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Where to go in December/January - suggestions please

Where to go in December/January - suggestions please

May 17th, 2018, 06:53 PM
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Join Date: May 2015
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Where to go in December/January - suggestions please

I'm about to start my dream job teaching in a high school and I get 12 weeks holiday BUT the bad news is that the longest break is mid December to end of January. I live in New Zealand which is a long way from anywhere really but I am not going to let that put me off travelling!
Are Greece, Spain and Italy worth visiting in January?
I have been to the UK and Ireland in the mid 80's and spent 3 months there and it would be nice to go back but not essential. I like museums, art galleries, libraries, food/wine and 'old stuff'.
tasmangirl is offline  
May 18th, 2018, 12:31 PM
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Southern Europe yes is great to visit in winter - Rome, Florence most of Italy and British Isles really don't get that cold nor does most of wesern Europe, warmed by the Gulf Stream.

Trains are great - some sites for help planning: BETS-European Rail Experts (online European Planning & Rail Guide has loads of suggested rail itineraries - www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

One could envision a London - Paris - Amsterdam - Germany and Xmas Markets - Switzerland but only if into winter sports resorts really - Venice, Florence, Rome and Greece for example.
PalenQ is offline  
May 18th, 2018, 12:44 PM
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Was just discussing this with a friend. For a short trip I suggested Nice and Lisbon. How long will you have? Maybe Morocco and Portugal/Spain - with a bit of London for theatre, ballet etc.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 18th, 2018, 12:46 PM
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Time sounds flexible but seems like most of January.
PalenQ is offline  
May 18th, 2018, 12:48 PM
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@PQ - why don't you let the OP answer instead of guessing?
thursdaysd is offline  
May 18th, 2018, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for your suggestions. A Christmas markets trip is a good idea (but I'd have to persuade the family to have Christmas without me) and then time in Paris.
School this year finishes on 14 December and goes back on 30 January 2019 so that's 6 weeks but I would go for about 3 weeks. Depends a bit on the currency exchange of Euro and kiwi dollar!
tasmangirl is offline  
May 18th, 2018, 04:36 PM
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Flights are pretty cheap, so consider mixing things up a little. Christmas markets somewhere, a sun break in Nice or southern Andalusia, Hogmanay in Edinburgh, a few days in the presence of food and hot chocolate in Paris. How bad can it be?
Gardyloo is online now  
May 19th, 2018, 05:50 PM
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Tasmangirl, congratulations on your new job and best of luck. Since you asked about Spain, I'll mention a few things I like and might interest you ("museums, art galleries, libraries, food/wine and 'old stuff'--I like these, too).

Madrid is home to three of Spain's greatest art museums and they're within walking distance from one another and from the Madrid's main train station, Atocha, which would make it easier for onward travels. The museums are The Prado
, El Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofia. Caixa Forum is also in this area and their special exhibitions are also worth checking out; they also have an interesting building and a photogenic vertical garden out in front. The Botanical Garden is next to The Prado (though I don't know how it will be in winter). And if you feel like walking from The Prado to Royal Palace, it'd be about a 25 minute walk. I've only been to Madrid in spring, summer and autumn, but I'd expect it to be cold in winter.

You can make a day trip to historic Toledo from Madrid.

From Madrid, you can fly or take the train to countless destinations. One possibility is to catch the train south to Seville, where it might be a little warmer and sunnier. I'd stay in the Old Town or nearby to visit the Cathedral and its bell tower of La Giralda (great views), the Alcazar, and Plaza de Espa˝a. Seville has loads of great tapas restaurants are they're not too pricey. You can see some wonderful flamenco in Seville as well.

From Seville, we made a day trip to Jerez, the home of sherry wine. There are a several sherry houses here. I knew little about sherry before this and mainly went there to learn about it. After a tasting at Lustau, which is about a 10-minute walk from the Jerez train station, I became a sherry fan, especially manzanilla (which is actually produced in nearby Sanl˙car de Barrameda).

From Seville, you might be tempted to travel to Granada to visit the Alhambra. It's about 3.5 hours by train, so it'd be best to spend a night or two.

You might have trouble researching Spain's train schedules too far in advance (RENFE). I always end up buying my tickets on Loco2. The are many budget airlines that can take you on from Seville. One of these, Vueling, offers flights between Seville and Barcelona. I also like thursdaysd's idea of Lisbon. I love both of these cities. And, as someone who also has to consider the Euro-Kiwi dollar exchange rate, I'd say Spain and Portugal are not so expensive.
Diamantina is offline  
May 19th, 2018, 08:18 PM
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Gardyloo - is that internal flights around Europe? And you are right how bad can it be being in Paris in January!
Thanks Diamantina (and we are meeting in another forum) Spain is a good choice. A friend is obsessed with Spain and Portugal and goes there every year to do a bit of the St James Walk. Her photos were amazing.
Maybe Paris and Spain will work. Qatar Airlines have the long flight Auckland to Doha now so that's pretty quick to get you closer to Europe.
tasmangirl is offline  
May 20th, 2018, 08:20 AM
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I have done Provence interior 3 times in January and had fairly good weather most of the time. Cote D'Azure I visited twice in December & January and weather was mostly good. I also did Sicily - mixed weather, but enjoyable none the less. Andalusia is a great suggestion. Any major city is a good bet, as if the weather is awful you have loads of Museums and Art galleries to shelter in.

In your planning, take into account the short days. I didn't, and ended up driving in pitch black backroads

The positive about travelling in December /January is the lack of tourist hoards!
OReilly64 is offline  
May 20th, 2018, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by tasmangirl View Post
Gardyloo - is that internal flights around Europe? And you are right how bad can it be being in Paris in January!
Yes, e.g. Edinburgh to Paris one way in December for AUD 99, Paris to Lisbon for AUD 65, London to Nice for AUD 85; all cheaper if you don't mind flying on the likes of easyJet or Ryanair.
Gardyloo is online now  
May 20th, 2018, 09:11 AM
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Also check skyscanner.com
thursdaysd is offline  
May 20th, 2018, 10:02 PM
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I've been to Barcelona in January ( teachers conference ) and we also flew to Granada - I found the weather mild just wore a light coat .
I also like London in winter .
we use easy jet flights - excellent prices any time of year .
northie is offline  
May 22nd, 2018, 04:41 PM
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I'm in Hamburg Dec/Jan every year and try to get away once or twice. The things I crave that time of year are medium-sized cities, with lots of pretty lights, nice bars/pubs, and delicious eats. It gets dark early, and the sun is low on the horizon, so the cities are pretty dark (often during the day, too, if at all overcast) so bright lights and warm enclaves are the place to be. Mediterranean resorts are also darkish, and you may get temps in the 50's or 60's, but particularly lifeless - - they can be grim that time of year.

My fave getaway recently in January was Ghent - - it was grey and OK during the day, but at night, totally luminous - - they city is lit by lights on the buildings, aimed at the buildings, which tend to be ornate and beautiful. Ghent, in the dark, is great. Bruges is nearby too. NOT a bad choice.

Before Xmas many small cities in England make the most of the season, with lit up arcades and (get this) faux German Christmas markets(!). Leeds in particular, was great - - the old arcades and market, all lit up for the season - - great pubs, winding lanes - - really cozy & warming. Cardiff this past December was OK, with a daytrip to Bath.

I was in Barcelona in January two years ago, and that is just fine. It is less crowded, the weather is brisk to almost nice (sunbathed at the rooftop pool) and took in a Copa Real match at the Camp Nou. Not bad - - but, for me, not as rich and warming as cozier smaller cities, that are all lit up that time of year. Europeans do know how to turn a grey, dark, season into something glistening.
dfourh is offline  
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