First Christmas Markets of the Seaon

When you live in Europe, a long week-end can be a great time for a mini vacation. Our friends, the Reeves family, took full advantage and came for a visit. We were happy to have them! Not only did it mean a houseful for Thanksgiving dinner….it meant we would spend the rest of the week-end traveling. And travel we did!

Friday turned into-one day…two countries…three Christmas Markets. We started with a visit to the American cemetery in Luxembourg. We had visited the cemetery a few weeks back. It was nice to go back with our friends.

Up next...Luxembourg City and our first Christmas Market of the season.  We were met with Christmas carols and smells of evergreen and Glühwein. As we wondered from booth to booth, we caught a performace of the dancing Christmas trees.
We explored the sights of the city before loading back up in the truck and heading off to our next destination.

Trier was my favorite market last year. So I was happy to go back with my friend, Angie. This is her first Christmas market season in Germany and we were determined to see as many together as we could. Each of the booths had something different to offer. We enjoyed some potato pancakes and hot chocolate.

It was time to head home. The boys were done at work. We had dinner plans downtown and one last market for the day. The Brauhaus was the perfect choice for dinner. The food was delish! The guys were able to enjoy the seaonal carmel beer.  After dinner we checked out the K-town market. The Glühwein booth was by far the place to be!

It had been a chilly day spent outside, so when we found a booth full of hats, scarves and gloves we had to make a few purchases. Korey was expecially happy to make his annual Christmas market hat purchase.
 We headed home to have wine by the fire. What a great day it had been!


Christmas Market Season

It's here!!! I love the holidays. The decorations, the smells, shopping for the perfect gift. This time of year is especially magical living in Europe.

The towns and cities along the Rhine and Moselle valleys provide an idyllic setting for a romantic Christmas Market break. Half-timbered buildings are festively lit and the aromas of mulled wine out of the local vineyards and cinnamon permeate the air at traditional Christmas markets. Guests can snuggle up at cosy hotels and the Christmas shopping is friendly and relaxed. The region’s beautiful cities captivate visitors with their rich history, labyrinthine old quarters, mediaeval market squares and striking cathedrals.

Buildings steeped in history are illuminated by thousands upon thousands of fairy lights, while the aroma of gingerbread wafts through the air. The Christmas markets in Trier, Koblenz and Mainz are particularly famous and are quite large. If you want to visit the smaller Christmas markets, those in Bernkastel-Kues, Cochem, Rüdesheim, Worms, Speyer and Ahrweiler are highly recommended.

Although a relatively small market, Worms located on the Rhine, boasts a 'Living Nativity scene', whilst Speyer, also located on the Rhine, offers the additional attraction of an ice rink. Trier, which is Germany's oldest city tracing its origins back to Roman times, hosts a charming Christmas Market in the Hauptmarkt Square with the cathedral providing an impressive backdrop.

You'll be spoilt for choice, but one thing you can be certain of is an unforgettable experience when visiting some of the best Christmas Markets Germany has to offer in the cities and towns in the Rhineland/Pfalz region.


One of the best things about living in Germany is the fact that an afternoon outing can mean driving to another country. After dropping the boys off at work, we decided to head to Luxembourg to the American Cemetery. Fall is my favorite time of the year.  So I loved the fact that the hour long drive was bursting with fall colors
With Veteran’s Day just a week away, it was an honor to stand where our fallen soldiers were laid to rest.
We visited the grave of General Patton.
Doug is into war history. So it was great that he was able to visit two gravesites of members of the Band of Brothers.
SGT Muck

PFC Penkala

We stopped in Trier for lunch before heading home. What a wonderful afternoon!


Burg Trifels

Guess third time is a charm with this castle! We were finally able to explore Burg Trifels. We had driven to Annweiler twice before to be met with rain both times. The weather today was beautiful.

The Emperor's castle of Trifels is the most formal of the forts from the Staufer period and is situated on the highest of three mountains - all with castles - above the small town of Annweiler. The mountain, Sonnenberg, (sun mountain) is 494m above sea level and 310m above Annweiler and the castle is built on a rock which has two clefts, and therefore looks like three rocks, hence the name: Trifels. . Trifels was built upon the remains of a wooden castle from the 10th century. It was documentarily named for the first time in the year 1081, when the Knight Diemar von Trifels presented the castle to the king before becoming a monk.

The chapel served as the depository for the imperial crown jewels. Today the empire insignias are once again in the castle, but as copies as the originals have been in Vienna since the year 1800.

Castles along the Rhine

You’re certain to feel as though you’re waltzing through a fairytale on this journey through the breathtaking landscape of terraced vineyards, old-world towns and historic, fairytale castles of the Rhine river valley.

We spent two week-ends in April exploring  a few of the castles along the Rhine River. It was like being in a fairytale. The cannons aimed at the river..ready to defend, the suits of armor, the breathe-taking views  from the castle towers.

As we climbed the winding staircases, I wondered what amazing stories could be told by those who had lived here so many years ago.
Korey, Aley and Doug at Rheinstein Castle
Castle Reichenstein
Castle Sooneck
Have I mentioned how much I love living in Europe? Not sure what I will do with my week-ends when I move stateside, but I do know I won't be be exploring castles.

Mannheim in March

Sometimes my travels are planned around Starbucks. Sad, I know! But I miss being able to hit the drive-thru for a Srawberry Frap on a whim. Mannheim is about an hour drive from our house. Not too far for a Starbucks run, right?  One of the most famous icons of the Jugendstil (Arte-Nouveau style) in Germany, the water tower (and small park surrounding it) is a great place to sit and enjoy my frap.

After my Starbucks fix, we toured the Mannheim Palace. Mannheim Palace is a large Baroque palace. It was orignally the main residence of the Prince-electors of the Electoral Palatinate. It is now primarily used by the Universary of Mannheim.

I wasn't allowed to take any photos inside the palace. The palace was beautiful and full of many orante details.
Mannheim is where the Burgenstrasse (castle road) begins. Over 90 castles, palaces and castle ruins line the Castle Road. I wish I could could travel this road from beginning to end...exploring each castle, palace and castle ruin. I know I won't get to all of them, but so far I have been fortunate enough to visit:
Mannheim Palace
Heidelburg Castle
Bad Wimpfen
Rothenburd ob der Tauber

I am so behind....

And I really need to better about updating this blog! So, lets see where I have traveled to in 2011.

I am not used to winters that make me want to hibernate. After spending most of January and February inside...I had to get out!! We went to Mainz. It was about an hour drive from our house.

The highlight of this city is the Gutenberg Museum downtown. This museum contains the Gutenberg printing press from 1440 and an original Gutenberg Bible located in a vault upstairs.

There are also several churches in Mainz worth a visit, inculding the Dom, a 100-year-old cathedral.

Me in front of the Dom
One of the largest Fasching parades in Germany is held on Rose Monday in Mainz. I hope to be there in 2012!


Our first year in Germany

It is hard to believe that we have already been here a year. And what a great year it has been! We quickly found how to have some comforts from home like Hulu for stateside TV and Magic Jack allowed us to keep in contact with family and friends. Then the house hunting adventures kept us in the TLA for more than a month. But once we were settled in our new home we were ready to find all the great things living in Europe had to offer. Here are some of the things we experienced during the first year:
We made some new friends.
We sampled German cuisine and quickly found our favorite resturants.
We learned how to manage the German economy. We can shop, eat and see a movie!
We visited many castles...Nanstein, Hohenecken, Oberstein, Grafenstein, Berwarstein, Neuleinigen, Falkenstein, Lichtenburg,Frankenstein,  Altdahn, Grafendahn, Tanstein, Madenburg Fortress, Homburg, Spangenberg Cliff Fortress, Hardenburg,  and Limburg Monastry.
We went to the Gartenschau to see the tulips.
Tina got a job at The Children's Learning Academy!
We went to Trier.
We took the kids to a fest in Kasierslautern.
We spend an afternoon in Speyer.
Lichtenburg castle had a medievel fest that was loads of fun!
Korey turned 21!!
We spend a day in exploring the castle in Heidelburg.
Aley was asked to nanny for a sweet lil girl.
We rode the Kuckucksbanel for Doug's birthday.
Another day spend exploring Heidelburg.
Brett started his senior year in high school.
Wine fest in Bad Durkheim.
HitscherHof Farm Fest was a blast! We sampled yummy food and experienced a German corn maze.
A trip to Koln where we saw the most amaing catherdal and ate at Hard Rock Cafe.
A fall afternoon spent in the garden of Ludwigsburg Palace.
Wrestling tournaments.
We enjoyed Christmas Markets in Kasierslautern, Trier, and Saarbrucken.
We wrapped up the year with day trips to Bad Wimpfen and Rothenburg.

Wow, what a FUN first year!! We cannot wait to see what the next year is like.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

We made another stop along the Burgenstrasse. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the best preserved medieval town in Germany. We spent the day exploring the gates, towers, town square and churches. This town is simply amazing! Every corner you turn leads you to yet another fascinating structure filled with the past to discover.
The city wall form a ring around Rothenburg and you can walk on top of it to get great views over the city.

Walking along the wall between towers.

Window full of yummy pastries!!

Burg Gate

St. Jakob's Church

The Town Square
 We have plans to come back to Rothenburg during the summer months. I can only imagine how beautiful this medieval jewel is when the gardens are in full bloom 

Bad Wimpfen

 We were having dinner with our friends and they were telling us about a Christmas market in a great little town they had recently visited.  With no plans for Christmas Eve we decided to check this town out for ourselves. 

Bad Wimpfen is a little town along the river Neckar in the German country side. It is also part of the Burgenstrasse or Historic Castle Route.

Bad Wimpfen was left mainly intack during the first and second world wars, so it still has very old well looked after houses. An intersting characteristic is the half-timbered houses some of them dating from the 14th century.

The ruins of the wall that once surrounded the city were amazing.
The two imposing towers of Bad Wimpfen.

The Blue Tower

The Red Tower


Despite the cold, snowy day, we found Bad Wimpfen to be a wonderful stop along the Burgenstrasse.