I’m doing my best, Sir.”
Good evening everybody! I hope that you’ve all settled in nicely to the year 2012, and additionally for those who made New Year’s resolutions, that you haven’t been rubbish enough to have broken them already :). I, myself, had indirectly implied (trying to stress here that I didn’t explicitly promise this) to Stefan on the 31st, that I would try my best to work to my hardest at ALL times for the rest of my internship; in other words not to unconsciously slip back into that lazy student mode that I am so accustomed to. However, I think that I may have failed him already (that’s if you include whining to him about certain tasks I’ve been given!). Anyway, there’s lots to tell concerning Christmas and New Year. It was a very busy period here at Gasthof Stern (I didn’t really expect any different), but luckily this included lots of celebration within the hotel to help ease the pain of working and being away from home on the 25th. Göβweinstein was particularly pretty throughout, and surprisingly loud on New Year’s Eve considering the relatively small size of the place. So, before I begin, I would quickly like to wish you all the best for 2012!
As you may remember from my last post, we had two separate Reisegruppen (travel parties) staying with us over Christmas and New Year (not simultaneously mind you). I made pretty clear that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to being on breakfast duty from the 23rd -26th, but in the end it didn’t turn out that bad (and Lutz and Petra weren’t even grumpy considering it was so early!). It meant that I had more opportunities to converse with the guests, which, whilst helping to stretch my German, also enhanced my chance of receiving some festive tips (monetary ones that is). The 24th of December, it turns out, is the main day of celebration in Germany, rather than back home where everything happens on the 25th. So, I turned up for work during the afternoon on the 24th, to find a rather amusing scene. All of the Vogl family; e.g. Bernd, Heike, Anna, etc, were dressed up especially in traditional Bavaria attire (see above), serving all the house guests Lebkuchen, who themselves were sitting around tables, singing in unison the stereotypically German Lied (song) “Oh, Tannenbaum.” To add to this very German scenario, there was a local lad playing the squeeze-box as an accompaniment, all of which I found very funny! Anyway, after all of this was over (much to my disappointment), the guests all went for their Christmas dinner, which, might I say, we served to them very elegantly indeed :). Despite having to work most of the day, once all the guests had finished eating, we let them know that we, the staff, were going to celebrate Christmas for an hour privately, so if they needed us, then it was tough. All of us, Heike, Lutz, Ingrid, Ingo, Johannes, Christian, Stefan, me, all sat around in a separate room and dined together (yes you guessed, sausages), exchanged a few presents, and wished all the best for the coming year to one another. It was a really nice, intimate feel, and I felt proud to spend Christmas time with my colleagues.
On Christmas Day, other than having to work, I got to open the MASSIVE, and I mean, MASSIVE parcel that my mum had sent me. It contained very many wonderful gifts, and a lot of thoughtful ones too might I add! It was really lovely, after having spent an enjoyable Christmas Eve with the staff, to experience a little bit of home, and I also had a really nice skype conversation with the fam, including Nan, during my break. What you all want to know, yes I know you want to know, is what I got from my family in terms of presents! Well, the list included: Mock the Week box set, a Lee Evans DVD, a quality and warm jumper from my nan, a personalised calendar with pictures of all my favourite people, some bouncy balls (I’m addicted to bouncy balls, don’t ask why), LOTS of chocolate, and lots of loving. I was very happy! So a massive thank you family Sproson for all of that!
This photo above is that of Mannfred Haeckel, e.g. the Nachtwächter zu Göβweinstein (The night-watchman of the village). Also a regular at Gasthof Stern, included in the group package when staying at the hotel is having a moonlit guided tour of the village, led by Herr Haeckel, who as you can see, has a big horn.
New Year’s Eve at Gasthof Stern was one for the memory books that’s for sure, and I must apologise profusely that I didn’t get any photos of it; I’ve only just got new batteries for the camera. Anyway. The whole restaurant was decked to a T; candles, balloons, special table cloths, colourful lighting, champagne glasses, the whole shabang. I was excited before the party had even kicked off! There was a 5 course meal for every guest (of which I was particularly jealous), all of the highest quality, and although I had to spend an hour (which felt almost like a lifetime) doing the washing up, I was having a really good time. The music was going, the drink was flowing. It was funny serving everybody drinks (once I finally emerged from the kitchen), as everyone was in high spirits, making jokes with me, appreciating the token Englishman. At 10 o’clock I was outside in a marquee with Christian, pouring everybody champagne and controlling the three individual fires that we had going to add to the atmosphere. Around 11:30pm, alot of people began moving the chairs and tables out of the way and started dancing. I was finding it all quite funny witnessing this, when I was asked on two occasions by two of the houseguests (both elderly, very elderly women), to dance with them individually. I honestly did try to avoid this embarrassing scenario, me being caught with an OAP on the dancefloor, but alas, Florian and Christian caught onto what was happening, and encouraged / forced me to go through with it. It wasn’t too agonising, but I won’t lie, I’ve been in more comfortable situations before. Anyway, I eventually managed to wriggle my way out of the situation!
Come 12 o’clock, we all did the big countdown. As soon as the clock struck 12, everybody started cheering, throwing firecrackers. Bernd let off hundreds of (extra loud) fireworks in the front garden. The bells from the Basilika were ringing out, piercing through the night as if it was an emergency. There were drink glasses being raised, everybody was hugging and wishing each other “Alles gute” or “ein schoenes neues,” it was really, really nice. We workers were allowed half an hour off to party with everyone, although to be honest we hadn’t been acting that work-like for most of the night, e.g. Christian was making cocktails for us behind the scenes and we were lavishly drinking them! One of the most striking moments of the night, was when one of our house guests (who was luckily outside at the time), pulled out a gun from his bag, and started firing it into the night sky as part of the celebrations. As well as deafening virtually all of us, it added to a quite wild scene already, what with fireworks going off left, right and centre, so having a random man firing a gun in the middle of this, it resembled almost a battle scene! Anyway, what I have concluded from that evening, is that the notion of ‘health and safety’ certainly does not apply in Göβweinstein, as I can vouch that approximately 70% of the people letting off fireworks on the 31st were definitely under the age of 14.
So, all in all, despite missing home (which was only natural), a very eventful Christmas and New Year. I’m glad I’ve had the experience, it was definitely one to savour. I promise my next blog instalment will be ready sooner than this one was. Just quickly, I’d like to thank Camilla Swan for her home made Christmas card that she sent me. It was very brilliant! Back to school, back to uni, back to work (for me, I never left in the first place), good luck on returning to wherever. All the best until the next time 🙂