My favorite season is in full swing. With only nine days till our Christmas trip and twelve days till the big day itself, I felt we were already late – per my personal preference – in seeing an honest-to-goodness Christmas market or two. The ones here in Holland are just too painfully mediocre for words that the only hope lay across the border in Germany, Belgium, and even France to see the ones that made an all-out Santa Claus-worthy effort. A spontaneous trip to Aachen was apparently just the starting salvo, since we were in the vicinity my partner suggested we go to quaint, picture-perfect Monschau, as well. I couldn’t really blame him – I think the considerable Aachen crowd was just too much to handle. It was nearly sunset when we got to Monschau – a fairy tale town if there ever was one, of timber houses, old cobblestone streets, mistletoe, and boughs of holly, all under the shadow of a local castle. It was a Disney setting any child could easily appreciate as a Christmas tradition, uniquely European, and where yuletide dreams came to life. Even a child as old as me.