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The Curonian Spit in midsummer

The darkest days of the year are upon us. But we can take solace in the fact that as the winter solstice passes, the hours of daylight will slowly begin to increase. To get through these days, I find it helps to fall back on memories of a time when it remained light late into the evening. So I recall a journey I took to an area known as the Curonian Spit.

The Curonian Spit is a splinter of land tracing the coastline of the Baltic Sea for some 60 miles. It is separated from the mainland by a lagoon, and its territory is shared by Lithuania and the Russian Federation. As this geographical phenomenon lived in my memory, it was a sparsely touristed place. Thus it came as a huge surprise when, after a nearly three-hour bus ride from the Lithuanian city of Kaunas, followed by a 20-minute ferry ride from Klaipėda, and another half hour in a mini-van doubling as a taxi, I arrived in the town of Nida only to find all accommodation booked solid.

Not to be missed in 2012

The year 2012 is giving us more excuses than ever to hit the road. One of the events taking center stage of course is the 2012 London Olympic Games in July and August. Thinking of going? Tickets went on sale in the U.S. on Dec. 7 and are now available on the website of the only authorized ticket reseller, CoSport. Ticket prices vary, with entry to basketball and shooting events from $44 and diving competitions at $327 and up. Looking for an athlete to get behind? Why not a U.S. military member competing in the games? The Army World Class Athlete Program and the Air Force World Class Athlete Program are helping many hopefuls prepare for Olympic glory.

Following on the heels of the Olympics will be the Paralympic games in August and September, where our U.S. athletes will no doubt do us proud as well. These games are also in London.

A Christmas market with maritime flair

It really boils down to a simple question. Is it worth traveling great distances to reach one of Germany’s most famed Christmas markets when dozens of smaller, lesser known ones abound close to home?

Lübeck, in Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, was one of the first German cities I ever visited during the Advent season, long before I came to call this country home. But the scant two hours I spent there, well after the darkness had settled, had left a strong impression, and I’d always had the urge to return.

 
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About the Author

Karen Bradbury has lived and worked in Europe for more than fifteen years. She has called Moscow, Copenhagen, Rome and now a small wine-producing village along the Rhine in Germany home. When she's not working, whatever the season, she's probably traveling.

Email: bradburyk@estripes.osd.mil