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Glühwein must be stronger in Germany

To defer Christmas preparations just a little longer, I took a last-minute spur of the moment trip to Hamburg. Although I was trying to avoid Christmas in one sense, I was still keen to experience a German Christmas market in situ, to see how it compared with their exported ones (not that I’ve really investigated those properly anyway, but hey.)

Almost as soon as I had landed, I was exploring the biggest markets Hamburg had to offer. All seemed pretty much as expected, but perhaps more friendly and certainly livelier than some of the stalls I have seen dotted around near where I used to work in London and in the centre of my own town.

It was 5pm. It was very cold. Most people seemed to be clutching mugs or tall glasses of steaming liquid, and it wasn’t tea. Or indeed hot chocolate. Glühwein – I realised I had to have some immediately.

In my rather pathetic German I ordered the basic – a 0.2 litre glass of red – from the stall which seemed to have the most sophisticated glasses. I sipped carefully, then remembered that I really should take a pic for my Insta/Facebook friends. This entailed a wander over to an even colder area next to the lake where I parked myself on a bench to take said photo – below – which shows that my photography skills in the cold are far from excellent.

By the time I had achieved this, I was even colder so I quickly necked the wonderful warm drink.

There then followed a peculiar half hour where I realised the glühwein was stronger than any I had tried at home. Or perhaps it was my empty stomach? Or that 0.2 litres is more than I thought? Or that I am wimp. Wandering around the market, wondering could people tell I was on another planet. And, not wishing to bang on about the original theme of this blog, I should point out that my right eye was streaming so badly in the cold that I could only see out of the left one most of the time. (I genuinely wonder if people notice me crying.)

Anyhow, I now knew I needed to eat to soak up some of that glühwein, and my mission to experience the ‘local’ fare led me to a stall selling Thüringer Rostbratwurst where, once again, my basic German got me what I needed. That helped.

I am useless with alcohol. Apparently I don’t seem nearly as inebriated as I feel (unless my friends are humouring me and secretly enjoying my embarrassing antics) but this is a fond memory now of Hamburg – ‘middle-aged woman staggers pissed around the market seeking sausage’.

And although I successfully navigated my way back to my hotel, it took my backside fully two hours to defrost. Unlike the legendary Heineken, glühwein clearly doesn’t reach all parts.

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