My Favorite Things, by Eric Hodgson
As VACAYA’s resident expert on all things Christmas, I wanted to share a few of my favorite things you’ll get to experience on VACAYA’s Amsterdam to Nuremberg Christmas Market River Cruise December 5-12, 2019:
Our adventure begins in one of THE most magical cities in all of Europe. And Amsterdam certainly turns up its already abundant charm over the holiday season. Here are some of my MUST SEE recommendations for Amsterdam:
The Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual event during the Christmas season. Artists transform the city every year into a light spectacle with exciting new techniques introduced year after year.
The holidays in Amsterdam are all about tasty food. The Christmas Market stalls are all around and you should definitely try the Dutch hapjes (snacks) olieballen and appelbeignets. They’re both traditional Dutch sweets deep fried in hot oil. Olieballen and appelbeignets are part of the Christmas menu for locals and are found citywide.
Beautiful ice-skating rinks are set up every Christmas season in two iconic Amsterdam spots – Leidseplein and Museumplein. Leidseplein is surrounded by Christmas stalls and the rink at Museumplein by the famous Dutch museums, Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk. The atmosphere around these two rinks is truly magical.
Every year, the city of Cologne is touched by the magic of holiday festivities in the weeks before Christmas. Shadowed by beautiful gabled houses and half-timbered stalls, the Christmas markets of Cologne emit a romantic and idyllic feel. Music, art, handmade crafts, toys, decorations, and the scent of holiday bakeries create a joyous atmosphere, all set beneath the city’s famous Cathedral and the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland. Christmas Avenue is home to the gay and lesbian Christmas market, located near the Rudolfplatz. The market offers LGBT gifts, culinary delights, and special cabaret shows in a sparkling setting.
The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world. In the wooden booths of “the little city of wood and cloth,” you’ll find traditional Christmas decorations and sweet treats such as gingerbread and Spekulatius almond cookies. Experience the enticing smells of mulled wine and rum punch, roasted almonds, and gingerbread filling the air. The entire city is decorated for Christmas with fresh greens and twinkling lights, with dazzling ornaments of all shapes and sizes everywhere you look. Treat yourself to an endless array of delicious holiday treats to eat and drink.
And a few of my favorite things from VACAYA’s Nuremberg to Budapest Christmas Market River Cruise December 12-19, 2019:
Welcome to one of the largest Christmas markets in all of Europe! Discover more than 200 unique vendor booths overflowing with fantastic gifts, including handmade toys and beautiful holiday ornaments. You can also get your skates on at one of Europe’s largest outdoor ice rinks, winding through the romantically illuminated City Hall Park on a magical ice path that thrills beginners and professionals alike with its countless paths. Afterward, see Vienna sparkle from a horse drawn carriage ride, or sit back and enjoy the amazing light show projected up on the facade of the historical City Hall building.
Amble through charming wooden chalets lining the banks of the Danube in this undiscovered city. Shop for unique stocking stuffers from the Winter Market or spend some time walking through the food stalls, enjoying holiday cocktails and mulled wine underneath the glittering Christmas lights before catching a traditional Slovakian Christmas show. You’ll find Bratislava has a far more relaxed and village-like atmosphere than some of our other stops and is a great choice for enjoying outdoor holiday music.
Make sure to spend an evening wandering around this ancient city, all decked out with lights and offering festive goodies. Give into temptation and try some of the seasonal foods served at the many street food stalls. Stroll past rows of wooden nutcrackers, traditional nativity scenes, and colorful Christmas lights. After you’ve picked up a few souvenirs for friends and family back home, take some time admiring the glowing streets, Christmas trees, and stands full of crafts and goodies during our last full night in Europe. This will definitely be a yuletide to remember!