort into our own little Christmas by decorating our living room without spending too much on things we can't fly back home with.

Charlie Brown would be impressed

Well, only 9 more days until I can indulge in my first Christmas pud!  We bought one from Asda that's been aged for 6 months.  Let's just say that my expectations are high after being disappointed by Yorkshire pud - which is nothing more than plain bread in a bowl shape.

Cheers and Merry Christmas to our family and friends!

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