Now, no matter what my weekend plans were, I would have been thrilled to wake up on Friday morning. This is because last Friday marked two very important occasions: My first weekend off in 2 weeks, and the end of The Disease. However, because my friends Bre and Claire were scheduled to arrive in Stade at 9:30am I awoke overjoyed with my newfound health and free time.
|Bre, Claire and Me in Hamburg|
For weeks I have been raving about the German Christmas markets to anyone who will listen and Claire and Bre, who are actually close enough to come see what all the fuss is about, took a night train from France to spend the weekend in my tiny apartment and check out the miracle that is Germany at Christmastime (Seriously, these people invented Advent Calendars, Christmas trees, glass ornaments and gingerbread, how can Christmas not be magical here?).
On Saturday the three of us took the train in to Hamburg to check out the Christmas markets which dot the city. Each market has a little different feel but my personal favorite is the one near the historic Rathaus (town hall). It has hundreds of booths filled with handmade toys and crafts, candles, Christmas decorations and all sorts of German delicacies from Glühwein (spiced, heated red wine) to traditional bratwurst. Everything is lit with Christmas lights and three times daily Santa Claus rides overhead in a sleigh rigged to a zip line. It was epic—especially with Claire, who eats like a horse and insisted on trying every German food she could get her hands on.
On Sunday we went to church together and celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with a feast of turkey, potatoes and corn. I genuinely enjoyed showing off my little corner of the world and feel like Claire and Bre got a good taste of life in Germany. However, it was our late-night conversations over French wine and piles of dirty dishes that meant the most to me. True, we could have had conversations like this back in the USA (in fact we have, and probably will again), but there is something about being in a small, badly furnished apartment in foreign country that turns regular conversations into diamonds.
We discussed everything from French politics to boys (no matter how mature, well-educated or well-traveled you think you are, this topic is bound to baffle). We talked about career aspirations, learning a foreign language, expat life and a dozen other things that were at once life-altering and silly. I laughed until I cried, told the brutal truth and took a few pieces of well-aimed advice. In the end, I don’t think any of us reached any earth-shattering conclusions (in fact, I think it’s safe to say that all three of us currently have more questions than answers in this little game of life), but the talks were therapeutic nonetheless.
It turns out that spending hours upon hours chatting with people I love and trust was exactly what the doctor ordered after 3 months of chaos and a week of vomit.