Christmas Markets 2022–Prague

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Continuing our trip, on 12/6/2022, we took a train from Berlin to Prague.  Uncharacteristically, based on our experience with train travel in Europe, this trip which was supposed to take approximately 4 hours ended up taking almost 9 hours due to multiple delays along the way.  Once we arrived, we obtained an Uber ride to the Charles Central Hotel.

Our first day began with a walking tour of the central city which started at the Powder Tower.  This is one of the original gates of the city and dates from approximately 1475.  At one time it was used to store gun power, thus the name.  Here are some of the other highlights of our time in Prague. Continue reading

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Christmas Markets 2022–Berlin

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On December 3rd, 2022, we departed for an 11 day trip to sample some of Europe’s Christmas markets.  We were accompanied on this trip by our friend Steve.  Our itinerary was to fly into Berlin, then on to Prague and Budapest.  We returned to LA from Budapest on the 14th.

Gendarmenmarkt Berlin

Our first stop in Berlin was brief since Valerie and I had visited here previously in 2019.  But we wanted to see some of the many beautiful Christmas markets to be found here.  We began with a visit to some of the familiar sights in Berlin, Brandenberg Gate, Victory Column, etc.

Later we managed to get to three of the large Christmas markets located at Potsdamer Platz, Gendarmenmarkt and Alexanderplatz.  All of the usual German delights were available including sausages of all kinds, pork knuckle, pommes and, of course, beer and Gluehwein (German mulled wine).

We’ll cover our other stops in subsequent posts.

Honokaa Class Reunion

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On September 30th, Valerie and I accompanied Valerie’s mom, Umeno, and her mom’s good friend Kazuko to Las Vegas for a class reunion for graduates of Honokaa High School, Hawaii.  It was actually Valerie’s dad, Bob, who attended that school since Honokaa was his hometown.  But Mom has attended this annual reunion for many years and enjoys reconnecting with their friends.

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They invited graduates from almost any year so the group had representatives from something like 20 or 30 years of graduating classes.  They had a few events including a luncheon attended by the entire group with entertainment and prize drawings.

Since this was during the Octoberfest season, Valerie and I decided to check out Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas.  Earlier this year, while visiting Munich we went to the original Hofbrauhaus.  The Las Vegas location gets their beer from the brewery in Munich so it was an authentic experience.  It also gave us an opportunity to reminisce about our time in Germany only about 5 months prior.

Oakland, CA

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Next up on our mini-vacation to the San Francisco Bay Area was a quick stop in Oakland to visit with Valerie’s cousin, Marcy and her significant other, Marc.  They have an apartment near Jack London Square in Oakland.  This part of the city is very lively with lots of restaurants, breweries and other activities.  Their apartment is in one of the recently completed buildings nearby.

Waterfront at Jack London Square

We started our visit with a stroll around Jack London Square and they treated us to a wine tasting at Rosenblum Cellars, a winery right on the Oakland waterfront.  Afterward, we had a terrific brunch at Fat Lady restaurant.  In the evening we went to a nearby brewery that was having a comedy night with 5 local stand up comedians.

We started off our Sunday with a nice hike in nearby Redwood Regional Park.  This a huge park with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the hills east of Oakland.  There are some nice spots with good views to the west to Oakland and the San Francisco Bay beyond.  After working up a good appetite, we had brunch at one of their favorite spots, the Chop Bar which very recently moved to a new location which is just downstairs from their apartment.  Quite delicious.

Our time with Marcy was all too brief but filled with fun activities, food and beverages.

Next:  Oakley, CA