Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Weekend Adventures

Here's our weekend two weekends ago!

 We started off our Friday evening with a very important purchase - our toaster oven! I'd included the story of that in this post, but it got too long so I had to copy-paste and make it it's own post. Priorities, you guys!
Anyway, after we'd purchased it and deposited the toaster oven in Carson's office, we headed to the courtyard behind the Historic Rathaus (city hall) for a tour. This was an event offered to international PhD students in Munster, and when Carson signed up, they had two spaces left - yay!

Our guide was dressed as a night watchman from 1668, and described the city to us from the perspective of his character. It was really interesting to learn what life was like way back then, and it made me really glad to be alive in 2016! Some important history happened here though, like the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia, that ended the Thirty Years' War, and a significant year-long takeover of the Anabaptists in the 16th century (Munster Rebellion). We learned more about those, but also about daily life in Munster in the middle ages. Several streets in the Altstadt have names that mean something like "salt street" (Salzstrasse), "fish market" (Fischmarkt), etc. and those streets are where those wares could be purchased in that time. I'm not clear why say, salt, would have had its own street, but found it interesting nonetheless. We learned that the main threat to life in those times was fire, because the roofs were made of straw and the homes of wood, and we also learned of some crazy corporeal punishments going around at the time. Let's just say that I'm glad we have Netflix for entertainment these days.

We didn't walk very far, but our guide stopped in several places around the city and told us about them. The monastery (has a green roof, market we've been to is in front of it) was a big head monastery way back when, and the name Munster came from the Latin for monastery, so that was new information to me. The guide talked a lot about the monks and how their quality of life was so much better than the average person, and how they contributed to the society here. Munster is still a primarily Catholic city, so the churches are still used for masses and things, although I don't think there's a monastery running anywhere near here.

It was a bitterly cold evening (in the high 20s and windy), so we huddled around when we'd stop in a new place and despite the boots and hats and gloves we had on, our toes and fingers were freezing. Still, the tour was really informative and presented in a really interesting way. My hat was pulled over my ears so I couldn't hear very well (not that I can hear that great to begin with), so I didn't catch the guide's name, but he was fantastic. He gave us samples of the "black bread" that Munster was known for. I thought it was disgusting, and it confirmed that I'm really glad to live in an age where there's variety in food!

We went back to Carson's office to grab the toaster oven and picked up dinner on the way home. We huddled in front of the heater when we got back. What a cold night!

Julianne and Ben came to town the next day! We met them at the train station at about 12:30 and had lunch at King Döner across the street. It was delicious and we sat and talked for awhile before continuing downtown. Ben has visited before, but we were pretty new in town and couldn't remember our way around, so this was a little more thorough tour of the city. We stopped in the market to walk around, and I introduced Julianne to apfel Berliners. They're sort of like an apple doughnut and they're delicious. I didn't get one, and I'm still regretting that. Carson and Ben had a little trouble staying with the two of us, and they were continually walking behind us and getting too engrossed in their conversations. That was fine, because it was really nice to walk around and chat with a friend!

There was a big celebration in front of the Rathaus for St. Martin's Day. St Martin's Day is in honor of St Martin of Tours and is celebrated on November 11. This was on November 12, so I'm guessing that we missed the parade (there's usually a lantern festival and parade the night of the 11th, and when we'd arrived for our tour the night before, we had seen a bunch of people in funny hats lining up for something). In Cologne, where Ben lives, there's a Karnival for the weekend that's really big and crazy and it leads up to a series of celebrations that culminate in an event in March (I'm not sure if this has something to do with Lent or Easter or something!).

Carson had his first Gluhwein of the season. Gluhwein is a mulled wine that's really popular in Germany and very popular during Christmas markets, which are coming soon. I had a taste and I did not enjoy it.

Julianne and I went into St Lambert's Church where the organ was being played and sat and listened for awhile. The guys still had some Gluhwein in their cups, so they hung outside the the doors and talked. Next we walked to the Dom and explored the inside, including the big astrological clock.

We walked to the Schloss and behind it to the Botanical Gardens next. The greenhouses were nice and warm, and I'm thinking now that anytime I'm craving a little heat and humidity, I may walk down here!

We'd heard that there was a pretty cemetery nearby, so we found that and walked through it. It's kept up very nicely.

Back past the Schloss again because Julianne wanted a picture!

We'd seen a few fun stores, so Julianne and I decided to go check those out and left the guys to their deep conversation. We had trouble reconnecting with Carson and Ben (my phone didn't send my reply text to Carson so we went to the bakery where they'd been waiting for us and they went to the store where we were) but ducked in a few more stores while we tried to meet up.

We found a little pub looking restaurant for dinner. I don't know the name of my dish, but it had mushrooms and I really enjoyed it. Too much food though!

We went to the bar next door for happy hour where they had fun drinks with gummy candy for each person.

We had to run to make it to the last train back to Cologne that night, which was difficult since we had full bellies. They made it with time to spare thanks to our speediness and we tried for a picture with better lighting.

The next day, we went on a walk and relaxed a little bit, since we'd had two full days of walking (I ended Saturday 27 steps short of 30,000 and I'm still mad at myself for taking my fitbit off when I walked in the door because I would have had it!). It's cold here but we're having fun!

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