Christmas in Europe (Part 1)

It seems appropriate that the first photos I took on our recent trip to Europe were of the charcuterie board and glasses of wine we ordered in a Paris café, a few hours after we landed there from Kuwait on December 20. We booked the trip in part out of a longing for gooey cheeses, cured meats and, yes, wine and beer. Liam becomes positively giddy when presented with brie and a basket filled with crusty bread. My friends, there was a lot of giddiness while we took 10 days to visit Paris and Colmar in France, Heidelberg in Germany, and Interlaken and Lucerne in Switzerland.

Although I’ve been taking an iPhone photography course in an effort to improve my skills, I’ll spare you those first charcuterie images – not my finest work. Instead, view me a few days later in Colmar, expressing my excitement to be back again in Europe.

We booked the trip in the autumn—anxious to escape the heat, envisioning snowy Christmas markets while bundled in hats and gloves. We ended up with rain and temps in the lower 50s, but who’s complaining? I’m grateful we were able to take a break from the daily grind, throw backpacks on our shoulders, explore some stunning cities and landscapes, and give Liam his first taste of continental Europe.

One of my favorite ways to travel is by train. We booked direct flights to and from Paris but from there, we travelled from city to city via pre-booked trains. A younger me might have taken the time to plan out the details herself. At this point in my life, it made way more sense to work with a travel agent, who was able to do the heavy lifting of booking train tickets and hotels, while working with us to shape an itinerary.

Our train station to and from Paris, after our first night and prior to our final three nights, was Gare De L’Est. It was cheerfully festooned with greenery and bows. I snapped the above quickly. I’d taken us on foot about 20 minutes in the wrong direction from our hotel that morning and we were in a bit of a rush to get inside and find our platform. Travelling by train can come with its own issues. We were fortunate not to get caught up in any strikes but while in France, we did have a train stop abruptly and have us disembark, due to an issue with the tracks. They only announced the change in French, but another passenger explained which train we all needed to board instead. We were arriving at the next station after our planned connection, so went rogue and used Google to locate two local trains to get us onward to Colmar.

Waiting for a train, I like to amuse myself by taking pictures. On a train, I am perfectly content to stare out the window for hours. (And take pictures. Lots of pictures….) I think it is one of the best ways to travel from one point to another. It’s a shame to me that trains aren’t more appreciated and utilized world-wide, especially in my home nation.

This was not a restful trip. Several of the places we visited we spent only one night in before having to board a train again the next day. I generally prefer to travel at a more leisurely pace, but with Christmas markets to see before they closed for the season, and with only a limited amount of vacation days, we decided to deal with being a little extra tired so we could fit in a few more locations. Wil and I have both ended up with colds that are making getting back into our normal life groove a bit difficult but we’ll recover soon, I’m sure. The memories we’ve made will last much longer than the sniffles and coughs.

Here’s to a happy new year and to more adventuring in 2023! I’ll post more from the trip in the weeks to come.