Warnemunde and Rostock, Germany

After a great day in Oslo, we enjoyed a full day at sea.  This allowed us plenty of time to arrive in northern Germany.  The port city was called Warnemunde, and just like with Oslo, it was incredibly cute.  Warnemunde is much smaller than Oslo, but the buildings that line the tiny river remind me of Copenhagen.

Warnemunde

Warnemunde has a huge beach, and even though it was too chilly to swim, it felt great to dig our toes into the cold sand.  And again, that crisp, salt water air was amazing.  Funny enough, we were warned in advance about the very aggressive sea gulls.  I saw one take a full ice cream cone right from a girls hands!  I laughed so hard I started crying because I had never seen anything like it!

Warnemunde Beach

Warnemunde Beach

Warnemunde Beach

The closest “big city” to Warnemunde is called Rostock.  We took a 20 minute train ride to see it and I have to say it wasn’t anything much.  It was very cute and clean, which is to be expected of German towns.  But as far as interesting, I found Warnemunde much more appealing.

After our stop in Germany we had another day at sea before reaching Tallinn, Estonia.  Until then…

Christmas Markets in Cologne, Germany

I just got back from another visit to Cologne (aka Koln) Germany.  I already adore the uniqueness of this city, but this trip was made even more special because it coincided with the start of the Christmas Markets.

Growing up in Chicago, German Christmas Markets were (and still are) hosted at the Daily Center every holiday season.  Stands and goods are actually shipped from Germany to help keep up with the authenticity.  I thought these were pretty spectacular, but Cologne has put my beloved hometown to shame.

Cologne hosts multiple Christmas Markets, all in different locations throughout the city, and some with different themes as well.  The only unfortunately part of our trip was that it rained every day, so we didn’t get to venture out as far as we would have liked.

We saw the main one which is right by the Kolner Dam and is called the Cathedral Market.  There is a huge Christmas tree set up in the center that cascades lights down and on the tops of all the stands.  We wound our way through every day, drinking hot gluhwine and dining on German delicacies like spaetzel and sauerkraut.

Cathedral Market

We also ventured further down and into the Old Christmas market.  Here they sold similar food and beverage items as the Cathedral Market but there were also tons of incredible antiques, old documents, and art for sale.  This market had an ice skating rink running throughout, and curling!  It was exceptionally unique and I loved the skating rink.  People were skating around old fountains and statues of the city, and through the market.

Some of the other markets that we didn’t get a chance to visit included:

The Angel Market

The Gay and Lesbian Market

Village of St. Nicolas

I am so incredibly thankful that Cologne is so close to Zurich because I really want to head back to see all of these other amazing markets.  Merry Christmas from Zurich, everyone!

And Happy Thanksgiving to all of my loves back in Chicago.

 

5 Years in Dusseldorf (and Luxembourg)

Tony and I have been married for 5 years – I just cannot believe it!  We started a tradition of recreating one of our wedding photos every year in a different city.  We love it because we know that we will change over the years, perhaps adding children (and a few pounds).  It will also force us to visit one new place every year, wherever we are in our lives.  For our 5th wedding anniversary we wanted to make it extra special.  We took a road trip to Dusseldorf with our son (Clark) and hired a professional photographer to capture our moment.

We arrived fairly late but dusk was absolutely gorgeous.  We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Dusseldorf which sits right at the split of the Rhine river.

View from Hyatt Regency Dusseldorf

Rhine River

Dusseldorf

We liked the city right away.  Both of us had been here before but neither had a chance to really explore it.  We took Clark with us across us the bridge and enjoyed a lovely meal outside.

Saturday we spent more time walking through the downtown area of the city.  According to Wikipedia, “Düsseldorf is an international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs.”  Along the river, there were tons of outdoor bars and restaurants and we picked one at random to for a beer and pizza.

Downtown was very busy – lots of stores, restaurants, cafes, etc.  There was a beautiful church we walked passed as well that really caught my attention.

Dusseldorf

Dusseldorf is also know to have a large Japanese population and delicious sushi, so we made sure to indulge for dinner on both Saturday night and Sunday night.  Each time we ate at the hotel restaurant because it was so good!  We didn’t want to mess with perfection.  🙂

Sunday at dusk was our photoshoot.  We hired Yvonne Zemke, a local wedding photographer, and it was the best decision we could have made.  Her photos were absolutely incredible and I actually started crying when I first viewed them.

Recreating our wedding day

Recreating our wedding day

Yvonne Zemke

Our familyl

This is what love looks like

This is what love looks like

What surprised me as well was how intimate the public photo shoot was – Tony had to hold me for a good couple minutes to get the perfect shot and our lips touched for a long time.  We got to giggle at nothing but that only made us laugh harder, and having Clark next to us was a constant reminder of how our family had grown and changed over the last 5 years.

I would do this again in a second and Yvonne was worth every penny.

We took off back to Zurich on Monday, and that is where Luxembourg comes in.  We bumped into lots of traffic on the way up and wanted to avoid getting stuck again on the way home.  We looked on the map and saw Luxembourg, a tiny country above France and thought, “why not?”

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

The detour took a couple hours but allowed us to see a whole new country we probably would not have visited otherwise.  AND we avoided traffic, the whole intent of the trip in the first place.

Luxembourg is an interesting place.  It’s sandwiched between Belgium, Germany and France, and all the people we interacted with spoke French.  It only has 3 districts or provinces, and 800 people in its military – it’s that tiny.

We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and a French inspired lunch.  It was certainly the best rest stop we’d ever had.

And that was our lovely trip.  Looking forward to our next adventure.