What can we say? We love animals. So when we encountered these guys during our stay at a 1,700-acre ranch just outside Billings, Montana, we had to say hi to them. These are Nigerian Dwarf goats, whose owner picked them up at the Montana State Fair. If you have the right kind of open range, they make great pets, and they’ll follow you anywhere.
They’re a growing trend in the States, but a staple of Christmas in Europe. A Christmas Market is pretty much what it sounds like:
Markets. At Christmas.
Each year, for about a month before Yule, many towns and cities across the continent set up makeshift marketplaces in their center squares, with food, drinks of all kind, and Christmas-themed trinkets. Lights are just part of the show, including those that adorn buildings and churches (see below). Larger Christmas markets usually have ice skating rinks set up in the middle of them.
Roasted chestnuts are some of the favorites, along with Glühweinand well-decorated cookies. Of course, if that’s not your thing, there’s plenty of other local eats, depending on the country. We’ve visited a number of Christmas markets in Western Europe and found Germany and Belgium host some of the most elaborate ones (perfect places to get chocolate-covered Belgian waffles!). Although we haven’t made it to Switzerland yet, we’ve heard the Christmas Market in Zurich is by far the best anywhere.
And then there’s the Christmas trees. Europe really takes their Christmas trees seriously, putting the one at Rockefeller Plaza to shame.
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…But this one is pretty cool. Records stores seem to be a thing of the past, but since the music scene is always changing, evolving, revolving, and so on, we found a place that’s found a way to make it work in the 21st century. We like to look out for our music peeps, so if you’re in San Mateo, CA, check out Vinyl Solution. Plenty of new and used stuff, and lots of old school mementos for all us nostalgic types out. Friendly people inside.
We spent a lot of time in California this summer, sometimes just taking in the surf. But as we cruised through the Bay Area, we had to stop at Nini’s Coffee Shop in San Mateo, our second time here. San Mateo has already proven to be a neat place, especially with our stop at a vintage record store.
So what makes this corner diner a real dish? It’s Nini’s!! Everyone knows that. The inside courtyard and all its out-of-place-yet-good-fit-for-this-place decorations always entertain. From street signs to statues, a fire hydrant and even a Texaco fuel pump (we’ve seen those before), you could say that Nini’s doubles as an unofficial museum. Never a dull moment.
And the food is fantastic! It’s a great place to unwind and take in the nice California breeze. Nini’s has been around forever, and judging by how busy it always is when we visit, it’s not going anywhere.
Wilson Arch just happens to sit on the side of the road, not far from Hole N’ The Rock. In fact, we first noticed it on our way to Hole N’ The Rock. We actually passed it before we realized what it was, so we immediately turned around. This we had to check out; it seemingly came out of nowhere.
Utah is famous for its Arches National Park, which is home to the famed Delicate Arch. But Wilson Arch gives you the chance to see one of these rare natural phenomena up close. And you can climb it!
It’s a steep trek up and a tough workout from its base, which is literally right off Route 191. But you’ll forget all that once you see the view. Would you believe people actually live on the other side? Expensive real estate to be sure (see pictures below). Please be careful though; Wilson Arch is delicate and has, unfortunately, been vandalized over the years, so please be respectful of the natural beauty of the area.