Hamm, Germany. Although it is also cold here in Japan during Christmas, my husband and I sometimes dream of snowy Christmas like what we had in Germany in 2009. It was my first visit to Germany and the first time to meet his family and friends. At that time we were still boyfriend and girlfriend. And like an excited kid, weeks before our scheduled flight, I have already prepared my luggage and the gifts I need to bring with me.

It was also our first Christmas together as a couple so before we took our flight to Germany, we had a quick tour around Manila to show how Filipinos celebrate Christmas. We also went to St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Pinas City to see the 19th century Bamboo Organ.

 

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The facade of of St. Joseph Parish Church, the home of the famous Bamboo Organ

 

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Native Christmas star laterns or parols adorning St. Joseph Parish Church

 

Bamboo Organ
The Bamboo Organ built during the 19th century

 

Bamboo Organ Keyboard
The Original Keyboard of the Bamboo organ preserved inside the church museum

 

My First White Christmas in Hamm

The following day, we headed back to airport for our trip to Germany. The flight to Amsterdam was quite a success despite the long hours inside the plane. However when we reached Schiphol Airport to take another flight going to Dusseldorf, snow chaos in Europe started forcing airlines to cancel all flights and airports to close down.  We were lucky to get free overnight hotel accommodation and be able to get a decent sleep while waiting for our chance to get a flight to our next destination. Despite all of these, my heart was jumping like am excited kid when I saw the snow covering my path.

 

Enjoying my first white Christmas
Happy to experience heavy snow 🙂

 

Very early the following day, we went back to the airport to try our luck. But to no avail, we have decided to call Christian's parents and ask if they can pick us up. Shortly after 3-4 hours, they came by car and welcomed us. However, due to the snow chaos, we were not able to get our check-in luggage. Luckily I put all my gifts in my hand carry. So after an hour of rest when we reached his parents'  house in Hamm, Christian and I went downtown for shopping.

Touring around the city was fascinating especially the trees covered with snow; houses decorated with Christmas trimmings; and the hustle and bustle in the Christmas Market.

 

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Serene and majestic: Road and trees covered in snow

 

Christmas Market
The giant Christmas tree welcomes the guests of the Christmas Market in Hamm

 

Glass Elephant
The Glass Elephant standing proud inside the Maximilian Park in Hamm

 

Ikea Oberhausen
My first visit to IKEA in Oberhausen

 

Come Christmas eve, we went to the church to hear mass and then went back home to have dinner and gift exchange. It was very similar to how our family spend Christmas in Manila minus the snow and cold weather.

 

Christmas Tree
Getting ready for Christmas

 

While waiting for the New Year's day, Christian and I made some day trips in nearby places. First we went to Bonn to see a portion of the Rhein River and the House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany (Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).

 

Hamm Station
Taking the train going to Bonn and Cologne from Hamm Central Station

 

Bonn
Admiring the buildings in the city of Bonn

 

Rhine River
A part of the Rhine River in Bonn

 

After that we went to Cologne to visit the Cathedral before heading back to Hamm.

 

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Amazed by the intricate details of Cologne Cathedral

 

Cologne Cathedral
The main altar of Cologne Cathedral

 

We also visited Soest, a typical middle-aged town center east of Hamm.

 

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Touring around the heritage village of Soest

 

Soest
The historical buildings of Soest

 

Similar to Soest but a little bigger, we also visited Muenster and tried a traditional Westfalian lunch from Pinkus. It is a traditional brewery and restaurant.

 

Munster Cathedral
Waiting for the famous astronomical clock inside Münster Cathedral to strike 12. Unlike other clocks, it is divided into 24 hours and runs counterclockwise as well as indicates hours and minutes simultaneously.

 

Pinkus
The only remaining brewery left in Münster from the original 150 breweries.

 

Since Germany is also known for its castles especially the North Rhine-Westphalian region , we visited a few during our day tours.

 

Schloss Nordkirchen
Schloss Nordkirchen also known as the Versailles of Westphalia

 

Altena Castle
Admiring the houses in front of Altena castle in Sauerland

 

medieval stonewalls
Medieval stonewalls welcomed us as we enter Altena Castle

 

Golden bike
A golden bike featured inside Altena Castle which was turned as the world's first youth hostel in 1912 and still in operation until now