22 Dec 2018 – Saturday.
An hour’s flight away and we were in Hamburg where Ute greeted us and had us home in Buhholtz a jiffy. She prepared us a warm, cosy bed for the night and even…
had cute little pieces of chocolates on our pillows so that we’d dream sweet dreams.
23 Dec 2018 – Sunday.
Next morning, we went to the town to meet up with Felix, Juli and their adorable little girl, Leah, for brunch.
We went to a place called Lim’s and as with most Asian businessmen the world over, Lim’s managed to rake in lots of business Sunday morning with a breakfast buffet. It was pretty much the only place opened in the town square and needless to say, lots of families and friends chose it as their meeting spot.
They had breads galore, cured meats and fish, some hot items and a huge table filled with desserts!
This was just round one of many rounds.
It was really awesome catching up with Felix and finally meeting Juli and Leah. Leah was the smiliest baby I’ve ever met and she was precious! When we heard that she wasn’t as smiley as usual owing to a cold, I was like, “If our future baby is as happy as Leah is now, cold and all, I’ll be a super happy mummy!”.
The food warmed us up for the cold outdoors. Not that we were in the cold very long because within minutes, we were bundled up in Martin’s car, together with Naima, and making our way to Flo and Naima’s grandparents’ home about a 2-hour drive away.
Our time at Oma and Opa Rennekamp‘s home was spent mainly sat around tables filled with food.
24 Dec 2018 – Monday.
Christmas eve is usually the time when Germans celebrate Christmas, not on the 25th. It was a first for me. We woke up and after a big brunch, we ‘younger’ ones were tasked to decorate the Christmas tree.
Yup! It was my first time having a real Christmas tree.
And also my first time having a Christmas tree lit up with candles instead of fairy lights. It looked really pretty!
With such a heavy breakfast, we skipped past lunch although Oma made sure the coffee table was filled with tidbits for tea time lest we felt hungry. I was getting antsy at all the sitting around since reaching Oma and Opa’s the day before, so Flo, Naima, Martin and I went for a walk around the estate. Turned out to be blisteringly cold out, so when we reached home again, our ears were frozen and it felt good coming back into the warmth.
Before dinner preparations, I spent some time with Opa listening to stories of when he was younger, working as an engineer. I love the stories he told and I said before I left that I’ll try to pick up better German for next time, so I can listen to more instead of having him have to speak in English to me.
Flo and Naima were in charge of the Knöddel and Rotkohl respectively. The beef goulash we were having for dinner was prepared the day before by Ute.
Unlike the usual Christmas feasts my family is used to with the roast turkey and roast potatoes etc, we had Beef Goulash with Knöddel (which I did not like unfortunately), Rotkohl (Red Cabbage) and some Green Beans.
Thereafter, we dug into ice-cream for dessert before gathering in the living room for our gift exchange.
Opening presents took a whole 3 hours but I loved it! We had all bought each other multiple gifts – some small ones like scrunchies and edible things, and some bigger ones. All of them had lots of love and thought put into them. We took turns opening our presents one at a time, and it was awesome seeing the looks of surprise, joy, laughter, on each other’s faces whenever a new present was unwrapped.
It was a memorable Christmas to say the least. My very first Christmas in Hamburg, and with the Rennekamps and I enjoyed it very much. I loved having a real tree, using traditional decorations, and the gift opening the most.
Next morning, after another late breakfast, we hugged and kissed Oma and Opa goodbye and set off to visit Lars in Buxtehude, for Flo to spend some time with his Godson, Freddie, and to celebrate Freddie’s 4th birthday.
25 Dec 2018 – Tuesday.
Freddie was kept well entertained once his presents were opened, so we made sure to give some attention to his little brother Jonathan as well.
Lars was really sweet to also let us use his car for most of the duration of our trip. So nearing dinner time, we made off with his car and drove to Flo’s aunty Sangita‘s home where we were putting up for a few days.
I super love their recyclable Christmas tree, made entirely by them using wood, and stringing up baubles and fairy lights from the inner top. It looks very modern, very pretty, and is better for the environment too!
We were really well fed whenever we were at Sangita and Towsten’s for dinner or breakfast. I enjoyed Sangita’s cooking mainly because it’s very much like what I enjoy cooking at home – only hers is even better! She uses lots of fresh ingredients and has an enormous drawer of herbs and spices that I am incredibly envious of.
Baked salmon with grilled tomatoes and zucchini, rosemary potato wedges, and there was a fresh salad on the side.
26 Dec 2018 – Wednesday.
Hamburg City! We picked up one of our friends who had a short 4-day stopover in Hamburg and took her out to see the sights. The weather wasn’t the best and it being winter meant that the day was short so we didn’t cover much the day of her arrival.
Also, most of the Christmas Markets were already closed just before Christmas, including the main one at the Rathaus. We managed to find some smaller ones within the city though most of the stores were replicas of each other.
There were freshly grilled sausages, the beautiful smell of hot sautéed garlicky button mushrooms wafted through the streets, lots of people were milling around with a hot mug of Glühwein aka mulled wine in their hands…
There were shops selling things made of wood, smokers, handmade jewellery… And there was also the alluring aroma of sweet crepes being freshly made, as well as these Schmaltzgebäck that Flo loves and bought for everyone to try.
They were essentially little dough fritters tossed in icing sugar, somewhat similar to a doughnut hole or French beignets.
There was also a myriad of caramelised nuts in crazy flavours – chocolate, speculoos, chilli, cola, liquorice! I was tempted to get some but decided against since I know that my threshold for sweet stuff isn’t very high and these nuts looked very well caramelised.
We found a cafe to settle into for some cake…
This Sachertorte was declared a failure by the German unfortunately.
And some coffee. In my case, a chai latte.
Chai lattes are abundant in Hamburg do I managed to indulge in many cups of these while in Germany. So yummy! And not too sweet unlike back home. Funny thing is that in Hamburg, you can’t find skimmed milk anywhere. They have vegan milk in the form of soy usually, and then there’s only whole milk. But then again, fat is flavour and I cannot deny that whole milk is a whole lot more satisfying that skimmed. Especially in cold weather.
So there you have it! My first German Christmas with my German man!
Next blog post, I’ll share with you about my first German New Year!! It may already be nearing the end of January but the joy of Christmas lives on… in my heart!