A Bavarian Culture Evening – December 2019

Imagine…

A cold blustery evening, the sun has set. All bundled up with your friends and family by your side, in the town square you eagerly wait for the show to begin. Everyone told you that this you had to see, for not only was the show exciting, the culture couldn’t be beat. The square gets darker and soon a low rumble begins. An announcer’s voice starts to tell the story of Krampus and St. Nick. Slowly terrifying horned creatures fill the square carrying switches and sticks, bells clanging.

This begins the Krampus show that we went to this past month.

Untitled Design 25

Krampus has been set deep in the culture here and is known just as widely as St. Nick and Santa Claus. There is a troupe of performances who dress up in costume and put on a great fire show to tell the story and activities of Krampus during the Christmas Season. Before we chat on the performance I’ll share a bit of the history of Krampus that we know.

Krampus dates back to when pre-Germanic tribes practiced paganism and originally had no relation to Christmas. Krampus is described in folklore as a half goat half demon creature and beyond dating him to pre-Germanic origins, there really isn’t much more history on Krampus. Saint Nicholas became popular around the 11-12th century, with Krampus following suit in the 16th century. During the 16th century masked devils would run around acting as nuisances opposite of the St. Nicholas displays. In modern times Krampus “flies” with St. Nicholas on December 5 punishing all the bad little boys and girls (while St. Nicholas awards the good children). Krampus has horns on the top of his head, a long tongue, a face that seems to be in a perpetual howl or evil expression, chains (as an attempt to bind him), and hooves. He typically carries a birch switch and has bells somewhere on his person.

A much darker version has Krampus kidnapping and torturing those who are bad (which is what has been picked up in America/Hollywood/Movie Producers).

There are a couple different ways to see Krampus, one is a performance (which is what we did), the second is a Krampus Run (which is something the bigger cities will hold), and the third is to run into him at a Christmas Market. The one thing they all have in common is that Krampus has no boundaries. His job is to cause havoc and mischief and he definitely succeeds at that.

When I originally heard about Krampus, I knew I wanted to go to one of the fire shows. It seemed the best way to experience the entire “effect” of Krampus. You see him both causing mischief (as the no boundaries includes the shows), but also how they work with the fire.

I’ll let the pictures from the show do most of the talking for this post, but let me just say this, if you EVER have a chance to go to a Krampus fire performance…go. It was so cool to not only see Krampus, but also see the work that they did with the fire, see the performers in their element, and feel the culture of Krampus and the Christmas Season.

He is terrifying (especially if you go up and ask for a picture- if you have any boundary issues DO NOT do this), but at the same time, there is something inherently awesome about the whole show. The troupe that we saw was Oberpfalzer Schlossteufeln e.V. and they were fantastic. They truly put on a show and they lived up to the Krampus legend.

And that was our Bavarian Cultural Evening for the Christmas season. We did combine it with attending the Christmas Market at Amberg, but the market itself was quite small so I didn’t have enough to really make a good market post on it.

Christmas Market Breakdown – Schloss Gutenek 2019

Untitled Design 22Ah, our final Christmas Market post. I have one more Christmas related post (all about Krampus!), but this is the last Christmas Market post and I have saved the best for last. Schloss Gutenek was my favorite Christmas Market that we went to this year (followed closely by Dresden) and I cannot wait to share this market with you. It’s one that I think everyone should try to go to (in the area at least). It’s one of those small but perfect markets, that weaves you through various courtyards and castle alleys. To me, it is the quintessential German Christmas Market experience. I think it rivals Thurns & Taxis in Regensburg (read about that one HERE), although I liked this one a bit better and cost wise it was a bit cheaper.

Schloss Gutenek – The Specifics

As a castle (yep a little history first…), Schloss Gutenek is first found around the 12th century, although the current set up is dated the 19th century. The property and buildings have bounced around various royal families, finally settling with the Gymnich family.

Schloss Gutenek has only been holding this Weihnachstmarkt for 10 years (so a newbie!) and it is only open during the weekends. It is actually classified as a medieval market and features not only the stalls of a Christmas market, but a tented section that has character actors and artisans making their wares. You can watch the craftsman work away to make the perfect item. There is also both camel and horse rides, as well an old-fashioned crank ride for children.

The market itself winds its way through the entire castle grounds, so you not only get to see the market, but also bits of the castle as well. I would say that most of the stalls were hand crafted or unique items, with only a couple (at the most) stalls featuring mass produced items. This particular market also had a couple of enclosed areas where you could sit and drink a beer (from Weltenburger kind of a fun bit to see after visiting the Abbey!) and enjoy your meal of snacks.

The real highlight was standing in the darkened evening with only the lights of the stalls and lamps to see, glühwein in one hand, pastry in another, with a  crackling fire in front, and Christmas Music from a live musician. It was heavenly and I just want to relive that again and again and again.

This was another market that we didn’t actually buy anything at, aside from food and drink, keeping the mug. Again though, we ate some real delights. One of the stalls had a donut selection that was incredible. Donuts here are not quite the same as they are stateside, but they are just as (if not more) delicious. Robert went for a full selection, getting a piece of each kind, while I stuck with staples- chocolate, cinnamon sugar, original, raspberry, and a fried apple chunk. It was absolutely delicious and hit all the right spots. Robert also picked up a pulled pork sandwich which contained pork that was roasted for 2 hours (you could see the spit turning) and featured a select group of spices. He said it was delicious and well worth the price.

It might be a smaller market, and not as exciting as say Dresden would be, but I found this market to be my favorite of the bunch. It was small enough to not be super overwhelming or duplicates, but not too small that you felt it wasn’t worth the time. The ambiance was incredible, and the food was spot on. Everywhere we looked was just Christmas embodied and this was just the perfect reminder that sometimes smaller and more “intimate” can be better. I highly recommend it if you are in the area.

 

Christmas Market Breakdown – Dresden 2019

Untitled Design 22Dresden was one of those somewhat last-minute decisions that was a surprise for me. It’s no secret that my husband isn’t the biggest Christmas Fan (I regularly adoringly refer to him as The Grinch), but he’s been surprising me this year with the Christmas Market fun. He has happily gone to several of them, enjoying and ranking his time at each one, and then by surprising me with a weekend in Dresden. I figured Dresden would be another year, but after our not super great time at Rothenburg ob der Tauber (HERE), I think he felt like we really need to end on a good note.  Oh boy, did we end on a good note…

Dresden Specifics

Where do I even begin? Dresden is the home to 12 (yes 12!) Christmas Markets throughout its city and we went to a total of 6 (we did wander through 1 partially open one as well, but not counting that). I am going to break each market down in sections to make it easier to navigate this post. A couple of things to note before we really break everything down though. Most of the markets this year opened the last weekend of November and closed the 23 of December. The Stallhof is open until New Years. Due to the dates passing, I am not going to put the specific dates and times for each market, just the general dates in the previous sentence. Since Dresden is one of the more popular and well-known markets it will be crowded. Finally, some of the things that Dresden markets are known for (and that are typically sourced directly from a business in the area, rather than mass produced) are Christmas Pyramids, Smoking Figures, Pottery and Glassware, and of course, the Christstollen (the desert that the main market is known for). There are various Parking Lots throughout the city and parking, while a tiny bit difficult to find on the first day, wasn’t overall a huge problem for us.

The Striezelmarkt

The biggest Christmas Market (and oldest) is The Striezelmarkt. This is the oldest Christmas Market in Germany, dating back to the early 1400’s. The name is unique (normally Christmas Markets are Christkindlmarkt or Weinnachtmarkt) and it comes from the name of the German Christmas Cake, Hefestriezel. This market is in the center of the historical portion of Dresden and overtakes the entire square. The entrance of the market is also a stand that you can walk to the top of to take in the entire market scene. If you look off to the left you will see the world’s tallest Christmas Pyramid (14 meters tall). This is easily the biggest Christmas Market I’ve ever been too and contained such a variety of goodies from food and drink to Christmas pyramids, nutcrackers, and jewelry. There was also quite a few rides for the kids, with a Ferris wheel (which I highly recommend- such a fun way to see above the market and it was fast), two level carousel and train ride (there was more than that, but those are the one’s our boys rode). It was…incredible. The Christmas Market of all Christmas Markets and definitely earned it’s “largest and most popular” title.

Christmas Market on the Neumarkt

IMG_3152

This was the second market we stopped at and it’s actually an Advent Market. It is located at the base of the Church of Our Lady and is a fairly spread out market (it’s not like the typical rows, rather a wider pattern). It seems a bit small (especially after going to The Striezelmarkt), but it has a unique little market charm. It has a quaint older carousel and quite a few of the handcrafted booths. One of the things that I loved about the smaller markets is the more handcrafted booths. With the rest of the markets (exception being Augustusmarkt), there are a lot more of the smaller businesses with homemade items and less of the big business stalls.

Weinnachtsmarkt at the Frauenkirche

This was a hectic market. This particular market takes place on the street following from the Neumarkt square. It’s a somewhat narrower street, and definitely more crowded with people. It begins just below the Frauenkirche and ends at the terrace overlooking the river and bridge (it stretches along Bruhlsche Gasse). It features around 45 stalls selling pottery, glassware, food and drink, and other regional specialties. This is a nice compact spot to wander through on your way through the various markets.

Stallhof Advent Festival (Medieval Market)

This was one of my favorites within Dresden. This is a medieval market and truly lives up to that name from everything from your entrance tickets (cut to two by a costumed character with a spike or executioners’ blade), to the stalls, to the performers on the stage- it all is straight out of the medieval times. The culinary treats are not only German, but from various parts of Europe (including Russia!) and the wares up for sale are all handcrafted and relating to the time period. Handmade mugs, iron pieces, jewelry, leather bags, you name it, they probably made it. It also features a tub that you and some of your friends can enjoy a little wash in if you so desire, performances throughout the day, and an arrow contest for the little ones. There is a cost to this market, but I found it to be a reasonable price and it was a market I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Augustusmarkt

This is a newer, modern market that is located in the “New Town” of Dresden. Each stall is adorned with white tents and golden tinsel, with various decorations in the middle of each section of stalls. I will say- it seemed like this market was heavily food and drink featured, with other stalls containing mostly mass-market items. There were a few unique stalls, but I wasn’t super impressed with this market. It does have a historic Ferris wheel and a carousel at the outset (on the Horsemen side), but otherwise this market was a hectic collection of food and drink with a few stalls in between.

Two Smaller One’s

While walking we wandered through several other smaller markets that I didn’t fully catch the names of (sorry!), but just added to the magical air. That is the beauty of going to a city like Dresden, a city that goes all out for Christmas, you can just wander around and you’ll find little markets here and there. There is something very special about seeing a city pull out all the stops during this festive season. Even if there wasn’t a market, there seemed to be Christmas Tree’s, Holiday Decorations, and a certain cheer everywhere we looked.

We didn’t actually really buy much of anything this past weekend of markets (surprise!). I picked up one present for a friend and then just the mugs for the drinks, of which I got 4 total. HOWEVER, we did eat…and we ate well. We picked up bratwurst sandwiches, donuts, hot cocoa with rum, Verpoorten, and glühwein. Everywhere we looked there was something new and delicious to try and it was all somewhat different. This was one of the few cities where the markets offered more than just the sandwiches, crepes and trdelniks- we saw people eating soups, salads, and other full meals.

Honestly, I loved Dresden. It’s my second favorite set of markets that we attended this year (the blog post on my top is coming!) and I just felt like everything was incredible. I mean it helped that I loved the city of Dresden too, but the markets were well worth the hype. They are definitely bigger and busier (so plan accordingly), but highly worth it. You can easily do several in a day, although I would definitely recommend two days if you are wanting to hit more than two or three of them. In one day, you can definitely hit Striezelmarkt, Neumarkt, Frauenkirche, and Stallhof. The only market that we didn’t make it to, but debated on quite a bit, was the Winter Lights Market on Prager Strasse.

Have you been to Dresden’s Christmas Markets? What were your thoughts?

Christmas Market Breakdown: Rothenburg ob der Tauber 2019

IMG_2766Rothenburg ob der Tauber is easily one of the most popular spots in Germany to visit, to recommend to visit, to fall in love with, to spend a day walking in; It’s just one of those spots. It is a town that is medieval in nature and look and has somehow become devoted to Christmas, with Christmas shops being open year-round and its Christmas Market being one of the most popular ones. I had visited Rothenburg a couple weeks prior (which you can read about HERE) and my expectations were very high…

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Specifics

Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s Christmas Market is within the walls of the medieval town, starting at the main town square and wrapping through the Rathaus and to the smaller side square and churchyard. The market itself is open 11/23/2019-12/23/2019 opening around 11AM daily. I think there are around 70 stalls total in the market (which makes our opinion a little…weird, but more later). This market has been going on for about 500 years and hasn’t changed much over those years.

In my personal opinion, this was a bit of a disappointment in terms of Christmas Markets and I don’t know that I can accurately say why. I think that there was a cumulation of a couple of different factors that honestly made the day a bit of a disappointment. I’ll break it down and then let you decide your own thoughts as to whether you want to visit.

***Clarification—VISIT Rothenburg odT, however decide if you want to visit the Christmas Market or not***

The market itself is a bit smaller and the stalls were…not oddly laid out, but could have been better. I felt like the layout could have been better, mixing up the vendors and displays. It was oddly packed in that there wasn’t a lot of people in the actual market square or along the stalls, but A LOT of people right at the entrance or down the main road. This made it really kind of annoying to navigate into the market and then made the market itself feel a bit…empty (both in people and with the stalls). The actual stalls were full of really cool goodies and they have a whole handcrafted market in the hall of the Rathaus, BUT between the crowd being oddly dispersed, the layout coming off a bit strange, and the crummy weather that we experienced it just wasn’t one that we loved.

All of that combined with my own previous trip to Rothenburg odT, which took place in the only “off” season that they have and was a quiet, calm day (again- read that HERE), just put a bit of a different spin for this market. When you compare it to the others that we’ve already been to, we definitely preferred more.

With our experience being what it was, we didn’t really eat a lot. I snagged some cocoa and Robert had a sausage sandwich and that was it. We did a little bit of shopping, although more so in the store fronts than in the market (which is something that I discourage during Christmas Markets, but it was what it was for this one). I picked up my Glühwein incense smoker and a Rothenburg odT wooden ornament. We also picked up a pickle ornament, which has a little tradition in Germany attached to it (basically it’s hidden and who ever finds it first gets a present and good luck for the upcoming year). Of course, I got the Rothenburg odT mug.

I still think that everyone should visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber, BUT I wouldn’t make the Christmas Market your sole reason and event for your day. I would either skip or combine it with everything I suggested in my previous post. I would be interested to hear from others if they’ve been, their thoughts and opinions. I think for us the weather (cold, windy, and rainy – the most not ideal weather) was the biggest killer of our day so I just wonder if we just had an off experience. I hate that we didn’t love this one :(, so leave your thoughts down below!

Christmas Market Breakdown: Nuremberg 2019

IMG_2708Oh Nuremberg…a romantic (ish) city with quite the history, was there ever any doubt that the Christmas Market would be spectacular? I had heard several of things about this particular market (which we will get into as we go on in this post), the least of which was about just how popular the market is. We decided to visit the Nuremberg Christmas Market as a Girls Night. A train ride in (so no worries on the drinking front), a couple of drinks, a lot of shopping, and an overall good night was had by all.

 

 

 

 

To start with…The Basics

Nuremberg’s Christmas Market is one of the oldest markets in Germany’s history, dating back to the 16thCentury! It also has several traditions, including a post war prologue for the Christkind, the food and drink offered at the market, even the stalls are the old-fashioned striped roof stalls. The market itself is open from 11/29/2019-12/24/2019 from 10AM to 9PM. While we didn’t experience the crowds (we went on a Thursday night that had wacky weather all day), I would recommend getting there right when it opens if you are going with young children or a larger family.

Nuremberg Specifics

Basically, Nuremberg has one main market with a couple of smaller off shoot markets. The market is in their Old Town Square with Frauenkirche and the Rathaus as a backdrop and The Beautiful Fountain on the outskirts of the market. It’s very compact in this main square as there are around 165 stalls total in the main Christkindlmarkt. You can see how it could become very packed full of people very quickly, but we got incredibly lucky and didn’t have any crowd issues. We were able to take our time walking up and down the stalls and make our purchases.

There are two other immediate market offshoots and those are the Sister Cities Market (with 22 international stalls) and the Children’s Christmas Market. Walking up just a little further will get you to the Original Regional Market, and there is also the Craftsmen’s Courtyard, which is a little closer to the train station area. There is also the Feuerzangenbowle which is the largest punch bowl in the world.

Out of the offshoots, we peaked very briefly at the Children’s Market, which features a nice number of children’s rides and we walked through the Sister Cities Market.

I would highly recommend the Sister Cities Market, not only is it really cool to see and taste different offerings from around the world, it also provided a nice little dose of home with an Atlanta booth (as well as us questioning how the rest of the world sees the States). This little market was a highlight of our time there.

Of course, one of the highlights of any Christmas Markets you attend is the food and drink and Nuremberg was no exception to that. Nuremberg is known for its Nuremberg Sausage and the 3 in a bun or Nuremberger. IMG_6927This is exactly as it sounds, 3 of the Nuremberg sausages (which are about the size of your finger) in a bun. It is actually incredibly delicious and was a highlight of our evening. We also managed to snag some Apfel Glühwein and Hot Chocolate’s. One of my friend’s got Baileys in her Hot Chocolate and said it was delicious, so that is on my list to try (it was for Nuremberg, but I ended up passing at the last minute). We also got the world famous Lebkuchen, which is a gingerbread style cookie. In my absolute honest opinion of Lebkuchen…I would like it if it didn’t have this weird papery bottom to it. If it was just the standard cookie it would be delicious as it’s quite full of the spices and flavorings.

In terms of shopping, this particular trip was hit or miss despite what my purchases say. It’s one of the disappointments that can come with the larger markets, more mass-produced products, less individual crafted items. In the case of Nuremberg, I would say that each aisle had relatively the same products (displayed differently) with only a handful of local, unique items. I did do a bit of shopping picking up an incense smoker (which ended up having quite the story behind it!), a bookmark, a ring, and a smoker house for my little German Christmas Village. I also did manage to snag two of the Christmas Market Mugs.

I do want to touch on one item that you may want to purchase, an item that is unique to the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt…the Prune People. These are little “people” made out of prunes and walnuts (I believe). They are only at this particular market and we only saw two or three stalls devoted to them. I’ve included pictures above so you can see what they look like, but did not end up purchasing one.

On the whole we had such a wonderful time at the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt. It’s definitely a market that you need to get to early to avoid crowds, understand that there will be a lot of heavily commercialized items, and just have very few expectations outside of a good time. I would take the train if you can and avoid trying to find parking, and then walk from the main train station to be able to hit all the markets (which is easily do able in a day trip). At one end of the main market there is a stairway that leads to a restaurant, but also gives you a good vantage point over the top of the square. While it wasn’t my favorite of all the markets we’ve been to so far, it definitely ranks somewhere in the Top 5.

Christmas Market Breakdown: Prague 2019

Prague is such a beautiful city and the same goes for its Christmas Markets. In case you missed my post all about our weekend in Prague, you can find that HERE. Today I am going to be talking about the various Christmas Markets we went to within the city, the tips that I have for going to the markets, and the things you should buy at Christmas Markets. I’m still finding my way in writing these posts, so bear with me as I figure out how I want to structure them and such.

To Start With…The Basics

IMG_2078Christmas Markets are a great way to get in the Christmas Spirit, to try new foods/pastries, drinks, and other fun items. It’s a good option when shopping for Christmas Gifts and fun little keepsakes of your time in Europe. Each city has its own market and the bigger cities often have several different markets.

Prague holds several Christmas Markets throughout its town, but the two big ones are Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. There are several other notable markets, Republic Square, Havel’s Market, and Prague Castle, most of which you will either walk through our past if you are just attending Old Town Square and Wenceslas.

The Christmas Markets officially open right around the end of November and most will continue through the beginning of January. I’ll touch on the specific 2019 dates when I talk about each market that we attended. They are open all day and into the night, with all the lights really coming on at dusk (around 5pm or so).

Prague Specifics

I am going to touch on just general tips real quick, for parking you’ll want to either use Mr. Parkit (all over Czech Republic) or the Palladium Parking Garage (the big mall). This will give you access to the Republic Square Market and from there you can walk the entire line. You can also purchase a day transport ticket (24 hours) that will cover your bus, street car, and metro trips. It’s reasonably priced and a great option if you are not able to walk the trip.

I have listed out the markets below in the order that we visited them. I will include a final summary at the end of the post of the order I think you should go in (the one that fits best in my opinion). I’ll also include a bit on what we ate, what I bought, as well as what is worth spending money on (again, in my opinion).

Prague Castle Market:

This is a smaller market located within the walls of Prague Castle, this was the only market this year that actually had the nicer mugs. This is a smaller market, with more craftsman makings, but still just as lovely as some of the cities bigger offerings. This year the Prague Castle Market opened up November 23, 2019 and runs until January 6, 2020 and it opens around 9AM everyday (closing at 7PM). I highly recommend just including this as part of your Prague Castle trip as it is a beautiful smaller market. It was one of our top favorite markets from Prague this year.

Republic Square Market:

IMG_1952.jpg

This is the first market we went to on our walking Prague/Christmas Market day. This is a smaller, but still just as good, market right outside the Palladium Mall Area. It’s a nice little start and introduction to the Prageu Christmas Markets. It’s a good start as it’s not big or overwhelming. There are plenty of stands to have a browse in before heading to the other markets. This particular market differs in dates as it is only open 11/25/2019-12/24/2019, it also opens at 10AM, but closes early at 7PM.

The Old Town Square Market:

One of the most popular markets within Prague, this is also one of the busiest markets. Nestled right in the heart of Old Town Square, the tree at the center (with the church as a backdrop) this definitely is a beautiful market. I would even go as far to say that this market is the heart of the Prague Christmas Markets. This is the main event and we got to not only check out the market early in the day (therefore beating the bulk of the crowds), but we also go to watch the Official Opening and Lighting of the Christmas Tree. I’ll be honest- it was magical. The Old Town Square Market runs from 11/30/2019-1/6/2020 and opens at 10AM. This is another market that we loved, although I would recommend visiting it earlier in the day as it will get crowded.

Havel’s Market:

IMG_2146.jpg

This was probably one of my favorite markets as it is a market set up all year round, with Christmas time leading to more of the Christmas Stalls. It is just a row of shops in the street (that is a walking street), which makes for easy set up and browsing for shoppers. This one has the most artwork and crafts stalls that I saw (with Prague Castle being a close second to that) and we found some really good bits at this market.

 

 

 

 

 

Wenceslas Square:

IMG_2160 2.jpg

This was the final Christmas Market we went to in Prague and it was probably my least favorite of the bunch. I don’t know what it has been like in past years, but this year it was heavily focused on food shops, which was good for us as it was lunchtime, BUT it’s not what I would have wanted at any other time. The booths here that did not offer food or drink were almost nonexistent, shoved to the very end of the row. So, good for a little food break, but definitely missable in the grand scheme. This market is again, open 11/30/2019-1/6/2020 and open at 10AM.

So, my overall thoughts are that Prague at Christmas is magical. Christmas Markets have an air of magic and with the backdrop of Prague it’s amplified. In my opinion, if you are just taking a day to wander the markets, I would start at Prague Castle. This is a market that won’t take you long to walk through and you’ll get to wander the castle. It really sets the magical mood. From there I would hop a bus or street car over to Republic Square. From there you can walk through the Prasna Brana down to Old Town Square and Havel’s Market. You can choose whether or not you would like to go to Wenceslas Square, but I personally wouldn’t.

These markets are definitely doable in one day, especially with a dinner at the end of it if needed.

At the markets we ate Trdelniks, which is the most delicious pastry, a Chocolate Waffle on a Stick, also delicious, but messy so bear that in mind, and chicken shishkibobs. I didn’t end up getting any drinks beyond some tea, but I would always recommend trying out either the glühwein or hot chocolate with rum. Each market has it’s own twist on what they will taste like, so don’t entirely judge the drinks off of just one try. There are also different flavorings for glühwein and the like!

In terms of what we bought this time around, I just picked up a little resin village house for my Christmas Village collection (I am going to collect these as we go along in time here). I also did pick up a mug, but not one from the Christmas Market. It is my plan to collect Christmas Market mugs, but I missed out on getting the mug that I wanted. Lesson learned for future Market trips!

And that is my Christmas Market Breakdown for Prague. I hope that you enjoyed, got some tips, or just followed the Christmas Magic through our eyes. Please let me know if you like this formatting or if there are more things you want to/would rather hear more about.

 

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well…Thanksgiving is officially over and we are just going to pretend like this is the first time I’m talking about the holidays and that I haven’t been prepping for this month since November 1. It’s finally a “socially acceptable” time to talk about it. You know what I’m referencing…Christmas!! It’s the most wonderful time of the year 🙂

I’m one of those people- who puts their decorations out right after Thanksgiving although this year I started a little bit earlier. Germany doesn’t do Thanksgiving really, and we were traveling anyways so it really didn’t play a role in the whole timeline of decorating. While I’m not quite sure where/what we are doing for Christmas I am planning on doing a lot. This is our first Christmas in Germany- a country that goes ALL OUT. The country seems to come alive again several times through the year, Christmas being one of the biggest.

I’ve already been planning and ordering gifts due to the length of shipping time and I think everyone will be pleased with what they get. I always look forward to the giddy excitement and joy on the boys face as they realize that they have presents and a full day of eating and watching movies and hanging out with Mom and Dad. But this doesn’t even come close to what I am looking forward to.

I think December is one of those months that no matter what gets thrown at you, you still manage to find a little cheer. It’s full of excitement for the holidays, for the new year, for the relief of another year ending, and a fresh start for a new year. This is especially heightened this year as we are heading into a new decade. We are about to go to the 2020’s and that just brings a whole new level. Christmas and New Years is very big here in Europe. Celebrations are taken to a whole new level EVERYWHERE, from the big cities to the small farm towns, it seems like everybody wants to celebrate and have a good time. If there is anything Europe does right (and there actually is a lot), celebrations/markets/festivals is what it does the best.

So, where does that put us for the most wonderful time of the year?

To start with, christmas markets!! I mean is there anything better than strolling through an outdoor market with a hot mug of some drink looking at all the craftsman stalls? I mean, it’s quintessentially Christmas and I have very high (Hallmark Movie esque high) expectations for what this will be like. This year I am planning on attending a total of 4 (this is counted by city, a lot of the cities have multiple markets that we may visit) and I think that that is probably a good number to stick with every year. I’ve got quite a list of how many I would actually like to visit, but I’m trying not to overwhelm us…or spend to much money haha. Honestly though, who knows what the month will bring us, I’ve already got the list out and am comparing schedules and dates to see what can be done and when (yes I am being that serious about it).

I’m also looking forward to our next long trip. I’m not totally sure (as of writing this post) as to where we are going to go, but I am looking forward to getting away and really getting the chance to stretch our legs and truly explore somewhere new. I wouldn’t say that we’ve played it safe entirely, but we have stuck with some “safe” options. This trip we will be venturing somewhere completely new to us that we’ve never really learned about or experienced. I’m incredibly excited about it!

I’m also just looking forward to the general cheer that comes with December. December tends to be a cold and dark (and here – damp) month, so it’s nice to see the cheer that everyone brings out with the season.

Round the Kettle Ep, 21 – A Bit of Wanderlust

Happy Sunday…is it Sunday?…It is Sunday. The days of this past week have kind of blurred together. Combine that with my husband having an extra two days off (Monday and Friday) it’s all kind of become a mess in my head.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Happy Sunday! How has it been? I haven’t actually sat down to write a blog post in what feels like ages (although in reality it’s only been a couple of weeks). It feels good to be using my brain again in a way that doesn’t involve my little boys. To be fair, I use my brain a fair amount in conversations with friends, but this is a little different.

Anyways, I’m really over here waffling about today about nothing, aren’t I?

I’m going to be completely honest; I think we’ve gotten a whole travel, home, travel, home routine down now. It’s funny because we will spend a fair amount of a month to a month and a half away, between day trips and long weekends, and then we will have a month to a month and a half at home. It’s become a bit of a thing over the past bit of time that I’ve noticed. It’s interesting because right when I start to want to just be home for a bit, or starting getting that travel bug, we will go into a stretch of that time.

We’ve been home for about a month and a half (at this moment), since our last Castle-ing Weekend (HERE, HERE, HERE), and I’m starting to get that travel itch. I’m starting to long to explore new places, find new adventures, and learn about different places around us. LUCKILY, our travel times line up well with this, otherwise I’d be looking for last minute options just to do it. We have two trips planned in November, A LOT of Christmas Market trips in December, and a Winter Holiday after Christmas. I would guess that by the time we will finish our Winter Holiday, I’ll be ready to be home for a while again.

 

I’m not sure of any other way to do it. It’s funny because I always figured we would approach traveling as maybe do one to two bits a month, with the longer vacations whenever they factor in. That hasn’t really worked for us though. Between Robert’s schedule for work, and just how the cookie has been crumbling we’ve found these stretches of time that we can do a lot during before everything buckles down. It’s like an on again off again schedule and it really ends up working out better for us.

 

Truth be told, I don’t know if I’d like to travel any other way than for what seems like weeks on end (it’s not really weeks on end, but more back to back day/long weekend style trips).

 

Tell me, how would you like to travel? Would you like to go, go for a chunk of time and then be home for a chunk of time OR just take a long weekend every couple weeks, with the bigger trips factoring in the same two times a year? I’m curious as I feel like everyone is different in this aspect.

 

I would also be curious to know whether you would start off your travel with close to “home” short trips OR if you would go as far as you could? We are all such different travelers that this is something fun to chat about and share experiences.

 

Beyond that, I’ve been spending the past couple of days looking forward. I’ve been looking at December’s blog posts (all travel and/or Christmas related) as well as starting to look at some of the intentions and goals that I have for 2020. It’s crazy to think that the year (and decade as everyone keeps reminding us all) is coming to an end. It’s been a wild one for us and I’m excited to look back at it, as well as look forward into the new year.

 

What else to share? There’s not really anything else. It really hasn’t been too exciting over here. But it’s coming. The excitement is coming.

 

How are you? How have things been? I’d love to hear!