Wednesday: Colmar, France

We left Strasbourg this morning and drove to Colmar, about an hour away. Colmar is where Frederic Bartholdi was born – the Statue of Liberty sculptor – and the town celebrates him with a museum and his name on some buildings and businesses. Since the museum wasn’topen until later in the afternoon, our plan was to visit the Unterlinden Art Museum there, but there was also a holiday market.

The museum was interesting, but the market was excellent. We got a few gifts and some hot cider in their Calmor Christmas mug.

We had lunch in a restaurant near the museum and walked around the city center, checking out the holiday decorations. It was very cold out, so we left and headed south toward Arles, where we will spend a few days. It is seven hours away, so we won’t get there today.

photos: a Statue of Liberty replica in the center of a roundabout. It was very foggy; at the Unterlinden museum; the entrance to the holiday market

Friday: Vienna

I was surprised to see that Black Friday is a big thing here, and I am guessing it is “celebrated” throughout Europe. The holiday shopping season seems to officially begin today, the last Friday in November.

Shoppers were out in force throughout the city – at least double the crowds we have seen in the past few days. It reminded me of Manhattan on a busy weekend.

We headed to the Schoenbrunn Palace to escape the crowds and to see the beautiful, restored summer home of the Hapsburg rulers. The tour takes visitors through 40 rooms, each unbelievably extravagant in every way. I was disappointed that no photos are permitted inside the palace.

There was a big holiday market on the palace grounds and about a third of the things for sale I hadn’t seen yet anywhere else. I didn’t buy anything but enjoyed looking.

We took the tube back into the center of the city and had lunch and fought the crowds as we strolled around. People were everywhere. It seemed that everyone had at least one shopping bag. We head to Salzburg tomorrow.

photos: Christmas decoration in the city; The palace; rolling pins. I wish I’d have bought one

Saturday, March14: Madrid

Before I left ( sort of blurry as Roger wanted to get moving already)

Before I left ( sort of blurry as Roger wanted to get moving already)

Saturday afternoon in a coffee shop near our hotel.

Saturday afternoon in a coffee shop near our hotel.

Here I am, reporting from the center of the city and sitting happily in a hip coffee shop. I’m jet-lagged but sipping strong coffee as I post this. Most of the people here seem to be very interested in the soccer game on TV.
Our flight to Chicago, JFK, then Madrid was largely uneventful. What a great feeling it was to tote around my light-as-a-feather luggage and not have the zipper threatening to burst from being over-stuffed. This, my friends, may be the only way to travel!
I wore a shirt and sweater that I may be happy to have later on in the trip, and black pants that I will for sure wear again. Photos of departure clothes should appear above.
When we arrived in Madrid, it was 9am and of course (1) there was no room available since check-in is at 1pm, (2) I was so tired from not sleeping on the plane that I may have been seeing double, (3) I really wanted to take a shower.
None of those things were going to change for a while, so we did what needed to be done: had breakfast then set out to shop! We went to the Salamanca district, which has many wonderful stores and was bustling with activity on a Saturday morning. I did well on this first trip. I found a really pretty top that I’ll wear to dinner one night (not tonight though), a couple pairs of pants, a top I’m wearing now, some shoes, and (crucial): undergarments.
Roger is a good sport about shopping, and by that I mean he wanders off and buys himself what he wants (gloves, socks) and then looks for me (this is complicated by not having our phones on to text each other).
Eventually we walked back to the hotel, shopping bags in hand, and got our room. Right now, he’s asleep and I guess I should be, but I ventured out instead (I’m thinking that I may not be back in Madrid for some time, so I won’t waste it napping). There are all sorts of street performers, flamenco dancers, some magic acts, and plenty of people milling around on this sunny Saturday. I ended up getting another pair of shoes and a pair of pants that I didn’t try on (feeling lazy). Then I popped in here and asked a joven to take my picture. As you can see, my outfit today is nothing special: it’s Spanish, though and I am very happy to be off to a good start!
Adios for now,


On March 13, I left for Spain and Portugal. I carried one suitcase. It only contained toiletries.

Yes, that’s right. The only clothes I have brought on this 17-day trip are the ones I wore on the plane. Packing was amazingly stress-free.

My plan is to buy clothes as I travel. That may or may not be the smartest idea I have had in a long time. Regardless, this blog will document my trip.

Thanks for reading and sharing!