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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Long Beach, WA

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We spent a weekend this last month in Long Beach Washington. We’ve been working hard this last year and wanted to celebrate our three-year anniversary away from the bustle of everyday routine. The weather was damp and breezy and for the majority of our stay it drizzled. However, we had a grand time!

Sam did a job well done by choosing our hotel. We stayed at Adrift on Long Beach. The design was natural and their business model was eco-friendly. Instead of the cheap hotel shampoo/conditioner etc. they had my favorite all natural shampoo/conditioner brand (EO products). As soon as we checked in we got a bottle of wine, Theo chocolate and Smore’s trimmings (bonfire supplies included). What a good welcome indeed!

We had the best breakfasts (European style) and we had the most extraordinary dinners. There’s a restaurant attached to the hotel and it’s called the Pickled Fish- a peculiar name for an awesome restaurant. Because we were staying at the hotel, we got a $10 credit at the restaurant! The restaurant was a bit pricey but the food was well worth it. My favorite dish was the grilled Caesar salad. They cut a Romain lettuce in half and grilled it, so when we got the salad it was warm and comforting. It had the same ingredients as your typical Caesar salad but it was presented and cooked in a new way.

I’m going to be honest- The weather was dreary and gloomy all weekend. However, we made the most of it and did a lot of fun activities. There were Schwinn cruiser bikes available for rent at our hotel and one afternoon we decided to take a bike ride in the drizzling rain. On the same day we decided to make a bonfire for Smore’s (also in the drizzling rain).

Lastly, we made a pit stop in Astoria, OR to see the column. Boy, my legs hurt after that steep climb.

Where do you like to go for quick weekend getaways?

Tschüss~
Alyssa

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Honeymoon Journal Series (Part 8)- Mürren, Switzerland (Day 2)

Switzerland, Switzerland, Switzerland…the land of fresh milk and fresh air. We are now in day two of our Switzerland adventure and we find ourselves in the small mountain town of Murren. Like I mentioned in the previous post, it took a whole gondola ride to reach this tiny town and overlooks the mountains (the monk, the princess and the ogre). We planned on having a relaxing day due my pulled calf muscle. We wanted me rejuvenated and able to hike down Shilthorn the next day.

Naturally because we’re Crissingers we started off with an amazing breakfast. It was a truly fantastic European breakfast experience. Blumental hands-down had the best breakfast out of any of the hotels on our honeymoon.

With our bellies filled, it was time to start the day. We headed down to the local bike shop and were distraught to find that they did not have a bike that fit me. Wondering what we were going to do, the employee mentioned they might have some returned bikes in the town below. Hoping for the best Sam and I took a ride down the gondola and discovered there was a bike that fit my size that had been returned. What luck!

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I’m not a poet and not very good at describing extraordinary beauty, so here is some scenic shots from our bike day.

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We visited Trummelbach Falls, which has rushing waterfalls inside caves.DSC_0220 DSC_0228

Biking and visiting the Falls were the main event of Day 2, so we headed back to Lauterbrunnen for some lunch! Along the way we found a couple of fresh water springs and picturesque places for photo ops.

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At last, when we got back to the hotel it was time for bed and a perfect time for a bottle of wine. Cheers!

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Tschüss~

Alyssa