December. Christmas is around the corner and the year is drawing to an end. For many, it’s time to pop the holiday party hors-d’oeuvres into the oven and bust out the eggnog (man, I would give anything to have eggnog in Spain!), and get awkwardly too tipsy at the company holiday party.
I spent more time traveling than working this month, and it was both hectic and exciting. Here’s what December looked like through my eyes:
For my first visit to Germany, I chose Berlin. I’m still not sure why I thought it wise to visit in the cold of December, but nevertheless, that’s what happened. It was cold, the coldest weather I had experienced since the previous winter in NYC. And as luck would have it, it rained the entire day that my friend and I went sightseeing.
Despite the weather, Berlin is trendy, artsy, and full of history and I loved it. I find German history to be very interesting, albeit tragic, so viewing the Berlin Wall and visiting the Holocaust Memorial were must-sees.
A trip to Berlin isn’t complete without a tour of the street art in Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg neighborhood. The ideas that street artists are conceiving these days are so creative! Once the tour guide showed us Josef Foos’ cute little street yogis above some of the street signs in the neighborhood, I stopped at every crossing to look for more. It’s amazing what you can find when you take a second to look more closely at your surroundings!
I didn’t get to experience the cool music and underground scene that I’ve heard is awesome in Berlin. The weekend trip left more to be discovered, but I think I’ll wait for warmer weather to do that!
Christmas at school
The weeks leading up to the final days of school before winter break were almost solely spent preparing for the Christmas performance that each class was to take part in. My students performed “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” among other songs, and were dressed so cutely in little top hats and bow ties. When they performed on stage in front of their parents, warm feelings of pride enveloped my body. So this is what being a teacher feels like.
I dressed as Santa Claus for my students, handing out stickers and rubber band bracelets that I brought from the US when I moved here. The kids loved it, and I loved putting little toothless grins on their faces. It was my last day working with third and fourth grade; I’m really going to miss them!
A Very Euro Christmas
Instead of heading home for the holidays, I took the two weeks I had off from work as an opportunity to explore as much of Europe as possible. I went to Munich, Salzburg, Český Krumlov, Prague, Brussels, and Bruges. It was a very busy two weeks including Christmas markets, glühwein (mulled wine), sausages, goulash, beer, and toes as cold as icicles.
Christmas in this part of the world is a completely different experience. With the Christmas Markets, carol singers, open air ice skating rinks, and bright strings of lights, I felt like Christmas began in Europe. It was just so cute. Highlights in each city included:
Neuschwanstein Castle outside of Munich
Spending Christmas amidst the beautiful mountains surrounding Salzburg
Wandering the tiny streets of the cute little Czech town of Český Krumlov
Freezing my toes off exploring Prague and stopping along the way for unfiltered beer
Tasting all things Belgian in Brussels and ringing in the new year including Belgian waffles, fries and chocolate
Climbing to the clocktower in Bruges first thing in the morning to take in the city view
Through my eyes, these cities were undoubtedly some of the best to explore during Christmastime, but I’d love to return to all, especially Prague (where I froze the most) in the spring or summer to see the cities really come to life with warmth.
With 2015 already underway, I’m excited about what this year could bring. I can’t wait to spend more time exploring more of Madrid while I’m not actively traveling and more of Spain itself in January and February. Then it’s back to chipping away at my little European Bucket List! Who knows what surprises may unfold? That’s the fun part!