Xmas Berlin 2014
Arrival in Berlin Tegel airport is a friendly experience. Although the luggage delivery may seem to be operated by staff morally against priority tags, the airport is so small you almost land in the carpark so it's fast. Meike's dad picked you both up. Outside, in the centre of the carpark were huge canvases advertising Night in the Museum 3. It was strange to see Robbin Williams grinning on the left hand side. A shame he's dead. Jumanji!
After dropping past home, you headed out again to met up with Sandra, Steffen, Irina and Dani in Berlin. You met in a small hipster bar in Berlin Mitte, along the way passing too many Indian restaurants with too many Indians suggesting you look at their menu. Very annoying. Their hipster bar's menu was limited but what they offered tasted really good. After a feed, you all went to Friedrichstadt-Palast to watch The Wyld: a live show for Sandra's 30th birthday present.
The show was a strange mix of modern dance in funny costumes, basic acrobatics and adagio, silly props, dogs and BMX riding. The eclectic mix of mismatching momentum had entertainment value, yes, but it's execution was far below Cirque du Solis. When you've seen the best, the rest pales in comparison. Live shows seem to attract arrogant people; more than once grouchy-looking men barged past you, holding a glass of champagne and toting a prissy wife. Live shows were clearly not you scene.
The next day while the girls brunched – to which you were explicitly not invited – you went on a man-date with Steffen in Stieglitz. It was cold and the shopping was over fast, so you found a nice seat in a warm cafeteria. You went for the tasty-sounding fancy breakfast. Stieglitz was where you spent the first six months in Europe, sharing a flat with Dani and Meike. It was a time where money was limited and a bottle of Bombay Gin seemed like a luxury. Currently, you're trying to get rid of your excess liquor bottles to simplify moving into your new apartment; one of which is a Bombay Gin. It seemed like a milestone, having transitioned between the two states of alcohol ownership. Steffen didn't find the thought as deep as you may have. Muu muu.
At some point you went with Norbert, Maren and Meike xmas tree shopping. It was their continuing tradition to get a tree Meike's height, and of a very specific shape appropriate for balancing candles. Since they dressed it with real burning candles, it was important to get the right one. Speaking of dressing things, Maren had brought eleven dresses with her and had them hanging up at home. She planned an onward trip to Stockholm for Lindy Hopping – a swing style dance developed in the 1920's and 30's in New York. Considering her plans to dance the night away – literally, until sunrise on new-years day – having one outfit per day was a minimum requirement. The Lindy Hop was the follow-on from Bollywood dancing, which followed ballet. You couldn't say her interests weren't varied.
While Angelika dressed the xmas tree with candles, you tested some old games to see what was worth keeping. Nimmersatt was a kids game where you move a squirrel pushing a wheelbarrow around a board and collect acorns. You had to loop around and deposit them in your home without gathering too many and spilling your load. The game was amusing, mostly due to Meike's disinterest and complaint at playing, rather than it being a fun game.
In Germany the tree is dressed and the presents opened in the evening of the 24th. The candles are traditionally lit by Angelika while everyone waits in the kitchen, building suspense, and then you may all enter the lounge room for biscuits and some odd kind of tea. The pile of biscuits were almost as big as the pile of presents; somebody must have been busy baking! Meike's parents still make the effort to wrap everything. You felt very spoilt. Amongst the gifts were two Canadian-style beanies from Australia, probably suitable for a Siberian winter.
Newyears Küblis 2015
Last New Years you found yourself in a hut on a hill surrounded by many people. Some of them were friends and funny, while other randoms made a ruckus – loitering loudly while puffing pot and talking trash. It was a mixed evening, neither private nor personal, and so you were determined to do it differently next year. Come this year, Meike had booked a holiday apartment in Küblis for the holidays with snowy intentions. A few days before 2015 you packed your waterproof duffel bag and made a move for the mountains.
Küblis is a tiny place between Chur and Klosters in the Swiss Alps. It is well connected to lots of fun snow-sport locations such as Davos and Fideriser Heuberg, but is otherwise just a sleepy little village. This was just what you were hoping for: away from any hustle and bustle up in the mountains. You headed over there by train with your cross country skis and snowshoes, planning for adventures with Sandra, Steffen, Matthieu and eventually Jeannette (she came later).
The place was hidden up in the back of the village, and you had to carefully follow the owner's description to find it. The small holiday apartment was decked out with everything one may need to live. That included a fondue set, which in Switzerland is a boarderline citizenship requirement. It wasn't especially well cleaned – hairs in the bathroom, crumbs on the table, etc. – which was a bit annoying, since the rental contract included a 140chf cleaning charge. You sucked it up, both figuratively and literally, and flopped into holiday mode. Day one you visited Davos for some cross country skating. It was far too cold and snowy to really get into it, so you cut it short and headed back for shopping. Sandra and Steffen arrived and shopping was undertaken.
Day two was cross-country skiing in Klosters – a slightly bigger town with a lot more rich people. It's not especially clear why so many rich people like Klosters, but they do tend to gather there. The skiing conditions were ok – if anything a little icy – and it was a cold-sunny day. Once you skated past all the lollygaggers in the first loipe loop the trailed opened up and the scenery became distractingly beautiful. Then, suddenly, woopbang! A small clump of snow beside your ski sent you crashing face first into the snow. Classic skating rookie mistake. That afternoon in true French style, Matthieu joined with cheese and wine.
The third day in Küblis was spent skating in Klosters again. It was close, convenient and a really nice loipe. You made the full loop length of 15km at a medium pace. Jeannette came a bit later. Everyone played board games until late, laughing their butts off trying to match colours and shapes in Jungle Speed. That night 2015 was welcomed in with party-poppers, silly hats and champagne.
Day four was a snowshoe adventure with Matthieu and Jeannette from Fideriser Heuberg up Mattjishorn and back. It had been steadily snowing most evenings, and so the avalanche danger was very high. The Mattjishorn ridge was well know and probably the only safe place to visit in the entire region, and yet after an hour of snowshoe hiking your heard your first wumps sound. When large areas of snow shift, or when layers separate, a wumps sound is produced. If you're standing anywhere on a slope you can be sure you're screwed. Luckily, you were standing on a flat area. Then, wumps again! You weren't too sure about all that. Of everyone in the group, Jeannette had the greatest endurance. She managed to hold a steady conversation all the way to the top. You were impressed. Sandra and Steffen had gone home, and so you dined on cheese for the third night in a row with the other two. It was a cheese overload.
Day five was spent on the Klosters loipe again. You'd see the whole thing several times now, but it was still a lot of fun skiing back down the hill. You kept it short, packed up and buggered off home after writing an email to the owner. No one was happy about paying for cleaning when you had to do it yourself. You seemed to get away with it.