Tag: Prague

12 Magical Christmas Markets Around The World

Photo courtesy of torontochristmasmarket.com

By: Juliette Koronkiewicz, TWIP

Every year, in many cities around the world, Christmas markets open and people flock to watch carolers, events, tree lightings and shop for everyone on their Christmas list. You can’t help but feel the spirit of the holidays when walking into these winter wonderlands of sparkling Christmas trees, savory scents, and sweet treats. Visiting one or some of these 12 Christmas Markets is the perfect way to get yourself into the holiday spirit.

Striezelmarkt – Dresden, Germany: November 29 – December 24, 2017

Photo courtesy of download-wallpaper.net

Dresden Striezelmarkt is Germany’s oldest Christmas market and this year will mark the 583rd anniversary of this historical Christmas display. Locals visit this market every year to stock up on festive foods and Christmas shop. Amongst the many market stalls are popular woodcraft from the Erz Mountains, beautiful hand-made tinsels, winter accessories, hand-made candles and more. Dresden Stollen Festival is one of the most popular main events during this month-long Christmas market. A visit to Dresden Christmas Market isn’t complete without tasting some of its famous stollen; a traditional German Christmas fruit and nut bread.

Budapest Christmas Fair – Budapest, Hungary: Nov 10, 2017 – Dec 31, 2017

Photo courtesy of budapestchristmas.com

The Christmas market on St. Stephen’s Square is the newest market in Budapest and right in front of the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilica. Opened for the first time in 2011, the market has beautiful decorations, stalls filled with handmade gifts to cross people off your shopping list, and delicious food. Did we forget to mention you can also go ice skating? You can view the illuminating St. Stephen’s Basilica while taking a few laps around the ice skating rink. Every day, on the hour, between 4.30pm and 10pm, you can see the Basilica’s facade turn into a stunning visual Christmas narrative. This market is known for its beautiful lights in the evenings, which makes you feel as if you are in the middle of a magical Christmas wonderland.

Tivoli Gardens’ Christmas Market – Copenhagen, Denmark: November 18 – December 31st

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Every year, the Tivoli Gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland. Up to one million lights are activated to create Christmas in Tivoli. The Tivoli Christmas Market has been running since 1994 and attracts more than a million visitors each year. During your visit, you will find mouth watering food and drinks, thanks to the mulled wine and apple pancakes, and you can discover everything from beautiful knitwear to Christmas ornaments and crafts. While at Tivoli, don’t forget to ride the Pixie Train and the Music Carousel.  

Christkindlesmarik – Strasbourg, France: November 24th – December 30th

Photo courtesy of flickriver.com/photos/davidad64

Known as the “Capital of Christmas,” Strasbourg is home to Christkindlesmarik, France’s oldest and most popular holiday market. Christkindelsmarik comprises twelve markets which are organized by products such as food, decorations and handmade crafts. Place Kléber holds the piece de resistance: a giant Christmas tree with shimmering ornaments and lights. Visitors will find 60 small wooden huts in Place Kléber, where different organizations take donations and explain their charitable mission. In keeping with holiday spirit, many visitors leave gifts by the Christmas tree for those in need. With its famous Christmas Tree, illuminations, unique wooden chalets, bredele cakes and hot wine, there’s always magic in the air at Strasbourg’s Christmas Market.

Christkindlmarket – Chicago, USA: November 17th – December 24th

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Christkindlmarket Chicago is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. You will find German and European tradition mixed with international flair and local charm when you visit. The outdoor market in the Chicago Loop has become so popular and loved, that people from all over the world come to visit. Any Chicagoan will tell you that they could not imagine the city without this  Chicago tradition. The unique shopping experience, typical German food and drinks, and holiday entertainment make the Christkindlmarket Chicago a preferred and popular destination to get in the holiday spirit.

The Old Town Market (Skansen) – Stockholm, Sweden: November 19th – December 23rd

Photo courtesy of lifeoftrends.com

The Old Town Christmas Market has it‘s origin in the medieval markets at Stockholm in 1837 and has been an ongoing tradition. With more than 40 stalls to explore, you will find a lot of Swedish Christmas specialities such as Swedish Christmas sweets, smoked sausages, smoked reindeer, elk meat, handmade knitted caps, candy floss, glögg (mulled wine), a range of Swedish handicrafts and decorative arts of high-quality workmanship and so much more. The vendors renting the stalls are all entrepreneurs and are selected to give you a wide range of traditional Swedish products, with a focus on handicraft and unique items for a truly authentic Swedish Christmas experience.

Christmas Markets – Manchester, England: November 10th – December 21st

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Launched in 1999 as just a single site in St. Ann’s Square, Manchester’s Christmas Markets are now a sprawling and hugely popular festive attraction. Over 300 stalls and chalets spread across the city centre offers delicious international food, drinks and delicately crafted Yuletide gifts. You can taste traditional bratwurst, Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella or a good old-fashioned hog roast. European and local producers offer everything from fine amber jewellery, handcrafted leather bags and top-quality bonsai trees, to handmade Belgian kitchenware, framed photo prints and French soaps.

Christkindlmarkt Salzburg – Salzburg, Austria: November 23rd – December 26th

Photo courtesy of christkindlmarkt.co.at

Experience the incredible old Austrian tradition and find the most wonderful Christmas presents for your loved ones at Salzburg’s Christmas Market! Salzburg’s Christmas market located around the cathedral of Salzburg at the foot of the Hohensalzburg fortress, is mentioned in history as far back as the 15th century. When you visit Salzburg, you enter a stage for countless cultural events, lovingly fostered tradition and living customs. With snow often turning the city into an atmospheric winter wonderland, the many Christmas markets add to the seasonal feeling and make Salzburg one of the most romantic cities in Austria.

Plaisirs d’Hiver – Brussels, Belgium: November 24th – December 31st

Photo courtesy of theculturetrip.com

There’s no better way to get into the Christmas mood than spending some time at Brussels’ Plaisirs d’Hiver, coined as “Europe’s most original Christmas market.” There are Baroque merry-go-rounds, a 200 foot-long ice rink, a big wheel and over 240 stalls selling gifts, and warming food and drink fit for those crispy wintery days. Indulge with the delicious flavors of the local sugary doughnuts while observing the 18,000 lights illuminating the Ferris wheel, decorations, and music while taking in the holiday atmosphere.

Edinburgh’s Christmas Market – Edinburgh, Scotland: November 17th – January 7th

Photo courtesy of webstore.ncl.ac.uk

The traditional and romantic Christmas Market in the heart of Edinburgh offers a unique shopping experience for every visitor. These festive markets are a popular highlight of Edinburgh’s Christmas.  Find traditional crafts at the Scottish Market on George Street. Pick up unique gifts and goods at the European Market in the Mound Precinct, or choose presents for the little ones in the Children’s Market, part of Santa Land at Princes Street Gardens. You can enjoy panoramic views of the capital from the top of the Big Wheel, spin around on the charming carousel in East Princes Street Gardens, brave a twirl on the 60-meter-high Star Flyer or just enjoy delicious food and drink.

Toronto Christmas Market  – Toronto, Canada: November 16th – December 23rd

Photo courtesy of torontochristmasmarket.com

Discover Old World charm with modern-day holiday attractions at The Toronto Christmas Market. The market features festive lighting and décor, musical performances from carolers and Bavarian brass bands. Warm up with beer, mulled wine, or hot rum drinks at the market’s beer gardens and hospitality lounges. Browse through local, handcrafted products and check out the market’s giant Christmas tree. If you love caroling, join in on the World Caroling Challenge on December 15th and sing some of your favorite Christmas tunes!

Old Town and Wenceslas Square Christmas Market – Prague, Czech Republic: December 2nd – January 6th

Photo courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

If you want an unforgettable experience, you need to experience Christmas in Prague!  The unique atmosphere of the medieval central Prague makes the Christmas Markets at the Old Town Square very popular. The variety of food and beverages sold at the market is very generous. Visitors may look forward to traditional Czech food and drink like barbecued pork, blood sausages, Czech muffins, conkers, beer, mulled wine, mead and other typical gastronomical specialties from Old Czech cuisine. You can find gifts for everyone on your list with a variety of wood-carved toys, glass-workwear, blacksmith´s ware or confectionery.

TWIPPERS OF THE WEEK

Twippers of the Week: Frank and Lissette from The Travels of BBQboy and Spanky.

bbqboy and spanky in Cape Town

Current city: Rovinj, Croatia

Age: 49

Total countries visited: 45

What makes you interesting: We don’t just travel full-time, we live in different places for extended periods of time. Earlier this year, for example, we were in South Africa for three months where we hiked Table Mountain, paraglided over Cape Town, and bungeed from the highest bridge jump in the world, Bloukrans Bridge. We met the friendliest people there and fell in love with the place. The opportunity to be somewhere for a longer period of time gives us insight on places that we would never have as tourists on a two week vacation. We’ve spent extended periods of time in Budapest, Prague, as well as in Brasov (Romania) and have become huge fans of Eastern Europe which I think is an area often misunderstood. We’re now in Croatia for three months, another of our favorite places. One of the things we started doing after our first year of travel was to join gyms everywhere we go. The idea was to get back in shape but it’s ended up being a great way to meet people and get to really know a place. It fits in perfectly with the way we travel.

What brands do you love: We’re not into brands. We have a Canon camera we’re happy with and just bought a GoPro. Quality shoes are always important so we make sure to buy the best.

What’s your Travanality? Frank is somewhere between a Maverick and a Purist: nature is what gives him the most peace and he feels happy hiking and being outdoors. Lissette is both an Urbanite and Soulager: she loves the vibe of a city (she’s originally from New York) but she’s also into yoga, meditation and is much more insightful on matters of the soul than Frank is. We’re also both Epicurean – we love good food and wine and believe both are a huge part of experiencing a different culture.

Describe your unique or funniest travel experience: There’s been a few. We hiked the rim of the crater of Lake Maninjau (in Sumatra) to arrive in a small village where some kind of party was going on. There were children with pellet guns and they started shooting at us, thinking it was damn funny. We got out of there pretty fast. Another time we took a bus from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic and we got dropped off on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in the dark. Youths in motorcycles came up to us and I thought we were in trouble. No, they were just offering a ride across the mountains to our final destination. Another time we met a drunk German (a police officer from Stuttgart) on a train in Thailand who insisted on drinking with us while pulling out and displaying every souvenir he had collected from his travels through China and Vietnam. We also drank with ladyboys in Thailand and made friends with a pack of soldiers in Colombia. We seem to meet really interesting and/or crazy people everywhere we go.

What are the top reasons should someone travel with you: We’re adventurous, fun and enjoy talking to people. In the end those are the ingredients that lead to interesting encounters.

What is the best part about having a travel partner: The biggest thing is having someone to share experiences with. We’re also different and because of that both of us are exposed to things we probably wouldn’t do traveling on our own like going on yoga retreats and taken cooking lessons (these are things Lissette likes). On the other hand, we’ve hiked and had more adventurous-type experiences because that’s what turns Frank craves.

Where and when were you the most culture shocked: Frank has had a few experiences with culture shock in his life. When he was 9 he moved from rural Quebec to Lusaka, Zambia where he lived a few years. He was one of the few Caucasian children in the class and he barely spoke English. That was a big culture shock. He went to Morocco in his teens and was shocked by the aggressive beggars, some with leprosy, others with bulging white eyes (some kind of disease). He was afraid to leave the hotel. It was like being in a bad zombie movie. As an adult, he experienced culture shock in Sumatra where people weren’t used to seeing Caucasian foreigners. Everyone wanted to take a photo or talk with him. He felt like it was very invasive. All cases of culture shock but each very different.

Best travel advice: Keep your mind open and allow yourself time. We love our way of travel (what people refer to as “slow travel”) because we integrate ourselves into our destinations. We’ll lived in the suburbs of Prague, in the middle of Romania, and in small-town Thailand. All very foreign places where very little English was spoken yet we ended up making each home for a few months. Each place holds memories we’ll never forget. So don’t rush a place. The other thing about slow travel is that it’s less expensive and sustainable. We’ve been traveling full-time now for two years and are saving money at the same time, it’s something I occasionally write about on the blog. We love the way we travel.

Next travel destination: We want to explore Spain, Portugal and Morocco after our three months in Croatia, followed by Japan in November. We’ve never been to Japan and look forward to it. That will be followed by some more travels in Asia (most likely Malaysia) and then our return to Africa in February where we hope to see Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia.

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Ahmet Seckin Yilmaz. 

seckin

Current city: A two thousand year-old, small fishermen’s town by the Aegean Sea called Foca (Phocaea), Izmir, Turkey.

Age: 40.

Total countries visited: 38 countries in 88 different trips. I did not sleep on my bed for 447 nights to be precise.

What makes you interesting: Photography is an important part of my travels. I always have my camera with me – no matter where I am. The world is a beautiful place and I want to see as much of it as possible and share the beauty of it with as many people as I can through my photographs.

What brands do you love: I love every single Apple product and my Nikon camera and lenses.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling: Saint Augustine once said “The world is a book, and those who do not tavel read only one page.” One of the gratest lines I have ever heard. I learned not one but many lessons: Appreciate the simple things in your life… Around the world, most people are good… It’s the people you meet who make your travels worthwile… A smile and a wave makes a big difference anywhere in the world. The best part of travelling though, is coming home with great memories you made.

Most magical place on earth: Bagan, Burma (Myanmar). It is truly another world. Strolling through more than two thousand temples, watching the sunset on top of them and finally ballooning over them at sunrise. Words can not describe the experience. It’s an absolutely breathtaking place.

If you were given a free trip tomorrow, where would you go: I had three childhood travel dreams. Number one was to see the Northern lights, number two was to visit Machu Picchu in Peru and number three was to see the Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean. I was so lucky to see the Northern lights back in 2006 in the Finnish Lapland. I was in Machu Picchu on my birthday back in 2009. I was so close to go to Easter Island back in 2014, but my wife Ozlem gave birth to our beautiful daughter Yaz. So, I wouldn’t say no to a free trip to Easter Island.

What are the top reasons should someone travel with you: I’m a good company, very easygoing, I have lots of funny/scary/amazing travel stories to tell: How we got in trouble on the Peruvian-Bolivian border with my wife, why you should wear a sticker in a Burmese airport, how I got the chance to take a photo with Tom Cruise and many more. Oh and I have thousands of travel photos to show you.

Is there anywhere you will not travel to: As long as I have good travel partner, I would go anywhere.

Where did you go for your first travel experience and at what age: Prague. I was 25 years old.

Next travel destination: Indoneisa for a nine-day photography tour with a friend of mine. Very excited about it!

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twippers of the Week:  The sisters from Blonde Brunette Travel, Kay Dougherty (the blonde) and Anne Reilly (the brunette).

IMG_2788

Current city: Kay lives in Marco Island, Florida but in her brain she still lives in Boston, MA. Anne lives in Sarver, PA about half of the year and in Marco Island in the winter and whenever else she can sneak away from her husband.

Age: Old enough to know better than to tell you! We’ll give you a clue; we’re both Baby Boomers

What makes you interesting: As far as we know we’re the only sister blogging duo! The fact that we’re sisters but for most of our adult lives lived such different lives gives us different perspectives on our travels. Kay is adamantly single, child free, lived an urban life until a year ago and was a VP of Marketing for several companies. Anne is married (to our mutual dismay), lives in a rural area, raised 4 boys, worked her ass off (she honestly doesn’t have an ass) at home for about 20 years then went back to teaching. Kay never knew what the word budget meant. Anne could take 6 people on a trip, do it at ridiculously low cost and see great places. For the last 12 years we’ve traveled together and blogged for a little over two years. We also think our style of humor in our writing makes us different.

Anne is interesting because she has a prodigious memory for vast amounts of information that she can spit out suddenly. Much of it is useful and some is just plain weird. She can “connect the dots” so well Kay thinks she should have been a detective or a diagnostician. She can walk into any kitchen anywhere and make a delicious dinner for 6 people without any recipes. Anne always knows the right way to turn – it is without fail the exact opposite of what she swears it should be. She refuses to accept that so still makes a lot of wrong turns.

Kay is interesting because of her sense of humor which people think is great or can’t stand. She’s fairly good at reinventing herself. She got an MBA at 40 and switched her career and after getting laid off at the height of the recession reinvented herself as a travel blogger. Next she plans to reinvent herself as George Clooney’s fiancee. Her talents include mishaps involving knives, unknowingly stealing her sister’s possessions on trips and sleeping in any circumstances and for extraordinarily long periods of time. Her main characteristic is being oblivious.

Total countries visited: 37 for Anne and 40 for Kay. 6 continents for each! (Only Antractica is missing)

Most magical place on Earth: For Anne it’s Underwater snorkeling in healthy coral reefs. For Kay it’s Cappadocia, Turkey because it’s truly unique.

Best travel advice: Always have a Plan B. That means doing the research in advance to be sure your Plan B would be doable. Also keep your sense of humor.

What people say when they travel with you: “I can’t believe you’re sisters!” and “Your sisters, aren’t you? You look so much alike!”

#1 thing you must do when traveling: Swimming for Anne (or she’s insufferable). Drink good wine for Kay (and usually buy an extra suitcase because of too much shopping)

Next travel destination: Kay leaves for Peru on September 3 but Anne can’t go because of the effect that altitude has on her asthma. Our next joint trip is in mid-October to Budapest, Prague then Athens for the TBEX travel bloggers’ conference.

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Ellis from Ellis Goes On Hols.

ellis

Current city: Kent, United Kingdom

Age: 22

What makes you interesting: I like to do things that scare me. I hate heights but sky-diving and canyon swinging and some of the best things I have ever done.

Total countries visited: 22

Most magical place on Earth: Prague, Czech Republic. The architecture is just amazing.

Best travel advice: Be spontaneous but not too spontaneous. There is something to be said for winging it, getting lost and trying activities you never thought you would but you do want to make sure you make the most of your time and money and end up with a place to stay, so planning ahead can be handy too.

What people say when they travel with you: that I am adventurous, reliable and sociable- which is nice to hear!

#1 thing you must do when traveling: Eat! Food is as good a way as any to get an insight into a country’s culture, so it’s not an area to try and save money- at least not too much.

Next travel destination: Germany

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