Sunday, 23 December 2012

Monschau, Germany!

When I got the opportunity to tag along with the German class on a school trip to Monschau, I jumped on it quicker than Carrie Bradshaw would get her butt to Manolo Blahnik if it appeared in the same sentence as the word 'sale.'

So, last Friday I went to Monschau for round two of Christmas market exploring. When we arrived I saw that it was a little town surrounded my mountains and it looked cute especially with the blanket of snow covering it. It was everywhere and made it look all the more Christmassy.

The highlight of the day was when we all tried to get up and down this mountain so that we could get a birds eye view of the town.  Everyone was slipping left, right and centre. Some people wore  the wrong footwear which was bad for them, but provided the laughs for everyone else watching them! After the climb, it was nice to get inside a restaurant and have a warm lunch.

The german teacher recommended that we all try the moutard (mustard) which he said is something that this town does particularly well. So, taking his advice I had some schnitzel which came with a big dollop of mustard and salad and fries. After lunch I had a few hours to explore. I found this more than enough time to look around and snack on more Christmas market food. I bought some printen which is kind of like a gingerbread biscuit but comes in all different types of flavours and some apple strudel.

So, what did I think? I've heard people say that smaller towns offer a more authentic experience when it comes to Christmas markets, but to be honest, I felt like Monschau was just a tourist town, with everything from the stores to food catering to them. There was nothing truly authentic about it. It was a nice day, but I think that there are much more authentic Christmas markets and quainter towns to visit than Monschau. That's my two cents worth. Moving on...

Tomorrow, I leave for Paris to start my Christmas holidays! I'll keep the rest of it a surprise, but make sure you come back and follow along on my travelling adventures! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone! 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Strasbourg: The Christmas Capital

Two weekends ago, I took a trip to beautiful Strasbourg! It lies on the border of France and Germany, in the Alsace region of France. In its long history, Strasbourg has exchanged French and German hands many times, which explains why you kind of feel like you're in Germany but speaking French. The mixture of the two can be seen in everything from the food to the architecture. 

Despite the beauty of the city, Strasbourg is most well known for being the Christmas capital. Every December, the city transforms into a Christmas wonderland filled with markets, food, lights and toys. The markets are set up in different sections of the city centre, mostly in the main squares and streets, which makes it easy to see everything. Strasbourg's puzzle of cobbled laneways are beautiful, but not in a way where you'll get lost. Ditch the map- you really don't need it.

Strasbourg is also home to one of the most amazing cathedrals I've ever seen. It is just so... I don't really have the words to describe it, because using words like 'big' and 'beautiful' just don't cut it. It's a must see, and you can't spend any amount of time in Strasbourg without eventually stumbling upon it. It's a cornerstone of the city.

The must-not-miss street for me was Rue Mercière. You look up and see the street lined with timber-framed houses and the gold lights purposefully hung leading the eye down the street, to the Cathedral. It's the perfect backdrop, in all its majesty. Other favourites were Rue des Serruriers, Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes, Place du Marché aux Cochons, Place Benjamin Zix and Place Saint Thomas.

You can't leave the Strasbourg christmas markets without trying some of the regions specialties. Try the mulled wine (french: vin chaud), choucroute (a dish of sauerkraut and sausages) and bredle (little Alsacian biscuits). Eating at the markets is half the fun of going, so definitely go on a empty stomach because you'll come out of the Christmas market haze with a belly as big as Santa Claus'.

I had a great couple of days in Strasbourg and really recommend it to anyone who wants to see a really great Christmas market. Are there any other christmas markets you have visited that we should all see? Let me know in the comments below!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A week in Londontown!

A hop, a skip and a couple of weeks ago I went to London! Now, anyone I've ever heard talk about London has either loved it or hated it. So, I went in having no expectations... and I have to say that I'm definitely in the 'loved it' camp!

My first hours were spent looking around the nearby Westfield shopping centre while I was waiting to check-in into my hostel. I wandered into a supermarket looking for shampoo, and found this instead...

Mmmm soup... and advent calendars for cats? Seriously?!

I spent hours walking on Oxford St and checking out Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, as well as Carnaby St, which you can tell is, well... maybe used to be, really hip. If you're ever in the area, make sure to visit Selfridges and Harrods and pop into the pandemonium that is Primark. It's a massive store that sells every clothing item under the sun at cheap prices. Just go to watch people stampede though the store, leaving a trail of clothing in their wake. Craziness!

I got that WOW moment when I was walking up the stairs from the tube station and looked up to suddenly see the Big Ben... just right there! It was so wonderful to see in person. I then looked to my left to see the London Eye fill the skyline. And just around the corner was Westminster Abbey. Tip: be sure to go as it gets dark. London is an amazing city to see at night.

I posed with a lion in Trafalgar Square, sipped on a peppermint hot chocolate while crossing the Tower Bridge and bumped into Taylor Swift. Give a polite miss to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and the Globe Theatre, you won't be sorry.

Get a chocolate brownie or red velvet cupcake from the Hummingbird bakery, grab a pint and some pie and mash. And wake up early enough to grab an English breakfast. I was there a week and felt like I'd done loads and at the same time, not enough. I'm definitely going back!


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