1 – WHERE DID YOU GO?
We went to Europe to experience the Christmas Markets and the Northern Lights and visited:
- Lyon, France
- Strasbourg, France
- Bucharest, Romania
- Bologna, Italy
- Verona, Italy
- Innsbruck, Austria
- Milan, Italy
- Oslo, Norway
- Reykjavik, Iceland
2- WHO WITH AND HOW LONG FOR?
I travelled with my partner for four weeks.
3- WHO DID YOU FLY WITH AND HOW WERE THEY?
As always, Singapore Airlines for the international flights. It’s no secret they are my favourite airline and I usually travel with them where possible as their service is always comfortable, reliable and hassle free. As a little surprise on the way home I upgraded us to business class which was such a nice way to finish our holiday. We also flew with various European carriers too such as Norwegian Air and Wizz Air and I have to say both were absolutely fine to travel with on these short hops.
4- WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT?
Strasbourg has been on my wish list for years now for its famed Christmas Market. Just to clarify though, there is not just one market, this little city is absolutely Christmas-crazy and there are markets set up in seemingly every available square with their little wooden huts, hand-made crafts, giant freshly made pretzels and of course the smell of mulled wine cannot be mistaken. From Strasbourg you can also easily visit Colmar, another famous Christmas Market town although I have to say nothing can compare with Strasbourg!
I loved our day trip into Innsbruck from Verona. It wasn’t originally on our itinerary and was a spur of the moment decision to visit. Wandering through the Christmas Markets in this little town with the snow falling and the hustle and bustle of local families enjoying the lead up to Christmas was just really memorable.
I was also surprised at home much I enjoyed Bucharest as I have read varying reviews about this city but found it to be very laid back with English widely spoken and it’s an easy city to walk without getting lost. The Parliament Building at the end of the avenue is enormous and is so beautiful at night and the history of the city is really intriguing (does Vlad the Impaler ring any bells?). From Bucharest we took a day trip out to see the gorgeous Peles Castle and the infamous “Dracula’s Castle”. I have to say though the scariest part of Dracula’s Castle is actually the steep stairs and low door frames – don’t forget to duck!
Oslo too was a little hidden gem and I would love to visit again in the Summer time.
5 – WHAT WAS THE LOWLIGHT?
The lowlight was definitely the lack of snow. Mother Nature seemed to know exactly where we were at all times and deliberately dumped the snow elsewhere in Europe! In fact in all of December we had one day of snow fall! We also booked to see the Norther Lights in Reykjavik for two nights and on both occasions it was too overcast so the tours were cancelled. Mother Nature and I need to have a little chat.
6 – BEST THING YOU ATE?
We found a little restaurant in Bologna that we loved. It was not fancy but it was full of locals which is always a great sign when travelling. The pastas were all fresh and delicious and we actually ate there a couple of nights in a row just to try different options. On our final night our waitress suggested we try “Nonna’s Chocolate Cake”. We were so full but didn’t want to offend so decided to share. Unfortunately for my partner, after one taste of this cake sharing was no longer an option!
7 – WHERE WOULD YOU GO BACK TO?
Definitely I would love to see more of Romania and Scandinavia at some stage. Both were really beautiful in the winter but I suspect in the Summer these areas would really come alive.
8 – TRAVELLING TIP POST HOLIDAY?
Christmas in Europe is unquestionably worth the trip. Even with the cold weather and long dark days, there is something magical about this time of year in Europe. It has an old fashioned atmosphere where the main focus seems to be on families and friends enjoying the season together.
Top tips for the cold – invest in some good quality winter boots, lamb’s wool inserts and layer up!