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November 2011
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January 2012

2011 year-end review






Here's to 2011!  We had a great year of travel.  We had the opportunity to visit eleven countries, including four that we visited for the first time (Turkey, Cambodia, Thailand, and Romania).  France was our most visited country, we hopped over there four times.  We have selected a favorite photo from each trip for this post.  To see more photos and read about our adventures, just click on the country name and it will take you directly to the post.



Bangkok Thailand



Thailand bangkok 43



Cambodia - Temples of Angor Wat


Temples of cambodia 21



Cambodia - a village in the water



Stilted village for blog 24



Cambodia - Sojourn Village


Sojourn village 12



Belgian Countryside



Orval 28



Istanbul Turkey


Istanbul blog 38





Berlin and hamburg 3






Berlin and hamburg 26




ROMANIA people 15



Alsace, France



Alsace blog 15



Loire Valley, France



Loire valley 65






Singapore (D)

In De Wulf - Heuvelland Belgium


Photo w chef


Alsace France - Christmas



AJ - skates and bear 2



Paris - Big 50



Paris 1





And our new home, our new country - Singapore!


Singapore 81

Thank you to everyone who visits our Blog!  We are thrilled that you leave comments and come back often.  The new year, 2012, is going to be an exciting time for us as we pack up our apartment and move to Singapore.  We hope you stay with us for another year of exciting travel and please drop us a note every now and then - we love to meet the people who read our blog.

Happy New Year to you and your family!  

Donald and Cathy

D's big 5-0 in Paris!




Paris 7

My honey-pie turned 50 on Dec 23rd.  As crazy as we are with the move, the morning of his b-day we hopped on the train to Paris for the night.  We came home the next day, which was Christmas Eve.


Paris 1


He did all HIS favorite things on HIS special birthday


We visited the Christmas Market:

Paris 10

Paris 3

We discovered fabulous caramels made by Henri Le Roux.  I love caramels, D is so-so about them.  But after eating an entire bag - he agreed these were delicious and the best he had ever eaten.

Paris 4

Early evening, we checked out the department stores  “Vitrines de Noël” (holiday windows).  Gallery Lafayette and Printemps are known for their special Christmas windows.





Galeries Lafayette’s theme was “Noël Rock ‘n’ Mode” created by New York artist Andrew Yang.  Because they are animated, it is very difficult to get clear photos.



The miniature puppets were called Kouklistar poupées with names like Brigitte, Imany, and Inna Modja, along with Mademoiselle K, Medi, and Cyril Mokaiesh. Made of soft muslin and hand-painted, they danced away in front of the crowds.





 The musical bus.





Inside Galeries Lafayette there is a huge tree in the center of the store that goes up 66 feet, almost reaching the the grand domed ceiling, created in 1912.  It was decked out in  55 neon signs continuing the "Rock in Mode" theme.  The store was so crowded, we only took a quick look at the tree and left.  I must be getting old  :  )









At Printemps, the windows were created by Karl Lagerfeld. Titled "Christmas Dreams of Far Away", the windows displayed holiday scenes from legendary cities around the world.  The cities were selected by Lagerfeld as sources of inspiration and destinations that have been part of Chanel’s history.





His concept was designed to take visitors on a small trip around the world in just a few minutes. It even had an airplane from Los Angles to take you on this magical ride. 





Featuring a pilot and a flight attendant embraced in a kiss on the top of the plane.





The displays had an enchanting appeal, fused with Lagerfeld’s trademark charisma and flair.  Many were animated, but not all.

A few of the cities included Moscow:




New York




















And I am not sure which country this one is from:






My favorite, was Paris - with many tiny Carls dancing around the city....








For D's birthday dinner we ate at Le Tir Bouchon, one of our favorite Parisian restaurants in the 2nd arrondissement.  D had baked camembert cheese for a starter, and the beef onglet in a red wine sauce for his main.  I had ravioli des poisson (fish) and the house special of duck confit, foie gras, and mashed potatoes.  We had a lovely bottle of red wine from St Emillion and we shared a chocoalte moelleux for dessert.  It was a delicious meal



Paris 2


The next day, to continue doing all of D's favortie things for his B-day weekend, we went to the flea market!  Wasn't he lucky that it was open Christmas Eve Day?

Flea d

We ate lunch at another favorite Brasseries just down the street from the flea - La Porte Didot.  It is a very local place where they serve typical French food.  Always good.  We also got to visit Dave and Fatama in their new Paris apartment.  They just moved in on Dec 21 so I did not think it was fair to take any photos.

I had an excellent Birthday trip doing all my favoite things in Paris....I mean.....D had an excellent birthday trip.  Look at that is a happy 50 year old!



Paris 11


Farewell Paris - we may not see you again for many years!



Paris 6

Christmas in Alsace France




Not quite French, not quite German - Alsace France is a world all to it's own.  Nestled between the Rhine River and Germany, Alsace has some of the most spectacular Christmas Markets in Europe.  Dating back to 1570, the markets run from late November until December 31st.




Strasbourg claims to be the capital of Christmas.  History says..... that Christmas tress were sold here back in the 16th century along with decorations of paper roses, apple and sweets.




Folklore says that in 1858 there was a bad drought and there was no fruit for the children to hang from the trees, so a glass blower created glass balls - the first Christmas balls.




Unfortunately, due to high winds and heavy rains - the Strasbourg Christmas market was closed for the day.  All of the chalets were shut tight.




A custom of this area is to decorate the windows and doors with elaborate decorations  - with the primary ones being stuffed animals.  To see many more of the decorated windows, hop over to my art blog - Ma Vie Trouvee.


Alsace 30


Kaysersberg,  a charming village with less than 3000 residents was the market we visited on Saturday.  I was not able to get any photos of the market as it was crowded and raining so lots of umbrellas! 


There were some elaborate decorations in the village. 


Alsace 15



This was outside of a restaurant.






So much yummy food to eat in this area, and extra special treats for the season.




A peek through the windows.










With lots of sauerkraut and meat!




We stayed at our VERY favorite B&B in Europe, Ambiance Jardin.  We have stayed here five times over the four years we have live in Brussels.  If you visit this area you MUST stay here!  I have shared many photos of the B&B in previous posts - but here are a few more with Pierrette's beautiful Christmas vignettes (and a little PSE altering).




AJ - skates and bear 2




Our lovely breakfast table.




Despite the rain, we still had a fun time.  We highly recommend a visit to this part of France anytime of the year, but especially at Christmas!