Christmas 2019 ideas/suggestions?

Jan 22nd, 2019, 08:31 PM
  #1  
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Christmas 2019 ideas/suggestions?

As a reminder Iíve spent Christmas in Venice and London.


I would love to do another long trip next winter. I might push it out to next spring, but I really do enjoy traveling over the holidays. So that would be part of the debate. If anyone has an excellent argument for spring, feel free to chime in!

I didnít love London at Christmas. Too many crowds, and then too much shut down. And I do love London. But I donít think I want to visit the U.K. again so soon.

I did love Venice. I loved how itís practically an open air museum, so shut downs donít matter as much. I liked the lack of cars. I liked the Italian Christmas thingónot as garish as London. So Iím thinking maybe a smaller place, or at very least a place with a really amazing ďold townĒ.


I did Christmas markets in Germany the year I went to Venice. Iím open to doing more of thatóand Iím considering Prague/Vienna/Strasbourg, possibly. I could always return to Paris, as I love it, but Iím a little worried itíll be like my experience in London.

Iím also open to more Eastern European destinations. I donít know as much about the central/Eastern European countries, but if thereís somewhere particularily amazing in winter, Iíd go.

Iím tempted to go to Spain, as well. so any suggestions about either of those would be great.

Switzerland, or the Nordic countries are on my list as well, but Iíve heard they tended to be expensive. (Iceland put a healthy dent in my bank account, so Iím a little leery of places with expensive reputations.

Basically: where have you been for Christmas that you loved? And why? Tags are pretty randomóopen to really anything.


(And before someone says: go to the library and read guidebooks, thatís what Iíve done for the entire month. Problem is nothing has ďclickedĒ. So Iím looking for more subjective stuff from my favorite foodie and culture geeks.)
marvelousmouse is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2019, 09:29 PM
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Didn't happen this year for various reasons, but usually we go away to Terschelling during the Christmas holidays. (because you tagged netherlands)
menachem is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2019, 09:46 PM
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Hi marvelousmouse,

You haven't said why you enjoy travelling over the Christmas holidays -- is it for the festive lights & decorations & Christmas markets? Or do you enjoy the coolness in the air and the general feeling of a holiday?

I ask because you mention Switzerland, and only in the cities have I seen lights & decorations & markets. If you want to head to the countryside and the mountains, you won't find markets & decorations. I've spent a few Christmases there -- Montreux and Gstaad. Montreux of course has many Christmas markets, but it's not in the mountains. Gstaad is in the mountains, and I saw one fat stuffed Santa for my holidays there.

If you want to go to see snow, do some winter sports, enjoy fondue and hot spiced wine, etc, then it should fit the bill for you. But if you are expecting Christmas markets and decorations while enjoying a mountain village (like in, for instance, Mittenwald or Berchtesgaden in Germany), you won't find it.

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2019, 11:46 PM
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I like the coolness in the air and the general feeling of a holiday. My idea is to do something festive before Christmas--maybe in Germany, or a city elsewhere, and then head somewhere for some R&R. That is to say, I love festive, but I prefer some peace and serenity for Christmas itself. Then head somewhere for "serious" sightseeing--either more Italy, which I loved, or Greece, or Spain. Or elsewhere. So many places, so little time.

I'll snowshoe, sled, etc. , but I'm not much of a skier. It always ends in injury. So while mountains/fondue/spice wine sound fantastic, it also needs to be somewhere with other things to do. (I'm not sure really how to explain it. But here there are "resort" areas with lots of activities I could do, vs. "sports" areas where the only thing really to do is ski. Looking for the latter rather than the former. More of a "soak in a hot tub mouse" than an extreme mountaineer mouse lol.)

That could work, Menachem. Netherlands is on my list for sure. What do you usually do there? And where else to you recommend in the Netherlands?
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Jan 23rd, 2019, 12:24 AM
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Thinking 'out of the box', have a look at Romania [Transylvania].....places like Sinaia, Sibiu or Brasov.

Fly into Bucharest, and be transferred by frequent mini buses.

Transylvania is a land of beautiful rolling hills, very clean, very affordable.....and best of all it's lacking mass tourism.....10 out 10 from me.
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Jan 23rd, 2019, 06:44 AM
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Paris is lovely at Christmas. I have never found it crowded and it's a great time to see the attractions that are busy at typical tourist times, in my opinion. It does not shut down like London. Christmas Eve mid-afternoon it does get quiet but by noon the next day many things are open again. I guess it depends on what you want to do. We often went to St Chapelle on Christmas Eve for a concert or enjoyed dinner at Allard. We never had a problem finding things to do Christmas Day.

From your list of other places to visit, Prague is the one that appeals to me the most for Christmas.
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Jan 23rd, 2019, 07:12 AM
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We love it here in the Dordogne at Christmas. Every town and village puts on displays and holds all kinds of concerts. Sarlat is adorable at Christmas, low-key but with a nice little Christmas market and an outdoor rink. Great food feasts in the restaurants, and communal dinners, too.
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Jan 23rd, 2019, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by marvelousmouse View Post
I like the coolness in the air and the general feeling of a holiday. My idea is to do something festive before Christmas--maybe in Germany, or a city elsewhere, and then head somewhere for some R&R. That is to say, I love festive, but I prefer some peace and serenity for Christmas itself. Then head somewhere for "serious" sightseeing--either more Italy, which I loved, or Greece, or Spain. Or elsewhere. So many places, so little time.

I'll snowshoe, sled, etc. , but I'm not much of a skier. It always ends in injury. So while mountains/fondue/spice wine sound fantastic, it also needs to be somewhere with other things to do. (I'm not sure really how to explain it. But here there are "resort" areas with lots of activities I could do, vs. "sports" areas where the only thing really to do is ski. Looking for the latter rather than the former. More of a "soak in a hot tub mouse" than an extreme mountaineer mouse lol.)

That could work, Menachem. Netherlands is on my list for sure. What do you usually do there? And where else to you recommend in the Netherlands?
We jointly own a vacation house, so that's where we usually go. Lots of walking, biking, wandering (which you can do all over Terschelling, because it is an ancient right), going to the places that have fireplaces and mulled wine and such. Added bonus is the Waddensea. Usually at one point in the day we'll go to De Walvis to look out over Noordsvaarder and see the sun go down. And have a drink or two.


If you stay in West, you'll have shopping infrastructure and cafes and restaurants to choose from. If people come to visit, we usually point them to Dellewal, where you can rent cottages that have their own sauna!


You might want to look into the City of Groningen too.
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Jan 23rd, 2019, 09:02 PM
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Hi again,

ahhhh. Peace and serenity. How about a car-free village in the Swiss Alps? If that sounds appealing, take a look at Wengen or MŁrren, across a valley from each other in the Jungfrau area of Switzerland. You arrive by train, and your hotel picks you up in an electric cart and whisks you to the hotel. You can spend your days exploring the region (Grindelwald, Jungfrau and Schilthorn peaks, Spiez and Thun and Brienz down on the lakes, and Bern for a bit of an excursion), doing some winter walking (some trails are kept clear) or other winter sports. There are some electric vehicles, but not so many that you have to watch out for traffic. And the air quality is astounding.

The place picks up considerably by mid-January when it hosts a major ski race -- dozens of managers, coaches, skiers, officials, fans, and families change the place entirely. But you'll be long gone by then.

Alternately, you can head for the Engadin Valley in the eastern part of the country, where, so far, there are still few English-speaking tourists. You could base in Zuoz or Sils or Pontresina and spend your time doing the Bernina Express, exploring the towns and lakes up and down the Inn River, visiting the peaks, and winter walking. Sorry, I've only been there twice, so I don't kniw the area very well -- but lots of folks here know it very well, and they'll give you great suggestions if you ask.

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 09:10 PM
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Swandav! Ooh, that does sound near perfect! Thanksóoff to crunch numbers and find a guidebook.

Folksówould Prague be better before or after Christmas? Vienna, same question?
marvelousmouse is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by marvelousmouse View Post
Swandav! Ooh, that does sound near perfect! Thanksóoff to crunch numbers and find a guidebook.

Folksówould Prague be better before or after Christmas? Vienna, same question?
Both are awesome, but personally I would choose Vienna over Prague.
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Jan 23rd, 2019, 10:35 PM
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As others have pointed out, the choice depends on what you like. Before living in Europe, I always chose somewhere in Germany as a first choice because nothing shut down and there were concerts, operas, operettas, and Bach's Christmas oratorio performed in even smaller towns. . . music, music, music and lots of theater everywhere. But if that's not interesting to you and if you don't speak German . . . .

My other Christmas choice was Rome. The weather was always mild and sunny and I could never get enough of Rome.
Envierges is online now  
Jan 24th, 2019, 11:22 AM
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I loved Germany. And itís not that I donít know if I want to go back, itís just more that Iím trying to decide where I would want to spend my time, and my focus isnít the Markets this time.

I did rather assume things shut down in Germany over Christmas when the Markets closed. Glad to know thatís not true. No, donít speak much German, but itís certainly better than my Italian and French!

i love Rome too, but Iíd like to go somewhere new for Christmas.
marvelousmouse is online now  
Jan 24th, 2019, 12:01 PM
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Well though Christmas Day in Amsterdam may be slow the week after it is one of the busiest of all here and the streets are full of strollers - leading up to New Years Eve when there are outdoor concerts and a bombastic - yes bombastic fireworks being let off everywhere.
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Jan 24th, 2019, 12:27 PM
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I did rather assume things shut down in Germany over Christmas when the Markets closed.

They do.

Many businesses shut down around 2 pm Christmas Eve and remain closed for a few days, depending on how the holiday falls. That's not to say there's not plenty to keep one busy, and you'll certainly find the odd place open, but it's good to know for the purpose of planning. Of course you could always head for the mountains - that's what we usually do.

Last edited by Melnq8; Jan 24th, 2019 at 12:29 PM.
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Jan 24th, 2019, 04:31 PM
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I wasn't in Germany (or Rome) for the "businesses" so any shut downs of those were not noticed by me.
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Jan 25th, 2019, 05:59 AM
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I always imagined that if I would go to Europe around Christmas, I would choose Salzburg. What appeals to me is that it is a smaller city, and it has so much music.
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Jan 27th, 2019, 05:58 AM
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Considering the country tags that you put on this post, can we assume that you are fully aware that some countries will be celebrating Christmas more according to the Orthodox calendar?
kerouac is online now  
Jan 27th, 2019, 06:31 AM
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I had assumed so, Thanks, Kerouac, and information on that is welcome. Tags are mostly random wishlist countries though. As I said,Iím not positive Iím going over Christmas, and if some places would be better in the spring, I might go then.
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Jan 27th, 2019, 11:20 AM
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We have spent Christmas in Paris, Rome, southeast Sicily and then this year we were in Vienna, the Netherlands and Belgium before and after Christmas. My son lives in Germany so we are always trying to figure something out for a holiday visit in Europe.

It wasn't our experience that Paris shut down or that it was a hassle. There were always restaurants and things to do.

Vienna was beautiful and elegant before Christmas this year. We were there just for two nights to see the Bruegel exhibit but the city itself was lovely: the lights, the piles of Christmas trees everywhere.

We were also in the Netherlands just before Christmas and loved Rotterdam and den Hague. From there we went to Belgium and Bruges was nice and less touristed than I had feared at Christmas. After Christmas we visited Ghent and Antwerp. Of all those cities we probably liked Ghent the best, though it was packed with people. I think it's hard to choose. So many places are really lovely and fun over the holidays. I no longer seek out Christmas Markets since they all seem to be alike, and since they are everywhere you can't help but wander through them anyway.
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