Away with Bae Part 1 – Guten Tag!
So, I am recently home from a ripper of a trip to Europe. It's OK, don't feel too sad for me, I needed to come back and start making money again and not drink every day, but I also needed to come back and share stuff with you about the love and the food.
There's probably a lot of you in the same situation as the ball and chain and me i.e. from different places be that states, countries or towns, so you probably also know that times like Christmas can be tough, because you don't want to be a part, but you also want to be with your family, and you don't want to have to choose. So early last year after spending Chrissy apart we thought why not do our own thing and have a white Christmas in 2017.
So we set about planning what was the most amazing holiday, with the first stop on our journey being Germany. Many peeps were curious about this decision, but it was a total no brainer for us – Christmas markets and more pork than the B&C could poke a stick at.
So a week out from Christmas we arrive in Cologne. Why not Berlin you say? For some obscure reason from when I was much younger I remember someone telling me about Cologne and how much they loved it and it has always stuck with me. Upon research their Christmas markets are the fairest in the land and there were many interesting things to see and do. I won't bore you with all the details, but highlights of the fun and food has to be done.
OK, so being Australian and spending all my Christmases in a pool, with prawns or inside with aircon, I could not imagine how festive AF Germany was going to be and how insanely gorgeous their Christmas markets are. So, it's a well-known and not really debatable fact that the Cologne Cathedral is the most stunning gothic church hands down. We arrived at Koln city station at 7am in the morning and as soon as we stepped out we were greeted with all its moody beauty, it took my breath away then, but far out none more so than seeing it sit broodily behind the beauty of the cathedral Christmas markets in front of it. There was a moment when B&C and I were partaking in gluhwein and singing along to carollers when I looked up and took the picture that is accompanying this post and I was legitimately overcome with emotion.
Not to be beaten, we met a friend of mine who know lives back in her motherland and she took us to her hometown markets that were set around a castle, no joke, a full castle. As Australians, we live in such a young country so seeing shiz like this is really so super special and foreign. The B&C is a history buff so he was lapping all this up as well as hard core googling back at the hotel.
Being a foodie, before we left I had booked in a number of restaurants. Germany has a lot going for it, I mean the first jaeger schnitzel was life changing, but after a couple of days I was ready for a change. We realised that Vendome which is on the world's 50 best list was a mere half hour away on the train, so thought why the devil not. I'll point out at this point the B&C loves a train ride in a foreign country, I took more convincing, but to his credit, it was a pleasant public transport experience. We embarked at our station in Bensberg and made our way to Vendome, seriously the cutest little village, very sleepy as Christmas was approaching, but so quaint and delightful.
Now, I can't even describe to you the picturesque surroundings on which this restaurant sits, suffice to say that my eyes welled with tears, it happens when I get overwhelmed. Inside was just as beautiful.
The meal was one of the best I have had – clever and delicious food made with such care, think toffee and caramelised foie gras served to you in a candy box and plating so particular it was almost soul crushing to ruin it by eating. The food being good is a given at a place like this, but we were mostly overwhelmed by the service. I'll share with you a little story that still makes me chuckle.
We were prepared for an exy day, we knew how much the set menu was and we had come with the intention of this being a really special day. So the sommelier totters over and asks what we might like to drink. He quickly discovered we were Australian and talked of his love of Hunter Valley Semillons and basically I had met my wine boyfriend. I told him, I am a chardonnay fan and something buttery, a bit challenging would be legend. He came back with something not on the wine list that he thought we would really enjoy, he has opened that shiz, bought over a wee decanter and told us to go to town.
All of a sudden I had a wave of panic rush over me that it might be a very expensive bottle of wine, so I bit the bullet and asked him as he was walking past how much it was. He looked me in the eye and with the straightest of faces says "Madam, this one is valued at around 1000 euros". I literally felt my heart stop and my stomach enter my throat. I think I went to speak and no words would even come out so he was like "I'm just kidding it's 70 euros". Best 70 euros ever spent for that story and also how god damn delicious that wine was.
Honourable mentions for our trip to Cologne include the B&C ordering a boiled pork knuckle. When it came out I threw up a little in my mouth, but being him and not wanting to offend the large German men, he ate that shiz and I laughed real hard. Also our traditionally German Christmas lunch! We spent the morning opening presents and went to the most lush lunch at the Hyatt, just us two drinking red wine and eating cheese courses for days. Heaven.
Next stop, Lisboa!