January 2, 2014

Heidelberg Christmas Markets

Before our move, the Hubs and I were a little worried about meeting new people, and finding friends at a new duty station. After all, our old pals are so wonderful! We miss all the good times we had together, and really hope they can visit us sometime.

Lucky for us, a few of our friends have followed us to Europe! Of course, none are at our exact location, but they're closer than some of our other friends. Also lucky us, we discovered that we have amazing new neighbors! Most of us are new here, so we have the chance to discover this beautiful country together.

One of my new pals is actually from Germany, and she has been an incredible help to all of us as we fumble with the language, train schedules, and grocery stores. She's originally from Heidelberg, a gorgeous town. And, she offered to show me around a couple weekends ago...

Naturally, I said heck yes! 

The Christmas Markets were in full swing when we arrived. My friend, Becky (who lives in Germany now too!) met us there, and we all spent an excellent afternoon together. Mostly, we wandered the markets. Shopping, eating, and chatting…

I'm really, really obsessed with the Christmas markets. They're so much fun, just to hang out and socialize. Not to mention, a great place to pick up gifts for our family back in the States.

Though we only had the afternoon and a bit of the evening, Jasmina (my new neighbor) managed to show us so much of her lovely hometown. We stopped for breakfast at a fantastic cafe, wandered the markets, and eventually made our way to Heidelberg Castle.

Panoramic of Heidelberg Castle and the town

We spent some time seeing the sights, with Jasmina as our guide (she was excellent!). The history in Europe runs much longer than what I'm used to in the States, it's fascinating. Not only did we tour the outside of the castle area, with it's excellent views, but we wandered into the castle itself before making our way back to town.

Us ladies goofing off 

Left: Giant wine barrel (room sized!)
Top right: Entering the castle center
Bottom right: Sun clock on castle tower

Someday I might take a guided tour of the castle, but we saw so much even without a pro guide. Though I think Jasmina should qualify, ha! In the image above, you can see some of the sights. The ginormous (that's a real word, peeps!) wine barrel especially impressed me.

I'm not sure what that says about me… but I'm ok with it.

One spot Becky and I were especially determined to see was the Heidelberg Gate. As night began to fall, we walked to the gate among small crowds of people.

The gate is an especially photographic spot. On the other side is a stone bridge (also beautiful), where many people attach their "love locks" in this city (you might remember these from my trip to Budapest). One of these days, I'll buy a lock with the Hubs and we'll toss the key into the river below. We only have to decide which gorgeous city we'll complete this tradition in… suggestions, anyone?

Though I loved my trip to Heidelberg, it just wasn't enough. I'm desperate to go back! So far, this is one of my favorite cities in Germany. Sometime in the spring, I plan to visit again, for a weekend this time. Hopefully the Hubs can come on that trip too.

But for now, Happy New Year, my friends! There will be one more post about some of the local Christmas markets, and then I'll tell you all about my recent trip to Neuschwanstein castle. Plus, some new recipes should be coming soon (now that my dishes are unpacked!).

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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