Christmas Eve in Vienna 

Have you ever been on vacation for the holidays? This was my first time, and although I missed my family, it was refreshing to get away from the stress of the commercialized American Christmas. 








Christmas Eve we started off by visiting the Art History Museum. No words…this place was exquisite! They even had a café in the middle of the museum where we had a quick lunch and coffee date . We spent the majority of the day exploring this museum and spent the rest of the day wandering around. Eventually all of our walking led us to St. Stephens Cathedral.



Around 5pm we returned to the hotel and got all fancied up for our Christmas Eve dinner. The dinner was served in buffet style and we ordered a bottle of wine to celebrate the occasion. I wish I could have taken more pictures, but I didn’t want to be seen as the “rude American”. We gorged ourselves on dinners with a round of appetizers, main courses and dessert. The dinner as a whole took about 2 hours- very relaxing and my kind of meal.


To end the night we attended midnight mass at St. Stephens Cathedral. I was dismayed to find that even the service was bit of a tourist spectacle. People were videotaping and taking pictures. It was absolutely insane and I wish people had more reverence. On the other hand, the ceremony itself was beautiful and they provided English translations of most of what was said. We meandered back to the hotel around 2am, tired but excited to return to Germany the next day!

Forever Smitten with Vienna, Austria 


I don’t know if you know this about my husband, but he’s a travelling extraordinaire! He’ll visit a country he’s never been to and know exactly where we are, exactly where we need to go and how to get between A and B.  He has an uncanny sense of direction. At first the idea of train rides was terrifying (getting lost, getting on wrong train etc), but now I feel confident in my train-hopping abilities with him by my side.
Anyway, we took a 4-hour train from Nuremberg to Vienna and arrived on a gorgeous, sunny day. We checked in to our hotel, dropped off our luggage and went on a search for coffee.
 
Back home one of our favorite coffee houses is heavily influenced by Austria. Their menu has traditional coffee drinks and also has that European feel. The last time we got coffee we noticed this advertisement about Café Lindtmanns in Vienna and we were determined to visit!
Café Lindtmanns was really elegant and the wait staff was wearing suits and nice attire. We decided to just stick with coffee and dessert, apple strudel naturally. Afterward, we took a stroll through the large Christmas market. We had then been to markets in Munich, Nuremberg and Austria and they all had the same vendors and goods, so we didn’t spend too much time exploring the market, however, we got another glass of Gluhwein and a tasty tomato soup bread bowl. This was my first time to Vienna and I am forever smitten with this city.
 





Stanley Park & Lemon Pie

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What a weekend! Samuel and I had an amazing time in Vancouver, but wow is it good to be home. The best thing about our little getaways is that it makes me more appreciative about the abundant blessings I do have. Do you feel the same way? It seems no matter the length of time there’s always a piece of me that’s homesick. I’m such a homebody!

The morning after Valentine’s Day, Samuel had reservations for breakfast and boy was it delicious!

TUC KITCHEN

WHAT WE ORDERED: I ordered the Irish stew breakfast. It was a beef/lamb stew served in a personal size cast iron skillet with potatoes and veggies. Samuel had the typical potato and eggs breakfast with some fried pork belly on the side.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Food was amazing and atmosphere was rustic and relaxing.

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Afterwards we took a bike ride around Stanley park. I loved seeing the totem poles! It was sunny that day yet very brisk, so we had to layer up. The ride was lovely and it made me excited for spring to arrive so we can go on more bike rides at home.

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For our last night we splurged and went to Seasons at the Park for a nice prime rib and salmon dinner.

SEASONS AT THE PARK

WHAT WE ORDERED: crab-stuffed salmon for me and the prime rib special for Sam. We ended the meal with the best lemon pie ever!

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The view is what gives this place most of its pizazz. The food was decent and the dessert was my favorite part.

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Peter Rabbit

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While I’m not pregnant, all my close friends and family are having babies left and right. With so much cuteness around it’s no wonder my baby board on Pinterest has a bazillion pins. One thing I’m absolutely in love with right now is the Peter Rabbit theme. Isn’t this nursery idea darling?

Foodie Adventures in Vancouver, BC

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Who’s feeling the love? My tummies feeling the love. My husband sure knows how to make this woman happy. We are on a foodie adventure in Vancouver, BC. We’ve experienced some delicious cuisine so far and we are not done yet! Samuel has two reservations for us tomorrow and I can’t wait. Today was the official Valentine’s Day and we celebrated with Whole Food smoothies and Theo chocolate. It was simple and perfect. Tomorrow our adventure will continue, but I wanted to first share some foodie pictures with you before I fall asleep.

BESTIE

WHAT WE ORDERED: naturally the currywurst (I got mine with mayo and green onion added)

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Music was a bit louder than most restaurants I’ve been to, but food was delicious and the feel of the place was fun/quirky.

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NERO

WHAT WE ORDERED: I got the liege (soft & sweet) fruity waffle & Sam ordered the crunchy chocolate mousse waffle. We went here for breakfast and I wouldn’t recommend it early in the morning (beware: upset stomach), however coming here for dessert would be an excellent idea. It’s a busy, small place with limited seating so act quick when a spot becomes available!

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m not a fan of waffles or sweets for breakfast, but it’s still worth a try!

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MEAT AND BREAD

WHAT WE ORDERED: we both ordered the special, which was the teriyaki beef sandwich with sake mayo, scallion daikon and toasted sesame. The last time we were here we ordered the porchetta and it was killer!

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Love me a good sandwich.

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Nuremberg, Germany & the Christmarkt

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When we arrived to Nuremberg, I was surprised. I don’t know what I was expecting, but how medieval the town looked startled me. The weather that day was also very cloudy which added to the dreary impression. Our hotel was about a 5 minute walk from the main Christmarkt and immediately we ventured out to visit “the biggest Christmarkt in Germany”. It was massive with a surplus of vendors with various goods. The crowds were insane and we had to shuffle with arms at our sides and waddling like penguins to move along.

Gingerbread or Lebkuchen originated in Nuremberg, so naturally we bought some to take home. I’ve come to realize that everything in America is exponentially sweeter! The Lebkuchen is mostly in cookie form, not in a loaf. It was very mild in sweetness and light. We went to a nearby gingerbread store and bought music tins filled with Lebkuchen to bring back to our families. I also spotted a gingerbread cookie that looked like an Angel and thought it was darling. I purchased it and marveled at how rock hard the cookie was. I attempted to break off a piece but to no avail. Eric Gray broke off the top piece and ate it and it wasn’t until seconds later I realized it was painted and a decoration! We got quite the laugh out of that one. We drank more gluhwein because it kept us warm as we perused the market in the chilly December weather.

As afternoon approached and exhaustion set in we decided to find lunch and then take a nap. I was craving soup because of the cold weather and the restaurant attached to our hotel had soup on the menu. The moment we entered, I knew we had made a mistake. It was a very ritzy restaurant and all the guests were dressed very nicely. We ordered soup and were told that they stopped serving soup at 2pm… We then had to order from the main course menu and each item started at 30 or so euros. The meal was excellent all the same though. Sam and I shared a chicken curry dinner. With our bellies full we decided to take an afternoon nap.

When we all woke up we were hungry again! We discovered a Spanish-influenced tapas restaurant and the food was amazing! It was a pleasant change from all the German wurst, cheese and meats we had devoured in the last couple days. Samuel and I ordered salmon, bacon-wrapped dates and boiled potatoes with chive cream cheese. Lecker!

The next day was designated as a museum day. First, we visited the Nazi Documentation Center to learn more about the Nazi movement and later went to the Spielzeug (toy) Museum.
Naturally, because it was our last night, we checked out the Nuremberg Christmarkt for the last time. We consumed many mugs of gluhwein and bought tins upon tins of gingerbread for our loved ones back home. We ate dinner in this restaurant located in a dungeon and it was an interesting experience, especially since Sam and Eric tried snails (gross). I would not succumb to their peer pressure.

And that was the end of our Christmas adventure with the Grays. Now they’re off to conquer Paris, France and the Crissingers are going to Vienna, Austria. It was a little sad to part ways, but no matter we will see each other again in Paris!

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Munich, the Grays & Gluhwein

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Now this will be my third time returning to Germany and I feel this will be my last beloved trip to my favorite country.

My fondness for the German language and the country began my freshman year of high school and I’ve been on quite the adventure since. To this day, I still am not fluent in German (to my utter dismay) even though I’ve completed four years in high school and various refresher courses at the University of Washington. I am in the infancy stage still with responding to people, however, I can understand and piece sentences together when I hear German.

My goal this next year for 2015 is to improve my German and I know it would be more economical if I could teach myself, but I’ve never been a self-learner. Instead, I excel in courses where I have a physical teacher to challenge my skills, so online courses will not do either. Indeed, looking into programs is one of the first things on my agenda when we return home.

Now onto the details of the trip thus far…

It’s no surprise that during the course of our traveling day to Europe I got terribly sick with cold chills, nasal congestion and a sore throat. Every time I travel international I end up catching something, so I was anticipating that I would. Additionally, the days before, Sam got food poisoning and I had an awful migraine, so given the circumstances I’m relieved we made it here in generally good spirits.

We spent the first portion of our trip with our wonderful friends, the Grays. What a jovial pair they are! There is no end to the laughter and joy when the Grays are around. We arrived at Hotel Schlicker in Munich with a warm welcome from our friends. They were expecting our arrival and warmly greeted us from their fourth story window when they caught a glimpse of us. I hadn’t slept a wink on the plane ride, so I was running on mere fumes. I jumped into the shower to wake myself up and off we went to explore Munich. Samuel and I are very familiar with Munich because we spent 6 days there in the summer of 2013 for our honeymoon. We were only there for one night and wanted to experience the highlights with our friends.

Dinner was spent at the infamous Hofbrauhaus. Samuel and I shared the pork belly and sausage sampler along with a bier and a Radler (beer with lemonade). The Grays had beer as well and each had an order of the pork knuckle. Whenever you visit Germany you are guaranteed to have your fair share of pork! This particular night it was packed. The main beer hall was warm, muggy and smelled of sweat, so we ended up finding a place adjacent to the main hall (less crowded and we could hear each other better).

Afterward, we explored the Christmarkt in the Marienplatz. It filled the square and I felt it was the perfect size (not too big and not too small). We had gluhwein and sweet crepes with bailey’s, banana and nutella. Sehr lecker. A bonus was there was carolers the entire time singing from the balcony. What a very merry way to start the holidays.

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