Miss G.—a legend in her own mind.

Miss G.—a legend in her own mind.

Welcome to the Third-Annual EuropeanMarket Golden Greta Awards. This promises to be a ceremony of glitter, glitz, and Greta. For 2012, we have many people and places worthy of a Golden Greta, but as you know, only a select few are lucky enough to go home with the GG trophy. This year, we hoped to televise the event, but due to network budget cuts and the unusual demands of our chosen host, Honey Boo Boo, we didn’t have the funding to broadcast the show. So, put on your party clothes and settle in your favorite chair for the 2012 Golden Greta Awards. Take it away…….

Best Neighbors—Terry and Chere G.
Mr. and Mrs. G. came out in a mid-March snow at midnight to pick up the two of us (and our overweight luggage) at the UW Union after a bus trip from Chicago O’Hare. Also, they allow us to borrow the Ford Windstar when we need to haul a lot of stuff. What would we do without these two awesome people? Plus, they tolerate Miss Greta. Right, Terry?

Welcome aboard Air Dolomiti.

Welcome aboard Air Dolomiti.

Best In-Flight Service/Regional Airline—Air Dolomiti
Wow! Based in Italy, Air Dolomiti puts most major airlines to shame when it comes to service. On a flight (in a prop-jet) from Pisa, Italy to Munich, the flight attendants offered hot towels, then poured a selection of Italian wines (make your choice from the menu) in an ACTUAL wine glass. Yes, a glass. Plus, served an awesome sandwich of Italian cheeses on foccacia. Can they start flying to Madison? Please!

Best In-Flight Service/Major Airline—British Airways
This year, British Airways wins the GG for in-flight service. Flying from London to Chicago, we enjoyed a luncheon service of—minted tabbouleh salad, seared fillet of Herefordshire beef with bourguignonne garnish of bacon (HELLO!), mushrooms, and baby onions. This was accompanied by pommes Anna. Dessert was a passion-fruit posset. Then, I might have taken part in the afternoon tea service of chicken salad and egg salad sandwiches. With chocolate cake. Time to roll me off the plane.

Best Airport Shopping—London Heathrow/Terminal 5
This really is a mall that just happens to be an airline terminal. The expansive, glass enrobed Terminal 5 serves as the home of British Airways, but truly this is all about the shopping (and the eating). Standing among the throngs of travelers you’ll see Harrod’s, Bally, Burberry, Cath Kidson, Dior, Michael Kors, Paul Smith, Thomas Pink, and more. We always try to pop into celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food for a bite.

Florence's stunning Duomo, steps from the Hotel Cerretani.

Florence’s stunning Duomo, steps from the Hotel Cerretani.

Best Hotel—Cerretani Hotel Florence; Florence, Italy
The Cerretani is an M Gallery hotel, part of the French Accor chain. This hotel sits in one of the best locations in Florence, halfway between the main train station and the city’s famous Duomo. When we walked into the lobby, I knew we selected an awesome hotel because they were serving Preseco in the lobby. No charge! Sweet! What’s not to like about that? We had a wonderfully comfy room on the 4th floor with views of the city’s roofs to the mountains far in the distance. When we return to Florence this is where you’ll find us.

Worst Adventure Leaving an Airport—Florence to Pisa, Italy
Hmmmm. I knew we were in for some excitement when we entered the Florence airport (March 2012) and saw “cancelled” flashing across all the flight monitors. Well, not at Lufthansa. All the flights were departing (cough, cough). We Germans know how to run an airline. A little rain and fog won’t stop us (insert another cough, cough here). Well, after an hour waiting at the gate for a plane that never did arrive, Lufthansa gathered us and our luggage and put us on a bus to Pisa, Italy. Did I mention unorganized chaos? If you ever have the opportunity to ride a bus to Pisa, my advice is not to do it. That’s all I’ll say. I was convinced I was going to loose our bags and Sue in Pisa. The good news is that both arrived safely back in the US. Oh, and I might have been pulled out of line by Italian air security in Pisa and given one of the most “robust” pat downs I’ve ever experienced. When the officer was done I wanted to offer him a cigarette and a glass of Scotch, but thought it best to shut my mouth.

Umbria, Italy's green heart.

Umbria, Italy’s green heart.

Best Scenery—Umbria, Italy
I know I am biased, but Umbria is my favorite region of Italy. Everywhere you look is another stunning scene for your eyes and mind. This last visit took us in February and early March, while the snow was on the ground in places. I still loved it. Plus, there’s just something about the Italian light and the way it highlights the blue mountains, red tile roofs, and yellow stone houses. Bella!

Best Tossing of Life Jackets to EuropeanMarket
We’re the first to admit we need help from time-to-time. OK, I’m sure we need help most of the time. These folks lend a hand when we need it. How’d we get so lucky to work with these smart, cool, talented folks?

Kathy M.—proofing and editing of our printed pieces and newsletters. Kathy and I worked together years ago at Meredith Corp. where she was one of the best editors around. She has a way with words. And, making sure I don’t write something dumb. I keep her busy with that last part.

Nathan D.—OK, EuropeanMarket wouldn’t function without Nathan and his tech skills. This is the guy that keeps everything running behind the scenes. Let’s be honest, I really don’t know anything about websites. I still have problems operating a TV remote control.

Mark V.—business and banking advisor to the stars and EuropeanMarket. Mark helps us  with smart, logical business advice. I know I can go to him and bounce ideas off him. He usually tries not to give me too many eye rolls.

Andy F.—like Mark, Brother Andy helps us out with the business, marketing, and advertising end of EuropeanMarket. Andy knows more about marketing a business and targeting an audience than I’ll ever hope to learn. Plus, he is THE Social Media Guru.

Best Customers and Friends of EuropeanMarket
We’ve said it before, but we need to say it again. You people rock! Without our clients, EuropeanMarket wouldn’t be here. Thank you for your continued support and business during 2012. We hope you visit us in 2013. Cheers!