2015: A Year of Wander

2016 has arrived and everyone’s looking ahead  to new beginnings, fresh starts, and wish lists for the upcoming year. I am too - but I’m a little behind, and I can’t fully move on until I take a long pause and reflect on all that 2015 was before I catch up with the rest of you.

Some years slide by us, and as the calendar flips to January, it just marks the passage of time. Then there are some years that are so life-changing and momentous and exhausting yet exhilarating all the same that as that last digit changes, you try to peer out of the wild haze you are surrounded in, wondering aloud, “Did that just happen?” That was this January 1st for me. And because of that, more than anything I need to recap it all for myself so one day in the future I remember what was built in the tumultuous year of wander that was 2015.

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My "Souvenirs" of France: Part 2

If you missed the last post explaining my awesome pun, I'll fill you in: "Souvenir" in French can mean that knick-knack you need to buy for family and friends back home to show you thought of them on vacation, but it can also mean "memories." So in light of our near departure back to the US, here's Part II of my mini-series reminiscing about my favorite souvenirs I've acquired during my travels in France.

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Simply Sara's Ultimate European Christmas Market Round-Up

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice...and am ready to reveal which European Christmas markets made the naughty or nice list. This by no means is a conclusive list of markets throughout Europe, but it’s my thoughts on 20 markets spanning 8 European countries. So without further ado, here’s the breakdown by country:

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The Most "Local" Christmas Market: Leipzig, Germany

Sometimes when you least expect it, you stumble upon something wonderful. If you saw my husband’s first guest post earlier this week, you heard how Leipzig, Germany was his addition to our first European Christmas trip in 2012. It wasn’t the Christmas market that attracted him to this town though. Instead, it was a pilgrimage of sorts to see the town where his favorite composer of all time lived for nearly 30 years of his life. And if you adore Bach like he does, the Bach Museum still stands as his favorite museum ever (and let me tell you, we’ve been to A LOT of museums). 

But let’s get back to the Christmas market. The mission of the trip was to experience European Christmas markets for the first time, and at first, I honestly thought this stop might interfere with that goal a little. After all, we reduced our time in Berlin to one day and one night to have enough time for Leipzig. But it was so worth it in the end.

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Christmas in Seefeld in Tirol, Austria

I'm in a sweet, fleeting season of life at the moment. One that has allowed me the opportunity to spend Christmas in Europe, just me and my husband. But it is a season that I know won't last too much longer. It is a wonderful and fun, yet the tension in this phase of life is missing out on moments with friends and family back in the US.

With a limited number of Christmases to spend in Europe, there is a lot of pressure to select just the right location to spend the holiday. 

I managed to nail it this year.

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Strasbourg, King of the French Christmas Market

I have a personal rule that each holiday should be enjoyed and savored in its moment. It's why I was upset that the Starbucks in France decided to do away with pumpkin spice lattes on Halloween instead of allowing them to stick around through Thanksgiving. It also explains why my husband waits for me to start listening to Christmas music each year. (I may or may not have accused him for "ruining Christmas" on a car ride one November years ago.)

This year Thanksgiving seemed to fall so late that it's been especially hard to hold back my excitement for Christmas. But at last I can tell you all about one of the most festive places you can go this holiday season: Strasbourg, France. 

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A-Z of Christmas Markets

Last year I had the joy of experiencing a Christmas tradition throughout Europe: the Christmas market. It started with one in Paris on the Champs-Elysées, certainly the most touristy one I visited. Then I embarked on a trip with my husband to Strasbourg, France; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; and four German cities: Berlin, Nürnberg, Dresden, and Leipzig. Here is my A-Z list to illustrate what I found and why I love Christmas markets!

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