Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Updating My List

I was gifted with the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die a few years ago, and I flipped through it and made a list of the places that I had already been, just to see if I was on track with the executive opinion of the authors.   

I have now updated it with my 2009 travels, adding 4 places in Thailand, 2 in Germany, one in Mexico and one in the US.  What US experience did I get this year that made the cut?  Cheyenne Frontier Days (lucky guess, you!).

I'm at 96 places done so far.   Not too bad for not trying.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Christmas Sausage

Every family has their culinary traditions when it comes to the holidays, whether is special cookies, Grandma's famous eggnog (with bourbon, ice cream and whipped cream), or a certain ham.  Somehow in our family, the Lebanon Sausage, has reached that status.   You can in fact order these Pennsylvania sausages year round, but since we get together at Christmas, that is the appropriate time to share the sausage.

Last night, as my family was packing up their gifts and preparing to depart for Illinois via Amtrak (already 3+ hours delayed coming in to Denver), my sister was slicing the remaining Lebanon Sausage into 4 equalish portions to take home. 

My sister spent her time coming and going on the train composing Amtrak songs.....

"Amtrak, baby, Amtrak! I'm headin' down the Cali Zepher railway...lookin' for a CO getaway...headin' for the snow hideaway. Got me a coach seat, it seats about one of me, now hurry up and lean that seat back into me! Amtrak, baby, Amtrak!"

"*finally* leaving on a late train, next time I WILL be on a plane, but still- I hate to go...so Amtrak, please make up some time, even if you have to cut in line, get me to Chi so I can make my trip back home...If I'm sleeping in Union Station, because I've missed my connection, I promise you everyone will know..."

"I've been riding on the railroad all the live long day- I've been riding with sickos, babies, and those who didn't pay. Can you imagine the excitement, running through my car- if the conductor announced that there would be an open bar?"

Perhaps she can extend her creativity in composing a song about the Christmas Sausage...at least it won't make you cry the way the "Christmas Shoes" song will.

Success!  She had TONS of free time on her endlessly delayed train for this:
"Oh Lebanon, Oh Lebanon-How tasty is your sweet meat. Oh Lebanon, Oh Lebanon- You are my fav holiday treat. On crackers, cheese or eggs-the pleasure goes right to my head. Oh Lebanon, Oh Lebanon- you make my Christmas special."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 7 Minute Recap

As American's we like our information in short, quick segments.     This fits the bill.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eating Your Way Through the Weihnachtsmarkt

I'm not going to lie.  My favorite part of almost any vacation is the food, and the Christmas Markets in Germany were no exception.   To help you eat your way through the Markt here are the common items.

Reibekuchen - potato pancakes.  Delicous with Apfelmuss (applesauce).
Lebkuchen - gingerbread.  Everywhere and in every shape.  Often in hearts on string decorated with phrases like "Ich liebe dich" or "Frohes Fest."
Gebrannte Mandeln - sugared almonds.  And many other sugared nuts.  My favorite were the amaretto gebrannte mandeln.
Brezels - pretzels.  Large, soft with a variety of toppings.
Wursts - large sausages.  Usually a long brat served with a roll and mustard.   Curry wurst is usually sliced in small pieces and served with sauce. 
Flammkuchen - flatbread pizza (of a sort).  I had it with cheese and potatoes.  Yum!
Crepes, Waffles, Poffertjes - cooked/fried dough in different forms with powdered sugar, nutella and more.
Glühwein - hot mulled wine.  You will almost always pay a "pfand" (deposit) which you get back if you return your mug.  Odds are you'll keep some mugs as souvenirs as they a personalized for each market.  You can get your wine with a float of amaretto, grand marnier and other liqours if you like.  Even when the shops close down, the wine stalls stay open longer.
Eierpunsch - hot "egg" punch.  It's an egg liquor with wine, spices and whipped cream (sahne).
Kinderpunsch - hot spiced apple juice.  For those who don't drink alcohol....or for kids.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Yesterday we went to Köln to see their world famous Dom (even Rick Steve's says it's "Germany's most exciting church").  The Dom's claim to fame?  Köln acquired the bones of the Three Kings in the 12th century, which justified the building of a massive cathedral...how else would you hold all the pilgrim's who came to visit?  And in anticipation of the city being bombed during WWII all the stained glass windows and art were taken from the church and stored in a safe place, so the church remains beautiful today.   Of course, if there is a turm (tower) to be climbed, I'm there, so Chantal, Brian and I paid our 2.5 Euros to climb up 500+ stairs.    This in turn justifies the consumption of brezels, Glühwein, Eierpunsch, and mandeln afterwards...

View of the Christmas Market from the Turm

View of Köln from the top of the Dom

Maha and Chantal enjoy meat on a stick!


Friday, December 4, 2009


There are 6 Christmas Markets throughout the Altstadt in Dusseldorf.  Great Fun!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Vague Sense of Panic

Yesterday a radio DJ announced "today is the first day of the last month of the decade." Hard to believe that a decade ago I was a senior in college. Now I am an 'adult' out in the real world. I hope my decade was productive...since I only 30 days left for any dramatic changes!


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