Europe in January - Is It Worth It?

Old Aug 11th, 2013, 08:01 AM
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Really, any time is a good time to travel if you think about it. OK, some times of year may have better weather but if you adapt what you do to suit the weather, it's no big deal.

Unless of course you go somewhere and encounter a hurricane or something. ;-)
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Old Aug 11th, 2013, 02:51 PM
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We were in London in March this year, so not quite "winter" but it might as well have been! We had cold wind and even snow for much of our trip. In spite of that, it was wonderful to not have to deal with lines to get in anywhere. We were literally alone in the room with the Crown Jewels in London. I'd agree with others that have the "go when you can" attitude about Europe. When I read others' trip reports about encountering massive crowds at different attractions, it makes me feel like we discovered some secret - go when it's cold out. Enjoy Europe's cafe culture and the incredible museums.
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Old Aug 11th, 2013, 03:16 PM
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Why not go way the hell off the grid and go to Up-Helly-Aa in Shetland? Put on your horny hat and pillage your way through Lerwick along with a few thousand of your best friends (by then, anyway.) Watch the galley burn, then fly someplace like Gibraltar or Tarifa for warm sun and Moroccan music on the radio.
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Old Aug 11th, 2013, 03:29 PM
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<I would definitely go. Why not? So, it's cold. Big deal.>

My sentiments exactly. I wouldn't give it a second thought.

We went to China for 10 days in December. Were there for their first snowfall, so daily temps hovered in the low thirties/upper twenties daily.

We had the proper clothing: gloves, scarves, silk long underwear, boots. We were warm and comfy and we spent most of our time outside.

I can't begin to tell you how magical it was to be walking on the Great Wall with the snowflakes wafting down around us.

Just go.
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Old Aug 11th, 2013, 04:44 PM
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@Improviser: I dare say even being in a Hurricane would be slightly more enjoyable than the constant day-in and day-out sunshine we get in Southern California.

Seriously, it gets old.

I should have been a meteorologist in Los Angeles. Wake up. Go to work. Say, "It's going to be sunny". Leave work. Enjoy the rest of your day. Repeat everyday.
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Old Aug 11th, 2013, 05:55 PM
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Umm, it's a bit of a stretch to say the weather is 'day-in and day-out sunshine in S. California' eric.

While you get more good weather than bad, you can also get insufferable heat, rain, smoke (wildfires) and yes even snow in the interior. We won't even talk about your traffic problems. LOL

I once spent Xmas at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel and on Boxing day went and knocked on a travel agents door (saw him inside through the window) till he opened up. Rain on Xmas Eve, Xmas, Boxing day and forecast for the rest of the week. So I flew to Tahiti instead.

Once spending 2 months in Borrego Springs I got up on a January morning to see snow only a few hundred metres up the mountain sides.

Methinks you doth exaggerate somewhat. Everywhere has its pros and cons.
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Old Aug 16th, 2013, 12:30 PM
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@Improviser, yes, a little bit of tongue-in-cheek was implied! And oh my goodness, we definitely have insufferable heat.

I do wish it would rain more though. I grew up in Ohio/Michigan, and rainy days were my favorite days. That said, I don't think I would leave Southern California - having the beach, mountains, and high desert all within a 45-60 minute drive is nice.

I'm sorry you experienced Rain on Christmas! While we generally don't have White Christmases (something my parents have resignedly come to accept), rainy Christmases offer no Christmas cheer whatsoever.

I haven't been to Borrego Springs yet - did you enjoy it?
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Old Aug 16th, 2013, 05:51 PM
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If you like desert and hiking eric then Borrego Springs is hard to beat. I found it about 30 years ago and have been returning off and on ever since.

It's a strange little town right in the middle of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Since sometime back in the 50s or 60s, developers have tried and tried to turn it into another Palm Springs. They come, anounce big plans, the plans fail and they leave.

Yet, the place has a fan base that is international. It's one of those 'you gotta find it' places that once found remains a favourite.

There's all kinds of hiking to be done with the Palm Canyon Oasis trail being the most popular and with reason. But it is never really busy and when you come into sight of the palm grove and pool, quite special. Big horn are seen along the trail as often as not. I've sat at the pool having lunch with big rams muching the grass no more than 15 feet (no exagerration) from me. Have you ever heard two rams butt heads? When one got too close to the other and invaded his territory, BAMMMM.

There are plenty of places to stay in pretty much all price ranges. The Borrego Valley Inn is our favourite.

The desert in bloom in a good year (I've caught it once in 30 years) is simply unbelieveable.

Carlee's bar and restaurant is the place to be in the evening.
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Old Sep 30th, 2015, 01:06 AM
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Did the OP ever go?

I got a ticket to London the first week.

But thinking of buying another ticket, either to Geneva to go to Mont Blanc or down to Gran Canaria.

It's only for a week so the intra-European flight would cut a day or two from the trip.

Haven't skied in years, but would be up for some winter hiking if the weather held up.
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Old Jan 16th, 2017, 04:01 PM
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About a month ago I faced that same question. Leave the cold and snow of Toronto to go to the cold and snow of Italy and then come back to more snow and cold? This is the best time of year for me to take a vacation work wise. The most logical, inexpensive, and logistically easy choice was Mexico or Cuba. But I hadn't been to Italy in a really long time. Usually I come through and see family every couple years. Furthermore I've always wanted to ski la maijella and gran sasso. So I decide to go for it!

I have not skied and likely won't on this trip. Since I arrived there has been a snow storm. Honestly, the first one last week was just a little snowfall. As a Canadian I'd hardly call that a storm. The problem is that it shuts everything down.

Even trapped in the snow, I can feel the amazing vibe of Europe and the 3000 year old Italian city that represents a part of my heritage. I am getting a cultural experience and a break from the grind. The food is delicious; no surprise. And I've enjoyed cozy time with family.

Just as things began to normalize and I started planning to enjoy this city and do things and go places today and for the rest if my last week; it snowed again. This time it is a real storm. I've been shovelling. But the worst is that transport, shops, roads, and people have shut down and expect to be closed or immobile for a while. We are even concerned if I'll be able to get to the airport 3 hrs away, next week to get my flight home!!!

I don't regret coming! But if you get some weather, in some cases even a very little tiny bit; it won't be about you tolerating cold climates, or ur peacoat; it will be about getting things done and systems working. Some countries are full of obstacles. And as I face another week immobile at my aunts house, maybe going home without actually having gone out much, I thought id share my story.

Only you can decide. My only advice is to not expect to do nearly as much as Uve listed. Oh and bring ur parka, gloves, and big snow boots.

Saluti da Chieti,

Ps maybe this trip has inspired me toward action in many ways. Maybe I'll find my way to Abruzzo's beautiful beaches in a warmer climate. Maybe this trip was a stepping stone.
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Old Jan 16th, 2017, 11:36 PM
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In January, it tends to dark starting around 4pm till about 830am - - but some cities really 'shine' in darkness.

I just spent a couple nights in Ghent, and during the day it was a bit drab, but at night the lighting throughout the city is a work of art. Everywhere, they affix lights on buildings to bring out the most atmospheric and ornate aspects; even on residential streets, there aren't street lights per se as there are buildings lit intimately, that then provide light for the streets and sidewalks as well. Here's an example of passive street lighting on a residential street:

And in the middle of this picture page, which goes from daylight to dusk to night, you can see what lighting does to bring out the charm in the city center, so that it becomes even more beautiful than in daylight:
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Old Jan 25th, 2017, 06:44 AM
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Well said, d, and lovely photos.
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