Nuremberg Christmas Market

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Nuremberg Christmas Market. Nuremberg Germany. December 2019.

First things first, if you are reading this the same day I’m posting: A very merry Christmas from Germany and we’ll be celebrating with more market stories!

We organized a group trip to Nuremberg Christmas Market on Friday night for 7 adults coming from 3 different stops.

Getting to a market in a group is always an interesting adventure. From where we live, there are a few different trains and train types that well get us into the town center with little issue but some come more regularly, have less regular delays, or make more stops than others so it’s always a gamble what we will hit. This is why for trips for going allover Bavaria we buy DB navigator’s Bayern regional tickets for each couple which allows us to take trains throughout the day wherever we want in the region, or we get one of the smaller regions in we are going somewhere a little closer such as the Munich-Nuremberg regional pass. With these passes, we can jump on a variety of trains at the times that are most convenient for us and keep our timelines and options flexible.

I love going to markets as a couple, but going in a group like this is always like having an outdoor party – moving and drinking, getting more tired and yet more energetic as we go. This is particularly fun in a market like Nuremberg which is fairly large but completely manageable in a night. We love how wide the aisles are here, allowing much more room for the crowds of people to wander through. Even though the crowds are large, we didn’t feel as penned in or jostled (at least, as much) here.

If you have been following along with our fun Christmas Market checklist, this market is a closer! We found every single thing on our list (at least the drinkable and edible items) here with abundance and with choices to spare for each. Definitely walk around and see all your options as price varies between every booth! Of course, now that we have eaten all the things, it seems like we visit more markets that have the desserts we had been hard-pressed to find. I will happily dig into a Dampfnudel any day and the Kartoffer was like stepping into my childhood Saint Lucia’s day (at least the way we used to celebrate it – very untraditionally).

My favorite spirits Brewery also sets up a booth here, so if you are close by and like your schnapps you should go taste test at Hausbrauerei Altstadthof’s booth. They also do a regular hot drink (if sampling schnapps isn’t your thing), but do not expect your regular fair. Instead, they have a (I am not kidding!) straight up hot beer. Unlike Gluhbeer, there is very little mulled spices and instead, they serve the drink that Americans assume Germans drink all year round: hot beer. I actually enjoyed the drink but it is far from usual so drink at your own peril, but if you are here you may as well get a glass and pass it around the group!

Finally, the thing that I love most about Nuremberg’s Christmas Market is that it really is ONE MARKET. You can technically say two, as there is a small market off near the stone castle walls – you walk past this section when you walk from the train station, but with a row of scattered tents more of less leading you from the train to the main market square, this market is just so easy to enjoy.

As always, watch your wallet because there are crowds and so much amazing stuff you will want to spend everything you brought and more, but have fun and a wander.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Nuremberg Christmas Market

sLOVEnia: a love story – and Itinerary

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National Flag of Slovenia. Bled Castle, Lake Bled, Slovenia. April 2019.

April 2019 marked Ryan and my first wedding anniversary and as a matter of fate – or an accidental misreading and scratching of my scratch map (Slovenia isn’t the same place as Switzerland, so bad to scratch it off prematurely!) – our amazing trip to beautiful Slovenia.

Also known as the ‘New Zealand of Europe’ because of it’s rich natural beauties, this country is larger than I expected when looking at my map. We took a 4 day weekend (but with a day of driving in and out from our home in Germany, it was really three days) and hit more than most would in that time, but we still barely scratched the surface.

So, why Slovenia, a love story?

Easy: we fell absolutely in love with the country.

We walked so much. We climbed so many mountains. It rained off and on as April really anywhere is want to do, so we were almost always damp. We ate so much. We took so many pictures and way too many lovey-dovey selfies. It was simply amazing and we were definitely not ready to come home at the end of the weekend.

But Slovenia also advertises the word sLOVEnia in every tourist shop and information center and brochure. It basically breaks down into Love in Slovenia or falling in Love in Slovenia. Some people think this is a terrible tagline for a country but for Ryan and me, Love in Slovenia is simply a matter of fact and a cute, quaint way of phrasing our own experience there.

Slovenia is nestled between Austria, Italy, Hungary, and Croatia and the entire country is made up of mountain chains and valleys with rivers that flood towns regularly. Historically (and at times, even today), this made travel difficult so both linguistically and socially, the Solvenia you experience can be different depending on where you go inside of it. These differences are subtle, so subtle that only a local may realize it, but as it was explained to us, the closer you get to the border countries the more you will see and hear their cultural and linguistic influences.

Over the next few weeks, I will be breaking down our trips in more detail, but for anyone looking for 3 or 4 days in the middle and northern parts of Slovenia, here’s our basic itinerary:

Day 1:  Leave Germany early, drive through Austria and into Slovenia. Get to Kamnik and stroll for a few hours for a late lunch. Head to Ljubljana and take a quick tour of the castle – be prepared for a hike!

Day 2: Viator half day tour to Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle. Explore more of Ljubljana.

Day 3: Any last bits of Ljubljana. Drive to Skofja Loka and explore trails and museum. Drive to Lake Bled for the castle and/or church on the lake.

Day 4: Finish Lake Bled (if open, you should definitely hit Vintgar Gorge but it was closed until May). Head home.

Would I make one or two changes? Maybe, if I’d known about the Gorge’s closure, but not enough to write it here. But maybe I’ll write an alternative itinerary after telling you our stories in this beautiful country.

This is Leave on the Wind, Helping you soar.

 

 

sLOVEnia: a love story – and Itinerary

Germany’s Christmas Markets

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German Christmas Market. December, 2017.

Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen! We are still in the 12 days of Christmas, right? so not to late for all of this! Also I am extremely excited to announce another guest blogger – whose work I will probably have a lot of fun commentating – My Fiance, Ryan, who I have been discussing a whole lot lately…. which he now is very aware of as I just gave him access to this site….. Yep. Hi, babe!

Anyway, he’ll be going into more details on his life and I hope you guys enjoy and get to hear from him a bit more – partners are fun!

As the aforementioned fiancé living abroad in Germany, I am finally joining Taylor here on Leave-on-the-Wind as a guest blogger. Seeing as I will be spending 3 years as a Soldier in a foreign country, I figured it would be fun to support my fiancé’s blog with some OCONUS (Outside Contiguous United States) views. I get to experience Germany and Europe as a whole for the first time; while I have lived in a couple states and deployed twice to the Middle East, I haven’t spent much time in foreign countries that are not war zones.

I arrived in Germany a little over a month ago, disappointed to have missed Oktoberfest (The real one since we did manage the LA equivalent!), but excited for the next big holiday group event: The Christmas Markets.

Most major cities in Germany have their own Christmas Markets as well as some of the smaller towns but they are proportionally smaller versions. My first taste of the markets was in my local town of Ansbach, where a small market took place in a walking shopping district.

My friends told me it was a tragedy to attend any Christmas Market and not have some festive glühwein, a traditional Christmas beverage most commonly made from a boiled red wine mixed with various spices. I gladly purchased a glass, which instantly started warming me up on that windy, cold day that I have come to recognize as the common daily weather.

It’s taste was compelling, to say the least.

I have never fancied wines much – always feeling forced to enjoy them when offered a glass – but something about the glühwein really resonated with me. Whether that was because of the added spices, or the warmth it provided, I cannot say, but I know I went back for quite a few more cups of it.

Throughout this drinking process, I also discovered an interesting sales mechanism that seemed particular to the markets. Every glühwein seller will charge extra for the mug they provide the drink in, but if you later return the mug, you receive a deposit back or you may forego the deposit and keep the glass. Naturally I kept my first one as a souvenir of my first market. (Check out the pictures below!)

We wandered the market, making small purchases and enjoying the time with friends, as I practiced my meager German. I had come to think of this small, lightly crowded market with just a couple dozen stalls as being the standard of a Christmas Market.

Boy, was I wrong.

The next weekend, I had the opportunity to travel about an hour away to Nuremburg with a coworker, her husband, and their 9-year-old son.

Making our way into the market, I was floored by how many people I was seeing already – this market must be huge: it was. It had hundreds of stalls and thousands of people were milling around.

Most of the time, the market was a crushing crowd, as people pushed left and right to get through – certainly not for those who don’t do well in crowds, but if you can brave the ruckus, you are rewarded with stalls selling all kinds of goods; from handmade candles, to Christmas ornaments, to pastries, pretzels, and sweets. The smells of all the foods cooking was overwhelming, and I wanted a little bit of everything. I stand by my decision to start of with a pretzel and a glühwein and slowly try random pastries and other foods picked at random.

As we walked, we started in on a maze of stalls that seemed organized to lead you in a line from stall to stall as if in a brightly colored labyrinth. My group lost me more than once as I would get distracted by a beautiful bauble, a delicious smelling bag of tea, or the plethora of hanging Christmas tree ornaments. Finding them again, we would start back down the path again, seemingly wanting to buy everything they had to sell. (I talked about this way back when I was living in London; pace yourself and set a budget!)

In the end, not counting food and drinks consumed as we roamed, I managed to buy two ornaments for me and Taylor, a big bag of caramel apple black tea (which smells as sweet as its namesake), and a bag of fruit flavored sweets for my friend’s son. After hours of walking around, we spent some time listening to the band that was on a little stage in front of what looked to be a cathedral, and then called it a night.

Honestly, this introduction to a little bit of German culture and a wonderful evening out was just what I needed to help integrate me better into the place I plan to live, and I was glad to have the chance at some (very poor) German interactions as I butchered their otherwise beautiful language.

Thank God for Google Translate.

I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did and, again, welcome, Ry (as both a reader and writer)! So until next time around,

This is Ryan, writing for Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Germany’s Christmas Markets

Sorry, it’s a wander.

This week – really today – I am struggling to get myself motivated. Between a long few months with crazy kids (none mine), the US election (for which I fear having to deal with children tomorrow), and the rest of my adult life that’s not falling into place, the week is a bit of a dud.

This doesn’t mean I am not thinking and dreaming about traveling – I’m thinking of pretty much nothing else.

It’s almost the one year anniversary of moving back home from London (a long hard year after the most magical year and a half of my life – take me back!) which can be perfectly summed up in this post from one of my new favorite travel blogs.

It’s all made so much worse by the need to become an adult now.

I was in London for my master’s degree which involved taking on a lot of debt – I recently calculated what I have paid back in the last months and realized I could have paid for an amazing road trip with the tiny parts that have gone back to the loan companies.

On the other half of my mind, I have tons of SCA – Society for Creative Anachronisms -based travels calling out to my travel gene.

While this is tempered by small events that range from 45 minutes to a few hours away, it has me craving farther historical locals. I play with a Viking persona so anytime I belt up my apron dress, I long to venture the Nordics.

Then our upcoming royalty has changed to Romans so events are beginning to shift to Ancient Roman and Grecian themes – I’ll be planning an event with another friend which is leaning toward an ancient Greece/Titans theme that will be happening in a few months. This is only making me long for out of the way (or even city center) ruins and beautiful columned architecture.

So here I am, wandering. And yes, trying to escape the crazy. Go out, explore, and hope the world stays in one piece when I wake up.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Sorry, it’s a wander.