We’ve visited around 40 countries in the last decade and of course we started seeing similarities between all the places travelled. “Oh, this is so Eastern Europe” or “Oh, this reminds me of a French village but with a Greek vibe…” 24 hours in Morocco and I’m totally surprised! The airport is like a mega ritzy shopping center from the future, the cab drivers are as scammy as they come, the “streets” are a total mess/maze, it’s busy at all times, everything either smells amazing or DISGUSTING, the people are pushy and wonderful, cats everywhere ranging from beautiful show cats to sticky, half balding street cats. We are having so much fun!
I haven’t posted in almost a year! I don’t know why, it’s been a fun year with lots of trips and visits from family and friends.
Tel Aviv in April
The Cotswolds for a big 3 day hike across the English countryside ending with a surprise visit in Exeter,
Drunken party week in Sunny Beach with Kelly
Budapest for the Formula One race
Agata and Tyler came to visit…oh and, Arek and his family surprised Agata for a day.
Hung out with my long lost friend Marjo in Portugal
Mom spent a month with us
We also went on lots of mini trips around Bulgaria. In a couple weeks we are going to Morocco with long (enough time to explore) layovers in Germany and Brussels…also, we have tickets booked for Malta in January!
I spent my birthday in Sofia, one of my favorite cities in the world. My birthday celebrations started on the plane where I was seated alone in the emergency row with more leg and arm room I knew what to do with. We rented another wonderfully decorated and cozy Airbnb on the top floor of a 70 year old building. For my big day, I ate 5 star sushi for lunch at the Radisson with a huge Singapore Sling to wash it down, watched a live football match at the arena, visited our friends at Beera for craft beers, drank hot wine at the Christmas market while watching a super lively concert, went shopping after said wine and bought a bunch of things I probably don’t need and finished the day off with a mini dance party and Skype with friends (which I don’t remember). Perfect holiday.
Baden-Baden!!! What a wonderful little German spa town. I hope everyone gets to visit this opulent place at least once in their lives. The buildings are incredibly maintained, not one scratch of paint or dirt, people are excessively friendly and they have one of the cutest Christmas markets in Germany.
We stayed in a wonderful AirBnb in the center, cooked steaks every night, ate sausages by day, drank hot wines at the Christmas market, spent a wonderful evening in the most elaborate spa I’ve ever seen (click here), crashed a film festival in the iconic Baden-Baden casino and drank local beers in a smokey bar with a bunch of awesome immigrants after their shift.
Though smaller than the Strasbourg Christmas market, Baden-Baden held its own with higher end fairs, a concert and real animals in the manger.
The Strasbourg Christmas market is one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in France. Old Town becomes pedestrian only, shops and hotels decorate their facades and little wooden huts popup everywhere selling regional good and treats. The streets are filled with joyful people drinking hot wines. We were so excited to meet our friends from Luxembourg on the Sunday for drinks, shopping and carousel rides.
A few years back my Canadian friend Janna who lived in London told me about her yearly tradition of visiting a new European Christmas market. She and her boyfriend have travelled from Norway to Slovakia exploring these magical markets and with every one of their Facebook posts my jealousy grew. Inspired by my friends, Matt and I are starting off our Christmas season with a triple Christmas Market attack plan (we have some catching up to do). Step one, the famous Strasbourg Christmas Market. Step two, Baden-Baden Market spanning the grounds of the famous casino (November 27-28). Step three, Sofia’s German/Bulgarian Christmas Market where we will celebrate my birthday (35…seriously getting old!). These are photos taken with my phone in Strasbourg.
Shops, hotels and apartments decorate their facades with Christmas decorations which gives the whole town a storybook atmosphere.
It’s been raining on and off. People bundle up…some even look like “boules mousse”.
The most amazing tree.
The tree matches my jacket.
Hot red or white wines, hot apple juice and hot orange juice.
Every year I try to do something fun with my little Russian neighbours, this year I threw a “Girl Party” in my tiny apartment. We baked cupcakes (12 people in a 450 sq/ft area with the oven blasting in 30 degree weather), made icing from scratch and decorated everything with candies and fruits. We listened to jazzy music while we cooked (their choice) and played girly dance music while we waiting for the cakes to cool. Post cupcakes I taught the girls how to play Pictionary and everyone thought it was “sooooo coool” that I let them use erasable markers to scribble on the window instead of using regular paper. These girls are truly amazing, I couldn’t believe how sweet and polite everyone was, I just loved having them over! Next year I’m organizing a lantern festival, I’m already excited!
Stotinki sneaking in a cuddle with Margo.
The marshmallow tripled in size in the oven.
Bragging to friend in Russia and Poland.
The powdered food colouring dyes everything, Sasha might have a blue mouth for the rest of her life. P.S. How cute are these girls!!!
The frosting got a bit messy.
Diana sporting this year’s shade of neon green.
I respect Dasha’s attention to detail and fierce concentration.
The cupcakes were really darn good.
I think they had fun.
We played a medium level (all in English) Pictionary game without any problems or language barriers.
My favorite drawing was Olivia’s masterpiece, the flamingo! Ha ha we laughed so hard!
I chose a vanilla cupcake filled with sprinkles and gummy bears topped with rainbow icing. Perfect party with my fantastic friends!
We spent Valentine’s day in a cute little village called Zheravna in central Eastern Bulgaria. This village is known for its historical wooden houses (between 200-300 years old) surrounded by stone walls and cobblestone alleys. We where there during the “off season” which meant we were the only tourists in town.