Yet Another Trip Update

Let’s see–lots to catch you all up on, but not a ton of time to do the catching. I’m in Slovakia this morning, about to head into Trencin to show the castle and the city to the illustrious Dan Wells and family. It should be exciting, as long as the weather decides to play along with us. (Honestly. I came to Europe prepared for a real winter, and I’ve seen more rain and freezing rain than I have snow or sun. Meanwhile, my house is getting completely dumped on. I’ve had 2.5 snow days since I was gone, and I wasn’t even there to bask in their snowy goodness. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but still . . . For a guy who likes snow, I’ve been unable to make its acquaintance this winter so far.)

We took the fam to see Heidelberg, where I had my first real German Doener in . . . 13 years? Something like that. It was glorious. Just as I’d remembered them. And then we drove off to Nuremberg and I had a real Thuringer Bratwurst again. That day was one of the high points of my life, from a culinary standpoint. Imagine having your two favorite foods that you’d eaten all the time for two years, and then had gone for a decade without eating them, and finally you have them both on the very same day. Heaven.

The Nuremberg Weihnachtsmarkt was ginourmous, with a two story carousel, children’s area, multiple squares filled with stalls, Lebkuchen that was out of this world, pretzels the size of my children–good times. Getting there was a bit of a different story. The Autobahn is great and all, but it suffers from crippling traffic just like everywhere else, from time to time. And how frustrating is it, to know there’s no speed limit, but you’re still going less than 5mph? Very.

Munich greeted us with a light rain. We saw the Residenz and the famous clock, which the kids thought was pretty cool. Our hotel was a ways outside the city, and it took a while to get there. It would be nice to be able to afford the swanky downtown hotels, but when you’ve got a trip this long, you have to save money where you can.

We saw the Christmas market in Munich, too. It’s hard to miss. I’ll say this–I love the Christmas Markets, but they tend to make all of the cities start to blend together. The stalls sell mostly the same things–the exact foods differ slightly from Markt to Markt, but after a few days of gorging on treats, you start to miss real food that maybe saw a vegetable once in its distant past. 🙂

Salzburg was very nice. Saw Mirabell Gardens and the castle, though I’d have to say I prefer Salzburg when it’s a bit warmer. The gardens just aren’t the same, you know. Still. the castle had a live brass band playing in the courtyard, and there was live choral music in the squares, and street musicians all over the place. Very musical and magical for an afternoon and evening. Wish I could have stayed longer.

From there we drove off to Slovakia through freezing rain and fog. There were some white knuckled, but we made it okay. Austria wins the award for Most Annoying Driving Rules this trip. You need a sticker to drive on the freeways, a translated drivers license, mandatory reflective vests in the car for every adult, mandatory winter tires on your car. All these little nitpicky rules. Blech. But I have this handy reflective vest now. Maybe I’ll wear it in hunting season to make sure I don’t get shot.

We had our Christmas (which I’ve already written about), and we’ve spent the last few days visiting with Denisa’s family. TRC got a bow and arrow set and got to try it out, my brother-in-law Milos made me a medieval peasant’s sword for Christmas. He’s a blacksmith in his spare time (one of only two smiths in the world to make real authentic medieval arrowheads these days, if I understand him correctly). (Technically, it’s a really big knife, not a sword. Peasants weren’t allowed to have swords. So think of a two and a half foot long steak knife, and you get the point.)

Anyway. Out of time for now. More rain in the forecast today. Hopefully it holds off. I also hope this finds you all in good health and spirits, and I’ll try to write more when I can. Check my Facebook page for pictures.

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