We hope you and your family had a great New Year's day--fireworks and all. We had a wonderful time with some new friends who live in our town and it was great getting to know them better. Having no idea how enthusiastic Germans are about New Year's, we were shocked to see so many fireworks going on all over town. People were shooting them off in the streets! When we drove home (with the girls around 12:30) we had to move debris out of the street so the car wouldn't run over it! It was fun and so memorable. Like much of this past year!
We wanted to share some pictures of our final visit to some Christmas markets. Sorry--there are a lot of pictures! But the markets were so quaint that it was hard to pare the groupings down more than this. Enjoy!
Our first stop was Strasbourg, France. I (Jen) was particularly excited to see it because I'd visited this town almost 20 years ago while on a missionary trip. Of course that was in June and I was 15, so things look a bit different.
One of the personality-filled streets lining the canal.
The dark building on the left is one of the neatest buildings we saw in Strasbourg. It's the Kammerzell Hotel and it was originally built in the 11th century. The stone above the door said 1052. !! It's right across from the cathedral in the main square, which was completely filled with little Christmas market stalls...and everyone's best friend, a huge gingerbread man.
Jon and Ellie, enjoying some of the sights in the cathedral. It had the most amazing atomic clock inside...but we arrived just when the daily video talking about the atomic clock started, so that area was mobbed. But it was still cool.
Lunch in an atmosphere-filled little restaurant down on of the side streets. We find this a classic picture of our girls: Kate, having been asked to look at the camera begrudgingly pleasing us while Ellie simply continues what she was doing. Which, at this point, was putting a pretzel on her nose.
To get the girls more interested in the Christmas markets, we instigate a search for the carousel. Success!
Riding back to the car on mom's shoulders. (Thanks for keeping my hands warm, Ellie.)
The next day, we went back to Strasbourg's Christmas market because we had two girls who wanted to ice skate! We found the rink just before leaving the day before, and since they both wanted to try it and we had time, we obliged. Honestly, we were thrilled that BOTH girls wanted to try it (one being more hesitant of trying new things than the other) and they both loved it. What a fun little rink just for kids with plenty of things to hold on to and play around with. (Mom and Dad included!)
A huge 12th century castle on the hill that you see from the freeway, driving from Strasbourg south to Colmar. It's Haute Koenigsbourg, another sight I saw oh-so-many years ago. We didn't get a chance to go and revisit, but will definitely do so on another trip to the area.
An unexpected surprise as we entered Colmar.
Colmar is our new favorite town to visit. Everything about it was quaint, adorable, lovely, cute, expensive, and French. Some things were better than others, but if you come visit us for any length of time we will probably want to bring you here. It's amazing!
Maybe a distant relative?
Remember what we have the girls search for at each market? We were not disappointed in the turn-of-the-century carousel of Colmar. We all oohed and ahhhed. It looked like a birthday cake and was perfectly situated for our needs...right near our parking garage. Perfect way to end the day in our new favorite town.
We spent this second night in a nearby village called Turksheim. Another gem!
When we finally build our dream home, my windows will look like this: coke bottle glass--my favorite. Isn't it warm and cozy? Makes me want to sit by the fire with an eclair. Or a glass of wine. I'm not picky.
Our last market was kind of an afterthought, but we were so glad we stopped. Munster! Yes, THE Munster, home of the cheese. The market was small, but the gluhwein and the cheese were awesome. Here I am, teaching the girls how to warm our hands at the fire.
A view of the small yet quaint town. See the storks in their nests on top of the building? A symbol of Alsace and quite fun for the girls to see. Ellie saw them and exclaimed, "Flamingos!" That made several people around us laugh. (Truth that French people DO speak English!)
Thanks for touring with us! Come and visit sometime this year--we'd love to show you our new backyard.
P.S. A word on the girls' hats--they were a Christmas gift from Jon's cousin, Sally. Thanks, Sally for the fun hats! The girls love them and they photograph so well! And bravo to Jon for taking such great pictures of our trip using his new camera lens. Way to go, honey!