This year I broke with my life-long tradition and spent Christmas not at my parents house with my family but with my girlfriend and her family in Germany.
The flight there was uneventful but dull thanks to Aurigny’s one-flight-per-day to Stansted at mid-day. This means 5 hours + of milling around. Thankfully Stansted isn’t quite as bad as I recalled and there are a few book and game shops to browse around in and I managed to keep my shopping down to a mere 3 books… Shame I already had 3 in my backpack.
After the introductions and a good nights sleep I put on my best "oh please" face and Clarissa drove us to Media Markt to see if they had Xbox 360’s in. Unsurprisingly they didn’t so we headed into Nuremberg to check out the shops and experience the Christmas market.
Having spent hours exploring the streets and stores of Nuremberg on a previous trip I stopped by EB Games in the mall and quickly acquired one of the two 360 core’s they had in stock as well as a wireless controller, Project Gotham 3 and Need for Speed Most Wanted. The box weighed the same as a small child but alas was not equipped with legs and so we dropped it back off at the car before my knuckles reached the floor.
The Christmas market was very atmospheric and the white lights the Germans favor over the English disco-fever multi-colour bonanza felt less tacky and helped keep the descending chill of sunset at bay for a few minutes longer. We ate hot waffles and caramelized nuts whilst wandering around the multitude of stands before my feet eventually protested to further activities and we headed wearily back to the car.
Back at home we played a bit of 360 (I’ll post more on this in a future post) where I found that while the console and PGR3 will auto-switch to the language my NFS Most Wanted was decidedly German only and Clarissa had to help me every stretch as my German currently consists of telling people my stomach is empty or that I have hiccups.
We met the morning with tragic news… Clarissa’s parents had set-up the Christmas tree in the lounge where the only TV in the house and my 360 were. This meant after weeks of waiting to get one I would now have to wait 2 days before I could get back into the lounge to play it!
We had Christmas shopping to do and some friends to visit and between those two events I sunk into The Time Traveller’s Wife (a very good read so far and a similar core to something I had in mind a while back). Clarissa’s father had taken the plunge and installed a WiFi ADSL connection so I kept up with emails and repeatedly checked for my assignment score.
On the 23rd we had a mini-grill/fondue night with friends where we ate lots and played some games. Unfortunately my German is still minimal despite evening lessons and Clarissa’s help and her friends were only occasionally speaking English so the night went by with a rather detached feeling.
The 24th here in the UK is Christmas Eve, generally people rush around getting the final gifts they need for people before retiring for a few drinks with friends or family before a big meal and gift exchange on the 25th. In Germany the gifts and big meal happen on the 24th.
Clarissa’s parents cooked a fabulous dinner which we ate with her sister and brother-in-law and we all exchanged gifts. We even got her brother-in-law and father to have a quick go on PGR and NFS respectively with… well, mixed results.
Boxing day was a quiet affair but we took in some snow and a meal at a Chinese restaurant before packing as much as we could into our suitcases, grabbing 3 hours sleep and setting off at 4am for our flight back which involved an even longer sit at Stansted, falling asleep in departures, a nice sandwich at Pret and some woman throwing her coffee over my 360’s box.