Sometimes you have to update your traditions. Or use humor to get through the tough times!
Continuing up the Rhine, we get to Cologne, Germany or Köln as it is known locally. This was the largest city we visited on our cruise and a fantastic day long adventure. The centerpiece of Cologne is the Kölner Dom or the Cologne Cathedral which is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. If you play your cards right, you can see the spectacular Dom in at least 3 different lights (morning sun, sunset and after dark). I highly recommend planning to spend a long day on Cologne. There is much to see and do. Another interesting note is that it is filled with Roman influence and artifacts.
Loved the simple, but elegant decorations on this building near the Dom.
It was always so funny to see the markets boarded up and quiet before they opened in the morning. Definitely, the calm before the storm.
Something you would be unlikely to see available for sale in the US 🙂
The Christmas Markets are truly a treat for all of your senses. So many amazing things to see, hear, touch, taste and smell!
As seen outside an Irish pub. Leave it to the Irish to be over it all…
With so many markets in Cologne, we really enjoyed the different themes. This gnome market was cute.
I highly recommend taking the little tourist train around if you are trying to cover a lot of ground. Cologne is definitely the biggest city we visited and the sights are spread out.
What happens when Santa has spent too much time at the biergarten.
Speaking of biergartens, we had a fantastic German lunch at Früh and enjoyed some Kölsch which is the specialty beer of Cologne. Similar to champagne, it can only be called Kölsch if brewed in Cologne. We have been lucky to find some Kölsch-style microbrews since returning home.
The Lindt Chocolate Museum was really cool. This lovely angel is made out of white chocolate and very large. In contrast to these cute & too cool Santas.
I love nutcrackers! This guy was awesome!
The theme of the Christmas Market near the chocolate museum was nautical. Fun and different!
More fun things to see back at the market near the Dom.
And in case we are hungry….
It is always good to know that your hot dogs are #blessed.
As the sun sets, it casts a lovely golden glow over the cathedral.
The lights begin to come on.
And more magic is sprinkled over a lovely day.
Had to share a few of my favorite shots from my recent Viking River Cruise along the Rhine River to see the Christmas Markets. What an amazing trip! Highly recommended. I will write more later, but wanted to drop a few favorites from the cruise itself.
On German Night, you get your food via a buffet that winds its way through the galley. So cool to see where they prepare all the amazing food we eat during the trip!
The crew is really a highlight of the cruise. One night most of them came out to Christmas carol with us.
What can I say about the food, but it is fabulous. We ate all of our breakfasts on the Aquavit Terrace pictured below instead of the dining room. It was a nice, relaxing way to start the day and our server, Bozena, was the best!
You can barely feel the ship moving and cannot always tell when you have started cruising. We went up to the top deck soon after leaving Basel where my kids quickly found the cool rocking chairs. It is around this spot where the borders of Switzerland, Germany & France all meet.
Sometimes they “raft” more than one of the Viking ships together at the same dock. See the red lines? This is how close they get to each other. Guests from the outside ship have to walk through the other ship to get onto land. Since all the ships are pretty identical, there are plenty of stories of people not being back in the right ship and trying to go into the wrong rooms!
Another shot of how close the ships raft to each other. This also shows how all the furniture and structures on the top deck (including the captain’s wheelhouse) can drop down for when they go under low bridges.
It is so easy to get around the ship. Everything is a small staircase or 2 away. We were on the lower level and this is what your view outside looks like. You are just above water level and it gives you a really cool perspective.
We really lucked out with our weather during the 1st week of Christmas Market season. It was clear and sometimes even sunny. That being said, it was COLD. If you choose to go up top when the ship is moving, the added wind makes it really cold. HAND WARMERS and lots of layers are your best friend. If you have a scarf to put over your face, that is even better.
I really can’t say enough good things about our experience with Viking.
Continuing up the Rhine on our amazing Viking River Cruise along to visit the Christmas Markets. Here are my photos from the day we visited Strasbourg, France. Some were taken during the included walking tour. We stayed in town for lunch and until the last shuttle went back to the ship. Probably my favorite city that we visited.
I just loved how there were decorations over many shop & restaurant doors. Sometimes the whole front of the building was covered in decoration!
The storks are a huge deal in the Alsace (area of France that has gone back and forth between France and Germany and retains characteristics of both beautifully blended into their own culture).
Not Christmassy, but who doesn’t need one of these? My kids would say that I don’t.
Another attempt to annoy my kids…. I think I might need one of these dresses.
Who can pass up a beautiful display of macaroons. Not I!
There are a number of Christmas Markets in Strasbourg (7 if I remember correctly). One of the markets hosts a guest country each year. This year it is Portugal. There are all sorts of cool Portuguese treats and crafts. I picked up some port wine jelly. Hmmmm…
The cathedral in Strasbourg is stunning! This was our first glimpse of it. The red sandstone is really something.
A cute little side of one of the booths in front of the cathedral.
Saw different versions of these funny little guys at a few of the markets.
This was the little bistro where we had am amazing lunch. Straight down one of the side streets on the opposite side of the square in front of the cathedral.
Strasbourg is the French Capital of Christmas and I can see how it got that name & reputation. So fun!
These charming little trains were at many of the markets selling warm nuts, etc.
We didn’t bother to go into many/any chain stores we have at home, but we did enjoy some of the window displays. We thought it was funny to see a few signs advertising “Black Friday” sales.
One of the other theme markets in Strasbourg each year is the charity market. Different booths selling different items to benefit a variety of worthy organizations. This big tree is the centerpiece of that market.
Inside the cathedral was magical. They had the most extensive nativity display I had seen covering events from the Annunciation all the way to the Presentation. I also like that they had en elephant visiting with the Three Magi.
These tapestries are only on display during Advent. They are massive and beautiful and I felt so lucky to see them.
I saw a number of places that had really nice selections of Advent wreaths like this. SO much harder to find in the States.
Hope you enjoyed my tour of Strasbourg at Christmas. It was my favorite stop along the Rhine.
More photos from an amazing Viking River Cruise along the Rhine River to visit the Christmas Markets. These photos are from the optional excursion we took to Colmar, France.
Just got back from an amazing Viking River Cruise along the Rhine River to visit the Christmas Markets. Our cruise took off from Basel, Switzerland. We had just a quick afternoon trip into Basel, but it was well worth it.
A quick helpful note about money in Basel. We were not sure if we would have any time to go into Basel and Switzerland does not use the Euro. I pondered getting some Swizz Francs, but didn’t want to be stuck with them if we didn’t have any time to explore. People online recommended that they had some cash machines in the area that exchanged Euros. As it ends up, you can pay at most of the markets in Euros. They will ony give you change in Swiss Francs, so you need to be strategic, but at least you can shop :-).
After doing a year’s research preparing for this trip, seeing one of these giant pyramids was high on my “Christmas Market Bucket List”. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a little excited when this in was my very first glimpse of a Christmas Market.
They had adorable boot shaped mugs for the gluhwein & hot chocolate which we enjoyed!
These guys were animated and singing. I felt like I was back at Disneyland back when they had the Country Bear Jamboree.
This was a decoration on top of one of the booths. They also had these in mini sizes you could buy. The prices were far better than anywhere else we saw later in the tip. This is a little odd because Switzerland is known for being super expensive.
The Christmas Markets in Basel wound up, down and around the streets with a main one in front of the church.
I really enjoyed some of the different spice booths at the various Christmas Markets.
I never made it to an official Kathe Wohlfahrt shop, but this mini one in the main Christmas Market was handy. I also saw one like this in Strasbourg.
The pretzel we got here was larger than our heads! Super yum
I was intrigued at how often they decorated with stuffed animals. Not sure how well these would withstand the weather, but we were early in the season so they all looked good.
Continuing on (with delayed writing of the blog posts by a few months)…This has definitely been a fun and inspiring adventure for us.
Day 3 – Monday (7/20)
We started out the morning with a little card making time.
Occasionally, we have to put the challenge aside to pursue other mother/daughter fun we had planned. Today it was a trip into my friend’s salon for make up lessons. I wear make up most days, but it is pretty much the same every single day. I’ve never really “played” around and experimented with different looks. Although I am very clear with my daughter that beauty comes from the inside, I want her to know more than I know and I thought it would be helpful to get some professional advice. Bonus points that the person giving the lesson was not selling any particular line. This was of course followed by a trip to Ulta – every tweens dream. We *should* be going onto Pinterest to get some ideas to try. But since my only board about makeup or hair is called “Cosmetically Challenged”, that shows you my interest/skill level on these things.
Late afternoon was a little more card making. Between the 2 of us, we made cards with ideas inspired by 8 different Pins. Here is a quick photo of a few of the cards we made:
It is kind of hard to tell, but the one on the bottom in the middle is a donut. The flat side is where it would stand up. WAY too cute!
At dinner, we decided to spend some quality time in the kitchen making Skinny Orange Chicken, the Benihana salad dressing and Disneyland-inspired Dole Whips. YUM!
Project Pin Count – 11
Total Pin Count – 26
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