Sunday, December 13, 2015

Pat, Rich AND Diana's Excellent Christmas Market Adventure!

Europe is known for their Christmas Markets, so of course, we had to go!  The three of us, Diana, Rich and I, spent 10 wonderful days exploring Brussels, Belgium, Berlin Germany and Prague, Czech Republic.  With only 2 full days in each, we focused on the markets and a few sights.  We were amazed at how much Europe decorates for Christmas- every street, every building- was decked in lights, trees  were decorated, and Christmas trees were placed everywhere!  Addiitnally, with great luck, we were able to meet up with a few friends!  Here are a few photos:-).  But no photo does justice to the beauty!
Here is a short video with a quick synopsis of our trip:

Here are some highlights of our trip:

Brussels, Belgium- land of chocolate and beer, Brussels has the Grand Place square- a public square surrounded by awesomely beautiful buildings!!!  The square had an unnaturally awesome light show every night on the hour starting at 5 PM when it was dark.  I have to tell you, it was hard getting used to dark so early!  By 4:15 it was dark- it lets us know how far north we were.  Oh, and cold!   

We were also lucky to meet up with Linda, Ida and Wim from Netherlands!  They were kind enough to come to Brussels and spend a day and half with us.

We all heard of the horror in Paris, and the subsequent closure of Brussels.  When we got there, lots of soldiers protected the city, and there were few tourists.  But we never felt unsafe.

Atomium- a giant replica of a molecule, the Atomia was featured at the 1958 World's Fair.  It must hav been awe-inspiring back then, because it still is!  (  The Atomium is HUGE!  We have all seen photos, but until you are there, you cannot imagine. Each of the spheres is large enough to hold a museum, plus an observation deck at the top.  When in Brussels, check it out!  Oh, and there is a cute little European Village right next door- souveniers and beer:-)
Diana and Rich with a soldier who was nice enough to pose.

Diagram of Atomium

1958 headlines

Inside one of the spheres

approahing Atomium

lined up just right!

View from the observation deck

sleeping capsule in one of the spheres- children's tours spend the night!

climbing the "legs"

night view

night view with no ambient light!!!!!

Grand Place- The Grand Place is an incredible public square with an awesome light show.  The Christmas Markets were beautiful!  Much different than I expected- each hut specialized in a type of good- ornaments, beer, angels, beer, chocolates, beer, and cookies- lots of cookies!

Royal Palace- the Belgians have a royal family, so of course we went to visit.  Sadly, the queen was away, so we couldn't lunch with her, but the park and palace were beautiful.

Other intersting Brussels things:-)


more beer

and even more beer!
 Brussels is home to these cute little statues:-)  Long a historic treasure, Mannekin Pis ( a statue of a young boy peeing.  Not to be outdone, women created the Jeanneke Pis:-).  These statue are amazingly small!
Jeannika Pis

Mannekin Pis
 And of course, candy is made for a souvenier!

Starbucks in the old town square!

 Window dressings for Christmas:

Berlin, Germany!!!!- Berlin had markets all over the place!!!!  We visited several of them!  Gendarmenmarkt, Zoolischergarten, Alexanderplatz, and Potsdammerplatz.  We also met up with Dirk, who gave us a quick historical tour of Berlin.  And, as a surprise, Yvonne and Ingo were in town from Dobeln!  We had the joy of spending an afternoon with them!  We drank our fill of Gluhwein (warm, spiced wine) that was delicious- especially with an extra shot of rum, as taught us by Yvonne and Ingo:-)
Ku'dam (Kurfurstendamm) the main shopping street

Our first Gluhwein in Germany!!!

Brandenburg Tor- the old Imperial German gate into the city, with the worlds largest minorah

Us hamming it up:-)

Dirk with Rich and Diana at Zoolischer Garten market

Zoolischer Garten market and the Gedacknichkirche- the bombed remains of the city Cathedral,
 left to remind us of the horror of war

Diana and I at the entry to the Gendarmenmarkt Market

Potsdammer Platz market

Alexander Platz market- very cool ferris wheel!

Yvonne and Ingo met us for the afternoon!  Being German, they introduced us to "a shot of rum" in our Gluhwein- stepping it up a notch:-)

Me at one of the Christmas trees

Always go to the mall, I say:-).  Here are the 2 of us in a sleigh!

Prague, Czech Republic!  Prague is an incredible city any time of the year, but at Christmas, it is magnificent!  Known as the city of spires, the city is a medieval paradise.  Oh- and COLD!!!!!  The food is the best- hearty and filling, the choice of meat is beef and pork, wach with a tasty gravy, good dark bread, and of course beer!  Oh, and Grog!  Who knew it was real?!  Hot water, lemon, rum, and a bit of sugar, it is the best Christmas drink- so we had Grog in Prague!

Main Square- the main square of Prague is known for the churches, ornate custom houses, and clock tower!  The square was adorned in lights, and filled with Christmas Market shops!

Main Square from the castle!

The Christmas Tree stayed lit all night long!

Charles Bridge- (  A 14th century wonder, the bridge joins the lower town (home of the main square) with the upper town, home of the castle.  It has "gates" on each side, which are monuments in their own right, and is adorned with statuary on both sides.  The bridge- and the city itself, is magnificently beautiful day or night! It is just a magnificent city!

Bridge gate headed to the upper town

Charles Bridge very early in the morning

Charles Bridge from the castle

View of the castle from the bridge

Prague Castle- ( Is more of a walled city! Also there is St. Vitus Cathedral- magnificent in its own right!  It also holds the Baslica to St. George, and his final resting place!!!!  As you know, St. George is my favorite saint!  (,_Prague).  The castle is not a castle as we, as Americans, think of it- it is much more modern.  but St. Vitus cathedral is located there, giving the castle a true sense of ancientness.

View of the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral from the main square clock tower

View of the castle from Clock Tower- It truly is a huge castle-

There are guards at the gate, and there is a beautiful procession for the changing of the guard

St. Vitus Cathedral

Inside the cathedral- it is ENORMOUS!

Each window is covered in stained glass- this window is God receiving Jesus

Rich and Diana at the castle gates

The castle has tons of interesting museums- including one dedicated to torture, fighting implements
such as spears and guns, and suits of armor!

St. George Basilica- sadly, I could not find a photo of the Basilica itself- but it is located in the castle grounds.

St. George's final resting place

The Clock Tower- The main square is home to the clock tower- which, as its name suggests, has a medieval clock!

The clock

The clock tower

The clock is decorated with many stone carvings- I love this skeleton!  Each hour, he rings the bell!

Carving of Archangel Michael

View of the clock tower from the lighted grove of trees below it

View of the clock tower from one of the gates

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