Ice Skating at Christmas Fair in Museumplein
Whether you are a world traveler looking for something new or an armchair traveler who likes to hear about what other people are doing, it’s always a treat to hear about special Christmas places where celebrations are “in the air” so to speak. The first group of resorts are in the northern hemisphere where you can experience the traditional cold weather with a good place to warm up and perhaps a hot drink. Thanks to Bree Sposato for suggesting Amsterdam. As you can see form this photo, the canals become wonderful ice skating rinks, and the 16th and 17th century houses are strung with lights. Why not stay till New Year’s Eve and celebrate with champagne and fireworks?
Here’s a more remote suggestion by Jennifer Coogan: Reykjavik, Iceland. Enjoy the northern lights from the comfort of a thermally heated hotel. There are only 4 hours of daylight, so bring your friends and prepare for an indoor party. Don’t miss the unusual Icelandic food such as smoked puffin and Brennivin (like schnapps). “Statues of the 12 Yule Lads (the Icelandic version of Santa Claus) peer out from every corner shop and window.” Click here to read the original version.
There are a lot of “snow birds” from Canada and the northern states who like to frequent San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the hot, dry days and cool nights, the traditional crafts made and sold there as well as the old cobblestone streets and the Spanish architecture. However, Christmas is very special with the procession of Mary and Joseph and everyone else who wants to sing traditional carols. The procession goes from one decorated shop to the next, stopping to sing at each one. The children will enjoy the ritual of breaking pinatas filled with candy and small toys. It’s a special treat to have blooming flowers such as poinsettias and bougainvilleas.
Thinking about a warmer place? Try Kaikoura, New Zealand. It will be summer when you visit, so you can enjoy the beach, kyaking or boating to see the whales, dolphins and fur seals. The vegetation and forests are so totally different. It’s like you are visiting another planet. Lee Magill recommends staying at the Kapuku Lodge and Tree Houses with gourmet, natural meals. Make reservations long ahead of time any place in New Zealand over the Christmas holidays. It is after all their summer holiday time.
Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses is the ne plus ultra of New Zealand’s eco-tourism accommodations: a complex of cedar-covered buildings and six tree houses with views of both the bay and the imperial Kaikoura mountain range. Luxe high design reigns inside and out.
Perhaps you are seeking something more spiritual. May I then recommend Shambhala Mountain Center on 600 acres in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado? Here is a deeply established center which accommodates a great variety of practitioners from week-long “learn to meditate” stays to longer, intensives for advanced meditators. The staff also leads spiritual journeys during the year to Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia. The rooms are elegant but very simple and comfortable. People who have participated in longer retreats say it is like an immersion vacation, and the effects often stay with the person for many months, even years after. It’s a bit like unpacking your brain or fragmenting your computer. The effect are nearly always calming, relaxing. It’s especially a good choice if you are alone or with a partner rather than a family vacation or a good party celebration.
Let us know what you decide to do this year and how you liked it once you return. I’m always open to new ideas.