We took advantage of a two week long school break to finally see my cousin in Munich and then some friends in Sweden. Here’s part 1 of that vacation.
I’ve been saving up this post because I thought, for sure, we’d visit dozens of markets and I wanted to review them all. The universe, Covid, and some European governments had other plans. Instead of dozens, we made it to four: Aachen (Germany), Brugges (Belgium), Maastricht (Netherlands), and funny enough, Valencia (Spain) where we stumbled upon one on accident. While they are all different, there are some staples that make a Christmas market a Christmas market: gluhwein and hot chocolate, chocolates and cheeses for sale, usually some sausages, small gift vendors, and usually some festive lights. Read on to see where we went and what we liked about each one!
We were supposed to go see American friends in Hamburg, but the German restrictions on unvaccinated travelers staying multiple days from the Netherlands (i.e. our children) made that impossible. While I was in the throes of a severe pity party, Josh reached out to some good friends of ours, Boo and Mikella Walker. Due to Covid restrictions and an ailing/aging senior dog, Boo, Mikella, and their son Riggs were not traveling as planned to Austria over the holiday and they welcomed us to come for a visit. Within minutes, they’d sent Airbnb links to places near their home, ideas for family activities we could do together, and started making dinner reservations, all with the promise of good wine and fun times catching up. I dried my eyes and we bought tickets.
We are soon approaching our 5 months mark here in Maastricht. For me, time seems to have slowed down this month, and I feel the recent days passing in small increments. This isn’t always a bad thing. Usually the holidays are so frenzied and somewhat stressful with endless to-do lists and events for the boys. But, the slow down combined with some feelings of isolation (I’ll explain later), dreary weather (to be fair…it is very Dutch weather and we knew it was coming), and the holidays making us miss some of the comforts of being with all our extended family, have certainly created some tough moments…mostly for me, and those who have to deal with me.
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.
Just last week we picked up the formal cards that show we are officially residents so I felt this was the time to update.
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!
In 2019, Josh and I qualified for Duathlon Age Group World Championships, which was cancelled twice before being rescheduled this past weekend in Spain. We took the kids and Aunti Melissa and went to see what we could do!
Sometimes not everything goes according to plan. Our trip to Tuscany had many things go right and a handful of things go wrong.
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.