Vienna Photo Dump

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Even though we spent nearly a week in Vienna, it almost felt like we didn’t do very much. We did attend 2 concerts and visited a few museums (mostly for Klimt & Schiele). And there was a very big New Year’s Eve party!

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SAPA Market in Prague

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Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a truly MASSIVE Vietnamese shopping complex–in Prague. Imagine four Costcos divided into hundreds of shops, vendors, and markets, then surrounded by several strip malls. It greatly reminded us of the souks in Marrakech, but with less ripoffs. Sadly, we didn’t have enough time to try some “Czech pho”.

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Munich Photo Dump!

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Munich photo dump!

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Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau Castles

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Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau Castles

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Christmas Markets

by Karen

Christmas markets are very popular in Europe, traditionally run since the middle ages. They are essentially large pop-up flea markets with many vendors selling Christmas items (ornaments, stocking stuffers, handicrafts, etc.) and seasonal foods, ESPECIALLY holiday drinks.

One of the primary reasons for us wanting to visit Europe in the winter was because we wanted to experience these markets. In fact, we structured our entire itinerary to ensure that we’d be in Germany during the holiday season. (With dozens of revisions, doubts, panicked moments, and backup plans, I think we did ok!)

We visited some friends in Strasbourg (a small city on the French/German border) who showed us around town and gave us our first real glimpse of a Christmas market.

At these markets, many vendors will sell drinks, the most popular being a hot, mulled wine called gl├╝hwein (I preferred the taste of the non-alcoholic version, “kinderpunsch”). When you pay for the drink, you also pay a small deposit fee for the cup, usually a mug with decorations or the name of the specific market plastered on it. If you choose to keep the cup, you lose the deposit, but get a neat souvenir. Otherwise you can return the cup to the booth and get your money back.

In terms of food, you can find lots of pretzels, cookies, bratwursts, cured meats, cheeses, waffles, roasted chestnuts, nougats, and candies. In Strasbourg, we found a vendor selling excellent smoked duck meat.

Some photos of various Christmas markets in Strasbourg, Alsace region villages, Rothenburg, and Munich.

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First week in Rome

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First week in Rome – Lots of gelato, spaghetti, and pizza. In truth, we’ve been waking up late everyday, but staying out, and taking it easy. It’s really cold here, but fortunately there are many street stalls selling (suspiciously) cheap winter clothes!

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Frolicking around in Fez

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Frolicking around in Fez. (The fez hat is not from Fez, but from Turkey).

We explored the medina, visited many factories (scarfweaving, leatherworking, metalworking, carpetweaving), and explored many abandoned buildings.

Did you know that animal skins are soaked in a mixture of pigeon poop and limestone for 15 days to make them soft and remove any remaining fur?

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