Friday, December 21, 2012

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Heading into this long Christmas weekend, we just wanted to say Merry Christmas/Buon Natale to everyone back home...We miss you all lots and we're thinking of everyone during this holiday season. We wish we could be everywhere to celebrate with everyone! Hope everyone has a great, great Christmas! xo

Monday, December 17, 2012

More Christmas Marketing

On Sunday we headed up to Bolzano for the day to visit the Christmas market there - Italy's biggest and best. Also with all the Christmas-marketing we do during this season, we've never actually been to one in Italy. I drove, so it took us several hours to get there instead of only two. But it was so worth it. We walked around and checked out all the stalls which sold millions of Christmas tree ornaments and sparkly decorations and mittens. We ate big pretzels with melted cheese and drank gluhwein and, when we got really cold after the sun went down at 4 pm, tried a Bombardino which is a hot rum drink native to the area, and which we don't get in Cortina since we're technically not part of the South Tyrol region. But - we have prosecco instead, so that's okay. It ended up being a very successful trip because we finally found a star for the top of our tree - and because we stopped for Chinese food on the way home (it was Sunday night after better time for Chinese food)!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Opening Weekend in Cortina

The season has arrived! This past weekend was "opening weekend" in Cortina, a tradition we missed last year because there was no snow. The town filled up with skiers and glitzy people-watchers wearing tons of fur (I had to get out my furry hat to let people know that I live here). We got some snow on Friday for the skiers and on Saturday night the stores stayed open late, played music out on to the street, and gave out free glasses of prosecco to shoppers. Our little Christmas market was in full swing and it was almost impossible to sit down in our favorite cafe on Sunday afternoon! Now that it's Monday though, things are settled down and we're back to normal until next weekend.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Market-ing in Lienz

Today we decided to get out of the country and go see a Christmas market that we haven't been to before. But the best part was - I drove. Ryan lured me into the car, telling me we were going to a CHRISTMAS MARKET (!!) and then he made me drive. All the way to Lienz, Austria. It was my first time driving a stick shift, except for around the parking lot of the rink where I learned - and we all made it home safe and sound.

Anyway. Lienz. It was freezing! On the way there, the temperature was -11 Celsius which is 12 degrees. 12! So we got there and we had to have some gluhwein or else we would have frozen. Also we decided that we are collecting mugs from various Christmas markets throughout Austria, Italy and Germany, so we needed a mug, of course. Then we ate this delicious baked potato with a garlic sour cream sauce and grilled onions and bacon on it. We don't have stuff like that in Cortina. We wandered around and bought an ornament for our tree and a delicious smelling Christmas candle, and then did some grocery shopping - in Austria, they have thrilling things like cumin and cayenne pepper, which you absolutely cannot find in Cortina.

Here's a few pictures from our day:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Krampus

One thing I'm not sure that anyone at home knows about is how incredibly dangerous it is here on December 5. You're just getting in to the holiday swing of things, all the lights are going up on the hotels, the trees are up and lit around town, the Christmas market is being set up....and then December 5th rolls around and you have to stay inside all day, hiding from the Krampus.

ALL images via Google, I would be too scared to take a picture myself

As you can see, the Krampus are beasts who accompany St. Nicolas on December 5 to punish children who have been bad and to scare children into being good during the Christmas season (children, adults, whatever.....I was scared). They drag chains along the ground and always pull a wheel barrow full of fire. They come out as soon as it gets dark and walk around town scaring.....everyone.

This mostly happens in Austria, also in some parts of Germany,  and unfortunately, the South Tyrol - which is basically where we are, and why we have them lurking around in Cortina...the downfalls of being only an hour away from Austria.

Anyway, I had my first scare last year - my friend Natalie and I were caught outside in the open as the Krampus descended on Cortina from the hill behind our apartments (we had to make a run for it to get inside - and they are not afraid to chase you) - so this year I had written on the calendar in big letters "DO NOT GO OUTSIDE". We were able to watch them come down the same hill, right at 5 o'clock when it was dark, from the safety of our balcony. It was thrilling. But then we really couldn't go outside for the rest of the day was time for a glass of prosecco.