As the crisp air brightens my cheeks and little puffs of breath escape from my mouth, I inhale the scent of sizzling meat being cooked to perfection. The tantalizing aroma drifts on a light breeze from cheerfully decorated wooden huts and I wonder how many minutes will pass by until we succumb to buying a sausage. Festive lights hang in a canopy over the street, casting a warm glow onto the revelers swaying to the music as they peruse the wares for sale. Although I feel foolish, I can’t wipe the giddy grin from my face. Advent has begun – and there is nothing quite like a European Christmas market to usher in the holiday spirit. With a steaming cup of spiced, mulled wine in one hand and my other tucked into the crook of Kris’s arm, we navigate our way through the merriment as we celebrate the beginning of Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia.
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Housesitting for the holidays is a new concept for us. From the moment we agreed to housesit near Nijmegen, Netherlands from mid-November to the end of January, we began pondering how we would celebrate (American) Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. What are the local traditions? Will we get a tree and decorations? Will there be Christmas markets? Do the Dutch celebrate with a feast? What is on the menu?
We pulled ourselves from the beaches of Mauritius and mountains of Cape Town and purposely headed back to the northern hemisphere – yes, into winter – to take in the sights and sounds of the holiday season by celebrating Christmas in Europe.
We have been able to celebrate Christmas for an entire month, spread over three countries and five cities (Lisbon, Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and Lecce), as celebrating Christams in Europe doesn’t end on December 25, but continues until January 6, the Day of the Epiphany.
We’ve arrived in Spain for the holidays! This year, we’ll be in Barcelona for Christmas. Besides the excitement of it being our first time to Barcelona – a city we’ve tried many times to visit, but could never work into our plans – we are even more ecstatic about the arrival of our friend, Sarah, a.k.a. Lowercase, from the States. It is the second time in our nearly eight months of travel that we’ve taken on an additional passenger on the Jetsetting Fools journey, this time we’ll be covering some ground and in 12 days time visiting Spain’s three largest cities: Barcelona, Seville and Madrid.