Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bling or No Bling

I don't buy much fine jewelry. Well, any actually. I like to look in the windows along with everyone else but I don't often see pieces I long to have. But it just so happens that after passing this shop everytime we went to the Underground in Vienna, Jay and I finally went in. The saleslady brought out this piece. I tried it on. She said the color matched my eyes! (I know they are paid to say this stuff, but it was working, it still is) But as I slipped the ring off and I glanced at the tag: 6800 euros or $8900. So, I along with you, will have to admire this from the website. Olive is my favorite but I really would like to have the whole collection.

But I did uncover a great find along the narrow streets of Salzburg in a very cute boutique filled with all kinds of clothing by Lana natural wear. I chose the Melrose cardigan sweater made from natural materials and ecologically friendly processes. I am not sure what all that means except it is SO soft. I didn't let myself venture over to the kids collection, as you can see online, it is adorable.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Hills are Alive!

We took an hour and half train to Salzburg. I love to travel and I love planning it. While this is a first, mistakes are made. I had trouble finding a place to stay in Salzburg. At the last minute, I found the Renaissance Salzburg available. But apparently I only booked it for one night, not the day we arrived in Salzburg. The gentleman at the desk was very kind to call around to try to find us a place to stay. It was difficult but we finally got rooms at the Salzburg Airport hotel. I don’t have any photos but in our desperate state we were definitely taken to the cleaners.

There are about 145,000 inhabitants. It is a small city. We wandered around the narrow streets through the shops and markets. You wonder how the kids can handle all the window shopping? It is called pretzels, crepes, cinnamon apples, hotdogs, ice cream (they have Redbull ice cream. We have not told Jay. Their headquarters are here) hot chocolate, strudels, and so much more. My other mistake was thinking that we were going to visit the Neuschwanstein castle from Salzburg. No that would have been Munich. So I have decided we will come back and drive part of the Fairytale road in the spring which centers around the Brothers Grimm stories.

Jay and the boys went on a Saltmine tour while the girls went on the Sound of Music tour. The Saltmine tour was great. The SoM tour was good but I thought it could have been presented more interestingly. We did get to see some beautiful areas of the Austrian Alps. One of the most breathtaking was the Mondsee. There were great shops with gorgeous sweaters and cardigans. And tempting traditional Austrian clothing for Victoria and Noah but so expensive.

We took another relaxing 3 hour train ride into Vienna. The kids travel so well on the train, much better than the car. Vienna is much larger than Salzburg. This city is also beautiful but not the quaint feeling of Salzburg. We are staying at the Pension Pertschy and I love it. The location couldn't be more central and the rooms are large and unique. The Christmas lights throughout the city are beautiful. We ate at the Augustinerkeller. It was good food and desert and affordable.

Breanna, Cameron, Grant and I took the Imperial tour of the Schonbrunn palace. It was very impressive but the whole European royal genealogy is confusing me. It is too bad we were not here in the spring as the gardens would have been beautiful.

We are now feeling the cold here in Vienna. We opted not to window shop around Stephansplatz (I was tired of seeing the $14,000 watches) so we headed over to an indoor mall at the U1 Kagran stop. This evening we went over to the Christmas markets at Rathausplatz. Here among the incredible government buildings are huge trees full of lighted candy canes, wreaths, hearts, and bulbs. Again not my favorite market but the atmosphere is light and fun. We ate at a chain restaurant called Wienerwald (meaning forest of Vienna. Wein is German for Vienna) It wasn’t that great. Mostly grilled chicken, potato cakes, fries, chicken strips and veggies. But the kids ate well. And again very affordable to eat in Vienna.

Our Bavaria trip comes to and end as we head home to Dublin tomorrow night. We are planning to see a “Life in America” display at a local museum, get Cameron’s ice skating practice in for the week (Jay can only be a spectator), the Museum of Military History and pick up some last minute gift items from Demel’s and Manner’s. This is a magical time of the year to visit Germany and Austria. I can't even begin to explain the amazing architecture, sights and tastes but wish you all a visit here.


I know it may be hard for some of you justify the postage involved for an unknown prize but let me give you some parameters. It will be somewhere between this and this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Guten Tag!"

The weather continues to be beautiful in Germany. We have been out to the Olympic village here in Munich (where we paid homage to Steve Prefontaine). It is a beautiful area with the old Olympic buildings and many parks and paths. We went up the Olympic tower and had a decent lunch at the cafeteria style restaurant next door. We went ice skating and everyone did pretty well. Jay had a minor mishap (we think he was attempting a quadruple klutz, I mean lutz) and he did a face plant sending his sunglasses flying across the ice and injuring his right hand. Very sore teeth, a fat lip and trouble holding even a toothbrush in his hand he is recuperating. I think his ice skating days might be over. But I think we said the same thing when he tried this about 6 years ago. Jay and the boys went to the BMW museum. Their headquarters are located next door and a very interesting building built to look like a four cylinder engine.
This hasn't been my favorite Christmas market except for the location on the Marienplatz surrounded by an amazing gothic City Hall. They have some great stores although we didn't do much shopping since we are travelling light taking the trains. We didn't make it to the Deutsches Museum and we will try to get over to the Nymphenburg Palace before we leave for Salzburg tomorrow. We didn't plan our time very efficiently here in Munich.
I had my first roasted chestnut but not on an open fire. And let's just say however festive it may be, it was my first and last. We had a delicious meal at Der Tannenbaum. Good Japanese soup at Shoya.
Blogger is still coming up in German. I just did spell check and it told me nearly all of my words are spelled wrong.
"Auf Wiederschauen!" except this one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Our First and Only Desperate Giveaway

My friend Jenni recently sent me to a blog where there are daily give aways in December of very cute prizes. I thought, "I want to give away things" but I don't have any conncections in any industries or enough traffic to justify getting free product. I am not even sure more than two supportive and very kind people read my blog. But we have collected some great things on our travels and are ready to give them away to some (two) very lucky readers. Here are the rules: From now until January 15th the first ten people to send 1) a christmas card or 2) a post card or 3) one of the following:
a box of Lucky Charms or your favorite cereal
a package of marshmellows
a box of Dots or your favorite candy
or something you don't think you could live with out from the good ol' USA

will be winners of one of our great prizes. Here is the address and good luck to both of you:)

Huntington, Outfarm Lane
Dublin 15 IRE

It's starting to feel alot like Christmas

In Ireland, they are only now getting around to hanging a few Christmas lights and playing an occasional Christmas carol. To give you an idea of the weak Christmas spirit here, this is their favorite Christmas song for two years running. I prefer not to see the commercial part Christmas until after Thanksgiving but I also think by Dec 1 Christmas season should be in full force so that you can take advantage of the festive season for the whole month. The Irish will be lucky to get a good two weeks. I don't see any Christmas concerts or Angel trees out to buy less fortunate kids gifts for Christmas. I am not seeing much Christmas spirit.

Until I came to Germany. Here, they know how to celebrate Christmas. I mean, this is a place where Kris Kringle and St Nicholas are two different people that both deliver gifts on different days. The atmosphere is built around good, aromatic food, chocolate, festive music, chocolate, decorations, trees, music, I could go on and on.

We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany to cold weather with snow flurries. We stayed at the Couryard Frankfurt Messe. It was the right price but it was about 10 minutes from the city center and just not a good location if one was staying longer. We had lunch at the hotel and set off to the Zeilgalerie (mall) to pick up a few hats and some gloves since we will spending quite a bit of time outside. Just outside the mall we experienced our first Christmas market. Jay, feeling under the weather stayed at the hotel with the two younger ones. We walked along the stalls eating chocolate covered fruit kabobs. Strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, grapes, mandarin oranges, pineapple, bananas. Milk, dark and white chocolate. Roasted nuts of every kind. Gingerbread, cookies and cakes. Delicious chocolate covered creamy, marshmallows. Sweets everywhere. Sipped on hot chocolate and hot punch. Every kind of Christmas ornament and decoration you could imagine, or couldn't. We finally left after a couple of hours and called it a day.

This morning we slept in with our chocolate hangover. We headed over to the train station and caught a train to Munich at 11:00am. We made a two hour stop in Nurnberg, Germany the most famous Christkindlemarkt. We left our luggage in the train station and headed over where our first stop was lunch. Mini sausages on crusty bread. Tasty. And then desert. And more desert. The Frankfurt market was on a square but here it is on streets lined by shops. My purchase here will be a wooden nativity and lighted wooden Christmas scene. The weather is cold but not bitter. The only thing missing so far is snow. After taking the two hour train to Nurnberg, we trained one more hour into Munich. Train travel here is great. Quiet, smooth and fast. We are staying at the Acanthus hotel and will be here for three days. The kids are definitely enjoying this trip. I wonder why....

I still haven't posted my Spain photos due to technical difficulites. I am hoping to get them resovled soon so I can also post these amazing photos from Germany. Happy Holidays and Happy Birthday Brianna!

By the way, the strangest thing, I logged into Blogger in English but I am having to compose it with German tabs and buttons everywhere. This might get posted :)