January 22, 2017. Just a (fairly) short post today. Matthew and I have been inundated with work for months, so I haven’t had much time to write. Now that Easter’s almost here, I’m desperately trying to catch up before we take our first big travel excursion since Christmas. We’re heading to the island of Malta in less than a week! But I’m getting way ahead of myself, and my story of Louis Armstrong in Norway. Continue reading Louis Armstrong in Norway
January 8, 2017. Some of you might remember that last year, Matthew and I spent New Year’s in Vienna dancing to the Blue Danube Waltz at the Rathaus Silvester Gala (Translation: “City Hall New Year’s Eve Ball”). This year, we decided to go back to the same country to enjoy the same holiday, but from a different vantage point. We joined friends for a ski trip to Bad Hofgastein. No, the place isn’t on the naughty side of town, across the tracks from Good Hofgastein. Bad means “bath” because the hamlet has some impressive hot springs and is located smack in the middle of the Gastein Valley, an Alpine skiing Mecca … but more about that in a minute. (P.S. Fair warning: this is a loooooong post, so pull up a chair and be prepared to sit a spell.) Continue reading New Year’s in the Austrian Alps
December 25, 2016. I dunno what happened this year. Between our heavy work schedules, and our little trip to Switzerland, we had a hit-and-run holiday. Slam, bam, and it was over, a distant wreckage of wrappings in the rear-view mirror of my memory. I guess lots of folks feel this way, but I’m a bit peeved with myself for letting it happen. I so wanted to squeeze out every … single … last … drop … of the Norwegian Christmas experience while we’re here. Which led me to start the season by wildly careening from one event to the next, with hardly a breath to spare for “living in the moment.”
December 19, 2016. For our last full day in Switzerland, we decided to hit the slopes. Not skiing, but hiking, since the weather hadn’t cooperated by giving us some snow. Our choice for an Alpine adventure? Mt. Rigi, which sits across the lake from Luzern and hosts the oldest mountain railways in Europe. Although it’s not the highest nearby peak (that’s Mt. Pilatus, which isn’t easily reachable from Luzern this time of year), Mt. Rigi supposedly offers the best views out over the Alps, down across the flatlands of the Swiss Plateau, and into Germany and France. (By the way, that’s me up top, waving my arms from the summit of Mt. Rigi.)
December 18, 2016. After a whirlwind day in Zürich, we caught an early morning train to Luzern (Lucerne, if you’re more comfy with the French version of the name). Not only were we looking for more Christmas markets and holiday spirit, but we also planned to use the town as our home base for a brief excursion into the Alps. And we had high hopes that the place would prove to be a bit more cooperative in the meteorological department by blessing us with at least a dusting of the white stuff. Continue reading Luzern’s Christmas Pageantry
December 17, 2016. When Matthew and I made plans to move overseas, we promised each other that we’d take the opportunity to experience Christmas in as many countries as possible. Why such a weird goal? It’s probably due to one too many viewings of Rick Steves’ European Christmas (we even have the music on CD.) Not to mention that I spent several years working with cultural groups to create the Christmas Around the World exhibition at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. And all that surrogate spectating had us hankering to see the real thing for ourselves.
November 15, 2016. Grumpy from our 24/7 work schedules and getting Grinch-ier by the minute, Matthew and I decided we needed to dredge up a little holiday spirit. A flyer for the Hadeland Julemarked (Christmas Market) seemed just the thing to boost our basement-level attitudes. It promised Christmas music, horse-drawn sleigh rides, traditional Norwegian food and mulled wine — plus steep discounts on the company’s incredible blown glass. Call us Scrooges, but we’re all about bargain shopping for Christmas gifts. (Nothing comes cheap here in Oslo, especially at holiday time.)