Christmas in the tropics

Hi friends.   I haven’t done this in awhile so I just wanted to catch up on everything that has been happening.  Brain dump commencing.

The Christmas season has been interesting so far.  There are plenty of holiday decorations around.  If you go to a mall, there is some sort of massive display and almost every store has a tree or wreaths or something.

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Gift Guide for Preschoolers

So this is a bit late.  Black Friday has passed.  Cyber Monday too.  Also, everyone I know that would buy gifts for my kids I think has already done so.


I think these are solid ideas, and I’ll be referring to this list for the next few years if anyone has questions.  So here we go.

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You should TOTALLY go see the live Nativity Scene at Civita di Bagnoregio next weekend

So this is a post of limited relevance to many, but IF you are in Italy next weekend, you should totes check out the presepe vivente (live Nativity Scene) in Civita di Bagnoregio.

If the weather is good that is.  We had pretty mild conditions and loved it.  A friend who went last year said it was bitterly cold and windy.  I can definitely see how that would put a damper on the fun.

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Is Santa real?

I grew up in a Santa house.  James grew up in a no Santa house.

We’ve been trying to straddle a middle ground.

We’d read books about Santa and see Santa places, but we wouldn’t make a big deal about WHAT DO YOU WANT SANTA TO BRING YOU and YIPPEE, SANTA IS COMING!!  We’ve just tried to treat Santa as a part of Christmas fun, but generally talk about Baby Jesus and giving and family, etc.

That actually worked much better than I expected.  Until last night.

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All the holiday fun you can shake a cannoli at

You guys feeling festive?  Christmas is somehow only two weeks away.  W00t!

Still tackling your shopping list?  Check out one of these holiday gift guides:

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(I really feel like I need a fourth gift guide to fill that hole.  Hmm, I don’t have a pet, and it really seems like all other lifeforms fit in those categories.  Gift guide for possible extraterrestrial friend?  Your pet rock?  Maybe next year.)

I found this after the gift guides were published, but Cup of Jo mentions this absolutely brilliant play tape.

On a recent podcast, Meagan and Sarah share the perfect hostess gift.

And Laura Vanderkam lists some book ideas for your literary Advent calendar.  (After I spent 20 minutes wrapping our books, Henry snuck out of his room and unwrapped HALF of ours before I heard the tell tale paper ripping.  I was not amused.)

And and for all the fanciest friends in your life, don’t forget the 2015 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog.  The language is not for those with delicate constitutions, but I was snort laughing.  GET UP AND GET YOUR OWN GIMLET, BRADLEY.

Looking for some German Christmas market-inspired beverages for your holiday party?  I’ve gotcha covered.  (Curious about the Christmas markets?  Click here or here.)

Want to relive last year’s Christmas fun?

Looking for a kickin’ lights display in (or around) DC?  Look no further:

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For my Roman friends, I’d be super jealous if you visited the live Nativity Scene in Civita di Bagnoregio.

We made it to Bagnoregio last January, but just missed the Nativity Scene.  (Click on over here for lovely pics and parking tips.)

Looking to get something for moi?  Oh, you shouldn’t have.  So thoughtful!  You are just the sweetest thing.  But I would be delighted if you liked Roman Reboot’s page on the Facebook.  Helping you enjoy weirdness and travel-related nonsense since 2014!

Happy weekend everyone!

Best Holiday Lights near DC

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Yay Christmas lights!  Did you guys also spend who knows how much time driving around in your car on the hunt for epic Christmas lights growing up?  Just us?  You probably just didn’t have the Pelzer Light People.

That’s right.  BE jealous.

And so it was with these high standards that I set off in search of epic light displays in DC.  We made it a tradition to check out something new each year.  Because the lights in DC are so much more than the Christmas trees at the White House and Capitol!

Already hit the zoo and the trains at the Botanic Garden?  Don’t feel like shelling out for ICE! at National Harbor?    Well, my friend, this list is for you.

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Gift Guide for HER

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Peeps, listen up, I know it feels early.  Maybe you haven’t even had your first seasonal latte of the season yet.  (Guilty)  Maybe you still haven’t pulled the trigger on OTK boots because it barely feels like fall.  (Yup)  But Christmas is right around the corner.  Seriously.  This is happening.

(That whole first paragraph was mostly a pep talk for myself.  YES, family, I’m working on the calendar.  Or at least trying to.  There will be a twist.  Hehehehe.)

But in case you also needed a pep talk, you’re welcome.  Without further adieu, let me present my Christmas list.  That’s right.  I’m calling it a gift guide “for her” in case anything here is inspirational, but this is really just my list.

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One Market to Rule Them All*

Continuing our German vacation saga from December.  Don’t worry, I think I only have two more posts on this.  Three, tops.

Germany’s best Christmas market is in Nuremberg.  Full stop.  I have not personally visited all the cities in Germany to compare, but that has never stopped me from making sweeping pronouncements before.

I mean, if this not-at-all-doctored photo doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

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But first we had to get to Nuremberg.  For this, we turned to the ICE (fast) train with Deutsche Bahn.  We were originally going to split our time between Nuremberg and Munich, but decided to just do a day trip to Nuremberg when we realized the ICE would be a little over an hour.  (It turned out to be closer to an hour and a half.)

We ended up paying more than I hoped, but this was because we (1) bought the tickets the day of and (2) did not want to commit to a specific return train.  Trains run from Nuremberg to Munich every 30 minutes, and I didn’t want to pin us down.  If we had booked in advance and/or picked specific trains, the ticket would have been much cheaper.  I didn’t want to book in advance because we were playing the weather by ear.  It would have been nicer to get a cheaper ticket, but I figure we paid a premium for the flexibility and for not having to deal with schlepping all of our stuff to a different city for an overnight.  Twice actually because we would have had to return to Munich for the flight.

We opted for reserved seats on the way there, but we would have been OK without it.  We didn’t have any trouble getting seats on the return.

They have ticket kiosks which are very easy to use, but after having some questions, we opted to speak to a real person.  I was excited that I could have conducted the whole thing auf Deutsch!  I eventually asked the guy if we could switch because it was easier consulting with James in English without first having to translate everything.

I hoped Henry would be more jazzed about the train.  I mean, he was excited, but the countryside looked sort of drab and gray on the way there and pitch black on the way back.  He was more into making his dad walk him all over the train.

I will say, preparing to exit the train with the kids and our day trip gear was a little stressful.  The train doesn’t stop for long at each station.  This is great for speeding along on your trip, but less great when you are like CRAP-I-have-to-grab-all-the-bags-and-stuff-kids-in-coats-and-AHHH.  But it all worked out.

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Munich Hauptbahnhof

Nuremberg on its own is an insanely cute German town.  Cobblestones, river running through it, fachwerk, pedestrian zones.  I don’t think I appreciated just how nice of a place it was on its own when I saw it ten years ago.

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The market completely fills the main square.  There are also a few side markets.

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Don’t stare directly into the eyes of the creepy children on top

We enjoyed the heidelbeer gluhwein.  We really enjoyed the nurnberger bratwurst and hazelnut strudel.

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Here’s the famous fountain, the Schöner Brunnen.

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Spin the golden ring for a wish to come true.

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Kaiserburg, the castle, is a hike up the hill.

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After hunting for some kid-friendly tips on the internets, we had an afternoon tea at Cafe Violetta.  (Nuremberg also has a train museum and toy museum that sounded pretty cool for kids, but we didn’t get to those.)  At first, I worried that we made a terrible mistake.  Downstairs is like a cross between an antique store and a fancy coffee shop. The cafe is kind of like being in your cozy Aunt’s house or maybe a common room at Hogwarts.  Plush furniture that doesn’t match, but it goes.  Nooks and alcoves.  It looked great, but not for kids.

Eventually, we found the train table upstairs.  We stalked the squashy couch beside it and eventually had a great time unwinding after being out in the cold drizzle.  Henry was obsessed with the table.  It may have been his favorite thing of the entire trip.  This is why two year olds make crappy tourists.  I could show him the Sistine Chapel and he would probably be like oooo is that a light switch?  (Mac would probably be like LUNCH.  I remember in either first or second grade, the Sistine Chapel National Geographic one was super scandalous.  It was definitely passed around the room and whispered about.)

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And here is the market stretching as far as the eye can see.

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It was a cold and drizzly day, but I’m glad we went.  It’s funny; when I walked around Nuremberg as a student more than ten years ago, I never really thought ahead to what the future might bring.  I didn’t picture some day returning and trying to show my two kids around this market that I loved so much.  Even though I didn’t picture it, I’m glad we were able to make it happen.  Now I’ll just have to bring them back when they can actually appreciate it!

*Only meant to be a silly Lord of the Rings reference.