Our holiday was spent on a road trip in Europe. We took the P&O Ferry from Dover to Calais and continued to Aachen, Germany to see their Christmas market. That was the first time I have ever been in four different countries (England, France, Belgium and Germany) in one day!
In Aachen we stayed at the Ibis Styles hotel and was very pleased with the value for our money. It was conveniently located to the city’s highlights and the breakfast (that was included) was quite delicious. In Aachen we saw the Christmas market and enjoyed the waffles with cream and chocolate sauce, ate some bratwurst and enjoyed the pretty lights.
We drove from Aachen to Nuremberg and had some fun on the Autobahn, maxed out at about 130 mph. We stopped in Cologne to visit the cathedral (which was amazing) and grabbed a snack at the Christmas market that was conveniently located at the base of the Cathedral!
After a giant pretzel and a little shopping we hit the road again and ended up eating lunch in Frankfurt. We found a fantastic restaurant that just happened to open up that day. Delicious gnocchi. I will have to find the name….
We made it to Nuremberg in the early evening. Just enough time, to grab some dinner at the Christmas market. The gingerbread there really does live up to the hype. After my husband trying several different mulled wines throughout the world, we have finally come to the conclusion that we don’t like mulled wine. I was perfectly happy to drink the alcohol free version as that was quite tasty.
The next day we had an amazing breakfast at the hotel, Le Meridien. It was an amazing breakfast buffet with pancakes, pastries, champagne (torture!) and made to order eggs. We needed to burn off the breakfast so we headed up to the Nuremberg Castle to see the view. Visited more cathedrals…I think our total count for Germany was 4.
We spent Christmas Eve in Nuremberg, had another delicious breakfast for our Christmas brunch and headed off to Salzburg. It was a shockingly warm day and almost everything shockingly was open. We visited the Hohensalzburg Castle, popped into the Cathedral and went to their Christmas market and ended up snacking for dinner. So many treats!!
The next day we went on a walk about. Passed the clearest lake in Germany, tried to get up to a peak but lost to the poorly marked trails. For those keeping track, European hiking trails – 2 and the Smyths – 0. We had a raclette dinner at the Schloss Fuschl Resort & Spa which was so good.
Next destination: Italy!
If you are ever driving to Venice, please don’t pay more than you need to and park at the big parking lot on the island. For only 5 Euros a day you can park at another city lot (as compared to 20 per day) and then take a 5 minute bus ride to the Venice train station. Admittedly, this is only recommended if you luggage is light enough as we had to walk about a mile from the parking lot to the bus stop. We wanted to save that money for gelato so we didn’t mind.
We loved Venice, ate very well (we recommend Alfredo’s Pasta To Go), had a lovely apartment (House 5286), went to see a show at Teatro La Fenice (so amazing), had a lovely home-cooked anniversary meal and had to leave too soon.
We headed off to Florence, the final destination in our epic road trip.
Florence was amazing also. The weather wasn’t too cold so we were happy wandering the streets all day and more importantly, could eat gelato. We saw all of the sights (except for the Uffizi as it was closed on New Year’s Day) and even could relax in a couple cafes and drink a cappuccino.
We stayed at a hotel in Fiesole, which gave us a gorgeous view of the city and was just a short bus stop into the heart of Florence. We had a New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel which was unbelievable! 9 courses (I was so full!!!) and wine to go with each course. At midnight the whole city was lit up with fireworks so we saw the fireworks from everywhere. It was amazing!
On our way home, my husband was Mr. Super Driver and drove us all the way to Saint Quentin, France. On the way there, we finally found the winter that we had previously not found in our winter holiday! It was in the Italian and French Alps, all along. Yay for snow!