It has been several years since I’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving abroad. It used to be more of a regular occurrence. It had been playing around in my head for a while to try and put together a trip for this year and when my friend Nilufer moved to Luxembourg, I decided I really should make this happen!
The end of November is still a little early for Christmas markets, however Vienna’s Christmas markets would be open, which is how I ended up in Vienna to start my trip.
After I landed in Vienna, I made my way to the hotel where I met up with Nilufer and we began our explorations. But first, dessert! Our hotel (Pension Suzanne) was in a great location, near the Opera and more importantly, near the Sacher Café!! I had once read a book that took place in Vienna and the characters would often go to the Sacher Café. When I visited Vienna with Jana, we had several meals at the Sacher Café and discovered their delicious chocolate liqueur. I happily introduced Nilufer to the Sacher Café.
The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the various Christmas markets, drinking gluhwein, and eating all the things. Oh and eggnog!! I have a rule (self-imposed) that no eggnog is allowed until after Thanksgiving, but since Vienna doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I think I can break this rule. Right?
For dinner, we had Weiner Schnitzel (what else are you going to eat in Austria?) at Figlmueller (behind the cathedral) and called it an “early” night since I could barely keep my eyes open.
Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel (typical European breakfast) before making our way to the main train station to catch a train to Bratislava. We arrived at the Petrzalka station and caught the bus to the old town, driving across the New Bridge (Novy Most) with the giant UFO looking observation deck. We spent the day wandering around Bratislava Castle, the old town, and the Christmas markets! We even climbed stairs up to the top of St Michael’s Gate and ate at the oldest restaurant in Bratislava.
We caught the bus back to the train station and the train back to Vienna. We finished our night with what else but a hot chocolate at the Sacher Café!
Monday was our last day in Vienna and we started off with breakfast at Aida, near the cathedral (a Viennese chain established in 1913). We had the tower of breakfast! And it really was a tower! It barely fit on the table!!
After breakfast, we caught the tram out to Schonnbrun Palace and meandered the grounds (it was a beautiful day) before exploring their Christmas markets, complete with gluhwein. We made our way back into town and meandered some more before it was time to make our way to the airport to catch a flight back to Luxembourg.
Nilufer was back at work Tuesday and so I took the train to Metz (in France). If you are counting, that would be country number 4 (Austria, Slovakia, Luxembourg and now France). Metz was a charming little town and I happily wandered through their Christmas markets (which were just starting), cobbled streets, and the magnificent cathedral. It threatened to rain most of the day and even started sprinkling at one point. When it finally started raining in earnest, I made my way back to Luxembourg where I met up with Nilufer for a delicious Italian dinner!
Wednesday I was on my own again and made my way out to Vianden (in Luxembourg), which involved a train to Ettelbruck and a bus to Vianden. The bus stop was in the town of Vianden and the castle was at the top of the hill so up I climbed. Up and up and up.
After touring the castle, I was on my way back down when a sign caught my eye. It looked like it was pointing to a good view-point. You know me, I’ll do just about anything for a good view or a good picture and so I started climbing again. The trail was almost completely covered with leaves, which of course disguises the tree roots and other tripping hazards. I gingerly climbed up the switchbacks until I got a decent view. I think I may have gotten a better view if I had continued up, but figured I might be pressing my luck, considering my history of tripping. And my general clumsiness. Even if I could climb all the way up, I would still have to make my way down (which might be worse).
I wandered around the town before beginning my journey back. I explored Luxembourg City a bit until Nilufer was done with work and we ventured to the Christmas markets.
Thanksgiving! We celebrated by making our way to Echternach (oldest town in Luxembourg, however there is an Echternacherbruck in Germany across the river).
We stopped off at the Tourist Info Office which was closed but there was a brochure with a walk around the city.
We had lunch in what looked like a hole in the wall but was highly recommended on yelp. And they had turkey on the menu! Of course I had to have the turkey!!
We attempted to explore a nearby castle, only to discover it was closed when we arrived. So instead we made our way into the Mullerthal (aka Little Switzerland) and did a baby hike out to a beautiful little waterfall (Schiessentümpel). We made our way back to Luxembourg for dinner at a Spanish restaurant, where we had pumpkin soup to continue the Thanksgiving theme.
Friday morning, it was time for me to leave. Nilufer dropped me off at the train station and I began my journey to Bremen to visit my friend Mandi. Mandi and I went to high school together and have a history of meeting up in places not in Seattle. In fact, she was in Bonn at the same time I was in Bonn (how crazy to think that was 8 years ago!!). Mandi met me at the train station and she showed me around Bremen’s old town and their Christmas markets where more gluhwein was consumed! Along with other deliciousness.
Mandi was hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, so Saturday morning she took me on a tour of some absolutely charming houses as we picked up the last few ingredients needed for dinner. We cooked and decorated and before you knew it, it was time for Thanksgiving dinner. Dinner was super fun and delicious! And it was so great to see where Mandi lives and catch up.
My flight home was way too early Sunday morning. I had opted to pay for economy plus (it was an extra $100 or so) for the extra leg room. I do have to say for that long of a flight, it was worth it. I didn’t feel nearly as cramped and I was very happy to be able to stretch my legs out.
And there you have it – what I did over Thanksgiving break.