Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Ole Scotland

Well, I have been horrible about putting up new posts. But one fab trip to reconsider is covering Christmas (and Hogmanay) in Edinburgh. It is still my favorite city, but a giant Santa Stroll, hearing stories from Santa, and watching Santa feed his reindeer made me feel like I should have three little ones and a picket fence. Or buy more gifts and go whole hog into the social and commercial side of Christmas.

It's interesting being in Germany and then Scotland and seeing everything so unapologetically about Christmas. I kind of felt American twangs for wanting to see a Menorah, Kwanzaa candle, something that actually said "seasons greetings"... And in Celtic land I thought I would see something about winter solstice. But, nah. Besides, Christmas is such an interesting amalagamation with pagan and other tradition symbols wrapped in.

So I sat in Santa's igloo, interviewed a Panto cast (very funny interactive take on children's fairy tales with British humor, song and dance, and always a man in drag as a "Dame"), and even made my way out to Dalry in Ayrshire to interview the Member of Scottish Parliament I used to work for on his top ten things in Glasgow. I ate the best cheese and pickle toasty out there, it made up for being dumped on with rain.>

Then again, it wouldn't be Scotland without any bucketing down.
Wow, do I love it there.
Off to London for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gluhwein, Life Sized Chess, a 2 cylinder fiat, and The Sound of... Karaoke?!

Okay, so this is more of a photologue than a blog post... but Salzburg was gorgeous!!! Katie and I hit up as much of an adventure as three days with travel will allow... starting with a teeny tiny fiat on the Autobahn. As much as I love Italy, our two fiat rentals kept me chanting "I think I can, I think I can" in my head. Eight hours plus one stop in Nurnberg for the world famous Christmas Market (we were two days early, oops), we arrived in the darkness to Salzburg's city limits.

With my less than adept navigation, we finally made our way into the walled city after about a half hour of trying.

And wow. I can be a jaded traveller. But not there! The land of touristy Sound of Music and Mozart lived up to the hype. Old cobblestones, stunning views, water in the center, architecture, nature, wine bars, friendliest German speakers I've ever met. You name it.

We had a bit of a bother trying to get our car into the center and getting into our lodging. But really it was blessed, so I shouldn't complain. And I do mean blessed literally. An old school lodging run by nuns... we couldn't find it exactly, after being redirected from dark alleys and distracting a violin player who really needed her practice, we found the gorgeous old building in the heart of the old towm. And bless, they left the key in an envelope. No down payment. So trusting.

Beyond that, we met a former banker cum wine bar extraordinare with blonde hair to his shoulders and drunken older clientele. One older gentleman was particularly keen on Katie. Wow. That being said the two grape Austrian red was fabulous. As you can see from the pics, we did get to go to the "Do, a dear" lake and a Mozart plus others concert in the downtown Mirabelle. Sadly we didn't find turkey for Thanksgiving, but a small foil of turkey spread provided great entertainment if not a yummy eat. And possibly tastier than those frightening Mozart balls- chocolate candies that should be awesome, but sadly are filled with the least appealing marzipan that has ever passed my lips. The Christmas Markets were in full effect, but sadly for the sellers the only parts that were packed were the gluhwein (hot mulled wine) and food stands-

the giant chess board was popular too. I'll be doing an ambient story and a sad financial story that I'll link later.

After the Mozart concert, we did what any good American tourist would do... looked for American football at and Irish Pub. Instead, we found karaoke! In Germany, Germans do not tend to participate. In Austria, like the strangers who struck up conversations, I learned the populace breaks my preconceived expectations. Hilarious, loud Austrian dialect songs. Less hilarious were the American study abroad girls who thought they owned the place. Not classy to take the mic and steal the Abba song the gay Swede waited an hour for. But another barrier shattered... Katie inspired me to sing solo back and forth with her to "These Boots Are Made For Walking". We also were surrounded by the international reps for Red Bull. Little did I know that there are 30 million more cans of Red Bull drunk in the Ukraine than there are people.


Well, off to German class and then Marla's wedding in Georgia for a long weekend.