We have reached the 4 months mark and here in Maastricht the holidays are in full force. Starting in October you can see lights and decorations popping up around the city. It may seem early, but in Dutch traditions, there is no Thanksgiving, Sinterklaus arrives to the Netherlands in mid-late November (visiting several cities), and Sinterklaus gift-giving day is usually celebrated December 5th/6th.
Italy is a hot destination for many, but getting there and around can be tricky. Here’s some things our family learned while vacationing in Rome and in Tuscany this October. Maybe it’ll help your next trip!
Many of our trips have been spontaneous but this trip has been planned for months. Matt (Josh’s brother) and Tomi (Matt’s girlfriend) were the first people to say “we’re coming to visit!” and we picked a place (Italy) and time (the boys’ fall break) to make it happen. We visited Rome and Tuscany within a week!
We are Americans living in Maastricht, Netherlands. Back home in the US, October is one of my favorite months. Not only because it is my birthday month, but also because the weather starts cooling down a little, and we get a promise of a few colder weeks ahead after a super long hot summer. Near the end of the month, my boys and I usually gather at my brother’s house with pumpkins to carve; we’ve been doing it since before the boys were born. We show up with a pumpkin per person, some wine, and Chris always has a pot of butternut squash soup on the stove. If we’re being honest here, I come more for the soup than the pumpkin carving (my artistic skills are slim). We typically spend Halloween together as well, letting our collective four boys run amuck, begging friendly neighbors for candy and trying to eat it all when our backs are turned. Often the neighbors on my street also host a pre-trick or treat party on the street with Halloween snacks, drinks, and treats. To me, all of this is the prologue to the holiday season ahead and I truly look forward to it every year.
Why Champagne? Well, why not? This was planned somewhat spontaneously. We’ve come to appreciate that several places in France are 4 or less hours away. Totally drive-able for quick trips. Josh and I both enjoy Champagne wines, and it has been a bucket list item for us to go, taste, and also cycle in the region. We checked all those boxes and I’m happy to say it lived up to the self-created hype in our minds.
Melissa invited me to travel with her to a small village in southern Sweden to visit her grandparents. Who can say no to Sweden with your best friend? I felt so lucky to spend time with her and her incredible grandparents. I learned about FIKA, stugas, herring for breakfast, and heard all the stories of growing up in an immigrant family.
Sometimes Josh gets an itch to get out of town and this trip was exactly that. He started researching national parks within a drivable distance and settled on the Voges du Nord area of France, about a 3.5 drive (4 with kids) from Maastricht. He found a cute small hotel with good reviews in the village of La Petite-Pierre and we packed our bags.
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