A Day Trip to Dresden: Christmas Markets

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Am I the only one who can’t believe the holidays have been and gone already? Post holiday blues have certainly set in and I’ve only been back at work 1 day. As a remedy and since I refuse to admit the holiday period is over here is a recap of a day trip we took to Dresden (about 3 hours from Berlin) to visit their Christmas Markets. Don’t judge me, its cold and dreary here I need some joy.

We went to Dresden the Sunday before Christmas. It was our first time leaving Berlin since we arrived in September and it was so needed. Dresden is home to the Oldest Christmas Market in Germany. If you’re looking for a way to really get in the Christmas spirit look no further!! It was like Christmas exploded all over the square. It was the Christmas Market to end all Christmas Markets. We spent the whole afternoon exploring these markets and were sufficiently Christmased out by the time it was time to catch our bus back to Berlin.

Like any good Christmas market adventure we made the rounds trying all the free samples of stollen, drank some of the best gluhwein we’ve tried and had the most amazing marzipan melted chocolate hot chocolate I have ever had. Ah-fricking-mazing.

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5 German Christmas Market Desserts You Must Eat!

top 5 german christmas market desserts

You may have gathered by now that I live for dessert. Its a constant battle between wanting to eat all the desserts and not wanting to look like a giant dough ball. But right now its Christmas season and I’m in Germany aka land of Christmas and all things Christmas yummy so I say to hell with dieting I’m going to eat all the things! (and then maybe just eat salads all of january to balance it out, thats how it work right??).

When I first was thinking about moving to Germany I read a lot about life in Germany and what to expect, but what got my most excited was the German Christmas Markets. I was just praying we’d get a visa in time so we could stay long enough just to go to the Christmas Markets. Well my wish came true and they have not disappointed! We’ve been to 3 in Berlin alone so far and had a day trip to one in a nearby city, Dresden, this weekend. It was by far the most magical Christmas Markets we’ve seen. It would make even the grinchiest person feel warm and fuzzy.

The hardest part about Christmas Markets is the fact that you are absolutely spoiled for choice on what to eat. So after much trial and error here are my top 5 German Christmas Market desserts you must eat!!

1. Lebkuchen

lebkuchen

Christmas German lebkuchen

We first ‘discovered’ Lebkuchen at Starbucks, we thought the Lebkuchen Latte was what they called eggnog lattes (Daniel has told me about how delish they are so I had to try one even thought they are way overpriced here). After one sip it was clear it was not eggnog. It wasn’t until we then found the real Lebkucken at the Christmas Markets we discovered its actually a giant heart-shaped gingerbread cookie covered in dark chocolate! Lebkuchen is tecnically gingerbread, but we find most common are these heart shaped ones. It is so yummy and perfect for eating on the go at the markets as its not messy and easy to break bits off to share.

2. Schneeballen

schneeballe christmas market germany

schneeballe christmas germanygerman schneeballen

 

Translated to ‘snowball’ these weird shortbread, filled and coated ball things look like they are some weird concoction of left over pastry all rolled together (they probably are). But don’t let this fool you they are so good! Basically they are strips of short bread all rolled together to make a ball about the size of your palm and then filled with a crazy large variety of flavours from marzipan to champagne white chocolate and then coated in a variety of chocolates and/or sugar. The best part is they keep for up to 8 weeks! So if you have the willpower they are great for taking home or to a Christmas party later.

3. Stollen

stollen christmas markets dresden

German market stollen dresden

We have been seeing this powdered sugar covered German fruit bread all over the place for weeks, way before any other Christmas food had come out. Everytime we go to the supermarket there have been so many varieties I figured it must ‘be a thing’ and we needed to try it. Well last weekend when we were at some Christmas markets with friends I asked them and they instantly started raving about it. It looks like its going to be a soft, fruit bread/cake like item but its actaully kind of hard and brittle, not really doughy at all! Also way better than we expected. For all you Americans out their who despise fruit cake never fear! This is nothing like fruit cake! I really can’t describe its uniqueness, you just have to try it.

4. Germknödel

 

This was easily the weirdest dessert we have come across. So much so we probably never would have ordered it if our friend hadn’t told us it was her favourite and that we HAD to try it. Its like an asian dumpling crossed with a berliner (cherry jelly filled donut), swimming in vanilla sauce thats been poured over it before being topped with poppyseeds. Sounds crazy right? Well it kind of is to be honest but its actually so good and really satisfying. Very filling though, this was one dessert I didn’t mind sharing with Daniel.

5. Glühwein

gluhwein stall christmas markets dresden

gluhwein christmas markets germany

This might be my favourite…

Ok so Glühwein isn’t technically a dessert but what better way to finish off your dessert testing than with a nice hot, steamy and very alcoholic Glühwein. Opt for the “mit shuss” option for a good time, it translates to ‘with shot’ and they are certainly liberal with their free pouring. Thats one way to beat the cold, warm from the inside out!

I hope this has gotten everyone in the Christmas eating spirit!

Exciting News!

So I’ve been a bit quiet on the internet front the last week, but thats because… drum roll…. I finally got a job!! *fireworks* *celebratory trumpets* *tears of joy*

It was a long and sometimes rough process but I have an awesome job at the company I wanted (read: spammed their HR with applications) It came completely out of the blue, the called me midday Friday and asked if I could come in in 3 hours for an interview with an MD (this never happens, I’ve had numerous Skype interviews with their HR for other jobs). I literally spoke with him for 10min before he asked me to start Monday! Things move fast here! The position is even in Marketing position like I wanted! (I was previously in sales and trying to transition to this so yay for not being stuck in sales the rest of my life). Its great I’m doing social media management so I literally spend my entire day on Facebook (I used to get in trouble at my last job oops). But I think I’m going to get sick of Facebook very quickly.

upper east side berlin freidrichstrasse

Yep I’m working on the Upper East Side…Berlin not Manhattan. I still felt cool.

Its a really cool company, it feels like university meets real world. Only downside is 12 hour days are the norm. Sounds like fun no? People stay until 8, 9, 10 just as a standard! My first day at about 6pm I was like “soooo… what time do people leave…” Its going to take some serious getting used to. Luckily I have the most amazing boyfriend who has had dinner ready and the apartment spotless every night when I got home. Sorry ladies, he’s taken. He does have an identical twin though… jokes (but seriously he does).

After not working for the last 4 months its a bit of an adjustment but I’m so glad to finally be more stable and to have some income so we can do what we really came here for, travel!! We’re planning on celebrating by taking a day trip to a smaller city, Dresden, a couple of hours away. Its supposed to have great Christmas market so we don’t want to miss that! So far we’ve been to 3 different Christmas markets in Berlin and are not even close to being sick of them. How could you ever get sick of festive cheer! And lots of yummy food and gluhwein of course. We have learnt through trial and error with some guidance from our German friends which foods to eat (and a few we wont be trying again). We ate this weird looking dumpling thing on the weekend that we never would have picked but our friend told us it was her fave, and it did not disappoint. It was certainly an odd creation though, think berliner (jelly filled donut) cross asian dumpling cross bread and butter pudding. Confused yet?

Well here’s to making it through my first week of work and actually earning the weekend! Happy hump day everyone!

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Christmas-fy Your Home Away From Home | A Travellers Guide

hotel christmas decorations on a budget

Away from home from the holidays? Us too. That doesn’t mean your ‘home away from home’, be it a hotel room or temporary apartment like ours, has to be cold and grinch like. It also doesn’t have to cut into your valuable traveling budget.

I know I didn’t think it could be done either, its not often you hear budget and christmas in the same sentence. Its hard with Pinterest absolutely exploding this time of year with stunningly decorated houses full of Christmas cheer. All I desperately want to do is make our apartment look as glorious as them. However since we’re not sure how long we’ll be in Germany and the fact we tend to move apartments every couple of months we didn’t want to invest in a bunch of Christmas decorations and items. We also didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on decorations as we’d much rather spend it on travels and experiences. So we had to get creative.

Here are 5 easy and budget friendly ways to Christmas up your home away from home

1. Candles

Candles are the easiest way to instantly make your home feel warm and cozy. We found Christmas lights didn’t really fit in our budget so candles worked out as a better way to have some lovely twinkling lights around the room. Whether in a line or tea candles in mason jars they make a world of difference. Make sure you have at least one scented one, the red one in the second photo below smells amazinggg, its cinnamon & maple. Straight up smells like cinnamon roll aka heaven. Its a steal too at only 1 Euro from Primark.

Christmas-candle-window-ledge Christmas-snowflake-candles

2. Hanging Ornaments

Some cheap ones like these from IKEA won’t break the budget and work great hanging in the window.

Christmas-window-hanging-ornaments-DIY

We couldn’t find fishing line to hang these with but I snagged some free string from IKEA (in their packaging section) and then just frayed it to get thinner pieces

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3. Homemade Ornaments

We had a great night filled with Christmas carols, paper ornament making and wine. Must have wine.

Christmas-Decoration-makingDIY-christmas-tree-topper DIY-gold-brown-paper-ornaments

4. Pine Needle Branches

There is a florist selling Pine Needle branches on just about every block here in Berlin, but our apartment block has some pine tree in the courtyard so I sneakily just trimmed off the ends of a few of those branches. They’ve been a great way to make it feel (an smell!) a lot more Chrismasy since we decided not to get a proper tree.

DIY-pine-needle-garland DIY-Pine-needle-window-corner-decoration

5. Mini Tree

Speaking of not getting a proper tree we debated over whether or not to get a tree. We went out to a few Christmas tree seller pop-up stands and the local supermarket who sold some too. In the end we opted not to buy one. If we wanted a decent tree it was going to cost at least 30 Euros which was more than we wanted to spend (especially since we’d then need a tree stand which cost around 15 Euros). We’d rather spend that money on a nice Christmas Eve dinner (we’re thinking fondue!). So instead we have this adorable miniature potted tree we bought on whim from IKEA weeks ago for 1.29 Euros. We just added some decorations and bam its christmas ready. I actually love it, its super cute and doesn’t take up precious space in our studio apartment!

DIY-Christmas-mini-tree-ornaments

One important thing to do though is buy a special ornament from the country you are in. Daniel’s Dad was kind enough to buy these beautiful (and very German) ornaments for us that will be so special to have each Christmas to remind us of our Christmas in Germany. We hope to continue to add to the collection!

German-ornaments-christmas-decorations

A cuckoo clock and a gingerbread house, does it get more German than that?

Now the place really feels Christmasy and ready for constant Christmas Carols, Hot Chocolate and snuggly nights in watching Christmas Movies

Ugly Christmas Sweater selfie rudolph primark

What Christmas post would be complete without an ugly Christmas sweater selfie

What DIY Christmas decorations have you made? Any other expats/travellers have any other budget Christmas ideas?

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All I Want For Christmas… An Expat’s Wishlist

I love being an expat, but sometimes there are certain comforts from home or particular Australian things that I would do just about anything for. Its funny how your perspective on things you need let alone want really changes when you don’t have things you used to just take for granted.

Some of these items aren’t necessarily stuff we can’t buy in Germany but they might be outside our budget or not necessary enough to justify purchasing and the having to lug with us from house to house (especially when at the moment we’ll only be here a year).

So without further adieu heres a list of random items I would love the big jolly fat man to carry down our non-existant fireplace and place under next to our adorable miniature christmas tree.

Expat-Christmas-Wishlist

 

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1. Vegemite

Come on, I’m Australian, you can’t be surprised. I don’t care how cliched it is. Oh sweet Vegemite how I miss you so. Both Daniel and I brought a small thing of Vegemite and they are already gone (by gone I mean they are still in our fridge waiting to be cut open and scraped clean). Ahh damn Daniel for being the only American to actually like Vegemite, I should never have weened him onto it, now I need to ween him off!

2. A pot large enough to hold pasta

So annoying all we have are these little bitchlet pots that I’m like, who even buys these?? All we can do pretty much is boil eggs in them. I had to cook pasta sauce across 2 pots the other night, its just such a pain.

3. Sushi

Sushi. Oh glorious sushi, what I wouldn’t do for sushi train right now omg. Next time I’m in Sydney I’m just going to stuff my face with sushi until I never want to look at it again. Germans right now are probably like ahh we have sushi all over the place. This is true, but it is so expensive!! Its like 8 Euros for a tiny, snack size amount of very plain looking sushi that wouldn’t be enough for anyone expect maybeee a child. Thats $12 Australian, for like 4 small pieces, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

4. A store that accepts Visa and Mastercard

So many places only take EC cards (Some kind of Euro credit card) and won’t take my visa or mastercards! What is going on?? Its not like I even have American Express, these are Visa and Mastercard! On Thanksgiving we were buying our groceries for our feast, we get to the front of the line, have scanned and bagged all our items then when I go to pay on my card we find out they don’t take either. We had to hand almost everything back since we only had a small amount of cash on us at the time. So embarrassing with a giant line behind us. Then we went to the supermarket next door and had the same thing happen. Not fun. Now we make sure we always have cash on us, and coins because the tram ticket machines only take coins! I hate coins.

5. Toaster with a cancel switch

Our place has the cheapest toaster, every time I want to pop my toast up early I either have to risk burning/electrocuting myself or pull the plug out so it pops up. The struggle is real.

6. Clothes Variety

I am SO sick of all of my clothes. Since we weren’t sure how long we’d be here and we plan on doing quite a bit of traveling all I brought was one backpacker pack and one carry-on size suitcase worth of stuff. Not going to lie it was quite a challenge and they were literally stuffed to the brim (thank god for space bags). I’ve bought a couple things here but really only just a couple warm things I needed since I was freezing, but I try not to buy much else since we have to move it from place to place. Its so hard though especially with H & M and Zara on pretty much every corner just begging me to buy all the things (my friends and family know I’m just a bit of a shopaholic).

Hannah-expat-suitcases

I’m still pretty proud of myself, a whole walk-in wardrobe condensed to only this

7. A Dryer

At home in Australia I don’t use a dryer (for Americans reading this, we have them we just rarely use them), but here I feel like it should just be a given that you have a dryer, yet our place doesn’t have one. Trying to squeeze all of our clothes onto one tiny IKEA rack that is then placed in the middle of our studio apartment where it takes like 3 days to dry is getting old fast. Don’t even get me started on when we try to wash sheets, its anything goes at that point, hang it on a door? why not. Across 2 chairs? We’re getting serious now. Not to mention the whole lack of clothes thing I mentioned before means I have to be strategic what I wash and when so I don’t end up with no dry shirts again (turns out I like white, which means they all end up in a whites load).

8. Sunshine

Sunshine is a rare gift here at the moment. Most of the time it is permanently grey and dreary and most likely foggy. Yesterday it was so foggy you were damp after being outside for 10 minutes. It wasn’t raining but you still got wet. Coming from Sydney (and Daniel from California) we are really used to a lot of sunshine so this has been a major adjustment for us. So when the sun does come out its like a big happy surprise. I’ll wake up to see sun streaming behind the curtains and get so excited I’ll leap out of bed and just throw the curtains back. before getting outside ASAP.

9. A magically refilling fridge and Pantry

Ok this might be a bit unattainable but I miss the (usually) full fridge at home living with my parents. Man I had it good (I’m sure my parents are getting satisfaction reading this, hi guys, yes I appreciated it!). I also miss being able to just drive up the road to the supermarket and drive back. Here when we do our weekly grocery shop its like an expedition of walking a few blocks, catching the tram, cramming everything into our backpacks and bags then tram and walk back. I swear it takes forever! Not to mention planning our weeks meals and list writing before so we stay on budget. Then by the time the Sunday rolls around we somehow always seem to be out of something like milk and we didn’t realise before and of course all the supermarkets are closed Sundays. Oh well grocery shopping will forever seem like a breeze one day, when we have a car in the US or Australia and where we won’t have to spend ages trying to translate an ingredient to make sure its what we think it is.

10. SNOW!!!

When it comes down to it, all I really want is snow. All we really want is a White Christmas. I’ve had one other white Christmas and Daniel has never had one. We cannot wait for it to snow here, its going to look so beautiful from our apartment windows looking out over the park below. Everyday I check the weather forecast and its constantly changing. Earlier this week it predicted snow for today, but now we have the most beautiful sunny weather today. Then it said Monday, now it says Wednesday. So I’ve given up, it will just be an exciting surprise one day when it finally happens.

What’s the most unconventional item on your Christmas Wishlist?