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Published: December 13th 2015
A classic Swiss sweet bread starting on St. Nicholas Day!
2015 has been a year of many changes and some truly excellent adventures! Among the year’s recent highlights was a meeting with dear Winnie, who still lives in Paris. Early in the fall, we decided to pick a Christmas market in some European city to spend a weekend in December catching up. There are no words for the feeling of giving her a hug after the attacks in Paris last month. We could not have been more fortunate with our chosen destination, as the backdrop for our wandering and conversations was sun-soaked Basel, Switzerland.
The fun of Basel starts right from the airport. When exiting, one has to be careful to walk out into the right country, because different exits lead to Switzerland and France! I took the Swiss exit and made my way into the city center by bus, where I then took my preferred mode of public transport, a tram, to our AirBnB in a quiet neighborhood. As always, it was a treat to peek into the glowing windows to see what apartments in Basel were like and appreciate their Christmas decorations.
After depositing my bag, I took a walk to
the city center, enjoying the mild evening and buzzing with excitement of seeing Winnie! We had a great first feast, including a food, something between a potato and noodle, that we could not pronounce, but enjoyed eating! Pausing the conversation to sleep was only acceptable knowing we had two days ahead!
Saturday greeted us with bright blue sky and a shining sun! We, naturally, started at a local bakery, then walked into town, and immediately enjoyed the bustle of the Christmas market. The stalls sold goodies like cookies, candles, ornaments, hot mulled wine, and little crafts. Mostly it was fun to watch people appreciating the wares and sipping their mulled wine.
Taking the advice of our hosts, we walked up to the cathedral to see the other part of the market. A pair of young boys stood in front of the cathedral singing carols, which warmed the heart of many a passerby!
Winnie and I were both struck by the children’s section of the market. For free, kids were able to create all sorts of awesome crafts! There was the bakers house, where they could roll dough or
decorate cookies, the blacksmith, where with the help of an adult, they molded hot metal into candle holders, the silversmith where they chose their mold, supported as the adult filled it with liquid silver, and then, by themselves, filed down the edges, or the wood shop where they worked by themselves with dowels and the like to create wooden candle sticks, and the, hmmm, not sure what you call it, but a shop where they could burn into the wood different designs, and so on! The kids were so happy and independent! Even the candle dipping tent was packed with kids in old adult button down shirts confidently dipping their candles into different colored wax. The atmosphere was bubbling with excitement. Seeing kids so independent in these “dangerous” situations impressed us both, and their joy in their work felt so appropriate for the season.
Sunday was St. Nicholas Day, so the family we stayed with baked some classic St. Nicholas bread men, while their advent wreath burned another candle. Since the local bakery was closed, we set off on a walking adventure to cross the Rhein and appreciate “Little Basel.” After a mighty brunch in a
converted brewery, we soaked up the sun and sights by walking along the river. To return to, not sure if they call it “Big Basel” or just “Basel,” we took a little ferry boat which is attached to a wire crossing the river to not have to fight current as much, I presume.
Though we did not take in any of the other cultural wonders of Basel outside of walking the streets, marveling at their Christmas market, and nosing around in the cathedral, we certainly left feeling nourished and connected; we also had more of the Christmas spirit in us, as well!
Beyond that adventure, I’ve settled into Copenhagen and my wonderful job. A few weeks ago, I started taking Danish classes, so I am starting to tune in to people talking instead of wandering around in my own little world. The class is a lot of work, 7 hours of class a week plus homework outside of that, but it is such fun, too! It is a really stimulating to be learning something new and to be surrounded by people from all over Europe.
The main event
of the fall, which has not been shared due to the crazy schedule brought about with Danish lessons, was my sister came to visit! She spent her fall break here with Mads and me! What a joy. We enjoyed the city, relaxed and chatted, met some of Mads’ family, carved pumpkins, and took a little sister trip to Aarhus. I just cannot get enough of that city! Mary Anna loved it as well, and we appreciated all the little shops and the art museum. It was such a gift having her here to share in my daily life.
Soon, Mads and I will be off to Colorado for Christmas! Copenhagen itself is decorated and ready for Christmas, so we have been sure to appreciate its markets and lights, as well. I am pretty sure that New Year’s Eve in Denver will be a let down compared with the firework madness that Scandinavia puts on, but I think Mads will enjoy it all the same!
May there be more peace in our hearts and in our world in 2016!
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