I was waiting for my loved one in Frankfurt Airport because, once again, delays were working against us. However, in the hall leading from Frankfurt Airport to the train station, I found him holding a large red rose and could finally give him that long-awaited hug. After a familiar trip on the ICE we got to Kalrsruhe, where we dropped my baggage at his apartment and proceeded to Café Extrablatt for some much needed food. Café Extrablatt is a chain of high-quality restaurants in select cities around Germany that serve a continental menu of American diner food and pizza.
After that we made a thorough exploration of the Karlsruhe Christmas market, where we could find everything from kissing salt and pepper shakers to revolutionary cookery to iPods made out of chocolate. We stopped of course for hot cups of gluhwein to chase the cold from our frozen fingers, and for potato pancakes fried in mountains of butter and topped with apple sauce. Deliciously unhealthy!
Eventually we got too cold and returned home, with a quick stop in an electronics store where we got photobombed while fist-bumping batman. I love Germans!
After freshening up and getting warm, we ventured back out into the cold to have Indian food at the restaurant down the street called Punjab. Our plan was to eat there and then move on to see Skyfall at the cinema. However, the Indian restaurant held us hostage, causing us to have to give up on Skyfall. No, really, we were hostage victims. They refused to bring us our food until absolutely necessary, first handing us just a bowl of plain rice, and even forgetting the biryani we ordered. In between asking to get our food wrapped up and getting the bill, the waiter tried to convince us that he had given up a bollywood career to study to be a doctor in Spain, but the economy had forced him to move to Germany. We were unconvinced, since he spoke perfect German and showed horrible service skills. He decided for us that we will be getting married and start a Pakistani restaurant in Stockholm, and of course when we did we could come back to Karlsruhe and beg for him to work with us. People can dream I guess.
We finally emerged from the restaurant half past midnight, 3 hours after we entered and an hour after the movie had started, so the rest of the evening was spent talking and listening to music. But what more do you need when you’re in such good company?
The next day we slept in, had fish sandwiches for a brunch-on-the-go at Nordsee, and decided to be a classic 21st century couple and get coffees at Starbucks. I had the Lebkuchen (gingerbread) latte.
After that we decided to explore the Karlsruhe zoo, which was surprisingly impressive in its array of animals. We started off by encountering the first hippo that either of us had ever seen. It was enormous! We also saw elephants, camels, kangaroos, cheetas, and peacocks pacing around on the frosty German ground. It was such a strange setting in which to see these exotic animals! We also witnessed a polar bear bobbing for apples, a monkey meditating, and sea lions doing what looked like synchronized swimming. We decided that one day we have to have a pet meerkat, because they are absolutely adorable. We heard what a cheetah sounds like when it’s hungry – a mix between a crying baby and a distraught monkey, with a slight roar to it. We finished up by passing by the owls. It is a fantastic zoo, and I highly recommend going to the zoo on a date!
We got thoroughly frozen at the zoo but decided we could tough it out for a bit longer in order for mu boyfriend to give me a tour of his university, the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT). KIT is one of the top three elite universities in Germany, and one of the best in the world for Business Engineering, my boyfriend’s major. It’s basically a degree that prepares you to be a CEO, and there are few others like it in the world. All instruction is in German so international students have the added challenge of needing to learn a new language, but the degree is supposedly worth it in the end and the faculty makes sure the students have a memorable university experience. The day after I left a movie made about the orientation was being shown at a local cinema!
That evening we relaxed at home for a bit and I baked Swedish cardamom cake. It is one of my favorite cake recipes, and I will post it here so you can make it too:
• 1 (115ml) stick butter, softened
• 2cups (250 gr) flour
• 1 1/2 t. baking powder
• 1 cup (245 gr) milk
• 1 cup (200 gr) sugar
• 1/2 t. vanilla extract (1 t. vanilla sugar)
• 2 t. cardamom seeds, taken from pods, coarsely ground
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. cream together butter and sugar. stir in milk and then the remaining ingredients.
3. mix well and pour into a greased cake pan
4. if desired, sprinkle top of cake with a mixture of pearl sugar and coarsely ground cardamom. bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Later on we met up with some of my boyfriend’s friends from KIT to explore the other Christmas market in Karlsruhe. Our plan was to go ice-skating but just as we arrived the ice-skating rink closed so we chose to drink Gluhwein instead and tried not to fall too many times on the way home. Since the night cold had turned the sidewalks into sheets of ice, we did ice-skate after all!
The next day we slept in and then made cheese fondue for breakfast. It was my first time having cheese fondue and I loved it! It was then time to prepare for our trip to Mannheim, where we would visit our third Christmas market, drink more gluhwein and attend a David Guetta concert. We arrived in Mannheim around 2pm, where we started off with a few drinks in the Christmas market by the "Wasserturm", Mannheim's most famous landmark. The Karlsruhe Christmas markets were cozier, but over all I just love any Christmas market and Germany is full of them! After that we trekked out to the location of the David Guetta concert, which was at a large venue a little bit outside of the city. We didn’t have to wait in line for too long and once we got in we quickly disposed of our coats in the expansive coat room. The opening DJ, Nicky Romero, spun a few tracks to warm us up but the real sound and light show started when world-class French DJ David Guetta came on stage. Most of the tracks were from his most recent chart-topping album Nothing But the Beat 2.0, but he even spun a few new tracks he has mixed. I didn’t stop dancing and neither did my boyfriend or friends!
We finished off the evening by unsuccessfully trying to get into a number of bars and clubs (it was already 2am by then) and then settling for shisha at a Turkish café where there was a live band complete with an oud player and live singer. I felt like I could have been in Amman! We then got the last train to Karlsruhe, a night train going to Basel. I couldn’t help but think back to all my favorite old movies that have scenes in night trains.
The next day it was unfortunately time to leave. It was sad to say good bye, since I may not come back to Germany until summertime, but the trip was worth every penny. When I returned to Amman I only had five days left in beautiful Jordan! My next post will cover my last few days in Amman, as well as my short stays in Istanbul and Stockholm on the way home to the States. Auf wiedersehen!