December 31st 2015 and we were on our way back to Freiberg where both my friends Heidi and Bernd studied. It is a journey they make every year to see their very good friends and catch up for New Year, to reminisce, laugh and look forward, although the conversation was rather more sombre this year about Germany’s future. Far be it for me to give my opinion as I do not know or understand this country’s politics very well. One can only hope and be positive for a good outcome, although most do not feel that at this time.
Freiberg city centre
This is covering the shaft of an old silver mine
An old silver mine
An old mine overlooking the city where we watched the fireworks from
Obermarkt in the town centre
They showed me all around the places where they spent their lives in their younger days when it was the GDR. It was a very different life for Germans living in what was East Germany and a lot of people seem to have both positive and negative feelings about that time still. We went up to see the city’s rich mining history high up in the area where we were going to watch the fireworks from that night. The architecture in Freiberg is quite lovely although the outskirts, like quite a lot of this part of the world does not have the magical beauty of Bavaria and there is a very stark feeling to the old apartment buildings. There has been quite a bit of work done to re-invent these buildings and it will still take quite an injection of money and expertise to change it but the people are so very generous, friendly and hilarious. My God they can talk and laugh, every time they meet each other in the street or in a restaurant the conversation goes on forever.
Typical German hospitality, the home cooked cakes are divine
Heidi and Bernd’s friends Petra and Bernd had made a little Kiwi for me, very thoughtful and touching.
We stayed in a lovely older style place called Hotel Silberhof. My room was at the top in the corner so I had double aspect windows, just delightful.
Hotel Silberhof on the outskirts of the city centre.
Having only a few months tuition in the German language I am still at a loss when I am included in their conversations. All of Heidi and Bernd’s friend have been incredibly patient and try to explain in English, but as long as I can pick up the verb or listen carefully I can usually get the concept of the conversation. Mostly it has been hilarious at my expense because I have constructed the sentence incorrectly (one has to turn the whole sentence around in German negation!!) or I cannot pronounce some totally unpronounceable word. Anyhow the conversations usually get imbibed with schnapps and utterly delicious homemade stollen and cakes. Heidi, God Bless her, is going to write some new words for me, to impress my tutor hopefully when I get back home.
I must say we do not just ‘pop in’ to a place like this, almost every part of my stay here in Saxony has been planned and booked for me with typically meticulous German precision.
This Freiberger is delicious, reminds me of NZ beer
Heidi, Victoria and Bernd
I must mention that when I am going to stay overseas for at least 2 weeks I immediately buy a sim for my mobile when I arrive in the airport of that country. I have found this the least expensive way to use my mobile especially because I like to have all my photos tracked so that I remember where I took the shot, which in turn helps with the writing. The names of the villages automatically show up over the photo.
I think that Sydney has the most amazing New Year’s Eve fireworks although they cost us, the taxpayer a fortune. Is it worth it? Mmmmmm that is debatable. That point aside, I think our fireworks laws in Australia are to be commended. Here, I was totally shocked to see small children with their parents carrying around large fire crackers and rockets which they are able to buy very easily in the supermarkets. I was told that there have been loads of accidents with them but the law still stays the same. We went to the beautiful 800+ year old St. Nikolai’s Church at 11pm for the New Year service then left just before midnight, rushing up to the highest point overlooking Freiburg to watch the explosion of fireworks all over the city. I do not think there was a clear space of sky, fog mixing with the smoke from the fireworks which had gone on solidly for an hour created quite an unpleasant atmosphere. They went on intermittently throughout the night and the debris the next morning was absolutely everywhere.
Inside St. Nikolai’s Church New Year’s Eve
January 1st 2016, we arrived back into Annaberg at around noon to a lovely coating of snow over the city which was quite magical. Heidi had pre-cooked rouladen and rotkraut a couple of days ago and just had to re-cook it for our New Year lunch, it is best cooked twice apparently. Along with a delicious champagne that Bernd had been given years ago which he was saving for something special, it was a really lovely way to start 2016. As I write this we have -3oC outside at 9pm.
Heidi preparing the delicious rouladen
This time the schnapps was quite addictive with Heidi and Bernd’s neighbours
Freezing in Annaberg
Inside the fabulous Café Kult
The glass has a double skin to hold the boiling hot chocolate
Annaberg Market Place without the Weihnachtmarkts
Annaberg New Year’s Day
Heidi and Bernd
The residue of the fireworks
My apartment is on the left near the church
Bernd opening our champagne