We assistants have been taking full advantage of the Christmas-fever that has descended on Trier in the recent weeks. We’ve spent our time at the Weihnachtsmarkt, had ourselves some Glühwein, and even had our Language Assistant Christmas Party this past week.
Our first big Christmassy outing was two Fridays ago: most of us met up in Trier’s Kornmarkt for a round of outdoors skating, all thanks to Sparkasse Trier. Thanks, Sparkasse! I hadn’t gone skating in a year, and it was great to get back on the ice. As usual it took me awhile to gewohn myself or re-adjust to the feeling, but before long I was zipping around going backwards and stopping like someone who almost knew what they were doing! I feel that Hillary and I, the two Canadians, represented our country well among the Brits. At least we’re capable of something in Canada!
After an active hour and a half of skating we swapped out skates back for our shoes, and repaired to the Hauptmarkt for a well earned Glühwein and some Reibekuchen. We don’t really have anything like these Christmas Markets in Canada. Vancouver has its recent one at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (where a bear was found last year!). I suspect though that the feeling is quite different, as here in Germany these Weihnachtsmärkte seem to be as much social settings as they are places to buy anything. Folk all huddle up together between the stalls and catch up, holding fast-cooling mugs of mediocre or downright sour Glühwein as a sort of insulation against the heat. Lights from the huts’ roofs illuminate the bright, cheery faces of the freezing people below, while their breath (and copious amounts of cigarette smoke) gathers in a heavy pall hanging above, giving the illusion of the warmth of a thick blanket. Except the blanket’s moist and largely made up of carcinogens.
During the day you’re dodging French school children careening all over the place like little drunks, and at night you’ll easily hear more American than German voices. Meanwhile you can forget trying to get anywhere: you’re hemmed in from all sides, pushed by people with no sense of personal space. Or maybe they’re just trying to keep you warm. Either way, it really is lovely, though to be honest that second Glühweinchen you decided to have makes you think that, you lush.
We’re spoiled here in Trier, as our Christmas Market puts those elsewhere in the region to shame. Last Sunday a trio of us went to Koblenz and were downright embarrassed on their behalf for their poor showing. Then a few days later we went south where we met up with Saarländer assistant Katie to Saarlouis and Saarbrücken. We were impressed by the latter, and admired the effort of the former.
I also managed to see some of the Bonn market while there last Friday on a school exchange trip. It was largely nothing to write home about, besides this remarkable roasted salmon stall I saw near the end. It may not look like much, just a slab of salmon nailed unceremoniously to a board, but it’s shockingly similar to a Salish BBQ, just with nails replacing cedar splints.
It snowed all day while we were in Bonn, and though our journey there only took 2 1/2 hours on the bus, the return trip took nearly 6 because of all the stopped tractor-trailers. The four teachers and I sat up front, our teeth constantly gritted in fear, as our amazing bus driver weaved around the stuck vehicles. At one particularly hairy point we had to go out onto the other side of the road on a blind corner in an intersection because two trucks had got stuck, side by side. We didn’t exactly appreciate the student who thought this would be the best time to come up and ask if we knew when we were going to arrive back in Trier. Thankfully however we did manage to make it back.
Then before I knew it Heather from Canada was here for a few days to visit. She’s moving to Germany in the New Year, and was over in the Old World on the apartment hunt. On Tuesday we assistants had our Christmas Party, and boy was it a good one. We had a fully bedeckt Tisch with all sorts of potlucky-good things, and just as many desserts. We took a break between courses for our Secret Santa exchange (wichteln in German, I’m told) and watched Muppet Christmas Carol – as I said, a good party!
Between these continuing adventures, seeing a pre-premiere showing of Der Hobbit (a movie about this Bilbo Beutlen chappy, seemed to be a rip-off of Tolkien’s Hobbit, but I guess they changed enough to escape copyright?), planning for my trip back to Canada, preparing for university courses, and occasionally finding time to do some English teaching, I’ve been kept quite busy. I’m looking forward though to a short trip back to Canada now and a chance to relax!