Friday, December 02, 2022

Christmas markets (Christkindlmarkt) in Germany

Weihnachtszauber in Gendarmenmarkt

Christmas markets are a holiday tradition in the German-speaking part of Europe that date back to the Middle Ages. So the best Christmas markets, known locally as Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt, are definitely in Germany. While the markets originated in Germany, they can now be found in many other regions of Europe and among German communities in North America. I got to visit the one in Chicago when I was at Purdue.

City-Weihnachtsmärkt at Gedächtniskirche

During the pandemic, I got to visit several in Germany including the Weihnachtszauber in Gendarmenmarkt and the City-Weihnachtsmärkt at Gedächtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church), both in Berlin.



Of course, I went there for the food and the Glühwein (mulled wine), especially Feuerzangenbowle (rum-soaked sugarloaf set on fire and dripped into mulled wine). 


At one of the markets, I had Lángos, a deep-fried flatbread that originated from Hungary. I had a simple one topped with butter and garlic. Others are topped with cheese and vegetables.



I also had Handbrot (hand-rolled flatbread) topped with sour cream, bacon, and spring onions.


The Handbrot is baked in a wood-fired oven.


Of course, there are pretzels and sausages. I had a Rostbratwurst.

I also got to visit two Christmas markets in Köln (Cologne). Super crowded despite the pandemic!


At the Weihnachtsmarkt in Aachen, I got to try Reibekuchen (potato pancakes).

Aside from food, you can also get Christmas arts and crafts at the markets.

Santa Pauli Hamburgs Geilster Weihnachtsmarkt

In Hamburg, we dropped by the Santa Pauli Hamburgs Geilster Weihnachtsmarkt, the Christmas market of Hamburg's red light district.




I got to try Grünkohl (kale) with KohlwurstBärlauch-Hacksteak (hamburger steak), Currywurst, and Flammkuchen (tarte flambée).



For drinks, I got Eierpunsch (egg punch) made with delicious Eierlikör (egg liqueur) and white wine. While it is sometimes referred to as the German version of eggnog, the difference is that Eierpunsch is made with wine while eggnog is made with milk.


And since it was Christmas, we got some Plätzchen (Christmas cookies) from one of the bakeries in Ulm!

What's your favorite food at German Christmas markets?

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Afternoon trip to Ottawa, Canada: Parliament Hill and Rideau Canal

After a two year hiatus, I've decided to start posting again in my blog. I attended the 18th TICCIH International Congress in Montreal, Canada earlier this month where I presented a paper. Right after the conference, I made a quick trip to Canada's capital city, Ottawa. Because we didn't have much time, I only got to visit Parliament Hill and the the Ottawa Locks of Rideau Canal.

Parliament Hill is known for its Gothic revival buildings. We got to walk around the three main edifices on Parliament Hill: the East Block, Centre Block, and West Block. 

The Centre Block is closed for renovations as part of a 20-year project to rebuild the Parliament buildings. According to the Government of Canada, "This is the largest, most complex heritage rehabilitation project ever seen in Canada and is one of the largest in the world." The building will remain closed up to at least 2028.

Built in the Gothic Revival style, the current building was completed in 1927 after a fire destroyed the original building in 1916.

This is the West Block, built in the Victorian High Gothic style and completed in 1865.

The East Block, also built in the Victorian High Gothic style, has survived mostly intact since original construction was completed in 1866.

The Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council facing Parliament Hill was built in the Second Empire Style design and was completed in 1889.

Right by Parliament Hill are the Ottawa Locks of Rideau Canal in an area known as Colonel By Valley. the Rideau Canal is a World Heritage site. The eight locks that form the Ottawa Locks are the largest single set of locks on the entire Rideau Canal system.

What is interesting about the locks is that they are still manually operated. You can see this happen close to Plaza Bridge, by the Lockstation House. Further down, closer to the Ottawa River, is the Bytown Museum, the former Commissariat Building. It is the oldest building in Ottawa, built in 1827.

Thank you to my colleague, Fergus Maclaren, President of the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee, for the guided tour of the area.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Ivan About Town celebrates fifteen years!

Time indeed flies. And I can't believe it's been fifteen years today since I made my first blog entry in a hostel in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. This adventure brought me to every province of the Philippines, and close to a hundred countries, including forty-nine US states.

While the blog has taken a back seat as I've transitioned into the academe, I express my gratitude to you all for traveling the world with me. Here's a post about the blog from the tenth year.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Visiting the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

The US is proud of its whiskey: Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey and American Rye. But only Bourbon has been declared as a native spirit of America by the US Congress in 1964. Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon and creates 95 percent of the world’s supply. And today, you can visit eleven signature and fourteen craft distilleries as part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, plus several more distilleries that are promoting on their own.

Over the weekend, I was with Purdue and MIT PhD students on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail! We visited two signature distilleries: Wild Turkey and Maker's Mark, and a craft distillery called Willett. The fourth one, Buffalo Trace, is one of the few distilleries not part the organization but very much worth a visit.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Northwest Indiana's largest corn maze in Lafayette

Fall in Indiana means, among many things, that it's corn maze season! Farm tourism is a big thing in the United States. Many farms around the US create cornfield mazes as an added attraction. And they sure are fun! As they all say, there's more than corn in Indiana. But seriously, there is a lot of corn!

Purdue Fulbrighters at Exploration Acres, Lafayette, Indiana
We drove 14 miles south of campus to a corn maze at Exploration Acres, Northwest Indiana's largest corn maze. For entrance, we spent $8.50 ($10.50 adult entrance less $2 coupon). We went straight to the corn dog stall since it as lunch and we were starving!

Every year, the farm comes out with a different design for the maze. You won't see it at ground level. But a map of the maze will let you know what the design is. This year's maze had a barn, tractor, farmer, squirrel, and cow in the design.

To add to the fun, the maze map had coupons of establishments in Lafayette and West Lafayette. But to be able to use them, we had to look for numbered markers scattered all over the maze to punch the coupons and make them valid.

Aside from the maze, there are a lot of other things to do such as pumpkin picking, and an area with many activities for children. There is also a fire pit area which the group booked to roast hotdogs and marshmallows. But a fire pit would not be complete without smores! So we made some as well.

Corn mazes usually close by the end of October. So if you want to see one, you have one last weekend to do it. There should be a corn maze near you in the US.

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