I know I keep saying it, but this year has just flown by. I'm not sure what it is, but when you are a kid, the holidays can't come fast enough and the days seem to drag forever. As an adult, however, the days just don't have enough hours in them and the to-do list never ends. In any case, we are just a couple of days away from the start of the winter holiday and our venture back to the US! Time is ticking!
|Gluhwein in Aachen|
The holiday season here in Europe is an amazing time of the year. The leaves may have fallen and the skies may be grey, but the Christmas markets that pop up everywhere are a sure-fired way of getting into the holiday spirit. Most larger cities in Europe have markets, most with more than one. I have been to quite a few of them after spending 3 holiday seasons here, and Cologne still remains one of my favorites. There are three markets within walking distance of the Cathedral, each with it's own theme. The shopping is fantastic, the quality of the items are top notch, and the crowds are pleasant and friendly. Most folks go to the markets to enjoy the Gluhwein, a hot wine served in cute little glass cups that you can either keep as a souvenir or return for a small deposit. Though I am not a huge fan of the wine, some markets have other local drinks they serve - hot chocolate with amaretto, a hot orange juice infused with spices, or an apple wine/calvados drink to name a few. New to the Luxembourg market this year was the flaming Gluhwein. This concoction is served in a special cup with a metal tab holding a cone-shaped piece of sugar, doused in rum, and lit aflame. Needless to say, it's a popular novelty this year, though it is still just Gluhwein with a clever presentation :) This year I visited several new markets - Strasbourg (France), Aachen, Monschau, and Trier (all in Germany). All of them had clever themes (including a witch-themed one in Aachen), and their own unique personalities. Some have certain products they are known for, such as the Printen cookies in Aachen or local liquors. Now that I am closing in on the last week before Christmas, I can honestly say I am marketed-out! All of them were well worth the effort and I would easily do them again - next year!
Finally, just a pet peeve to vent about. Now that the crowds are out in full force for those last minute shopping trips and Gluhwein, certain habits do start getting on my nerves. The main one - the unspoken rule of walking on the right. I have had this conversation so many times with other Americans, and it is inevitably something that everyone notices, especially this time of year. The expected act of moving to the right when you are walking down a sidewalk just does not exist here! You can be walking along the right side of a 15 foot wide section of the Champs Élysée, heading right towards someone and that person will expect you to move to the left! I have literally ran directly in to people who down right refuse to move over!. If you are ever in a crowded area of a European city, just watch the foot traffic. There is really no rhyme or reason as to how the crowd moves. Perhaps there might be a difference in the UK, though there you would expect people to walk on the left and move to the left as necessary, no differently than how they drive. Here, it is just plain chaos!
Anyway, we head to Texas in just a few short days. We can't wait to spend some time with family and friends in some slightly warmer weather! Here's wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!
Merry Christmas from Lux!