Tuesday, December 30, 2008
And that's just what we got! This year, Jon and I spent Christmas in Shonburg Castle located in the village of Oberwesel on the Rhine River. It was an amazing experience and it was special to be able to spend it with our dear friends, Dave and Michelle, and Michelle's parents. We arrived at the castle in the afternoon of Christmas Eve and enjoyed our complimentary sherry and cake in D & M's tower room.
After exploring the castle grounds, we all retired to our rooms to get ready for our gourmet Christmas Eve dinner. We had four delicious courses of fancy food and exchanged gifts around the table.
Jon and I received some adorable coffee mugs with Australian animals on them.
After dinner, we all went to the tower to sing carols together, and read the Christmas story.
After breakfast on Christmas Day, we embarked on a mini-tour of the Rhine and visited the Loreley (famous rock cliff that is legend to be home to a fair maiden) and later meandered along the Rhine to the town of Rudesheim where we had the famous Rudesheimer coffees.
Jon and I returned home and had a couple hours to prepare our potato dishes before going to our the Grades house for Christmas dinner. We enjoyed a delicious turkey with all the sides, but were eager to return to our apartment for the gift opening extravaganza. We had so much fun opening the many gifts from our families and each other.
In addition to a beautiful ring, Jon got me a karaoke game with microphones to play on his new Playstation 3. So, in true Clough fashion, between every gift we opened, we sang a song.
It was the perfect Christmas Night together and although we missed our families, we made the most of it and had a fantastic time with just the two of us. But, we weren't completely alone. We did have our mascots the Fox and Weasel taking part in the fun with us.
Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, which means we will be hosting the annual New Year's Eve pre-party followed by a fireworks display at the Kurhaus (Casino) near our apartment. I'm looking forward to another great celebration to ring in the new year. It just keeps getting better and better!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Erich was voted the "Elf" for the party and was lucky enough to wear this sylish outfit most of the night.
Besides getting incredibly lost navigating our way through the narrow alleyways and canals, we visited St. Mark's cathedral, the Doge's Palace and of course, had to take a gondola ride.
After our trip to Venice, we decided to explore some of the nearby towns in the Veneto region.
After touring Bassano del Grappa, we went to Marostica where we experienced a gourmet dinner in a castle the night before. Above this medieval town sits the ruins of a castle that has now been converted to a restaurant. We climbed to the top on a stone path through olive orchards.After a week of divine sunshine and exploring the beautiful towns of the Veneto, we traveled north to the heart of the Dolomites.... Cortina. It snowed our entire drive to Cortina and we were excited about the opportunity to ski on fresh powder the first weekend the ski runs would be open this season.
Although it was challenging skiiing through the intense powder, we had so much fun and the snow even let up and the sun broke through for a couple hours. This is such a beautiful town and I can see why so many people vacation here each winter.
It was sad to leave our Italian adventure, but then again we were only heading back to Germany. How bad could it be? We're still in Europe, the Christmas markets would be in full swing, the holiday season is near, but best of all.... we're together. We really ARE living the dolce vita!