Moments of Merriment and Where I’ve Been Lately

A Heartfelt and Happy (quite belated) New Year!

You haven’t heard from me lately because not only did we receive our international shipment of household goods, (hundreds of boxes, now unpacked), but a Christmas miracle happened! After five months in our new country without transport- our car arrived by boat to Central Africa from Japan! Freedom! Hooray!! I’ve been exploring… stories to come.

After settling in those first months, we took a break from tropical Gabon during the holidays in search of a change of seasons, Christmas lights, and festive spirit. Here are a few moments that charmed us on our trip to Paris and Munich.

As darkness blanketed Paris, trees lining the Champs-Elysee came alive, illuminating the avenue with enchanting champagne glass shapes with moving, silver twinkling lights simulating bubbles.

The upscale patisserie Laduree had special holiday macarons in flavors of pine and rosemary, and even one coated in gold-leaf like pirate treasure.

Ramsay, age ten, wanted to go into Rolex. “There aren’t toys in there- just very expensive watches,” I said.

Undaunted, he passed through security and entered the crowded shop with confidence. His intuition served him well. After a quick tour inside, he exited smiling. He had gotten a photo with Santa and was given a cup of hot cocoa along with a cola-flavored candy cane. (Well done, Rolex! Kudos to their brand manager in Paris).

We were enticed by the gorgeous window displays and festive Christmas music in the shops. For my own stocking, I was delighted to find Damman Freres loose tea and good quality stationery. Chef Brad was bewitched by a single fried egg-sized, gleaming copper pan.

Rams used Christmas money to purchase an instant Polaroid camera. In the cold, when it took a long time for his first photograph to develop, we thought perhaps it wasn’t working, but once inside the warm lounge of the Crillon Hotel, to the sound of live piano, the picture emerged.

Through the train window in Germany, I was moved by the silhouette of black birds flying across snow-covered fields.

In Marienplatz, there was a contagious joyful spirit with live Mozart bands, carolers, an enormous Christmas tree, and happy dogs with their owners strolling about. We were impressed when a knight in shining armor slayed a horseman in the moving Glockenspiel.

And oh, the winsome wooden huts strung with lights at night in the Christmas Markets! Frosted gingerbread cookies, wooden ornaments, and artisan crafts. We found a darling ceramic house with candlelight glowing through its windows.

Our nightly ritual for our few days in Munich was to browse Christmas markets in the evening and hold warm, stocking-shaped mugs of marshmallows floating in hot chocolate and clove and cinnamon-spiced gluhwein. The delicious scent of doughnuts, crepes, and grilled sausages wafted from the stalls with steam rising into the cold air.

At the Hofbrauhaus, a Bavarian oompah band played, men wore lederhosen, and we ate oversized pretzels, bratwurst, and sauerkraut and drank from and steins. There was also a game or two of gin rummy with Batman cards. (Ramsay is practicing so he can beat Gran when we visit the U.S. this summer).

We had a gorgeous day trip driving through the snow-capped mountains to the opulent Neuschwanstein Castle. We took a horse-drawn carriage and enjoyed learning there were mysterious circumstances around King Ludwig the 2nd’s death.

On our return to Munich, we made a detour to see a stunning, cobalt lake, have a snowball fight, and giggle our way down a hill while tobogganing.

And to complete our trip, a yodeling Lego lady.

Wishing you joy and merriment in 2023, with experiences that make you feel alive!