There are many travel experiences I have hoped to enjoy for a long time. Near the top of the list for several years has been visiting Europe around the Christmas holidays. This year thanks to some good luck, we are finally able to make it a reality.
Earlier this year I attended a travel blogger conference where I was fortunate enough to win a door prize – a $1,000 gift card to HomeAway.com. HomeAway is the best source to find thousands of short-term vacation rentals around the world. When I won they kindly told me I was under no obligation to write about them or the experience, but I want to. Short term vacation rentals is a hot trend in travel and I can’t wait to try it for myself and share the results.
For the Europe trip, we are staying in what looks like a gorgeous apartment in the heart of Brussels, our home base for the trip. In addition to exploring this great European capital and enjoying its massive Winter Festival, we will also be embarking on a series of day trips around Europe to visit new places and taste some of the regional differences as people celebrate the Christmas holidays. For the day trips I have partnered with Eurail, who has provided us with two passes to see and explore as much as we can while vacationing in Europe. Thanks to the easy to use and affordable Eurail pass, we plan to visit Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris and Koln.
Staying in touch can be an issue while traveling, so I am thrilled to once again use the mobile internet services of Xcom Global. I used their MiFi Mobile Hotspot while traveling through Australia to great success, and I can’t wait to experiment with their signature Europe service promising connectivity wherever I travel.
I have a bad habit to overplan my trips, but this time I actually haven’t prepared very much at all. Brussels and Amsterdam will include your standard sightseeing, as it will be my first time to both cities. Bruges and Koln are new as well, but the Christmas festivities in both cities will occupy most of our time. Paris is different. I’ve spent a lot of time in the French capital, and it’s my favorite city in the world. This time we wanted to see a side to the city we’ve never explored, so we are going on a Context Travel tour. I’ve wanted to take one of their tours for a long time, as they’re not your standard walking tour. Using local experts and scholars, the tours explore facets to cities that aren’t covered anywhere else along a variety of themes including history, culinary traditions and literature. We are taking the Baguette to Bistro: Culinary Traditions of Paris tour and I cannot wait to learn about Parisian food history and maybe taste a few French treats.
I have been looking forward to this trip for a long time and will be Tweeting and writing as I travel through the Christmas markets next week. Please be sure to look out for updates on Twitter using the hashtag #EuroLoper and let me know if you have any suggestions or questions!
5 thoughts on “Join Me as I Explore the Christmas Markets of Europe”
That sounds like fun Matt. Bruges is magical at any time and Brussels is way better than most people expect. The Belgian Christmas markets are a bit affected this year by the awful events in Liege of course, hopefully this won´t have a major impact on your enjoyment though. I know you´re not coming this far north but for a future trip you should keep Stockholm on your pre-Christmas radar. I have an article on these here
Berlin too has a huge number of Christmas markets; over 60 at the last count including an eco-friendly one with a green Santa…
Congrats on the gift card! I want to use a rental or an exchange the next time I go to Europe. Sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve worked with a company to do a home exchange giveaway and it made me really interested in trying this out.
Christmas in Europe would be awesome! I would love to explore the markets and just see a different side of Christmas than what we have here in the US. Whenever I travel, I get a different perspective on things than if I was at home. Would be nice to do that at Christmas time as well. Sure, things would be a little commercialized – just in a different way. :)
Beyooooond jealous! Have the best time!!!
You are gonna love European rail travel too. I took the family on a trip in Northern Europe this summer and it was great (it´s been a while since my inter-railing days and things ave changed!) If you don´t have a pass you should look out for advance purchase deals – we scored first class tickets on German rail for the same price as regular, and it was quite the experience. Free papers, snacks and loads of space…
europe is always a darling when it comes to shopping. have fun. in my trips here sometimes i just cant stop myself from purchasing as there is a lot of good stuff specially during Christmas and at very reasonable prices. result………… i ran out of budget.
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