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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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.
Where else can you see 9% of an entire state from one spot? On a clear day, that would be New Mexico, viewed from Sandia Peak. We were lucky to visit on such a gorgeous day since we saw far beyond from all sides.
Located just east of Albuquerque, Sandia Peak provides one of the most amazing views in the United States. New Mexico is famous for its beautiful mesas and desert landscapes; here’s your chance to see them. The best way to the top is through the Sandia Peak Tramway, a nearly three-mile (roomy) cable car trip up the slope that provides magnificent views above and below along the way. The Tramway brings you to a viewing platform over 10,000 feet up. It can be a little chilly at that altitude–even on hot summer days–so bring a sweater.
Enough with words. This post is better conveyed through pictures. Notice the cool cloud formations. Enjoy!
Learn to Take Stunning Pictures of the Moon with a Smartphone and Backyard Telescope
This is a lot of fun. Here at UW, we enjoy playing around with technology without spending a lot of money. A couple years ago we figured out a cool and cheap way to take stunning pictures of the moon. Two things are needed: a smartphone and a telescope. The caveat? Well, it takes a lot of time, patience, and tries to get that one shot that’s just right. But on a warm summer night when there’s a bright moon and nothing better to do….why not?
Here’s our proven method
Get a cheap backyard telescope. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy; we picked up ours for $20 at a garage sale. It may not be able to give you the planets, but any telescope should be able to give you a clear view of the moon. NOTE: for best results, use a telescope with an upright eyepiece (that forms a right angle with the telescope). This design allows easy access between phone and lens.
Wait for a night when the moon is really bright and the skies are clear, then bring it outside, put in the best eyepiece available, and place your smartphone’s camera lens right up to the eyepiece, but there should be no contact between the two. If done right, the moon should come into focus on your screen, and look something like this…
Stabilize the shot if the autofocus doesn’t do it for you. This is the tricky part. It’s best if your phone’s camera has an autofocus feature, but you’ll probably need to manually adjust it anyway by tapping the screen periodically. It might sound easy, but depending on the phone and the telescope, you may have to take the time to carefully adjust the distance between the camera lens and the eyepiece. Also, as you’re doing that, don’t forget that the moon is constantly moving in the night sky. You’ll have to adjust the telescope periodically as the moon will move out of view every couple of minutes.
Have fun! Take as many pictures as you can; you can weed out the bad and blurry ones later. Go crazy and run your best photos through filters to make it look sharper, brighter, or change the moon’s color like we did.
Have fun and good luck. Check out our gallery below!
You see a sign that says “view area” after driving all day. You’re tired, and maybe you think “I’ll pass…still gotta long way to go.” We’ll admit that even we do that sometimes, but those viewing areas tucked away on the side of the road–or the side roads–can turn out to be the best free views you can find on your all-American road trip.
We’ll always be grateful for deciding to stop at Harley Dome View Area in Eastern Utah that one evening.
Located just 3.5 miles west of the Utah-Colorado border along I-70 (see map), Harley dome gives you an up-close view of the West’s jagged yet amazing landscape. Look carefully and you can watch hawks fly around. Then take the winding path up to the main attraction: a panoramic view of the Wild West. Words cannot describe this place, but pictures can.
Don’t miss this opportunity; Utah is a beautiful state. The evidence begins the moment you arrive.