So many of our modern Christmas traditions hail from Germany (via England, thanks to Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert); for a real injection of the spirit of Christmas, no better place to go than the source. Plus, Germans are nothing if not sticklers for authenticity – no plastic or made in China items. Only genuine evergreen branches, music, food, drink and shopping traditions allowed!
Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip.TV's producer and host, shares her tips for visiting Germany's Christmas markets.
When to go:
Markets are traditionally open during Advent, the last four weeks before Christmas, ending Christmas Eve, the day most Germans celebrate. This year, Advent begins Sunday, November 27th; many opening ceremonies are the Friday before the first Sunday. One more tip about when to go: for an extra special experience, visit in the evening – when twinkling lights, bonfires and torches kindle the magic and spirit of the season and transport you back to the ancient origins of this winter festival.
What to eat and drink:
The fir branch-draped, traditional wood stalls include the best German standards: hot sausages, pretzels, and beer, plus the seasonal delights: hot, mulled 'gluhwein'; stollen, a particularly addictive fruit bread; gingerbread or lebkuchen.
And marzipan, oh, the glorious marzipan. Forget the icky, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth goo slathered on top of cheap fruitcakes here at home. Once you taste the real thing, you just can't get enough. Marzipan in Germany isn't just for cake topping. It comes formed in all shapes. Look for the quirky Christmas traditional 'marzipan kartoffeln' – marzipan 'potatoes', little marzipan balls dusted with coco to look like… miniature potatoes. Other shapes are delightful, hand painted confections – a favorite in southern Germany is little pigs, a symbol of good luck. Take some home for gifts! I would love forever anyone who put marzipan kartoffeln in my stocking!
What to buy:
Markets are laden with high quality, and often, artisan-crafted German Christmas traditional items like nutcrackers, ornaments, religious items and toys, toys, toys.
You are going to want to buy the unparalleled handmade glass ornaments and you are going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how and if you can get them home safely. Sheepskin slippers and mittens, and lots of boiled wool. I admit to an obsession with boiled wool, a northern European tradition I can indulge easily at Germany's Christmas markets, buying myself and loved ones hats, mittens, vests, jackets and more with a European design flair you don't find at home. Every market also has local specialties like the iconic blue and white china in Dresden, in everyday and Christmas designs.
How to get there:
Any trip to Germany during Advent and up to Christmas Eve gives you the opportunity to visit the local Christmas market. Land tour companies and river cruise companies offer Christmas market specialty tours this time of year that take you to multiple Christmas markets so you can compare the atmosphere, food and shopping. A Christmas market cruise on the Danube, for example, could include flying into Frankfurt and visiting its market before your cruise, and sailing to both Nuremburg's (possibly the most famous) town square market and Regensburg, in the castle grounds.
Even 'grinches' discover genuine Christmas good cheer in the historic, traditional atmosphere of Germany's Christmas markets. And lovers of the season add to cherished memories of Christmas celebrations.
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The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle and its metropolitan area is home to some of the country’s superb art scenes, fun festivals and events, natural landmarks, numerous attractions, and one of the country’s oldest and most visited public markets, Pike Place Market.
Pike Place Market is a mishmash of a fresh produce market, restaurants, cafes , craft and arts stores, art galleries and studios, smoke shops, book stores, florists, and just about anything! It is located on a nine-acre stretch in the historic district of Seattle. It was established in 1907 and has been in operation since then. It is visited by about ten million people annually! Here are five reasons why you must pay it a visit:
- The first original Starbucks was opened in Pike Place Market in 1971. It is a throwback experience you must not miss especially if you are a fan! Don’t forget to take some pictures.
- You have got to eat at Pike Place Chowder Restaurant. It serves the best clam chowder in town!
- Visit the Pike Place Fish Market. You do not have to buy anything; just enjoy the experience of watching fish flying around.
- Shop for comics and manga, games and toys, and hard to find collectibles at Golden Age Collectables, the country’s oldest comic shop.
- Find unique and authentic crafts at the Pike Place Crafts Market. All the items have been screened, guaranteeing that they are all handcrafted.
These are just teasers of what Pike Place Market offers. There are more than a hundred reasons why you must visit Pike Place Market soon!
Different Types of Meat
The Ginger Pig began over 20 years ago with a near-derelict farmhouse, an accidental farmer and three Tamworth pigs named Milly, Molly and Mandy. We now farm over 3,000 acres of farm and moorland, to supply our five London butchery shops as well as a handful of the capital’s best restaurants… Our beef, pork and lamb is from our of free-ranging Longhorn and Galloway cattle, our Tamworth, Old Spot, Berkshire and Middle White pigs and Blackface, Swaledale and Dorset sheep. We also farm 300 acres of barley, oats, wheat and fodderbeat to feed our animals, covering as much of the food chain as we are able to.
So communicate with us today to get more valuable pieces of advice on your next shopping galore in London!
Adventure Travel in Tikal, Guatemala
For approximately $535, rugged travelers could now depend on a smartphone that could withstand their sporadic active lifestyle while on the road. The JCB Pro-Smart is an Android-powered smartphone that is proven to endure dust, water and even shock.
Get more details on this really useful smartphone, including its long juice life and hard-wearing design, in an excerpt of the review made by Cnet.co.uk’s Damien Mcferran.
Too heavy and thick to be of interest to style-loving mobile consumers, the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart is better suited to people who don't mind getting their hands dirty. It's unquestionably the most robust Android phone available… As a phone for outdoor types who work amid dust, water and all kinds of weather, the Toughphone Pro-Smart makes a lot of sense… And because it's running Android, the Toughphone Pro-Smart can make use of Google's myriad cloud-based storage solutions, including Picasa (for photos and videos), and Google Music. You can even sign up to services such as Dropbox and Google Drive to grab even more online space.
So communicate with our travel reps today for more tips on your next adventure!
Bergamot Station, CA
Aside from several offices, a bookstore and a café, the Bergamot Station is now home to two dozens of galleries that frequently change from Track 16 Gallery’s modern ingenuity and pop art to the monochrome photo displays of Julius Shulman.
Learn more about the Bergamot Station in California in the overview below:
Since its launch, Bergamot Station has become a popular destination for visitors from around the country and the world. Bergamot Station provides a central location which allows visitors to park in one place and spend the day seeing art, rather than spending time driving from one gallery to the next. It now appears in every guide to Los Angeles as a primary cultural destination, with well over 600,000 visitors each year.
Get started with your next gallery tours as early as now!
There's a certain art form to packing: being able to bring as few clothes as possible that will cover you for your entire vacation, no matter what happens; choosing clothes that don't easily wrinkle or show stains; finding the right fabric for the temperature of your destination; the list goes on.
I tend to be an overpacker, so whenever I can get my hands on super versatile clothing that I know I'll use over and over, I try to stock up.
ColoradoGal of TheVacationGals.com blog, wrote a great review for a wrap dress from GGO Clothing, made of 88% organic bamboo and 12% Lycra. Not only is it soft and wrinkle free, but it's "naturally antibacterial and wicks away moisture better than cotton."
Not to mention cute! Usually versatile clothing means utility, and utility doesn't often yell "travel glam." This dress is simple enough that you can dress it up or down, for a variety of occassions, and still look great. Plus the wrap-style works for many different body shapes.
I agree with ColoradoGal though, in that I would probably layer a light tank or camisole underneath, unless I was going to the beach in the dress.
Ah, the souvenir. Ah, the souvenir. Nothing brings you back to those life-affirming moments abroad like some good old-fashioned kitsch.
Even if photos are enough memento for you, it’s nice to bring home trinkets as gifts for family and friends. Here’s everything you need to know about finding, buying, and bringing back the best souvenirs during your travels.
First off, don’t wait until last minute. I repeat - don’t put this off. You’ll wake up in the airport when you’re rushing through duty-free, wondering if Mom would want a carton of Marlboros. (Hint: She doesn’t.) Make a list of the people you’d like to bring stuff back for, and keep an eye out throughout your trip. If something just screams your sister, grab it right then.
Also, make sure you include gifts for yourself and others into your budget. You don’t want to end up skipping meals for snow-globes.
Think outside the box when you shop. Variations on basic items with unique or bizarre packaging make for fun (and inexpensive) gifts. Try to buy locally-made, artisan goods. It’s a simple way to support the local industry and take home an authentic cultural keepsake.
Shop in markets or other places that locals do. Museum gift shops - though on the more expensive side - usually offer a wide variety of art, books, jewelry, and other items that make for beautiful presents.
If you’re traveling with a friend, make a game out of hunting for the best souvenir. Go to a market and split up. Set a price limit and give yourselves 30 minutes. It’s a fun way to find some gems, and you can trade at the end.
Whether it’s a t-shirt from your alma mater or baseball cap of your favorite team, stuff with American slogans or brands are unique abroad and make for excellent trading materials.
Try to make a trade at a vendor’s stall or somewhere else you can haggle. Offer to switch your shirt out with that of someone you meet. This is a fun way to interact with locals, and either way, you’ll go home with a good story. I’ve also swapped (inexpensive) jewelry.
On The Cheap
For yourself, think maps, brochures, visitor guides and other promotional materials. You can often find these for free at tourism offices or museums, and many are beautifully printed on quality paper. I’ve cut pages out of museum guides and framed them for elegant wall decorations. You can also do this with postcards.
Other super cheap souvenirs include stamps, coins, and newspapers - even if you don’t speak the language it’s a cool way to wrap your gifts. And if you want to learn the language, newspapers are a terrific place to start.
Gifts from nature work too. I once gave someone polished stones I found along a beach that I had brought home and put in a glass jar. Dried flowers, seashells, and plants seeds are other good examples.
Pass the Food
Remember - everyones like food. And food is everywhere.
Bring back your girlfriend chocolates from Belgium, or your mom dried pasta from Italy. When I went to Colombia I made sure I brought back my highly caffeinated Dad some good Colombian coffee beans. Teas and spices work too, and they’re cheap and easy to pack.
Bringing It Back
Leave some empty room in your suitcase while you’re initially packing; remember, bags are weighed coming back too, so if you’re over the limit you could be looking at some hefty fees. Another idea is to pack an empty suitcase or duffel bag inside your luggage to later remove and fill with souvenirs.
However, if you want to stick to your backpack and plan to travel on for a while, ship your souvenirs back. It might even be cheaper than checking another bag.
Also referred to as the Paddington Bazaar, this weekly market features over 200 stalls of high quality, Australian-made goods. Arguably the best in the city, this vibrant churchyard market is a great way to kick off your Saturday in Sydney.
In the courtyard of the market you’ll find the emerging designers section where you can find distinctly New Age and high fashion clothing items. All around the market are stalls with unique clothing and accessories, ranging from avant-garde to vintage.
Within the market you can also find fresh flowers, baked goods, and other local, hand-made artisan goods and crafts. This is a top-notch market where most of the wares are of high quality as the different vendors are in friendly competition with one another.
List of Stall Holders
The vibe here is fabulous and chic and you’re bound to pick up some gifts or a souvenir for your trip from the hodgepodge of cool items for sale.
Saturdays only, 10am-4pm. Rain or Shine
Address: St. John’s Uniting Church, 395 Oxford St., Paddington, Sydney
Tel: +61 2 9331 2923
If you don't quite parle français or sprechen die deutsche, then odds are, you've had an awkward moment abroad. Maybe a cabbie didn't quite understand your directions, or perhaps a waiter brought out the wrong dish. One time I accidentally told a foreign dignitary that his earmuffs smelled of chutney. Messy business.
The point is, there’s a way to avoid that kind of embarrassment. Nyrius makes a few different global translators, but for my money, the 12-Language LT12 packs the most bang for your buck. It’s got over 8400 key phrases that’ll not only display on its screen, but it’ll actually speak them aloud for you. So if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t do well with foreign tongues, you’re covered.
Covering a wide range of discussion topics, from emergencies to shopping to immigration to street directions, at a mere $39.99, it’s hard to go wrong with the Nyrius LT12. Pick it up today at Amazon.
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- Africa, Anywhere
- Aguas Calientes, Peru
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- Banff, Ab, Canada
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