Happy New Year!

We spent Christmas and New Year’s with our family in Würselen, Germany. They have a very comfortable apartment there with a huge guest room that was inviting and big enough for ping pong ball soccer played by the grandson and grandpa.

Ping pong ball soccer

Ping pong ball soccer

Our granddaughter made our beds for us which consists of a bottom sheet for each side of the bed and a pillow cover. Each side also has its own soft fuzzy blanket folded width wise and a duvet covered comforter to match the sheet also folded width wise. When going to bed the fuzzy cover and comforter are unfolded and laid out length wise. She is seven and told us that is the German way! There are also no box springs on these European beds, they are like Ikea beds with ladder like wooden springs. She also told us the bed came with the lattices assembled incorrectly and they had to fix it but now it was done and more comfortable. So cool that she is learning different cultural customs.
As at home family Christmas celebrations we enjoyed strewing paper and boxes all over the floor.

Christmas paper and boxes

Christmas paper and boxes

We were treated to a traditional German Christmas feast of sauerbraten and red cabbage. In fact we had several great meals during our stay; from ham to lamb to little french hens.

Three french hens

Three french hens

Most mornings my son-in-law walks to the bakery for fresh rolls and bread. The white rolls are ubiquitous and quite good but the chocolate croissants are exquisite.

We enjoyed being with the family and did a little touring as well. Visited the Aachen cathedral which was originally commissioned by Charlemagne who suffered from arthritis and spent his time in Aachen in the healing warm waters.

Amazing mosaics at the cathedral

Amazing mosaics at the cathedral

We also visited the thermal baths and enjoyed the German version of warm soaks. The family traveled to Ghent in Belgium to see some friends and visit a Viking exhibit in a museum but I wasn’t feeling well so I stayed home. But I went with to visit the small town of Monschauer, famous for its Christmas markets that were already closed but many of the shops carry Christmas market types of items there. It is an old stone town with every building, road, walkway and fence made of stone. We walked through town and up to the castle and then to the glass blowing market where we enjoyed watching the kids help make blown glass plant watering globes. Before leaving town we stopped at a mustard market. Monschauer is famous for mustard.

View of Monschauer from the castle wall

View of Monschauer from the castle wall

Slate stone siding on many buildings

Slate stone siding on many buildings

Handmade and Glass Blowing Market Map

Handmade and Glass Blowing Market Map

Glassblower

Glassblower

One of the most exciting nights was New Year’s Eve from our own apartment balcony and the streets below. People from the neighborhood gathered on the street sharing warm mulled wine and shooting off fireworks or burning sparklers. I watched the festivities from the balcony and the fireworks came from all over town instead of a concentrated show like we have for the 4th of July. Although I went to bed the fireworks continued for at least an hour and a half and then it got quiet again.

Fireworks celebrations
Germans have a quiet rule on Sundays, no loud noises are allowed. No mowing the grass or using power tools where others can hear them. Even practicing an instrument is not condoned.

We also spent time learning to use the sewing machine my granddaughter got for Christmas. She had several projects in mind and she got a great design ideas book with patterns to make some clothes. We started with her running the foot pedal while I held the material and she chose the decorative stitches we used.

Sleepover cosmetic bag

Sleepover cosmetic bag

Infinity scarf and circle skirt

Infinity scarf and circle skirt

Then she held the material and I ran the foot pedal and finally she did both while I helped keep the material aligned. We used a strip of painters tape on the machine to help her line up the material at the foot. This was an idea from her sewing book. I also worked with her mom to help her remember her sewing skills from childhood. I hope they have time to sew together. It takes a lot of time and vacation is good for working on such projects.

We spent a couple of days with the kids at the local indoor pool. My granddaughter is swimming with the Würselen swim team. But the pools were open mostly for playing during school vacation. There were two large water slides and a wave pool that was turned on for about five minutes at the top of every hour. Also a lazy river around the pool and a large pirate ship playground with warmer water for littles. There was one bubble pool but the water was not warm like a hot tub. It was called the Aquana and it is a pretty cool activity located so close to their apartment.

Huge indoor water slide

Huge indoor water slide

We were very happy to be with the family. We miss them terribly and hope their time there is over quickly. But we see the advantages too, for the family and for us as travelers.

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