Remember back when I met Younes in Europe to travel back in 2011 and proceeded to fall in love with him? Well, the story of my German Christmas takes off from where I left off in Warsaw.
I stumbled from the train dazed and exhausted. It was December 22nd and I had two days in Warsaw before meeting my aunt, uncle and cousin in Germany for Christmas.
The bus to the hostel was easy to find and the trip uneventful. The walk up 86 stairs to the hostel itself while carrying all my luggage was…invigorating. Being the dead of winter, I had most of the dorm to myself, although I noticed on the list of house rules, there was a specific section about fees for vomit cleanup, so it must be a pretty rockin’ place in the summer. But it was quiet that day. I collapsed onto a lower bunk and napped.
When I woke up, I had a little over 24 hours to explore. That evening, I wandered the streets to the Old Town, which I wrote about recently. The next day, I took a tram to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. It was masterfully done and very affecting and I lost track of time. When I went back to the hostel and grabbed my luggage, I was running a bit tight on time for my train to Berlin but I wasn’t too far off. Then I realized that I had messed up on the bus schedule and the bus I had planned to take wasn’t the right one after all. I’d have to take a cab. But wait! I had no more Polish Zolty. I booked it down the street with my luggage and found an ATM. Someone was at it. Like a scene in a movie, I watched as the girl at the ATM slooooooowly withdrew her cash and then proceeded to rummage through her bag and pick out every little piece of lint and throw it in the wastebasket next to her. She finally left and I got my cash and got a cab. I made it to the train station with minutes to spare. But I couldn’t find a train to Berlin! I started to imagine Christmas alone in Warsaw. I racked my brains…what final destination would include a stop in Berlin? Amsterdam? Of course! It’s practically a straight line across Europe! I sprinted to the train, got on, and the doors closed maybe 30 seconds after. Closest call I had had all trip. I found an empty row and slept until I got to Berlin, where I changed trains to Munich. Then more sleep. Zzzz.
I rode into Munich on a cool, cloudy Christmas Eve. After checking into the hostel, I hopped online so I could get in touch with my Aunt Nancy. We agreed to meet…where else? The Christmas Market.
There were hugs galore at the Christmas Market as I greeted Aunt Nancy, Uncle Chris and Cousin Kurt.
We sipped hot cocoa and wandered for a bit and then decided to go to their hotel, where there was a steakhouse. YUM. Christmas Eve steak for dinner.
The next day we met up and headed for Christmas lunch at the famous Hofbrauhaus. We feasted on Wiener schnitzel but the real highlight was the Dunkelbier. Prost!
A drive later, we arrived in by Heidelberg. Chris, Nancy and Kurt had Marriott points so they stayed there while I stayed at a quaint (and cheap) little hotel outside of the city. I don’t remember the name but it had a great continental breakfast. (I did wonder briefly if people felt sorry for me, staying at a hotel alone, while not knowing that I was actually having one of my best Christmas’ ever.) Anyway, not much time to dwell on that. Decades ago, my grandfather on my dad’s side had made contact with our distant cousins in Germany (we are many levels removed, having descended from the same line in the 1800s before my direct ancestors – Konrad Wilhem more specifically – split off and left Germany for the US). I had traveled to meet these relatives twice in the past and these are connections I cherish.
The next two days brought about meeting with small groups of family to visit our ancestor’s old stomping grounds in Offenbach…
…and larger gathering with many relatives.
Even if it was sans tree, it was truly a Christmas to remember.