Posts Tagged 'Germany'

Deck the Halls with International Christmas Markets!

Now that Halloween is over it’s time to look forward to the next celebration.  Although Thanksgiving is a couple weeks away, most people already have Christmas on their minds. In Europe, instead of a turkey feast at the end of November, cities transform into Christmas Markets. This festive tradition originated in Austria and Germany and now takes place all over the world. What better way to enjoy the holiday spirit than seeing a city decorated with Christmas lights, warm cider, and other fun treats! Here are a few of the best.

Austria

Vienna has dazzled visitors with its holiday markets since 1294. From Schönbrunn Palace to City Hall, the city hosts more than 25 markets. Lose yourself to the aromas of candied fruits, cotton candy and other delicacies like Christmas punch and roasted chestnuts.  Also special to Vienna, pony rides, express Christmas trains, and fairytale displays.  The best part is that this wonderland is free to explore – unless of course you indulge in some holiday treats.  Vienna’s not the only Christmas market around, you can also check out Innsbruck, Graz, and Salzburg.

Brussels Winter Wonderland

Brussels Winter Wonderland

Belgium

How do warm cider, Belgian waffles, and ice-skating sound? Not too bad, huh? Belgium’s capital city has got you covered. Each winter Brussel’s Place Sainte Catherine transforms into a winter wonderland. Vendors set up dozens of stalls offering holiday toys, clothing, trains, and of course Belgian waffles and fries. The ice-skating rink brings out the child in everyone! From November 27th until early January, Brussels will display a dazzling array of festive lights and one of the biggest Christmas trees you’ll ever see. Live music keeps you entertained for hours as you wait for Pere Noel to stop by. A small word of caution- bundle up or you’ll freeze! Traveling around Belgium? You’ll find other great Christmas Markets in Antwerp, Brugge, and Ghent.

France

A Christmas in France is like no other. Christmas markets, known as marché de noel, highlight most French cities during late November and December. In addition to festive lights and holiday treats, you’ll find great deals on delicious wine, liquor, and the traditional Stollen holiday bread. Easily take the Eurostar to Paris or Lille for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Other popular Christmas markets around France include Lyon, Strasbourg, Tours, and Mulhouse.

Bavarian Christmas Markets are Priceless

Bavarian Christmas Markets are Priceless

Germany

Forget about the cold and explore the Rhine and Moselle valleys, which provide an idyllic setting for a romantic Christmas Market break. At these trendy Christmas Markets, the aromas of cinnamon, gingerbread will grab your senses, while locally produced wine and beer will capture your taste buds. You’re in for a treat no matter where you go. Berlin alone boasts more than 50 grand markets. The Christmas markets in Trier, Koblenz and Mainz are notably famous and quite large. If you’re looking for a small town atmosphere check out Bernkastel-Kues, Cochem, Rüdesheim, Worms, Speyer and Ahrweiler.

End of the Summer Adventures

Wrapping up your trip abroad? Not ready to hit the books? If you’ve got some money saved up, here are a few fun adventures to consider before diving back into the school year.

No Telling What You'll Encounter Abroad

No Telling What You'll Encounter Abroad

Climb Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Intimidated by Mount Everest? You’re not the only one. A better bet- climb Kilimanjaro! Take the less traveled Western Breach route, a challenging path up Africa’s loftiest peak. On your way to the summit, check out the Barranco Valley’s waterfalls, near the Arrow Glacier, and the rocky ridgelines. After the summit, don’t miss wildlife in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.

Lake Baikal, Russia

Need a break from the hassle of everyday life? Seclude yourself in Russia’s Lake Baikal. Situated in southeast Siberia, this World Heritage site is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest lake in the world. Like the Galapagos, it’s isolation helped it evolve into a unique freshwater ecosystem. Hike along the lakeshores; pass through old fishing villages; traverse craggy mountains; and keep an eye out for unusual species like the nerpa, an endemic freshwater seal.

Pyrenees National Park

Pyrenees National Park

Pyrenees National Park, France & Spain

The French-run Pyrenees National Park stretches 60 miles along the French-Spanish border, covering 180 square miles of lakes, towering summits, rolling hills, and fertile valleys. The park is composed of two regions. The uninhabited central zone offers some of the park’s most spectacular landscapes. The peripheral zone, on the edge of the central area, houses 86 villages and some 40,000 inhabitants. During the summer you can trek, cycle, horseback, and raft. The weather will accommodate all adventure activities.

Italian Alps, Italy & Germany

Get out your road bike and hit the Alps! Experience the blend of Italian and German cultures as you cruise along the Adige River and the western Dolomites.  Pass the famous Strada del Vino, stop in tiny villages, take a detour for wine tastings or a visit to medieval Lazise. Looking for a tour? Check out Ciclismo Classico.


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