8 things I miss at Christmas

I am a South African, living in Germany and married to a Czech. When you’re living away from your home country, for the most part you settle into a new daily routine, acquire new habits and generally get on with things. However there’s always going to be those times where you are reminded that you’re a bit of a square peg in a round hole. For me, Christmas is one of those times , because no matter how great the Christmas celebration is here, I always have that feeling that it’s just not 100% Christmas. Here are the things I miss most about my South African Christmas: Continue reading

Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #30 – November ’16


Every year I say this, but this year seems like the fastest one ever. I feel like we were celebrating Christmas not long ago and here we are already on the 1 December again. We’re into winter days already (not officially since winter starts on the 21 December) but golden autumn is definitely gone and it’s got a lot colder. Since I haven’t written a weekly small pleasures post for a while (a blog event started by Mani at A New Life Wandering), I thought I’d update on some of the highlights of November. Continue reading

Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #14 – Frost and Christmas


Well, the last week or two (or months says J) I have been working very long hours and it’s been a bit stressful, but the good thing is that it’s almost Christmas holidays! Just one more week to get through. The weekend trip to Norway was also good and very interesting, but I’ll write about that another time.

In between all the work, here were a few of the good moments:

Hanging up our Christmas star. We have yet to decorate our Christmas tree (it’s a living one, still in a pot since last year), ice our pernicky cookies (gingerbread without ginger as my uncle calls it 😉 ) and cut out and assemble the paper Betlem (nativity scene) we bought last year in Třebechovice.


Visiting the Christmas market with some work colleagues and friends. It was crowded but it’s always nice to drink some gluhwein, eat some hot caramelized almonds and eat some German food (this time I had some flammkuchen).


Some photos of goodies picked up at various Christmas markets, except for the fudge, which despite the name was not like fudge at all, but nice try 😉 At the markets they sell caramelized nuts in the cones pictured on the right, these are delicious!

Seeing the Christmas tree at Hauptbahnhof (the main station, Berlin). I arrived in Berlin on the 1 December 2012, just in time for the Christmas season. So somehow seeing all the Christmas trees up around Berlin always reminds me of that first month where everything was new and exciting although a bit lonely. I used to look for the huge Christmas tree at Hauptbahnhof to find the right exit from the station so that i could find my way back back home.


Small pleasures in Norway. More on Norway another time, but a few of the small things that stood out for me were the space-saving bed in an alcove in our airbnb apartment, which I found so cosy, the very low sun in the sky (it popped up late, dashed in a low arc across the horizon and then back down again at about 3pm) and the beautiful frost, something we don’t see that much in Berlin.

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Wishing you all a lovely week.


Meeting Santa at the North Pole


Photo credit: www.visitrovaniemi.fi

Since Christmas is coming, I thought I would share the story of when I  met Santa Claus at the North Pole. And no, I am not kidding 🙂

Charmed by a Finnish friend’s tales of cloudberries, reindeer, snowy landscapes and northern lights, I jumped at the chance to visit Finland when invited. Even more exciting was the fact that we would drive far north to Rovaniemi, in the arctic circle, as her son was participating in the winter swimming championships. Continue reading

Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #13 – Christmas market season

Last Sunday was the first Advent, and so the Christmas season has started. So many Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkten) to visit, and not enough weekends! This time of year always flies by very quickly as there is always a lot to finish off at work before the holidays, including planning for the new year so that things run smoothly upon returning to work, as well as  presents to find, cookies to bake, Christmas decorations to put up and Christmas markets to visit. There are a large variety of Christmas markets in Berlin, ranging from traditional ones, touristy ones, design, modern or “hipster” ones, to the country specialty markets (Nordic Christmas market, Dutch Christmas market) and the unusual ones (Japanese Christmas market). Some of them are open the whole season, whereas others are only open for one weekend. Here is a map of the markets in Berlin for 2015, here is a description of a few of the traditional ones we visit every year (not all inclusive!),  and here is a list of more unusual ones to visit.

So here are some of the good moments from this Christmassy week. Continue reading

Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #12 – Christmas is coming

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Our apartment is filled with the delicious smells of roasting turkey, herb stuffing and pumpkin cheesecake, prepared while snowflakes flutter gently down outside the window. In between cooking we sip jasmine tea and eat mandarin oranges. Our friend is visiting so that we can prepare some food together for a Thanksgiving-inspired potluck we’ve been invited to for dinner. Winter has (unofficially) reached Berlin, but that doesn’t mean there are no small pleasures!

I haven’t written anything for Weekly Small Pleasures for a while, but here’s the moments I enjoyed this week: Continue reading

Třebechovice and the mechanical Nativity scene (Betlém)


Over the Christmas holidays we visited Třebechovice, a small town 13km from Hradec Králové. This town is famous for its mechanical Nativity scene, which is housed in the Museum of Cribs. In case you have only seen the standard nativity scene with the holy family, some shepherds, the three wise men, two angels and a donkey and cow, have a look of some of the examples of cribs below from the museum – some of them are whole worlds in a box! Continue reading