I am happy to report that I’ve arrived safely in Germany and am, as the German’s say, “sliding in” to what portends to be a very happy new year. Arriving about a week ago, I unpacked most of my clothes and the essentials that I shipped from home – cook books for all of the cooking that I plan to do with my new found spare time and the thrice weekly outdoor markets of Mainz, a few framed photographs, Scrabble, and a few other odds and ends. I’m lucky that my fiancé (I’ll call him “S” here) preceded me in the move (by about a year) and found this lovely two-story apartment (photos to come) right on the city’s main square and across from a 1,000 year old cathedral, the Mainzer Dom, who’s bells – charming during the day, but quite annoying first thing in the morning – ring every hour.
S and I spent New Year’s Eve or “Silvester” at the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden. We sipped champagne and sekt with fun and welcoming friends from S’s office, tried our hand (unsuccessfully) at roulette and black jack, and “slid into the new year” with an amazing firework display over downtown Wiesbaden.
Throughout the week I’ve enjoyed the simple things that become major things after a year and half long distance relationship – cooking together (we made a delicious lamb tagine), playing Scrabble, watching movies on the couch, and playing card games with our fabulous neighbors.
This past weekend, we went to Luxembourg City with four other friends. A quick trip to a French-speaking country was a nice respite from my embarrassment of not possessing even a basic grasp of the language of my new hometown. While most everyone speaks English in Mainz, I hate not being able to communicate in the local language and am looking forward to beginning German classes at the end of the month. In Luxembourg, it felt so good to be able to order food and make reservations in French (albeit very broken French). After first stopping for a delicious quiche Lorraine at a quaint little shop, we explored the city and took in the views from Chemin de la Corniche, which has been dubbed “Europe’s most beautiful balcony” and follows the city’s 17th century ramparts. We stopped in Urban Bar for some cremant – the local sparkling wine. The bartender there recommended Mousel’s Cantine for traditional Luxembourg food. On his recommendation, we took a nice walk down a hill outside the old town to find that Mousel’s, sadly, was closed – turns out that most of Luxembourg takes a two-week vacation around Christmas and NYE. Not to be discouraged, we stopped in Brauerie for some beers and appetizers (pommes frites and escargot! yum!). Brauerie is located in what looks like a really fun complex of restaurants, bars, and dance clubs – we vowed to come back when the town isn’t on holiday. Fortified by beer and fries, we walked back up the hill, wandered the beautiful old town a bit, had some more Chimays at The Tube and then capped the night with a delicious dinner at a great little italian restaurant – lot’s of wine was consumed, stories told, and new friends and travel partners made. It was a great first road trip!
The next day, we visited the US Military Cemetery in Hamm, about 15 minutes outside of Luxembourg City. The cemetery is home to the graves of over 5,000 US soldiers who fought and died while liberating Luxembourg at the end of 1944, including General Patton (who died in January 1945). The site was beautiful, breathtaking, and heartbreaking. What a humbling experience to be among those who fought to free a continent that I now call home.
Thank you for stopping by!