Christmas markets to explore in Europe

Christmas Markets Explore Europe

To really get me into the spirit of Christmas, I always take a cheap flight to visit the Christmas markets. Except the year 2020 has taken away a lot of our freedom. For keen travelers like me and the girls, our wanderlust has faded. For the moment we can’t continue with our mantra of ‘catch flights, not feelings’ as there aren’t a whole lot of places we can go to. Only, I just love the feeling of walking around, wrapped up warm with gloves & scarf, and a mulled wine in hand. The temperatures have dropped, Christmas music is playing, and you are about to go on the merry go round! What bliss!

This year has been filled with more staycations than any other year. I wrote this article as I am as passionate about Christmas as I am about travel. A combination of the two is quite simply heaven for me. So hopefully one of these markets is close to you & you are able to visit. If so, I’m jealous! Or rather we can together relive the memories of the Christmas markets we visited before. At worst, you will have some inspiration for Christmas markets to visit next year. When hopefully circumstances will be a little easier for all of us.

Christmas Markets Explore Europe Best Food

Tastiest Christmas markets for food

For me, the Christmas market in Zagreb, Croatia has to take the top spot. The good news is, this market is taking place this year. The bad news?.. Unfortunately due to Covid 19, there will not be any food or drink stalls open. But I recommend keeping this market in mind for future years. For three straight years, this market has been voted the best Christmas market in Europe, so I had to give it a mention. Just some of the Christmas delicacies you can usually feast on include Croatian traditional chard pie (soparnik), gourmet hotdogs, donuts stuffed with apple & vanilla cream, and cabbage rolls (sarma). Yummy!

The annual Christmas market in Bath, UK has taken on a real 21st-century approach to find a solution to the restrictions introduced because of the pandemic. Although the market cannot take place, they have created the virtual Bath Christmas market. Here you will be able to order your much-loved Christmas gifts directly from the local shops which usually have a stall on the market. So there is no need to miss out! From caramelized nuts, delicious burgers amongst many other sweet treats, the Bath Christmas market focuses on local produce & promoting small businesses. If you are browsing online from home and are craving Christmas delights then you just have to try my healthy Christmas cake recipe, it’s delicious!

Christmas Markets Explore Europe Mulled Wine

Best for that Christmassy feeling

The mecca of all stopovers has to be Budapest, Hungary which holds several Christmas markets across the capital. With the two largest markets being within a 10-minute walk of one another, Budapest provides a great opportunity to explore the city over a weekend break. The main street is lined with thousands of glistening Christmas lights, the huge Christmas tree that stands tall over all those admiring it, and in any direction that you look, there is a festive sight to see. Other features include an ice rink in its centre, animations, concerts, and activities. However, the most iconic sight for me would be the wooden lodges that line the streets. For me, this is the emblem of Christmas markets.

Next, I present my hand-picked choice. Usually, this would not reach the top 10 Christmas markets, but there is a certain charm about this exceptional city…especially at Christmas time. Let me suggest Seville. This market is unique to the others as it is a market dedicated to the artistry & workmanship typical of Seville. A sight not to be missed here is the Feria de Belen (in English, the fair of manger), which is home to the most impressive nativity scene in Spain. Walking around the market whilst listening to the choir singing, you will be able to pick up handcrafted goods, jewelry, & quaint nativity figurines, for your loved ones. Such gifts, that no one will be gifting a present quite like yours!

2020 will not last forever & Christmas markets will return!

There we have it, my four recommendations if you’re searching for a spectacular Christmas market. Woefully, many of the markets are not taking place this year. More cheerfully, 2020 is temporary and will not last forever. Some of the markets have already published their dates for 2021. So let’s book some cheap flights to one of the destinations above, and give ourselves something to look forward to! You deserve it!

– B

We traveled to Marbella and it was amazing!

Marbella is so much more than just Puerto Banus and more beautiful than we ever had imagined! This trip was filled with adventure, girls’ nights out, shopping and cozy strolls in the historical center. 

Marbella surprised us right away.

Before we arrived to Marbella, we had expectations and most of them were parties and luxury. While yes, you find those things in Marbella too, there is so much more to the city. Immediately after the taxi driver had dropped us off at the hotel, we were surprised. We had decided to stay in the historical part of the city and we still talk about what a good decision that was.

I had prepared my finest dresses, cute summer outfits and casual wear. It turns out that I had packed well ? We visited last summer and I would say it is the perfect season. Marbella is probably beautiful all-year-round but it is more of a tourist place so in the summer is when the action happens.

The historical town in Marbella

Historical town in marbella

The streets in Marbella are pretty narrow and you won’t find any huge spaces which is exactly what makes it so cozy! The historical part is just stepping away from the beach and you have everything you need with shopping and food. That’s one thing that surprised me a lot, the food in Marbella is amazing. We ate everything from Paella to sandwiches and seafood and it was all incredible.

You’ll find some restaurants that are a fancier and a few that are more traditional in there style. I found it to be a perfect mix of places and didn’t have a single bad food experience. Of course, that was our experience. The girls had great food too and were more than happy.

The beach in the center

The beach in the center is only a few minutes away from the historical town. The short walk there is nice because there are sculptures along the way that are pretty impressive. Along the beach, there are bars and restaurants, some are even on the beach. If you have ever traveled to Malaga then you know their famous chiringuitos. We found some really nice ones and you can’t travel to Marbella without visiting a chhiringuito.

A chiringuito is a restaurant that specializes in fish and seafood. It is where you will get some of the best fish since it is fresh and they prepare it right there. You have to try the typical sardines too called espetos which is sardines on a stick and grilled above a grill fire.

In the summer, there a lot of events happening in Marbella, such as the Starlite Festival. We bought tickets and went to see different artists and one of them was John Legend! There are a lot of Spanish and Latin singers too, like Don Omar, Luis Fonzi and so many more. The festival lasts for more than a month and we are so planning on going back one day!

Finally, we did visit Puerto Banus of course and yes, it was pretty awesome. The parties are crazy and last until sunrise with champagne, music and an intense atmosphere. But I didn’t really want to talk about the typical here so I chose to mention the other things instead.

-A

 

Things you must see and do in Barcelona

Parque Guell Barcelona

I love to travel, and one of my favorite places to go to is Barcelona. I’ve been there a couple of times, and I’m definitely going back. I want to give you my personal recommendations on things to do and see in Barcelona, in case you decide to go there too. 

A city with a lot of different things to do

One of my favorite things when it comes to Barcelona, it’s that there are so many different things you can do there. If you’ve never been there before, I would absolutely recommend that you do some sightseeing. The city has a lot of beautiful architecture and other things to see. An architectural treasure is for sure La Sagrada Familia, which is known worldwide. The ancient roman architecture is particularly beautiful. Check out the website HERE if you want to. It’s curious because it’s still not finished… But I’ve heard it shall be finished in 2026! We will see, cause I’ll be back in Barcelona at that time.

Artsy architechture

Another gorgeous thing to see is Park Güell that is made by Antonio Gaudi. It’s big and beautiful. An absolute tourist attraction for a reason! Remember to bring your camera on your sightseeing round. I can really recommend to bring some lunch and eat in the park. It’s really big and the views are lovely. You won’t regret it. If you want to read about another big city that’s worth visiting, press HERE.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Enjoying the typical Spanish culture in Barcelona

Something that you, of course, cannot avoid no matter where you are in Spain, is eating tapas. In Barcelona, you will find a lot of cute and rustic tapas bars, where you’ll be welcomed by a big smile. I would recommend that if you go to eat tapas you buy a lot of different ones. By doing that you get to try a lot of different tastes, and I assure you that you will not be disappointed. If you dare, you should ask the waiter for his favorites, and give them a shot. Trust me, if the waiter there recommends you something, it’s for sure either a best-seller in general – or a secret treasure.

Beautiful Barcelona

Barcelona has it all

What’s so great about Barcelona, is that it really has it all. You can go shopping, and find both high-end brands, or small Spanish stores. If you want a beach day, you find the beach close by. Bring your towel, but make sure you either go there early or in the afternoon. I’ve seen that it gets crowded pretty fast… If you choose to go there in the morning and spend the whole day, I wanna advise you to not forget your sunscreen. The sun is very strong in Spain, and the rest of the vacation is no fun if you have a severe sunburn.

A place to visit several times…

Like mentioned earlier, there is a lot to see and do in Barcelona, and I would advise you to do a mix of everything. Take a day to really go around with your camera and take a look at those special buildings with amazing architecture, and another one at the beach. On the third day, you can go shopping. Whatever you feel like! But don’t forget to enjoy tapas and sangría at night.

– B

My best travel tips for first-time visitors to Berlin

I love Berlin

Two years ago, I was so lucky to visit Berlin in Germany together with my family. I have always loved big cities, and this is no exception. The only bad thing about the vacation was that it was too short. We found there was so much to see and do in Berlin, and unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to experience it all. But hey, there’s always a next time! Luckily, we did get a chance to see the tourist attractions and places we originally wanted to. It was only after arriving we realized how much more there was. These are my tips for any first-time traveler to Berlin. 

Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin

Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin

Do you want to feel like a prince or a princess for a day? Then this is the location for you! What’s the rent on this place? Have a peaceful walk around the Palace and take in the beauty of the famous surrounding gardens. I honestly felt like I and my entire family had traveled back in time. Pretend you’re from the rococo period and feel like royalty in the biggest palace in Berlin. For over 300 years it has been standing there with all of its beauty, only 20 minutes away from the center of Berlin. If you want, you can book a tour HERE

Brandenburg Gate

One of the most famous landmarks in all of Germany. You can not leave Berlin before paying this place a visit. The city gate has been standing for over 250 years. Brandenburg Gate once represented the division that was during the Cold War, but now has been transformed into a symbol for unity and peace. On this historical location in 1987, Ronald Reagan uttered the now-famous sentence: “Mr. Gorbachov – tear down this wall!”. Thinking about how much this place has meant for history and the world, this is definitely a place you have to visit and experience for yourself. 

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

One of the most known and famous symbols in Berlin from the Cold War. Checkpoint Charlie used to be the border crossing between West and East Berlin. Now one of the biggest tourist attractions in Germany. We took so many pictures from here, that we could fill up an entire photo album. It was so amazing having more than a week in such an interesting city. But I still have so many more things on my list over places I want to see in Germany. 

So much to experience!  

Besides having just the most fascinating historical sites and attractions, there are a lot of other things to do in Berlin. The food is absolutely amazing and I must have gained quite a lot of weight just during this week. No to mention all the beer! Gotta love a nation that cherishes their beer as much as Germany does! Have you been to Germany? What are other must-see places in your opinion? Do you want to read more of my travel tips? Click HERE if you’d like to read about my favorite neighborhood in London!

– A

Packing for a weekend trip: What you must bring

packing my purse

When I’m going on a weekend trip, my number one thing is that I don’t pack in a suitcase. I always just bring hand baggage if I’m going on a plane, or something equivalent if I’m traveling by car/train or other forms of transport. During all of my trips, I’ve packed wrong sooo many times… But eventually, I learned some tricks on how to do packing in a great way. 

Make a packing list

My number one trick is to make a packing list. This will make you less probable to forget something. I assume that we have all been there? Arriving at whatever destination, and figuring out that you left something important at home… Typical. With a packing list, you at least have a smaller chance of this happening. I personally prefer to use the notebook app that I have on my phone.

For some, it’s better to write it on an actual piece of paper, and that’s no problem either. Whatever you prefer. For me, the best thing is if I can tick off the things that I’ve actually put in my bag. Doing that, I know for certain that I did bring them and not just put them on the list… Haha! Easy mistake to make. Another thing that makes it easier packing, is having an organized wardrobe. If you want to know some tips & tricks for that, you can read about it HERE.

packing list

It’s just a few days… Honestly!

The biggest mistake that I usually used to make when it came to packing… Guess what it was?! You’re completely right. I was packing too much. Doing that is so unnecessary. This last year I’ve actually avoided that, and it has made my packing a lot easier. The main thing that I overdo when it comes to packing, is bringing too many pieces of clothing. The solution to this? Very simple.

When I started actually thinking through what I’d do on the trip, all of a sudden there was less stuff to bring. When I hadn’t thought about what I’d actually do during the weekend, I had to pack a lot “just in case”. But honestly… If you go on a weekend trip, you will know more or less if you’re going to go shopping and party, or if it’s a trip where you’ll spend your time out in nature.

packing my bag

Be realistic, you don’t need pumps in the woods

Haha, yes. I’ve actually brought pumps on a cabin trip once. I’m embarrassed even writing it… I remember thinking that it could be that we wanted to dress up a bit one of the nights. First of all, of course, we did not want that… We were in a cabin! And second of all, if I would have dressed up, I still wouldn’t have worn pumps. More like fixing my makeup and putting on a cute top. Haha, well we live and we learn.

Now, being better at packing, I rarely bring more than two pairs of shoes to a weekend trip. The one pair that I’m wearing, and a more dressed up version if I’m going on a party trip. Simple as that. In addition, I always plan the outfits out before going. It makes everything easier. And I don’t have the hassle of having 5 unused tops in my bag when I get home.

– E

Notting Hill – one of my favorite neighborhoods

Notting Hill Street

There is a place that I absolutely love. A cute place that just gives me a really good feeling in my stomach, every time I’m there. Notting Hill. Known from movies and it’s absolutely lovely. Each time I have the opportunity to go there, I do. I wanna tell you all about Notting Hill, in case you aren’t familiar with it. I would advise you to go there if you have the opportunity and remember to bring your camera.

A photo op around every corner

For people who love to take pictures, Notting Hill is an excellent place to go. Whether you enjoy taking outfit pictures surrounded by cute buildings, or you like to take pictures of cool architecture or colorful details. I always make sure the camera has a fresh set of batteries when I go there because I always know that I’ll go home with a pretty full memory card.

Every time I’m there I dream about one day living in one of those colorful houses, with the cute stairs and pastel colors. It’s so typical to the area, and I think that just the architecture, in general, is a big reason to visit.

Notting Hill will make your Instagram feed pop

If you are one of the 500 million that use Instagram on a daily basis, you have to go to Notting Hill. The beautiful architecture and all the things to see there will make your Instagram feed or story – POP! The Insta-friendly colors, all the small things. The background to the perfect outfit picture or just taking a selfie. It’s just excellent.

Notting Hill is home to a really famous market

The Portobello Road Market is really famous, and a place you just have to experience. It’s half a mile long and very known for its antiques. You’ll find hundreds of people selling everything from jewelry to books to collectibles. You can also find food there, in case you get hungry during the time there.

Unfortunately (or well, depending on how you see it), the market attracts a lot of tourists. A lot. So maybe try to avoid the busiest days, even though that can be hard. Every day is busy, haha. If you want to read some tips about how to handle everyday stress, press HERE.

A dream for a foodie

If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll enjoy staying at the market. You’ll get the opportunity to try a lot of different yummy things. Usually, it’s on Fridays and Saturdays you can find the street-food vendors there. I always enjoy that since there are soooo many different choices.

The only limit is my belly! It’s also vegan friendly, which I count as a big plus. If you want to try food from different cultures in a very relaxed and cool setting, it’s the place to be.

An absolute gem whether you’ve been there before or not

So as you’ve probably understood, Notting Hill is one of my favorite neighborhoods when it comes to London. I never get sick of it, and I keep coming back. And I will keep on doing that!

Whether it is your first time in London or Notting Hill, or you’re a veteran – go there. Just go! There are things that change all the time, and I’m sure you’ll see something you didn’t notice the last time you were there if you go there.

– M