Tag Archives: Germany

The Second Christmas Day

For a country that purportedly prides itself on not being very religious, England is all about Christmas. Not as much as Germany – which has Heiligabend (Christmas Eve), Weihnachtstag (Christmas Day) and Zweiter Weihnachtstag (the second Christmas day), but close enough. I mean, they started decorating after Halloween. Somehow, I managed to avoid the usual holiday stress of getting exactly the right gifts and having exactly the right plans, and had a really nice time.

Today is Boxing Day, which (much to my disappointment) is not rooted in boxing the crowds at the mall to return all those gifts you didn’t like. Wikipedia, source of all knowledge, says:

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses[1] or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United KingdomCanadaHong KongAustraliaNew ZealandSouth AfricaTrinidad and Tobago and some other Commonwealth nations. [Source]

 

I’m not disappointed that I didn’t get a Christmas box from bChannels. I’d much rather have a day off, to lounge around in my pajamas until 3 pm (not that I’m speaking from experience…), bake gluten-free banana bread, make tikka masala for dinner (this is the best recipe ever, but today I’m using pork instead of chicken), and finally go for a run after 9 long, mostly-bedridden, flu-filled days. Being sick is the worst.

Anyway, it was a very nice Christmas. John got me a gift card to a department store that sells Mac and Urban Decay makeup, which is wonderful because I love that stuff but am too stingy to buy it for myself. I got him some double-chocolate digestives and chocolate (no, really, it’s for him…not me) and finally, a reasonable-sized mug for coffee-guzzling. Because that’s what we do in this house.

I also got us tickets to see Cats tomorrow in centre city Oxford. I’m sure Icarus and Zora will appreciate us badly belting out showtunes and making them dance around in a reenactment after the fact. But, they’ll be spared (for the most part), because just a few hours after the show, we’re hopping on the red-eye bus for the 3-hour journey to the Stansted airport. 

Then it’s off to Germany for a few days. Can’t wait!

Travel Tips: how to beat baggage restrictions

When we learned that a certain airline flies directly to Nuremberg, John and I decided that a 3.5 hour bus ride at 1:10 am to London Stansted would be worth the cheap price. And it turned out to be fine, actually– I took a few 2-hour naps throughout the day and found myself having energy for shopping once I landed (fine, I like shopping sometimes).

Then I remembered that our return trip luggage is always much heavier. Specific souvenirs: chocolate. Good chocolate. And clothes, bath products, pasta, lotion, etc. John and I simultaneously decided to pay for a pricey checked bag, and happily continued along our consumerist voyage (it’s justified: German things are better).

As we weighed our suitcase on the last night, I realized I’d have to leave behind my Oma’s nice blanket and Opa’s knife collection (well, a small part of it). But I couldn’t cut out anything else. Yes, I needed those little cans of nuts and biscuits and kilogram of magnesium-infused Dead Sea salt!

Even paying the higher baggage fee, we were still stuck. So, instead of being reasonable, we…got creative.

How to beat a certain budget airline that rhymes with Dyin’ Bear*
*name has been changed to prevent my name from showing up on the “No Fly” list.

1. Wear at least 2 shirts, preferably your heaviest ones. Tie 2 sweaters around your waist, fashionably, and wear your heaviest pants–sorry, trousers–and raincoat. And hat, scarf, etc. Sneakers, of course.

2. Contemplate wearing your 2nd pair of sneakers on your hands, with the explanation: “Where my people come from, we wear shoes on our hands.” Decide you can’t do it with a straight face.

3. Stuff your backpack full of mugs, jeans, books, dried fruit, an entire spice rack (metal with glass jars). Act as if your 15+ kg bag is definitely under the 10 kg carry-on limit. Turn sideways when the staff walks by with their cardboard “your bag must fit in here, and absolutely no purses, laptops, small dogs, assorted electronic devices on the side” container.

4. Realize your purse won’t fit under your raincoat (I blame the schweine braten dinner) and admit defeat for faking pregnancy.

5. Give purse to John, whose raincoat is like a black hole with endless pockets. He almost looks convincing as a tourist who’s heading back home with a much, much bigger beer belly. (Irony: we drank no beer).

The ticket-taking lady glances at John’s ticket and raises an eyebrow as he walks by, but it’s too late– we’ve won! We take our seats next to a middle-aged salesman (I snuck a peek at his iPad; it was filled with “Sales Process” charts and notes on how to “close”). John unzips his jacket.

“Take that, Dyin’ Bear!* I’m not actually fat!”

The 3.5 hour bus ride back to Headington was worth the laughs, hair products, and Kinder Riegel packages.