December in Germany, a cold, beautiful, magical, freezing, wonderful time of year. A few fellow English teachers and I decided to spend the weekend in a small town of Goslar, about two hours south of Hamburg, to explore the Harz mountains and their beautiful Christmas market!
Of course, to be a true girl’s weekend, we stayed in a Frauenpension (a women’s only guesthouse) named Arleta. Because I had class on Friday, I traveled solo to meet up with the girls. As I walked the 20 minute distance between the train station and guesthouse, I was surrounded by an eerie fog, and I nervously walked through the misty woods down the most ominous looking path I think I’ve seen in all my travels. But there was nothing to worry about – at the end of the lane was an adorable little hotel, with rooms named after different gems, a sitting room with a crackling fire, a piano and xylophone for our amazing duets, and board games for entertainment. Kelly and Malin were already there, ready to introduce me to the adorable hotel dog (even the dog was a girl!), and we plinked out Christmas songs on the instruments. Once Amy and Jennie arrived, the five of us set down the hill to the center of town.
The Christmas market is so adorable – there were live animals in front of a Nativity scene! Goslar has a Christmas Forest, where pine trees are brought in to the square to create a temporary forest, and small stalls selling glühwein and snacks are half-hidden throughout. It was quite chilly that night so we returned to the guesthouse after drinks and snacks to warm up and play a lively game of Heads Up. George Connery and an incredible Greek accent about needing olives were highlights of the game.
The next day we were greeted with an amazing vegetarian breakfast that had coffee with a hint of cinnamon, muesli, so many types of cheeses, baskets of breads, and different spreads and homemade jams. We spent an hour and a half just having breakfast. Afterwards, Jennie, Malin, Kelly and I hiked up the hill and took a lovely walk through the mountains. The path wound around the corner and you could see all of Goslar laid out below us. We even saw the steam engine train pass through town while we hiked. After getting our requisite exercise for the day, it was time to eat and walk and eat and walk some more. We headed back through town and saw the adorable half-timbered houses, narrow streets, and winding roads. It is a quaint little town. Our group went into the church and sang along to some German Advent songs (played so slowly by an elderly organist). Next, Kelly, Jennie and I went to the top of the church to see the whole city at night, overlooking the Christmas market, which was glowing with lights.
That evening, we shared wine and snacks by the fire of the guesthouse and played a fun new game called Story Cubes where you roll the dice and then have to work together to create a story. As more wine was drunk, the better our stories became.
It was a very successful weekend and I wished I could have stayed longer – but I had to rush back to Hamburg for a production of the musical Rent, and then my Wilhelmsburg Family Christmas party that evening. It was a packed weekend, but so worth it.