Driving Home For Christmas

…if it only was that easy.

You always picture the grown-up child to come home for Christmas from some far away city – maybe in a different country – to celebrate with the family and extended family in one big cozy house with a lot of presents, even more food, snowball fights and a fire place.

In the case of this grown-up child here…well, although I see myself as a European rather than a German, at least I know which country “home” is.

Places I called home

Here is a quick run-down of all the places I called home in my life and how my Christmas holiday 2012 looked like.

Europe numbers

  1. Hamburg, Germany (1979) – this is where I was born
  2. Tangendorf, Germany (1979-1984)
  3. Oldenrode, Germany (1984-1985) – lived with grandparents till our house in Woltershausen was finished
  4. Woltershausen, Germany (1985-1999) – this is where I lived most of my life
  5. Hildesheim, Germany (1999-2004) – lived here during my apprenticeship and first 2 years of self-employment
  6. Hannover, Germany (2004-2005)
  7. Burcot, near Bromsgrove, England (2005-2006) – “Work Experience UK” program as live-in carer
  8. Dublin, Ireland (2006-2008) – worked in two different companies
  9. Hamburg, Germany (2008-2010) – first time I actually lived in Hamburg when I started for IntelliPoker
  10. Douglas, Isle of Man (2010-current) – for PokerStars

In 2002 my parents got divorced and so the house in Woltershausen is not ours anymore. My mum lives now in Goslar in the Harz mountains and my dad had moved to Argentina, remarried and came back to live north-west of Hamburg.

Christmas 2012

So, my Christmas trip in 2012 had to have several stops. This is a close-up of Northern Germany:

  • 3 days visiting mum
  • 4 days visiting dad
  • 4 days visiting friends, co-workers, brother

So, as you can see “driving home for Christmas” is more like a “driving around in my home country for Christmas”. But I like traveling so it’s all fine. 🙂

Multi-lingual learning

I especially enjoyed meeting my little baby half-brother and spending some time with him. He is only 19 months old and is being raised bi-lingual. I found it incredible just how much he understood in German and also in Spanish. He doesn’t speak yet, but as far as I know that’s quite normal for children with multiple languages around them. I guess everything needs some time to fall into the right places.

While playing with him I discovered something amazing my dad had bought: a multi-lingual “visual” dictionary. While in their house the dictionary showed pictures of items and had the description in German and Spanish I found a version on Amazon that does the same with 5 languages!

03-01-2013 15-41-06

Learning vocabulary with seeing actual photos of what the words are describing is perfect for learning a new language and the reason why a language course like Rosetta Stone is so successful. Obviously you need some basic understanding of the grammar, but these books are incredible for learning day-to-day names for objects (and also some verbs, adjectives etc. – but again: you will need some grammar for perfect usage here anyway). Obviously I bought one of these straight away and I hope I won’t get in trouble about Copyrights for posting this screenshot here, so I will link to Amazon where you can buy one yourself! 🙂

Hamburg

Hamburg was as always incredible. As it is my birth town I have a special connection with it.

530547_10151376435168659_545162006_nThe famous Hamburg harbour

I managed to get a hotel more or less at the Eastern end of the world-famous Reeperbahn for a reasonable price. It is situated right on the border from sleazy to posh.

  • Go East and you find the area around Jungfernstieg/the Binnenalster, the smaller of the two lakes in the city center. This area is full of posh shopping opportunities, expensive hotels and restaurants and high society meet-ups. It’s the 5th Avenue or the Champs-Èlysées  of Hamburg basically
  • Go West and you find (one of ) the biggest red light district(s) in the world: Reeperbahn. Everyone who goes here for the first time will be quite shocked about the openness towards sexuality that you can find in this district. But as it grew to also be the main party district in Hamburg things became sort of “normal”. I guess you just need to come across dildo shops, strip clubs and prostitutes on the streets that often to grow accustomed to it.

From posh…

posh

…to (St.)Pauli.

Pauli

I like both parts of Hamburg. I love the fact that I can go straight into an expensive restaurant and have a good meal in clean and elite surroundings (obv. as opposed to similar restaurants in Vegas here you need to dress much nicer!) and I also love the fact that I can have shots named “Green Pussy” while chatting away with a former strip-club owner and a prostitute waiting for work in the corner of the bar.

It is quite surreal, that’s for sure. But knowing that Germany legalized prostitution and these women pay taxes and are socially insured etc. helps you accept this world a bit better.

CrossFit

While traveling I actually managed to work out 4 times! Twice with a self-made WOD (Workout of the Day) and twice in the Hamburg CrossFit box (gym).

It was incredible to arrive in Hamburg’s box and have friendly people all around me. The whole CrossFit spirit really is wonderful – and apparently evident all over the world.

Complete strangers that I had never seen before in my life cheered me on while I pushed through the last stretch of my workout on the first day (3 rounds of 500m row, 21x 16kg kettle bell swings and 12x pull-ups) and clapped when I finished. I only noticed afterwards that our coach had filmed the last 6 pull-ups:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVVUoGRVn2o]

It was a weird trip with a  lot of different stuff going on. I am glad to be back on my quiet island once more. My next scheduled trip will be in March to Ireland.

Until then I will try and work as much as possible on my main New Year’s resolution: Continue looking after my body!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you’ll all have a great 2013! 🙂

Christin