But first, some background! :) I've mentioned before that Jason was stationed in South Korea for a year without me. It's kind of how the military works; volunteer for a really crappy assignment or "remote" (meaning without your spouse/family), and then you get to choose a follow-on assignment (meaning where you'll all go next). There are all kinds of other "rules" that I won't begin to bore you with (I yawned just typing this!), but suffice it to say that it's a wise idea to "volunteer" for a remote early on in one's military career. So for a myriad of reasons Jason and I decided to have him head off to Korea for a year without me so that afterwards we could go to Italy together for three years. Seems like a good trade, yes?
Now. It's Thanksgiving. A time to be thankful. Which I am (so very, very much). So all I will say is that no matter how strong your relationship is, HUSBANDS AND WIVES SHOULD NOT BE ON DIFFERENT CONTINENTS (separated by an ocean and a 16 or 17 hour time difference) FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR.
By the time we got to Italy I felt like we'd earned every second
Six months after arriving in Europe Jason and I drove five hours to Vienna, Austria for Thanksgiving weekend 2004. And there I experienced my first Christmas Market and, more importantly, my first glimpse that, "Oh thank God it may all have been worth it after all!!"
"Seriously?... No, really... seriously? I'm here??? This is all real???" That's what kept going through my mind as we approached the Adventzauber & Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz. Vienna's City Hall transforms into "The Magic of Advent" with a Christmas Market in the square; each of the windows has a huge number in it, like an Advent calendar. Adventzauber = Advent Magic. Christkindlmarkt = (literally) Christ Child Market or (more generally) Christmas Market. [Or if you're a fan of Talladega Nights, the Baby Jesus Market. :)]
In front of this gorgeous City Hall are dozens of great booths selling Christmas ornaments, wooden toys, gingerbread cookies, jewelry, all sorts of traditional and handmade gifts and items... and, of course, sausages and pretzels and glühwein, oh my! Glühwein is hot spiced wine and oh my stinkin' heck. It will take the chill off, let me tell you
As we explored the city we ran into smaller Christmas markets all over Vienna. And I just plain fell flat in love with Christmas markets.
How can you not fall in love with European Christmas markets? Just look at the sun glinting off those ornaments! :) During our three winters in Europe we went to many different Christmas markets (my favorites were in the Czech Republic, Prague is awesome!). And honestly, I love them so much that if I were to win the lottery I would schedule European vacations solely around the Christmas markets. Seriously.
We had an AWESOME Thanksgiving with Susan & Bob, Will & Carol, and Patricia & David (and Cisco kitty). And then had a great visit with Andrea & Scott today. And I even got some work done today before heating up leftovers that were sent home with us (thanks, Sus!). All in all a great weekend-before-our-weekend. Are ya' kiddin'? We really get two more days? Sweeeeeeet!