Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
Trip End Dec 14, 2015

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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Howdy folks,

Now that school is finished, the festivities here in Edingen are well and truly upon us. It seems like it has been a non stop round of eating and drinking! I guess that isn't so different from home eh? The biggest surprise has been the weather. Instead of getting colder this week because it is officially winter, the weather has been surprisingly warm with 12 degree days. I don't even need to walk around with a scarf on! The warm weather has brought some rain with it as well so the Neckar River has been pretty high as well.

Sunday was the last day that we could go to the Christmas Market and I wanted to see the one at the Schwetzingen Schloss or the Heidelberger Schloss, but sadly they were already closed. So we decided to go to the one in Ladenburg instead, the home of Herr Benz. It is a pain to get there because even though it is just across the river, you have to drive all the way to Seckenheim before you come to a bridge and then drive all the way back through Ilvesheim. In the end it is a 9km trip instead of 4kms. Not far I here you say? Sure, but take into account that it is 50kmph through the towns and the streets are so narrow you have to stop for oncoming traffic when there is a parked car too far out onto the street!  Anyways I digress, the market was located in the main square of the old town and thus not very big, but there were still a dozen or more stalls crammed in. Given the warmer weather,we weren't in the mood to drink a warm gluhwein, but the chestnuts were too good too pass up.

Monday is technically Christmas Eve, but it is when all the action starts here in Germany. We had a few more things to buy before the shops shut around midday so we headed to get some last minute drinks and food at REAL. It was pretty busy there, but we managed to get in and out in good time. The Backerei Kapp across the road was doing a roaring trade with a line up outside the door since 8am. Rainer had a Christmas Eve Dinner or Weihnachtsabendessen at his house in Australia, so I skyped him in the morning and got to talk to Carol, Jim, Erich and Hannah.

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing prep work setting up the table for Steffie's whole family: brother Christian, Tanja and their two kids Leonie and Aeneas, brother Oliver and of course her parents Winfried and Christel. It was busy, but not hectic I guess based on years of experience and plenty of time. Dinner consisted of four courses each more delicious than the last: Camembert cheese and white wine soup, a garden salad, roast duck filets with an orange sauce and lastly schneegestöber for dessert which is a lot of cream, rasberries and crushed meringues. I topped it off with a 1L Paulaner Oktoberfest beer and the night went down as a success.

After dinner all the kids and some big kids too got to open their presents and I managed to score 3 Hot Laps in a Porsche around Hockenheim from Steffie which is pretty sweet. I gave her a nice necklace, not bad considering I don't know a thing about jewellery! We also got a voucher for Dinner in the Dark which sounds interesting.

Tuesday was a lazy start although technically Christmas, there wasn't any presents or kids to get up for! We had a big breakfast although I couldn't eat so much. It was a pretty cruisy day, Steffie and I managed to make our lamingtons in the morning for the Australian Christmas Dinner although the sponge cake stuck to the baking paper a bit so they weren't pretty! We went for a gentle stroll along the Neckar River to get out of the kitchen for a while and Winfried showed me the spot where Elector Palatinate Karl I Ludwig died en route between Heidelberg and Mannheim in 1680.

Back at home, it was time to get the kitchen fired up and prepare everything for our raclette dinner. I had never heard of raclette before which is originally from Switzerland and is a big communal dinner. Basically, you prepare all of these different ingredients like mushrooms, onions, corn and capsicum and have some thin slices of meat such as bacon, pork or beef and then all sit around this machine which is a cross between a grill and a hot plate. Everybody has a tiny plate which they can combine ingredients with a slice of Swiss cheese on the top to melt under the grill and at the same time cook a piece of meat on the top. Needless to say there was a lot going on and endless variations to try, but still limited by the size of your stomach! Like Steffie, I went too hard too early because I would make more than one thing at once. Interesting concept though!

Finally, today is the last of the festivities because Steffie and I are preparing an Australian Christmas Dinner. I had to rack my brain to think of what is a typical meal to serve for Christmas which of course is impossible given the different cultures and foods available. Obviously in Australia being summer there is a swing towards cool drinks, cherries and seafood, but people still make a big roast dinner. So I came up with a 3 course meal comprised of the following:

1. Appetisers - Party Pies and Sausage Rolls (handmade of course)
2. Main Course - Roast Beef with all the trimmings
3. Dessert - Lamingtons and Matchsticks

The problem with making Australian food is of course there isn't anything available here! It would be easy to go down to Coles and buy frozen pies and lamingtons, but I guess making them is a more interesting experience. On the plus side, at age 29 I managed to finally make good omlettes for breakfast (6 eggs!).

In the end it all worked out well, but the meat pies were a lot of work (much simpler to buy frozen!) The roast turned out perfectly and everyone was bursting before the desserts even arrived. Everyone really liked the lamingtons as well!

Merry Christmas und Frohe Weihnachten!
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