Happy 2010!

January 03, 2010

It has been a great New Year so far here in Germany (aside from Russ working so much!). We were very generously invited to the home of Russ' coworker Ziad's flatmate for NYE - an architect who's place is her huge, beautiful converted office (see background of photo above). Rita welcomed us into her intimate dinner party of nine and were immediately served things I was told were "German speciality," including some kind of sausage and potato salad. Included in the dinner fare was some of Ziad's Lebonese (via Nice, so he speaks French and Arabic; impressive) specialities as well - and this was just the first course. Then there was the cheese course and two cakes - a spice one and an amazing lemon one. Intermixed was an adundance of wine and champagne. German, French and English flew around the table and everyone was getting up to dance when their favorite songs came on.

When the countdown was close, we all went out to the balcony with glasses of champagne, preparing to watch, unbeknownst to us, an amateur fireworks display by adults and 3-year-olds alike. We counted down, in German of course, and kissed our fellow party-goers while the warzone began beneath us. We watched as fireworks shot up and bounced between buildings, then exploding in the trees. How every house on the block (or at least our little balcony) did not go up in flames was beyond us. Russ' British coworker probably summed it up best: " Those Germans are bloody mental!" See some of the craziness below.

(The street filled with fireworks being set of, rockets shooting past our perch on the 4th floor and small explosives being set off just across the street)

It's worth noting that on our way to the "club" (really just a small cafe with tables pushed out of the way), we witnessed a very small child leaning directly over over a rocket set into a bottle to light it. We anticipate that said child will untimately end up with the playground nickname "patchy" due to loss of an eye.

With everything closed on January first, we decided to go sight-seeing to Köln (Cologne to you Americans), with at least seeing the Kölner Dom on our list - the largest and most impressive cathedral in Germany. Thanks to our handy German guidebook, courtesy of Tara and Chris, we also located some places to eat nearby. I even called to ask if they were open for the holiday and whether they allowed dogs - all in German (go me!). Since it was snowing pretty hard all day and the Boss wasn't allowed in the cathedral, we did just a little bit of walking, had dinner (inside, with Bailey dog!) and a hot chocolate and headed home.

The ornate entryways to the great cathedral

The massive organ pipes high on the cathedral walls

The height of the cathedral was amazing!

One of the many beautiful stained glass windows

Looks like the snow is back with us for a while, with the radio claiming "richtig winter" (real winter) is finally upon us. Bailey is adjusting to the snow nicely, especially now that she's discovered it's edible! Today was a perfect Sunday in the park, the trees all white, kids sledding and making snowmen. I'm already a convert to "seasons" - and fully embracing the farewell of year-round CA sunshine. I'll leave you all with some lovely shots from Nerotal from this morning ...