Friday, December 21, 2012

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Heading into this long Christmas weekend, we just wanted to say Merry Christmas/Buon Natale to everyone back home...We miss you all lots and we're thinking of everyone during this holiday season. We wish we could be everywhere to celebrate with everyone! Hope everyone has a great, great Christmas! xo

Monday, December 17, 2012

More Christmas Marketing

On Sunday we headed up to Bolzano for the day to visit the Christmas market there - Italy's biggest and best. Also with all the Christmas-marketing we do during this season, we've never actually been to one in Italy. I drove, so it took us several hours to get there instead of only two. But it was so worth it. We walked around and checked out all the stalls which sold millions of Christmas tree ornaments and sparkly decorations and mittens. We ate big pretzels with melted cheese and drank gluhwein and, when we got really cold after the sun went down at 4 pm, tried a Bombardino which is a hot rum drink native to the area, and which we don't get in Cortina since we're technically not part of the South Tyrol region. But - we have prosecco instead, so that's okay. It ended up being a very successful trip because we finally found a star for the top of our tree - and because we stopped for Chinese food on the way home (it was Sunday night after better time for Chinese food)!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Opening Weekend in Cortina

The season has arrived! This past weekend was "opening weekend" in Cortina, a tradition we missed last year because there was no snow. The town filled up with skiers and glitzy people-watchers wearing tons of fur (I had to get out my furry hat to let people know that I live here). We got some snow on Friday for the skiers and on Saturday night the stores stayed open late, played music out on to the street, and gave out free glasses of prosecco to shoppers. Our little Christmas market was in full swing and it was almost impossible to sit down in our favorite cafe on Sunday afternoon! Now that it's Monday though, things are settled down and we're back to normal until next weekend.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Market-ing in Lienz

Today we decided to get out of the country and go see a Christmas market that we haven't been to before. But the best part was - I drove. Ryan lured me into the car, telling me we were going to a CHRISTMAS MARKET (!!) and then he made me drive. All the way to Lienz, Austria. It was my first time driving a stick shift, except for around the parking lot of the rink where I learned - and we all made it home safe and sound.

Anyway. Lienz. It was freezing! On the way there, the temperature was -11 Celsius which is 12 degrees. 12! So we got there and we had to have some gluhwein or else we would have frozen. Also we decided that we are collecting mugs from various Christmas markets throughout Austria, Italy and Germany, so we needed a mug, of course. Then we ate this delicious baked potato with a garlic sour cream sauce and grilled onions and bacon on it. We don't have stuff like that in Cortina. We wandered around and bought an ornament for our tree and a delicious smelling Christmas candle, and then did some grocery shopping - in Austria, they have thrilling things like cumin and cayenne pepper, which you absolutely cannot find in Cortina.

Here's a few pictures from our day:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Krampus

One thing I'm not sure that anyone at home knows about is how incredibly dangerous it is here on December 5. You're just getting in to the holiday swing of things, all the lights are going up on the hotels, the trees are up and lit around town, the Christmas market is being set up....and then December 5th rolls around and you have to stay inside all day, hiding from the Krampus.

ALL images via Google, I would be too scared to take a picture myself

As you can see, the Krampus are beasts who accompany St. Nicolas on December 5 to punish children who have been bad and to scare children into being good during the Christmas season (children, adults, whatever.....I was scared). They drag chains along the ground and always pull a wheel barrow full of fire. They come out as soon as it gets dark and walk around town scaring.....everyone.

This mostly happens in Austria, also in some parts of Germany,  and unfortunately, the South Tyrol - which is basically where we are, and why we have them lurking around in Cortina...the downfalls of being only an hour away from Austria.

Anyway, I had my first scare last year - my friend Natalie and I were caught outside in the open as the Krampus descended on Cortina from the hill behind our apartments (we had to make a run for it to get inside - and they are not afraid to chase you) - so this year I had written on the calendar in big letters "DO NOT GO OUTSIDE". We were able to watch them come down the same hill, right at 5 o'clock when it was dark, from the safety of our balcony. It was thrilling. But then we really couldn't go outside for the rest of the day was time for a glass of prosecco.

Friday, November 30, 2012


On Wednesday and Thursday, we took a little girls trip to Munich. I've never been to Germany before - except the airport - so I was really excited. The weather was AWFUL - freezing and snowy and rainy....but we came prepared with rain boots, umbrellas and hats, so we still had fun walking around and seeing the sights, which was mainly....the Christmas market! Let the Christmas market season BEGIN! Their market had just opened, and was very popular, so we spent a lot of time there buying ornaments for our trees and drinking Gluhwein and eating pretzels and sausages with mustard. We also spent a lot of time in the German grocery stores, looking at all the things they don't have in Italy. We stocked up on German chocolate, beer and clementines (most of which you can probably buy in Cortina, but....), and practiced our German, which was very mediocre. Turns out that Munich is only four hours away from Cortina, so we'll be going back, maybe in the spring when it's not so cold and gray!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Thanksgiving

Here's a few photos from our Thanksgiving dinner last night, if you'd like to see. Last year, our turkey was 40 pounds and this year it rang in at 32 - needless to say, the wings and legs needed to be cut off to fit it in the oven, and then the rest of it turned out very well! Apparently they do not have small turkeys here (I asked for a 20 pound one, and this is what we got).

Everyone brought something to the dinner so we had tons of food - besides the huge turkey, there was mashed potatoes with three different kinds of gravy, two stuffings, squash with walnuts and gorgonzola, Ryan's famous and costly green bean casserole - and - being in Italy, we had to get a little creative. We had carrots with brown sugar instead of sweet potatoes and a cherry sauce instead of cranberry, which they don't have here anywhere, except for in the woods, so says one of the Italians who ventured over. We drank prosecco and ate and ate and ate, and then had tons of dessert - pumpkin cheese cake, chocolate pie, butter cake, lemon bars....My friend Stacy made all the desserts and she's 6 months pregnant so she went a little overboard. Everything was so good AND we played Charades after dinner, so I felt very at home (especially when some of the boys complained about it, and then gave in, just like my dad would do).

Overall, Thanksgiving was a huge hit and now...on to Christmas! Ry and I went for a walk this morning through town and everything was being set up for December 1, when the Christmas season will officially begin!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Bear(s) Went Over the Mountain

Yesterday was Derby Day here in the Dolomites, so Audrey and I headed up and over the mountain and down to Alleghe for the game (we were actually going to visit our friend Natalie, who is now in Alleghe with her fiance, but we saw some of the game while we were there too).

Image via Alleghe Hockey (which is why they're about to score on us)
 Derby Day is a big deal here - every Italian who follows hockey in Cortina, Alleghe and Belluno was crammed into the rink. The game ended up tied at 3-3 at the end, so they went into overtime. If we go into overtime, we get one point, even if we don't win, so Audrey and I were standing there, whispering to each other "20 seconds until we get one point!! 10 seconds until we get one point!!" We got the one point.

Unfortunately, the previously mentioned fiance of our friend Natalie, ended up scoring a very dramatic goal with two minutes left in overtime. Oh well. We got the one point. And that is just one of many things we're thankful for on this Italian Thanksgiving Day!

And now....on to the cooking!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're sending lots of love back home this Thanksgiving day! (And a little bit of jealousy....) We aren't celebrating until Sunday so we still have three days to wait!

We hope everyone has a fun and yummy day - even all the way over here, we are so thankful for our friends and family back home who Skype with us, email us, and keep us in the loop from thousands of miles away.

Stay tuned next week for pictures from our own celebration.....including the 25 dollar green bean casserole which will be making a come back this Sunday. xo

Friday, November 16, 2012

And a Few More....

Back by popular's a few more picture of our trip to Rome earlier this month.

The Victor Emmanuel monument, which was very close to our little hotel

Rainy streets in Trastevere, our first night

Great view of the Colosseum

Walking around the Forum....

More Forum

A beautiful ceiling in the Vatican Museum - which we saw a lot of

A map from the "map room" in the Vatican Museum....we were trying to look for Cortina!

Even MORE walls and ceilings!

A view of Piazza del Popolo

A little duck pond in the Borghese Gardens

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Ryan has a tough game on Saturday night against Brunico - they're #1 - but we won on Thursday so we might be making a come back....