Christmas Break! & Lately

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If you are reading this, that means that I am officially on Christmas Break (!!!) and we are headed out on our Christmas tour of Europe (well, parts of Europe)!

First stop: Charleroi, Belgium for one night (we got a steal of a flight here from Prague) and then an early train over to Cologne! I simply cannot wait for my first German Christmas Market.

To fully appreciate this vacation–as much of a vacation it really is when you’re running around Europe–I’ll be taking some time off from this blog. I’ll pop in a few times, but for the most part, I’ll see you in January!

However, I will be updating regularly on Instagram. Make sure to follow me: @amygreatworld, and for more of our trip, check out the hashtag #eandaeuroxmas.

But first, here are a few things from this week:

So much Christmas love.

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Another package in the mail from my family (!!!!!!) which made my week. I’ve always loved getting mail, but getting mail abroad is a whole other high. I’ve also received so many well wishes and little gifts and tokens from my students. One of my favorites was the giant, musical Christmas tree full of shortbread. Another one? A tiny toy dog with a cape…this one may have just been because I gave her a candy cane and in that moment, she loved me so much she had to give me something in return. I’m keeping it in my purse for now in case said student has giver’s remorse! I also loved a tiny gingerbread angel with a broken ring one little girl was too shy to give me, so her mom had to. I’m so ready for break but I may already miss my students!

A highly anticipated afternoon of chocolate.

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I met Andrea (who will be moving on to Germany before we return from our trip–and will be sorely missed!) at the Choco Café earlier this week. I’ve been meaning to go for ages and I’m so glad we did! The hot chocolate, pictured above, was certainly rich–and I ordered the one that included milk, some of them were only “spoon” chocolate. Since we also split an old Czech delicacy called hořice rolls, I was glad I didn’t go for the even more chocolatey chocolate. The hořice rolls were surprising good–they didn’t look too impressive, kind of like plain, crunchy crepes. However, they were filled with a light cream and cinnamon and sugar, and of course, anything you can dip in chocolate sauce is never plain. Read a history of the rolls here–according to the story, the original recipe was given to a Czech villager by Napoleon’s personal chef, after she saved his life.

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Evolving Christmas decor in our place. 

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Gifts and candy and a few more candles made this little corner of our flat feel extra festive this week.

More Christmas Markets in Prague. 

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Mostly Old Town Square because it’s the most classic, but we hit up a few smaller ones in between finishing up classes and packing. Our last visit to Old Town Square, we made sure to sample the potato chips we kept seeing everywhere, and wow! Who knew fresh, warm potato chips could be that good? Sadly this week I was avoiding alcohol since I was still mostly feeling terrible, so I only imbibed hot cider. Still delicious! One night at the market we caught a children’s choir singing Christmas songs. The best one was “Let It Snow” which was a creative mix of Czech and English. The Czech word for snow is “sníh” (sounds similar to “snee”) and it’s pretty funny listening to kids shouting “LET IT SNEE” over and over!

Finally (slowly) starting to feel human again. Just in time for Christmas! 

This illness has lasted waaaay too long but the last few days I’ve started to feel better…or maybe the anticipation of the next few weeks is just making me force myself to feel healthier! Either way, I’ll take it. I’ve been bummed to miss out on so many fun holiday plans, and everything else besides just getting healthy has taken the back burner these past few weeks. Now I’m off to inhale more Vitamin C and use some hand sanitizer…just in case!

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How are you feeling festive this holiday season? Do you have a break for the holidays and/or fun plans? And…what are your remedies to avoid getting sick??

Linking up with BYOP with Yalanda and Jamie

Daily Life in Prague, v. 4

+ You may have noticed (or not, because I’m not always the most reliable blogger) that it’s been silent around these parts for the last week or so. I’m alive–I’ve just been dying fighting some evil illness.  I’ve learned that while the Czechs will take their children out of school for weeks if they have a cough, they don’t look kindly on their English teachers who have the daring to get ill. I couldn’t really cancel any of my lessons so I just suffered through them. Ouch!

+ I especially hate being sick this time of the year. I haven’t been to a Christmas market in a week! The horror. I am going tonight whether my body likes it or not.

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+ This week also happened to be the Tuesday we had booked tickets to see The Nutcracker at the National Theatre. Since we snagged some of the last tickets available to any of the showings (also, they aren’t transferable) I sucked it up and went. I even wore my contacts in attempt to make it kind of a date night. I’m glad I did. The National Theatre is gorgeous…I’m not sure I’ve ever been in as fancy of a building. At least one that felt as decadent, with red velvet and gold and chandeliers everywhere. The show was great, although it was a strange combination of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. E and I exchanged glances early on, thinking “is that Scrooge? But that’s definitely the music from the Nutcracker, right?” I definitely prefer the original Nutcracker because I hate change when it comes to my Christmas traditions, but it was still entertaining, beautiful and relaxing to hear that familiar classical music.

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+ I keep meaning to publish my post detailing stories from the ESL classroom. The problem is it keeps growing, so it has to at least be two posts now! I have to admit, even though I felt like death this week (as I’m sure you have gathered by now), the kids distracted me from moping about being sick too much. One little boy lost a tooth on Thursday…and he couldn’t remember the word for “tooth” so all I saw was a small white/bloody thing being waved around. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a recently lost tooth, so while I was trying to figure out what it was, the classroom went to chaos. There was a lot of shouting and one little girl cried because she hates blood and it cost me about twenty minutes of the lesson.

+ I’m really annoying about taking a mini-pharmacy with me wherever I go–I’ve traveled enough and I’ve learned the hard way that when you need certain medication, you need it now, and having it handy is so much better than a) spending hours trying to find it; b) trying to ask the pharmacist and having to describe your symptoms to a stranger; or c) finally realizing that in this country that medication is only available by prescription. Long-winded way of saying I’m always over-prepared in this area. Except, we just hit the four-month mark and I think the stress of moving had us sicker than normal, so my medical supplies are depleted. E is my angel and has been having discussions with the pharmacist all week, trying to find the medication I need–so far, I’ve tried about six different medications to no avail.

+ I finally decided to go to the doctor…so I went to my first Czech hospital on Friday. Our low-cost foreigner’s health insurance turns out to be good at only one hospital in the whole city (which of course takes an hour to reach). It wasn’t the worst experience I’ve ever had in a hospital (side-eye Peru) but it was far from the best. One major plus, though? Everything was free except for the prescriptions–and even those were under $20. What kind of place is this?

+ Costa Coffee has the cutest holiday coffee cups around. Plus, with their gingerbread latte you get a tiny gingerbread man cookie. #WINNING

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+ Thank you all SO MUCH for your kind words on this post about our Christmas plans! I always forget how great it is to share good news with this little community, and to ask for advice. I will respond to each and every one of you once I am healthy again. You are the best! No major decisions made due to my health issues, except that the perfect little B&B we found in Bruges canceled our reservation so we had to scramble to find a new place to stay. That was fun.

+ Even in the fog of my sickness, I’ve noticed more Christmas decorations popping up around town, and I couldn’t be happier about that! I was overjoyed when my school put up their tree, too!

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+ Speaking of fog…this was the frostiest/foggiest day we’ve had, so far. Usually I can see the castle from that vantage point!

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+ While on the subject of weather…Prague finally had some sunny days this week! While I knew Prague would be much cloudier than Denver, I didn’t realize that it would literally be days or weeks without sun. Talk about an adjustment!

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+ The big highlight of this week came Monday morning when we found a package slip and headed to the post office to pick it up (in a process that is still not smooth). The package came from our lovely friends in Colorado and contained so many goodies I got a little teary-eyed. I felt so homesick for America and it’s holiday mania in that moment!  I’ve both missed mania and been glad to be away from it, but…Who else makes Nutcracker Snickers bars and peppermint Oreos and twinkle lights that flash and blink at different speeds? ONLY AMERICA, GUYS. 

IMG_7294Thanks, Callie and Greg! You guys make our life.

+ I am really, really glad this guy is here.

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+ I can’t believe we are almost halfway through December. My sickness totally threw me off and I am so far behind in everything. Excuse me while I go make some to-do lists.

Linking up with Travel TuesdayYalanda + Elle and the #SundayTraveler

 

It’s the Holiday Season (and Travel Help Needed!)

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This year is my first Christmas abroad.

When we decided to come spend (at least) a year in Prague, we knew that we definitely wouldn’t be able to go back to the United States for Christmas. I admit I wasn’t too sad about this fact at the time–I mean, Christmas in Europe? How could I really be sad about that?

As Christmas gets closer, though, I realize that it is my first real one away from familiar family and traditions. I haven’t spent the last few Christmases at home (a.k.a. Montana) anyway–the last two were spent in the Seattle area with E’s family–so I didn’t think it would bother me.

Once Thanksgiving came around, it really hit me how hard I might actually find it to be in a foreign country for this festive season. I won’t get to see my family, or do any of my usual traditions.

What does one do when they’re feeling blue about spending Christmas away from family?

Why, book a trip of course!

Now that I’m seeing Prague at Christmastime I’m a little sad about missing it here–but our trip (that is finally mostly planned) will be incredible.

Our itinerary is….

cologne christmas valkenburg christmas brussels christmas bruges christmasnye paris(photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )

I am so happy to finally be sharing this with you–it took us forever to decide where we wanted to spend Christmas. We were originally thinking just Germany because, well, German Christmas markets, but I read that the country kind of closes down on the 24th and it can be difficult for travelers. We found a really cheap plane ticket between Prague and Belgium (thank you, Ryan Air!) and then another cheap one home from Paris. Since I have always dreamed of spending New Year’s Eve in Paris (cliché, I know) it seemed like a no-brainer. We will be spending a week there since we’ve never been and we want to take it at a more relaxed pace.

We chose Bruges for actual Christmas because it’s one of our favorite little cities and it will be fun to see it all decked out for Christmas, and it will also feel a little familiar, almost like home.

It’s proved to be quite a challenge logistically–and we still have a day/night in between Bruges and Paris that we need to fill! I’m thinking Ghent or Luxembourg. Ghent looks absolutely charming and is close to Bruges–but I’m not sure how many other chances we will have to visit Luxembourg.

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So, dear readers, I need your help!  

Have you been to any of these places? Do you have any tips or must-sees for me? And, what would you do with an extra day between Bruges and Paris? Any and all suggestions very welcome!

Linking up with Emma & friends for The Festive Season and Adelina & friends for the #SundayTraveler.