This photo has become a tradition for this blog on each Christmas Eve since 2010. This ornament is appropriate, as it was spied that year hanging in a vendor’s booth at the Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria.

I do believe I missed last year, but we were busy traveling the world. Goddess and I spent the first half of this year continuing those travels, spending time with friends and family all over the world.  We’ve settled down for a spell to see how that suits us.

Know that our wish for you is to have a peaceful end of the calendar year adhering to whatever practices bring you comfort and joy.

Hopefully you will find a bit of relaxation in there too.

Christmas Eve Globe Lights Ornament by Bill Anders Photography

Markets Galore

‘Sal, we gotta go and never stop going ’till we get there.’
‘Where we going, man?’
‘I don’t know but we gotta go.’

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Since finishing our thru-hike in late October, that has been us.  Other than two specific scheduled events, we have been floating, planning our travels no more than a few days in advance at most.

Since late November we have been mainly in Germany, but also in Belgium visiting friends and seeing the sights.  We are thankful to have such a vast network of friends who are willing to let us couch surf and take time out of their busy schedules to show us around.

We arrived in Germany just in time for our favorite part of the year, Weinachtsmarkt  (Christmas Market) season.  We made sure to attend a few.


Weinachtsmarkt and Castle, Heidelberg, Germany


Pyramid and Heiligeistkirche, Heidelberg, Germany


Pyramid and kirche, Hockenheim, Germany


Weinachtsmarkt and Dom, Speyer, Germany


Saint Nikolas delivery, Speyer Dom, Speyer, Germany


Weinachtsmarkt statement, Detmold, Germany


Weinachtsmarkt madness, Freiburg, Germany


Weinachtsmarkt skating on New Year’s Eve, Köln  (Cologne), Germany


Steampunk carousel, Bruxelles  (Brussels), Belgium


Dancing lights, Bruxelles  (Brussels), Belgium


Market Square, Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

One unfortunate impact on all of these markets was the weather.  It has been unseasonably warm, which really impacts the feel of the market.  It’s a different experience to drink hot glühwein when it’s 12°C (55°F) than it is when it’s -2°C (28°F).  For those markets that had skating rinks, the skaters were moving through puddles and pools more than they were gliding.

But please don’t take any of that as a complaint. We recognized that we were spending our December in Christmas Markets in Europe. It’s very difficult to top that.


This photo has become a tradition on this blog on Christmas Eve, now on its fourth year running.

Why is that?  There are so many different ways to view this, if you want to look.  So many different meanings, if you wish to look.

However you choose to look at it, just know that my wish for you have a peaceful end of the calendar year, adhering to whatever practices bring you comfort and joy and hopefully a bit of relaxation.

Christmas Eve Globe Lights Ornament by Bill Anders Photography

Christmas Tree

Goddess and I got rid of our Christmas tree last week.  We hadn’t put it up in years and found someone who needed one.

So it’s set up in another home this season and is decorated beautifully.

So, unbeknownst to Goddess at the time, the other day I adopted this tree when we were out at one of the mountain lakes, hoping for a break in the snow and clouds for some late afternoon mountain pictures.

A bit of a Charlie Brown tree, but that’s OK.  Considering the amount of downed trees around it, it’s doing quite well.

Once again, thanks goes to Goddess, my ever-patient VALS, providing the lighting from camera right.

After the Glüwein’s gone…

Oh, the humanity!”

OK, maybe not on that scale, but it’s a tragedy when you’re hoping for one last cup before headed home, only to discover that they’ve shut down the Weinachtsmarkt.

But then again, that’s the best time to get some photos, especially when they turn off the glaring lights on the Käthe Wohlfahrt pyramid, which just hours before was lit so bright that it overwhelmed the surroundings and made for horrible photos.

The nice thing about long exposures (20 seconds in this case) is that you really do not get a feel for how hard it was snowing at this time.

And that was before it really started coming down.  We woke up to 4+ inches on the ground the next morning.

Smokin’ & Jokin’

No matter how cool the weather, there’s always a place to stay warm while talking with friends and enjoying a beverage.

Graber, Innere Stadt, Wien, Austria


Time for some Weinachtsmarkts!

Our first was two weeks ago in Vienna.  This past week a few local ones have started and they will all be in full swing this weekend, just in time to start the Advent season.

At each market, there’s plenty of shopping to be done.  And since it’s cold, a hot mug of glühwein always hits the spot.

The best part?  No one lets the weather dictate whether or not they get outside.

Goddess and I spent a great Thanksgiving afternoon in the cold, rain mixing with snow, in a small Weinachtsmarkt just down the street from the snow-covered Kiaserdom zu Speyer, which will celebrate its 950th anniversary next year.

And that’s something to hoist the glühwein to.