The one plus side to cold weather? Hot drinks! Hot chocolate, hot apple cider, chai lattes, coffee, and most importantly, Glühwein. Approximately pronounced "Gloo-vine," "Glühwein" is German for hot mulled wine, and a staple of Weihnachtsmärkten (Christmas markets, pronounced "Vi-nokts-mare-kten") throughout the desolate winter months. No, seriously, Germany's winters are brutal. During my year as an exchange student, I put away my sunglasses--like, in the closet-put-away--in OCTOBER, and literally did not need them again until Easter. Germany's on the same latitude as Seattle, and the grey misery is exactly the same. For months, I would leave for school in the dark and return home in the dark. One morning, I expressly paid attention to the time when the sun really seemed to have dawned: 8:20 a.m., before I could even classify it as "daybreak." Sunset was about 4:30 p.m. Thus was the impetus of my Seasonal Affective Disorder. Ugh.
Anyway, when I left work this morning, I knew I needed a pit stop to stock up on my hot chocolate stores. I've used the Diet Swiss Miss packets in the past, which are pretty chocolatey, but don't mix very well into hot water and get weird and clumpy, so I decided to try something new. I settled on the Nestle Fat Free, and I was not disappointed! It calculated out to 1 PPV per packet...but I found that it's really more like 1/2 PPV per packet, as two packets are still only 1 PPV, three packets are 2 PPV, and four packets are 2 PPV too. Weight Watchers Math (c): Where 1 + 1 doesn't always = 2! (tm)
Although I came in expressly for hot chocolate and bananas, I made the mistake of shopping on an empty stomach, and a large number of other delicious drink mixes constituted the rest of the hot chocolate aisle. I was looking at all of the nummy Maxwell House International Cafe mixes, which include things like Vanilla Latte, Mocha, Hazelnut, and so on. I checked the nutritional info on the box of Chai Latte and it was a little higher than I was hoping; for 4 tsp of mix, it was 2 PPV. If I'm going to be drinking my PointsPlus values, I'd rather they be alcoholic! I still really wanted some chai mix, so I got it anyway and brought it home, leading me to my newest delectable discovery:
I mixed up a packet of hot chocolate into boiling water (provided by the wonderful hot-water pot my mom gave me for Xmas a couple years ago) and added 2 tsp of the chai mix for a total cup of 2 PPV. Chocolatey with just a little bit of spice, I was tickled pink. However, I think it would probably work with just 1 tsp of chai in order to keep the drink down to 1 PPV. I'll keep you posted.
The mug is from Spencer and my's Xmas trip to Germany last winter, where we visited a total of (at least) 10 Weihnachtsmärkten all the way from the south to the north. Each Christmas market has its own mug, and when you order a mug of Glühwein, you pay a 1 or 2 Euro deposit; you're then free to either return the mug for your money back, or keep the mug as a souvenir. We managed to transport one mug from each market all the way back home and didn't break a single one!
This mug is from Nürnberg (Nuremberg), which happened to be our favorite stop by far. (Click to enlarge any pictures.)
|This is an accordion-playing Santa. He called his dog|
"Rudolph" as I was taking my pictures.
|Translates to "Nuremberg's Children's Christmas"|
|A little river runs through town.|
Well, Nürnberg was our favorite besides spending Christmas with my German family in Bad Homburg, a city about 20 klicks from Frankfurt. There were many reasons for loving Nürnberg, but the biggest was probably because our hotel was AWESOME. We stayed at a Mercure, which was super-ultra-modern:
|Yes, that is a see-through shower and a|
|Another view of the see-through shower.|
|OMFG free booze.|
|Photo via merkur-online.de; this will at least give you somewhat|
of a view of how the castle on the hill looks during the day.
|View from the castle's hill (castle was under construction; no|
pretty pictures) of the rest of the old town. Excuse the
somewhat blurry picture; it was raining (IN GERMANY?
NO WAY!) and windy and dark.