Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dear Fionn

Two years ago, I jumped off the cliff of reason and into the unknown. I'd fallen in love, hard, and even though you had been a total stranger on the street in Berlin just five months before, there I was, vowing to love and cherish you til death did us part. Then, just to convince everyone I really was a little crazy, I hopped on a plane to Germany with you a few days later.

The past two years have been so action packed. We have had incredible adventures, seen the world, grappled with life in a foreign land, made each other crazy and made each other laugh til our sides hurt.


Some days I still can't believe you're mine and that this is my life. That THIS is my love story. It seems so romantic and awesome and beyond what I even thought possible.  I love your adventurous spirit and your kind heart and the way you remember exactly how I like my tea or when I need a piece of chocolate or a hug. Sometimes you know me better than I know myself. I love all the adventures we've had and all the ways you challenge me. I love how steadfast and honest you are. I just love you.

Two years went by in a flash, and standing before you saying those vows feels like yesterday. I can't wait for the next year and all the new things it'll bring. I'm glad you'll be by my side.

Happy anniversary!

Shannon



Want to see our wedding recap? You can read about it here!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The adventure continues...

Merry Christmas!

Whoo! We made it to Croatia. It has been a crazy couple of days! We met Fionn's parents in Amsterdam, explored around and ate tons of cheese, continued on to Copenhagen, Denmark, then returned to Amsterdam to spend Christmas there.

Christmas was lovely-cold but sunny, a sweet Christmas morning service in an English reform church that was founded in 1604, an afternoon in the Rijksmuseum, and an evening skyping my family back in the States followed by a fun dinner with Fionn and his parents.

Today was our last day together, as they headed back to the States and we set off for Croatia. We have  a week ahead of us to explore around, relax, and celebrate our second wedding anniversary! Yay!

I'm taking this time to recharge and focus on the moment, so the blog will be a little quiet until I get back to Germany. But if you want to see what we're up to, check out my Instagram!

Hope your Christmas was merry and bright :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Just a few days away!!

Don't you just love our little baby tree? Even a few presents underneath... :)



I love collecting ornaments on our travels. Do you have a favorite?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rothenburg's Christmas Market by night


One thing I love about German Christmas is that Germans always prefer soft yellow lights. When I studied in France my German friends would rail against the French town's use of white-blue Christmas decoration lights. Once, while riding the bus to the university, my German friend covered his eyes as we drove past and howled, "It's so ugly!! I can't even look at it!!"

While that's a bit dramatic, I have to say, those yellow lights are SO much prettier!








We loved Rothenburg's Christmas market! If only we'd had a little longer there! :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Market in Rothenburg ob der Trauber

I love German Christmas markets, but sometimes I feel like the small ones are a little boring. A cluster of gluhwein stands, a sausage seller, and some old ladies selling socks and advents wreaths and that'd it. Pretty, but yawn. I much prefer the big ones like Nurnberg where you can find all sorts of ornaments and cool stuff. When I heard about Rothenburg ob der Trauber, a well preserved medieval city, I was very intrigued. It's not just a Christmas market, it's a Christmas city.

See for yourself! :)







Fionn and I stopped to sample a Schneeball, fried balled up pastry dough rolled in sugar or chocolate. It was good, but I'd save my appetite for yummier market foods...


Of course along the way we saw some interesting sights...


And got a great view of this medieval gem!





Gorgeous, right?? :) Just wait til it lights up at night!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We're off on an adventure!

Can you tell we've just seen the Hobbit? ;)

This week Fionn and I are headed off to Amsterdam to meet his parents. We'll spend a few days in the Netherlands and then continue on to Copenhagen. I'm excited about some northern European fun, good cheese, and spending time with family.

getting into the Christmas spirit...

After that? Well as of about an hour ago, Fionn and I finally decided on the second leg of our trip...Croatia! Yeah, talk about last minute...can I just say planning trips around Christmas/New Years is dang near impossible?! Anywho, things might be a little slow around these parts, but rest assured I'll be back soon enough to recap all our winter fun. 

Any suggestions for Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Croatia/anything around Croatia? In case you haven't noticed we are seriously planning this day by day...so all suggestions are welcome :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Eating Our Way through the Nurnberg Christmas Market

Me holding a marshmallow kiss

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that last weekend felt sort of like the kick off to Christmas to us. Friday, St Nikolaus came to Germany (and to our house!) and left his chocolates, oranges, and presents. We missed Krampusnacht, a tradition around these parts where St. Nikolaus' terrifying companion, Krampus, parades through the street, demanding schnapps and threatening to beat you with stick and eat you. Did I mention Krampus looks like a devil crossed with the Where the Wild Things Are monster?!

In lieu of Krampusnacht, we went to a St. Nikolaus party hosted by a German friend of mine who I met waaaaaay back when I studied in France and who now lives near us. We laughed about how she hosted my 21st birthday party in France, and now here we were again together, the day after my 25th birthday. It was awesome to see her and for her to get to meet Fionn. She hasn't changed a bit!

The next day Fionn and I decorated our little tree for Christmas, and in keeping with the spirit, we headed over to Nurnberg to see the Christmas Market. It was probably a mistake to brave the Nurnberg Market on a Saturday, but we made the most of it by stuffing ourselves on Christmas market goodies.



First off was a piping hot drei im Weckla, a Nurnberger favorite of three mini white sausages in a bread roll, slathered with spicy German mustard (or sweet mustard, if you're feelin' Bavarian). And can I get a round of applause for this epic beard the sausage seller was rockin'?


Fionn and the drei im Weckla

The Nurnberg Christmas Market is HUGE and it's actually made up on different smaller markets. There's the Children's Market, the Sister City market, and then the Christkind Market, which is the main one. Naturally we dove right into the thick of it.






The crowds in the center of the market were crazy, so we sought refuge on the outskirts, where deliciousness awaited. My friends, I give you...the Kartoffelpuffer.

It's basically a potato latke, but you can choose if you want it with apple sauce, jam, or a herbed sour cream like spread called Quark. Fionn and I were so excited we ordered two. Ok, well actually I misunderstood and ordered us two, but since when is having too many Kartoffelpuffers a problem?!


The most delicious assembly line

After our potatoes, we stopped for a Dampfnudel, a sweet yeast bread that's served covered in vanilla sauce and cinnamon-sugar and poppy seeds. We were a bit disappointed because we were hoping for a Germknödel, which is the same thing except that it has a spicy plum jam filling. It was still pretty dang tasty, though we remain on the lookout for some plum jam deliciousness...


Next door was the Feuerzangenbowle stand. Have you heard of Gluhwein? Y'know, the German mulled wine? Well Feuerzangenbowle is regular mulled wine except they soak a sugar cone in rum, set it on fire and let it drip into the Gluhwein, then serve it to you until you're pink cheeked and merry like everyone else around the stand. It's delish, y'all.


The stand itself had this crazy red metallic wrapping paper decorating the inside which made it look like everything was on fire. We had fun watching the guy drip flaming sugar into the vat of gluhwein, but soon the crowd jostled us along. 



From there Fionn and I stopped for a waffle and meandered around the stalls as the cold drove some of the crowds away.



Then, I deposited Fionn at a coffee shop and set off by myself to look for Christmas decorations. I can only ask so much of poor Fionn ;)


Prune people!




After shopping, eating, and drinking our way through the Christmas market, it was time to call it a day and we headed back home. What a great way to kick off Christmas!

Have you ever been to Nurnberg's Christmas Market? Do you want to go?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Blue Lagoon by night

 

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland's biggest tourist attractions, so we figured we had to see it. Since it's pretty close to the airport, we decided to make a stop there before heading to Reykjavik-what better way to unwind from a 4 hour flight than soaking in sky blue thermal water, right? But by the time we arrived at 5 pm, the sun was down and it was pitch black. We were a bit disappointed that we didn't get to see the Blue Lagoon by day, but being there at night definitely made it more interesting.

Here's a photo to give you an idea of what it looks like normally...

Blue Lagoon waitresses serving cocktails by day

Once we got showered, got changed, and met up again, we headed outside to the lagoon. Oh my GOSH was it cold! We hurried out of our flip flops and towels and dove into the warm water. Even though the wind was fierce, the water was so warm we hardly noticed.



We swam around the lagoon for a while, lounging in the coves and people watching. The steam coming off the water and the shadowed silhouettes of other swimmers made for an eerie sight. Thankfully, no zombies or lagoon monsters appeared.


Around the lagoon are wooden buckets with ladles where you can scoop out the silica rich white clay that the Lagoon uses in many of its beauty treatments. It's said to be really good for your skin, so Fionn and I joined in with the others, slathering it on and letting it dry. I'm sure we looked pretty weird, but since I didn't get any pictures, this will have to do...


We lingered in the water for a while til hunger drove us back out. It was NOT fun getting out of that warm water and into biting November wind, let me tell you! But we survived :)



If you're in Iceland and you have the time, I'd suggest you check out the Blue Lagoon. Yes, it is expensive, and yes it's touristy, but it's kind of like going to Paris and missing the Eiffel Tower. I wish we could've seen it by day, but at night we had the lagoon mostly to ourselves, which was really nice. It was worth it!

How about you? Ever wanted to swim the Blue Lagoon?