Destiny Part Three; The Greek Islands; Blue Skies and Wind Swept Beaches

Arriving in Santorini is a magical experience, well worth my two day excursion; The village of Fira consists of an outcropping of white-washed houses, neatly stacked on top the dramatic seaside cliffs that overlook the midnight blue waters of the Aegean. 


Destiny Part Three; The Greek Islands; Blue Skies and Wind Swept Beaches

It was 6:45am when I finally arrived in Santorini, a full day later than expected. Although I was tired, the warmer weather was refreshing and I was excited to finally start my vacation! Upon landing I immediately texted Tony, but he did not answer. I had the address of the hotel in the village of Fira, so I wasn’t too worried and jumped in a cab. My cab driver was a nice older gentleman who spoke only broken English. The car flew down winding roads through dark empty streets and climbed to the top of the city along a narrow winding road,  when finally we pulled over. He turned toward me and nodded towards a little set of stairs that climbed further up into the village. There- he pointed.  “Umm, …I should just walk… up there? I said staring out the window-It was dark out, it thought. “No road”, he added. Within a second he jumped out of the car and offered to help me to the hotel. How nice, he even carried my bags. He mumbled something about it’s not busy at this time of the year, so it is not as crowded as usual.


We were both out of breath when we reached the top of the three flights of steps leading to the hotel. He rang the door bell and after some noticeable commotion, an older man appeared, the hotel manager, I assumed, obviously half-asleep, after exchanging a few words in Greek, the cab driver patted me on the back and ran down the stairs. Bye thank you for all your help…The hotel agent shoved a key in my hand and pointed to a set of doors about a half-flight up, he mumbled something about going back to sleep, before shutting the door in my face.

I’m here,  I announced once inside, but Tony was sound asleep in bed. As I climbed into bed, he briefly asked about my trip, before falling back asleep. All my worries melted away now that we were together -I had made it to Greece.

Next… Blind or Blind-sided?

Chicago’s Christkindl Market is Back for the Holiday Season

Can’t make it to Europe this holiday season? Visit an authentic German Christmas market right here in Chicago’s Loop at the annual Christkindlmarket. Inspired by an authentic German market in Nuremberg, this open-aired outdoor market houses many little shops selling beautiful handcrafted ornaments, warm hats and mittens, wooden Cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers and more. A great place to shop for holiday gift items and souvenirs.

Located in the heart of Chicago in the Loop is the Christkindlmarket. This open-aired market is inspired by an authentic German holiday Market in Nuremberg. Visitors can stroll around the little wooden shops that line the plaza under the giant Christmas tree and snack on delicious German foods and beverages.

The market is a great place to shop for holiday gifts and items. Most of the artisans are from Germany, Poland, Ukraine and the US and offer a variety of handcrafted specialty items. Purchase hand-painted ornaments, nativity scenes, intricately designed Cuckoo clocks, warm hats, scarves and mittens. I love how the brightly-lit paper star ornaments give the market a real European feel.

A key focus for this festival is on food. A wide variety of traditional German foods and beverages are offered for visitors to enjoy. Feast on delicious German favorites such as Schnitzel, German burgers, smoked pork loin and goulash soup. My favorite is the hot plate of potato pancakes and Sauerkraut.  Of course you’ll find a variety of traditional sausages including: Nürnberger, Frankfurter, Weißwürste, Thüringer and Currywurst.  Then to wash it all down, grab a hearty German beer featuring Spaten Lager and Spaten Bockbeer.  Winters in Chicago can be cold so warm up with another European holiday favorite; warm spiced wine. The market features the original Sternthaler Glühwein from Nuremberg Germany, make sure to order it in a souvenir boot!

Save room for some snacks and dessert. Visit the jumbo pretzel vendor, or take home a traditional German holiday cake; Stollen.  I can’t resist getting a fresh-made Nutella and banana crepe with a cup of hot coffee.

Christkindlmarket Hours and Schedule

The market kicks off on Tuesday November 20th for the city of Chicago‘s annual tree lighting ceremony. This year’s tree is a massive 64-foot Colorado Spruce, weighing in at 12,000 pounds, which was donated by the Theiszman family of Prospect Heights. Shops are open from 2-8pm with the tree lighting ceremony starting at 4:30pm. Kids can visit Santa Claus at the UL Santa House which opens for the season at 6pm. On November 22nd don’t miss the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade which occurs along State Street from 8am-11am.  Afterwards head over to the nearby market for lunch from 11:00am-4:00pm.

Another Christkindl tradition is the Children’s Lantern parade on December 5th. This custom was resurrected from the old German tradition of St. Martin that celebrates Samaritan deeds. During the parade the children will light up the market with their colorful lanterns while singing German and American Christmas carols. Participants will meet on December 5, 2012 at 4:00pm at the Christkindlmarket but should pre-register by emailing

On December 7th at 4pm enjoy a free theater performance of the Christmas Schooner. A classic Chicago tale set to music about the crew of the Rouse Simmons or the Christmas Tree Ship who risked terrible weather to transport fir trees from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Chicago’s German immigrants during the late 19th century.

The market is located at 50 W Washington Street in Daley Plaza between Washington, Clark and Dearborn Street.  It is easily accessible by CTA Blue Line to Washington/Dearborn or the Red Line State/Lake stop.  The Christkindlmarket is open daily from November 20, 2012 – December 24, 2012. Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm Friday & Saturday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm.  Special hours; November 20, 2012: 2 pm – 8 pm, Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Drinking hot spiced wine and shopping for holiday ornaments under the sparkling Christmas tree it is easy to forget you are in Chicago. Whether you are a local or a tourist a visit to Chicago’s most charming open air market is not to be missed this holiday season.   The market is located at the Daley Plaza in Chicago’s Loop and is open from Nov. 23rd to Dec. 24th, Sun through Thu 11am to 8pm, Fri – Sat 11am to 9pm with holiday hours on Thanksgiving Day 11am to 4pm and Christmas Eve 11am to 4pm. Closed on Christmas day.

Chicago offers visitors and locals a fun and festive holiday season with many new and traditional events scheduled during the months of November and December.