Christmas in Germany… Weihnachtsmarkt

When the weather turns cold here in Europe everyone knows its time for the Christkindlmarkt! Christmas in Europe is a very special time of the year, from all the decorations to the beautiful winter foliage – there is sure to be something for everyone!

I am sharing just a few of the Markets that I traveled to this year and in years past. After living over here in Europe and visiting for the last three years I have hit quite a few of them! You can never go wrong with choosing a market, wether they are in Germany or other places in Europe they always have the same things to look for and find that are the best parts of every Christmas market!

The best items to get at a German Christmas market or any markets across Europe are of course… the FOOD, a few handmade items and last but not least, the Gluwhein or the hot mulled wine!

Make sure to take a picture of yourself in front of the Christmas sign, the decorated trees and indulge in the sweet treats that are all around you! My favorites are definitely the crepes filled with Nutella and banana OR the tiny little pancakes called Poffers.. YUM! You are sure to always find a Wurst mit Brochen.. the german way to say a bratwurst with bread 🙂 DELICIOUS! Also they have a pizza type of cuisine called flammkuchen that is a small flat bread pizza with a white cream sauce on top then topped with tiny pieces of bacon, onion and cheese. These are what are traditional to German markets but other places – like hungry – might have other specialty items! One for example is the Kürtőskalács– a dough that has been wrapped around a large wooden stick to make a “chimney cake” desert. They are then cooked over an open fire, once cooked they are then doused with cinnamon and sugar!

There are so many stands that will sell you the traditional Christmas Market drink… Gluhwein, served in a souvenir mug (costs a pfland or deposit) but its yours to keep if you want! If you return it you get your deposit back. They also have Hot Schokolade, or a kinderpunsch if you aren’t into the alcoholic beverages. 🙂

Make sure to grab a few crucial photo ops while at the markets, and continue drinking your Gluwhein!

  • Photo of the holiday mug served at every market
  • Snap a pic of the live animal manger scenes that will make an appearance at most markets
  • Smile big in front of the biggest Christmas tree you can find!
  • Make sure to document which market you went to with a pic in front of the arch or sign & entrance.
  • Who can find the biggest Christmas carousel? Snap a pic in front of one that you find!
  • Snap a pic of your wurst sandwich find.. almost impossible to leave a market with out partaking in one of these as a snack.
  • A picture of your handmade ornament that was the most unique
  • A picture with your friends and family at the market!

This year my sister and I visited –

    Esslingen Christmas Market (my FAVE)
    Stuttgart Christmas Market
    Berlin Christmas Markets
  • Past years in Germany I have visited-
    • Wurzburg Market (smaller)
      Boblingen (smaller)
      ChocoArt Festival in Tubingen!
    In France I have only been to the Strasbourg Christmas market, which is one of the largest and oldest markets in all of Europe. It is truly a beautiful market and a beautiful fairytale like town that offers the Christmas feeling at every glance!

    My husband and I have also visited a few Christmas markets in Italy – Rome, Venice and Milan.

    Recently my sister and I have just traveled across the Eastern part of Europe where we got to experience the markets in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and the Czech Republic! Equally could all be my favorites places to go and spend Christmas time. The decorations, the food and the merriment made for a truly enjoyable trip through Europe! My next post will have more on this trip that I just took with my sister. It was such an amazing experience and you don’t want to miss out on the inside scoop!


    Let’s Talk Europe… PARIS

    Strap on in and hold on tight…. this is a long one! 🙂

    You want to know more about Paris, right??  Well here is the insight from someone that has been there… twice.  The first trip was a romantic couple trip and the second time was a family trip with my parents.

    Since we live in Germany, we took a train from Stuttgart Train station directly to Paris Main Railway station.  It was about a 3.5 hour train ride, very comfortable and very reasonably priced tickets.  The price per ticket, each way, was 50 Euro.

    We stayed at the Mercure Hotel which was located super close to the Eiffel tower.  Everyday when we would walk out of our hotel, we would round the corner and there was the beauty of the Eiffel Tower.

    While we definitely enjoyed our selves with all the lights of the Eiffel tower and the wonderful food found in the Cafes, and of course all magnificent pastries and treats at the Boulangerie or patisseries here is our list of all the other activities to do while in Paris.

    1. DO try the Escargot… you might like it 😉
      1. On our first night in Paris, we walked around and admired all the sights and sounds of the city and we were looking for a place to have dinner.  We came upon a lovely little cafe that offered escargot as a starter, it was super delicious…although my other half did not think the same.  The Escargot or snails, came out baked with a pesto sauce on the inside, being our first time we asked how we are to eat the snails.  We were told to place it on a piece of bread and enjoy 🙂
    2. The LOUVRE
      1. All we knew we wanted to see was the Mona Lisa, though it was worth it to see the iconic piece of art, we found that it is a packed place just full of people and they are all trying to do the same thing we did.  We got in, took our picture and then we got out!  BUT we took our time and looked around the rest of the Louvre and took in the rest of the beautiful art or artifacts from around the world that are decades and even centuries old.
      2. My tip – PRE PURCHASE your Louvre ticket for a “timed” entry, if you know what day you want to visit.  You can purchase the tickets HERE.  Otherwise you will be standing in the longest line you have ever seen for a really long time.
    3. Eiffel Tower
      1. During winter months you can ice skate on second floor, we didn’t get the chance but we saw all the kids enjoy the ice rink while we were there.
      2. Eat on the Eiffel Tower! There are several different restarts from the first floor all the way to the top floor. They offers an expereince unlike any other but make sure to book your dinner through the website, it can be pricey at the top, but some towards the bottom could fit in your budget.
      3. PRE PURCHASE TICKETS -One of the best places to purchase tickets is the official Eiffel Tower website, during tourist season, which is usually during the summer months, it can be hard to get in to visit the floors of the tower.
      4. **TIPS**
    4. Boat Tour Dinner on Seine River
      1. This was an activity we did on the second trip to Paris, it was one thing saw while I was in Paris the first trip, and decided that it would be a great way to show my parents around the area on the first night.
      2. We spent around $60 per person for a 2 hour boat ride that included a classic French cuisine dinner.  It also included one glass of wine for each person or a choice of drink. Anything else that you wanted to drink or eat would be extra.
      3. The tour started at the dock near the Louvre, and then it headed in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, great pictures from the river.  Then the boat turned around and started in the other direction, where it took us past Notre Dame and several beautiful bridges.  Once the boat had finished going around the river for two hours, we had finished our dinner.  This is a great activity for families with children or even for couples.
    5. Food Tour – St. Germain
      1. THIS was the most AMAZING food tour I have ever taken part in.  It was of course, a sweets tour.  The area of St. Germain is packed full of different bakeries and patisseries just waiting to be explored.  The area also has great history that is shared with you during the tour.  You meet with a local that shares a little slice of heaven with you in an area she knows very well.  I highly recommend trying out this experience!  You won’t walk away hungry 😉
      2. **TIP** Meet the Locals.com is a great website when looking for activities during travel, and are usually in every city you might visit anywhere.
      3. CHECK OUT THE FULL POST ON THE FOOD TOUR HERE!
    6. Moulin Rouge
      1. A cabaret show in Paris that dates back to 1885 and made the French cancan famous.  We booked our tickets in advance and we went to a late night showing. It was a surprise to me actually, my husband didn’t tell me where we were going until we arrived.  A great surprise it was!  I do not speak french and couldn’t understand what they were singing, but the show was still amazing.  I loved it, it is a must if you have time in Paris!
    7. Chocolate Tour
      1. Great little museum that is all about Chocolate!  The cost was 35 Euro a person and 3 Euro for the hot chocolate. We found out about the museum because we had to make a pit stop at a cafe and found a coupon for Choco Story at a cafe that was down the street, that got us half off. We did not plan the adventure until we got to this cafe and added it as a quick little stop, since we heard it was ALL YOU CAN EAT CHOCOLATE… don’t get too excited they aren’t ginormous bars, you are in Europe 😉  They were tiny little chocolate chips the size of quarters, but were all very delicious and came in flavors from Dark chocolate to white chocolate, and you really could eat as many as you wanted.  At the end of the museum, they had a workshop where you could watch a chocolatier make chocolate and you could also craft your own hot chocolate.
    8. Champs-Élysées
      1. Christmas Market -So… if you haven’t heard it already, i’m telling you now.  Christmas markets are one of the BEST things ever (in my opinion) and are all around Europe. What is not to love though? FOOD AND WINE!?!  Since we visited Paris once during Christmas and once during the summer months, we did actually get to see the Christmas market on/near Champs-Élysée. At the market we got to indulge in a variety of foods from all over the world, we tried frog legs cooked in truffle oil, crocodile bites and fried kangaroo.  We of course had all of the common Christmas market foods which are melted cheese on top of anything with Vin Chaud (hot wine). YUMMM  There are also many crepes (filled with nutella), waffles and other sweets.
      2. Champs-Élysée Shopping
        1. Champs-Élysée is one of the most recognizable avenues in the world, known for its cafes and many luxury shops.   Even though it is one of the most recognizable places, we aren’t shoppers so we really only were there to see the Arc de Triumph, since it is at the end of the avenue.
    9. Arc de Triomphe
      1. The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is yet another of famous monuments which is at the end of Champs-Élysée.  It is in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, which is the junction of 5 large avenues, creating the star around the Arc de Triomphe and let me tell you.. it is CRAZY.  All the cars going around and around, don’t attempt to frogger across!  All you have to do to get to the Arc de Triomphe is find the tunnel that goes underground and you walk right to the monument. It is free to visit, but does cost to go on top, in our opinion it isn’t worth the money because you get a better view on top of the Eiffel Tower!IMG_6227
    10. Walk around a random district
      1. We did!  We walked around and jumped in and out of art stores, cheese shops, gelato stands and even found a shop that is owned by someone originally from Ohio, now living in Paris, who claimed to have some of the best brownies.  It is just always fun to find and talk with someone from the area and learn about their journeys.
    11. Notre-Dame de Paris
      1. Located on its own little separate “island” and also known as “Our Lady of Paris”. Here you will find more than 100 gargoyles, spread all over the Notre Dame Cathedral.
      2. How to get there?  You can either walk over the bridges to get to the Cathedral, or you can take the subway train and get off at St-Michel Notre Dame that will take you directly to the island.  Then you will walk up lots of stairs because the subway is so far down, then you will pop up from below and you will be a two minute walk away from the Cathedral.

    Well… that is all I have for right now on one of the most beautiful places in the world that always leaves you wanting more.  It has a little bit of everything in this town, rich history, fashion for days and food that makes your eyes pop!  I hope this can help you get the courage to get out there and visit Paris! 🙂

     

    1. **Travel Tip**
      • Before you head home, grab a few souvenirs that are true to Paris or even France.  A few things to look into grabbing as souvenirs from Paris – cheese, wine, chocolate, art, fashionable clothing, perfume, post cards and of course tons and tons of pictures!

     

    This Girls 5 Reasons to Travel Now… don’t wait!

    We all know that travel is expensive and most of us in our twenties don’t have that much of a cushion when it comes to cash flow.  BUT that doesn’t mean we should lock our selves into our jobs and take life too serious… just yet!  Here are 5 reason you should take that trip you’ve been planning and jet set on out of here!

    1. You get the best experiences
      1. Why might you ask?  BECAUSE you have done the nitty gritty research, all the ins and outs of each location to find THE BEST deals.  When you don’t have much money to travel on you don’t just pick the best looking hotel room or the first one you see.  YOU find the diamond in the rough!  Yes it was hard, but YES it is worth it to see that the location you chose is usually where most of the locals hang out -rather than in the super tourist parts of town.
    2. You can enjoy the night life a little more
      1. I am not saying that when you are older you won’t enjoy the night life, but if you are young and single you can meet a few people and they can change the experience from just seeing the inside of a club, to maybe meeting up for drinks the next day and EXPERIENCING the true city.  When you are traveling by yourself or even with another person/significant other while young you can reach out to those locals and see the city the way they see it.
    3. Your body can take it
      1. When you are young your body can recuperate so much faster than while you’re older.  Soo.. go ahead and enjoy that long night out but also plan an early morning hike or EXREME activity! Jump out of an airplane, run an adventure race, jump off a cliff… My husband said it to me this way… “Am I going to run with the bulls when I am sixty?” NOPE!  I’m pretty sure at sixty i’m gonna be sitting on a beach relaxing with a drink in my hand rather than running around Pamplona 😉
    4. You take more RISKS
      1. I’ve seen my point of view already chaining on this one since I am getting a little older… “maybe I don’t need to take this trip or take that leap into cold water”… NO, we DO need to JUMP!  We only get to experience this life one time and this ONE TIME needs to be full of fun and excitement and the things that keep our hearts racing and pumping!  When we are young we are more likely to take those risks that get more out of our life!
    5. You probably have no commitments
      1. When most of us are in our mid twenties the only thing we think that matters is this.. graduate, get a job, start a career and then build a family.  WELL lets try to rethink this one, what if we traveled the world first and got all the experiences in life that could shape us into who we really can become.  THEN we can start our careers and the paths we choose to take.  Right now in life, there are no children, and the jobs are ALWASY going to be waiting for us when we get back.  Take the chance, take the leap and BOOK THAT TRIP!

    I hope i’ve convinced you that you can go and travel young, soooo now lets get out there!! We all have been given the chance to live the way we want and the world is at the tips of our fingers…  this photo always reminds me of the beauty in the world and lights a fire beneath my feet and I most definitely want MORE.  Find the photo that inspires you to dream, and to remember that no dream is too big!  #GIRLMEETSWORLD

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    Falling head over heals for this…. Kale salad!

    #KALEyeahhh!! This salad hits the spot on a beautiful fall day when you are craving something juicy, light and filling!

    The highlights of this salad are the Kale, the Apples & Cranberries as well as the crunchy pecans! Oh and the dressing… don’t forget the dressing!! With the sweet and crunchy aspects in the salad you get a full flavor impact from the dressing that plays on the sweet with the balsamic vinegar and the Dijon mustard brings the sharp and strong flavor to balance out all the sweet. Yummm!

    The salad:

    • Two handfuls of Kale
    • Tablespoon of chopped pecans
    • 1/4 of an Apple (sliced thin)
    • Tablespoon of chopped dried Cranberries (dried and no sugar added)
    • Tablespoon chopped red onion
    • Handful of cherry tomatoes (sliced)
    • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
    • 4oz Grilled Chicken

    Toss all together in a bowl and then toss again once you add the dressing 🙂

    The Dressing: (makes two servings)

    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
    • 1tsp honey
    • Couple shakes of Mrs. Dash (garlic and herb)

    Liverpool… BEATLES-MANIA

    On a whim one day, we decided to buy a cheap ticket that got us to Manchester, England. When we were looking at what to do in the area, we decided to actually go to Liverpool – which is home to the Beatles (my hubs is a big fan).

    Once we landed in Manchester, we then had to take a train to Liverpool which took about 45 minutes – we pre bought the tickets so we knew what time we took off and had enough time to find the train station – that was near by and in the airport but it was a long walk away from where we landed (different terminal).

    We finally arrived in Liverpool and had gotten a hostel in the center of town, called the Everton Road Hostel.  It was a Beatle themed hostel that had several rooms but had 6+ people in most of them.  It was a little rough going, again because I’m not a fan of hostels but… I pushed through and made it work.  Anyway.. we dropped off our bags and headed out to explore BEATLES-MANIA!

    Our first stop was the Cavern Club – where the Beatles first got their start and today they claim to be the most famous club in the world!   FYI – we found out that there were two “Cavern Clubs”, – one is the Cavern Pub, had live music & memorabilia while the other one is a replica of the actual Cavern Club where the Beatles use to play – along with a lot of other famous artists such as Freddie Mercury, Rolling Stones, the Who and many many more. They played mostly Beatles music all night long and had pretty decent prices on drinks.  You can grab a souvenir here and there are also other events that take place in the bar, so make sure to check it out – even if you aren’t a Beatles fan!

    In the same area – there are a lot of other bars that were so much fun!  We stopped in a few of them and found a few more live bands too!

    We woke up on Saturday morning knowing that we were heading back to Manchester but to partake in a Manchester United Football game.  We were pretty pumped for the game – and then we found out that we had tickets in the 100 Club – which meant we got to sit in a particular section and got food and drinks in our own little area (AWESOME)!  The game went by so quick and everyone was on the edge of their seats with intensity.  The Manchester United Soccer Club ended the game with a tie but I thought they played very well!

    -My husband found the tickets through ticket master and we paid a pretty penny for them as well, since you technically have to be a soccer club member to get the tickets.  BUT if you are a soccer fan and have always wanted to go, there is a way!

    We headed back to Liverpool on the train -JAM PACKED because the trains were having a strike – BUT we finally made it back and headed to the Cavern Club where we enjoyed ourselves again with all of the Beatles music! 🙂

    On Sunday morning we had scheduled a Liverpool bike tour with a local who took us around the town of Liverpool.  It was a COLD ride but was worth facing the cold – we got the point of view from a local who grew up in Liverpool.  He took us all around and showed us the homes of Paul, John and Ringo’s childhood homes.  We visited the strawberry fields, Eleanor Rigby’s gravesite, and Penny Lane.   Also, we got to see the church where Paul & John met.  We then stopped to see the school where Paul, George and John all went to primary school.  It was a GREAT tour and the guide was very knowledgeable!  The bikes were the electric bikes – my first time being on one and it was partly why I enjoyed it so much! 😉 We booked the tour through Trip Advisor and was 88 euro for us both to partake in the 3.5 hour small group tour.

    Once we finished with the bike tour – we went to the Beatles Story museum, where we learned even more about the Beatles and each of the guys separately and their lives.  It was a super neat museum and worth a visit!  We payed 38 euro for the both tickets and again booked the tour through Trip Advisor. 🙂 OR you could purchase tickets at the door.

    Our guide on the bike tour told us to check out the Museum of Liverpool (FREE entry) because it had an exhibit on John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  It was really neat as well and had a few interactive parts, where you could write on the walls or leave behind good vibes for the future.

    That night we had to switch hostels -in my opinion it was WAY better – called the YHA hostel.  It was located in the Baltic triangle of Liverpool (up and coming area), super neat area that was near the Albert Dock, which is packed full of restaurants, cafes, art stores and much more.

    We had passed a place called Ghetto Golf earlier on our bike ride so we decided to check it out.  OMG – it was so much fun!!  They had DELICIOUS drinks, you could put 18 holes (that were all decked out with different themes) and eat yummy BBQ.  It only cost us about 20 euro and the drinks were about 5 euros each, but in all it was a cheap way to have some fun!

    It was a quick trip again because we left on Friday and then panned our return for Monday, so at this point it was time to go home 😦  BUT we weren’t sad because we had so much fun in Liverpool and in Manchester, England.  It was also a refreshing change to be able to speak the language!

    If you find yourself in the area, take a chance for an off the beaten path trip and visit Liverpool!