Of Christmas Markets, Snow and Zombie Apocalypses

This morning started really nice, frosty but clear. Since I have no school on Mondays, I had planned to go into the city and to the Bremen Christmas market with my Mom. I wasn’t really in the mood today, but since it’s only eleven days to Christmas Eve, I went anyway.

Last night, the temperature fell to minus 7 degrees Celsius and today, the temperature never rose above freezing either. As a result, my car was frozen this morning. However, the windows weren’t just frozen on the outside but on the inside as well. Took me fifteen minutes to scratch off the ice.

Because the Christmas market is a big tourist magnet (allegedly, it’s one of the three prettiest Christmas markets in Germany), it’s unfortunately also awfully crowded much of the time. Even weekday afternoons are problematic and don’t even try to go there on a weekend.

So we hit the Christmas market early to avoid the crowds and the crush. There are actually two Christmas markets, the Schlachte-Zauber directly by the river, complete with medieval pirate village, and the Christmas market proper around the townhall and the marketplace.

The balance of this year’s Christmas market seems to have shifted a bit too much towards food and drink, particularly drink. This isn’t all that different from Freimarkt, which is also increasingly tilting towards food and drink. I’m not a big fan of turning every fair or festival into a huge open air bar anyway – drinking is nice and well, but there should be more to a Christmas market or funfair than alcohol. Never mind that I usually can’t even drink the stuff they offer, because I’m there by car. I think I haven’t had a glass of eggnog or mulled wine at the Christmas market in five years or so.

What is more, I’m pretty much settled with Christmas ornaments, so all of the stall selling ornaments, decorations and the like are pretty to look at, but wasted on me. However, our Christmas market also has a really great stall selling spices and herbs, including the kind of spices and herbs that are almost impossible to find in regular supermarkets, e.g. Cilantro. So I always stock up on hard to find spices at the Christmas market.

The two Christmas markets also have several jewelery stalls with a very nice selection of ethnic, goth or just plain cool jewelery. I found a stand selling pleasantly chunky, jingly glassbead bracelets, three for ten Euros, and couldn’t resist. I also bought a cute pewter necklace with a fairy sitting on a crescent moon. Finally, I also bought some glass rocaille beads. I needed the beads anyway for a craft project and the bead stall on the Christmas market saved me a trip to the craft store.

After the Christmas market, we hit the shops. My Mom still needed to do some Christmas shopping. I need new winter boots, but none of the shoe shops had anything that was wearable and in the right size. No idea why woman supposedly love shopping for shoes, because I hate shoe shopping and shoe stores with a passion. Probably because I have strangely shaped feet and therefore problems finding shoes that fit me. However, I got lucky and found two reduced peasant/hippie type shirts. I was actually looking for something more suited to winter and cold weather, but for some reason all nice sweaters available this year are either made from some unpleasant scratchy material or have short sleeves (in winter. Right).

I also got lucky at the bookstore and bought The Good, the Bad and the Undead and Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison as well as Unbound, a collection with stories by Kim Harrison, Jeaniene Frost, Melissa Marr, Jocelynn Drake and Vicki Petterson. All of those are intended for the PhD. I also came across A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh. From the size and thickness of the book, I assumed that it was a reprint of one of Balogh’s traditional Regencies (I don’t care for today’s sex and anachronism filled Regency historicals, but I like traditional Regency romances). But the copyright date is 2009, so it’s a new one. Or maybe a previously unsold manuscript.

Snow showers had been forecast for the afternoon, but instead it started snowing while we were at lunch. What is more, it snowed pretty heavily. By the time we were finished with lunch, I had to brush my car free from snow again. But at least, the windows hadn’t frozen over.

The ride home was one snowy hell. I needed more than two hours for an eleven kilometer ride. It snowed all the time, the roads were extremely slippery, not to mention full of people who cannot drive. Even worse, all three local highways were jammed due to snow-related accidents. Honestly, if the weather conditions are that extreme and you’re scared or insecure, just stay at home or take public transport instead of endangering yourself and other drivers.

Because the highways were closed, the road I usually take was completely jammed as well, so I had to find another way, which happened to lead past a Staples store. So I stopped to buy a pack of inkjet transparencies, a USB drive and one last Christmas present. Now I only need something for my aunt and uncle, who are difficult to shop for now that my aunt is in hospital.

It stopped snowing later this evening, though it’s still freezing and there may be more snow later this week. Last winter was extremely cold and snowy, not to mention that it lasted well into March. This winter seems determined to keep up with last year’s and started even earlier. We usually don’t get much snow until January.

Meanwhile, the staid public German TV channel ZDF (their target demographic, so the joke goes, is the age group between 70 and 110) has produced its own take on the zombie apocalypse, a TV drama called Rammbock. Nothing says “This fad has jumped the shark” quite as loudly as the ZDF of all places taking note.

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