Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Morning

Awoke still quite early, at 8.15 to find a fresh layer of snow on the previously un snowy town. Just enough to make it really pretty without making getting about awkward, perfect. Caught up on blog until 9.45 when the chacophany of bells from various churches motivated me to go to a service- I've been before but this was very much going with the same perspective as to the mosque in the Imman Hussein ceremonies. The one I happened to choose happened to be an 'Evangelical ' one- I don't know my way around churches but apparently they have most forms of Christian faith here and all the churches and beautiful and ancient, this one was no exception. I think the frescos were covered up with wooden scaffolding while it was being renovated but what I could see was nice and the austere plain stone walls were a real contrast to all the tiled mosques I've seen. Unexpectedly the service was in German, although I still couldn't follow it but enjoyed humming along to all the hymns.
I returned to the hostel for breakfast and Alex, (our grand suit is the two right hand windows on the grey building), then we took a stroll about the attractive old town which seemed to to be waking up with the Christmas Market, bars and some attractions opening for business, We came across a impressively built stripy church with people poring out of it. There were kids dressed up in Morris man type outfits, (white with colourful hankies attached and odd hats), doing some sort of ongoing performance outside and people seemed to be flowing both in and out like there wasn't enough room for everybody so they all took turns- the ceremony, with a gorgeous sounding choir was still going on inside. There was a tv camera and the sound of the service was being relayed through speakers out front.
I flowed inside with everyone else and was incredibly impressed by the paintwork inside- absolutely every surface was brightly painted with scenes from the bible, angels, and filler decorations. REALLY impressive and cheerful. There were also some relics folk were queuing up to kiss and shortly after I entered the holy leader and his retinue processed outside- he had an impressively golden, bulbous hat. We continued around the town and found remains of the attractive town wall- each tower paid for by a different guild as a free town. All the buildings are also so attractive, all painted colourful pastel shades with even more detail than the rural ones, there's just not room for enough photos here.
We went back to the hostel for lunch- Alex in particular managed to have all his favourite things- his first cup of Yorkshire tea with milk in a very long time, cup a soup, (yes I know, I hate it too!), sandwiches and left over macaroni cheese! After lunch we cooked up some of the roadside home brew wine with the mulled wine sachets we had and played games. We shared it with the hostel staff and would have with guests too but they were all absent. We decided we should get a little more exercise so headed out around town again. I though I had spotted the Clock tower open from which there are great views according to the guidebook. It turned out to be another, very different church but an elderly lady was just coming out as we peered in and she gestured us inside and gave us a whispered tour of the saints
in the portraits and beautiful stained glass windows. We stopped by the car on the way back to pick up the things for our Christmas dinner. After more mulled wine and games Alex put it all on, with no help from me and we played games while it cooked and then sat down, with the different member of the hostel staff now on for a delicious roast chicken. Afterwards we boiled up the bones for soup while we played more games. We were both getting a little sleepy by then but I persuaded Alex to accompany me to the live music venue I had failed to go to the night before. It turned out that the concert was just about to begin and we got prime seats in the bar. It was a fantastic jazz singer doing classic cabaret numbers to a rather poor musac backing track on a computer but she was very good and it was great to be in such a different atmosphere. We wandered back through the Christmas lights of the town after a contented and restful day.

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