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My dream Christmas travel list

I've been lucky enough to go to Vienna twice, and both times I've left dreaming of coming back. Both times, though, I've been in summer - and I've love to go back at Christmas. I loved loafing around in Vienna's parks and public gardens when the sun shone, but the Austrian capital is loaded with great things to do indoors. If you're into art, you'll not be short of beautiful places to spend an hour or five: the Leopold Museum, the Belvedere Museum, and the Secession Building are all worth your time. (And did I mention the vegan food's great there?) Vienna's very walkable, and the thoughts of strolling down its wide, beautifully architected streets in the snow gives me the warm and fuzzies.

I'm too old to believe in Santa, but that doesn't mean I can't dream of a trip to Lapland. In my dream few days in Lapland, I'd like to hunker down in a log cabin, warming my toes next to an open fire after a long day snowshoeing around the snow-blown landscape. I want to enjoy the silence of the Arctic circle, and see the wildlife in its natural environment: reindeer are best enjoyed in a wild herd, not as a manner of pulling a sleight, I reckon. Disclaimer: I've been to Lapland once, and it was amazing. I spent a lot of time enjoying saunas, and a brief time not enjoying jumping into a freezing lake through a hole cut into the ice!

When my bank balance is looking a bit healthier, I'd love to go to Tromso. The architecture in Tromso looks beautiful, but the city is best known as the jumping off point for viewing the northern lights. I spent a very cold and sleeplessness night in a car in Reykjavik trying to see the lights, and saw a tiny smudge in the sky. I'd like to book myself a few nights in Tromso and spend some time trying to see an Artic light show proper.

Cologne Christmas markets
When I imagine my dream Christmas, I'm strolling through a Christmas market, bundled up in knitwear (non-wool, of course!) while snowflakes drift gently down. I'm chasing away the cold with a cup of (vegan, of course!) hot chocolate or, even better, a mug of mulled wine. I've never had the chance to while away an evening or two checking out all the glorious stalls. And having checked out all of Cologne's vegan options on Happy Cow, I'm content I'd be able to spend the time between markets visits by filling my face with glorious plant-based food.

Atacama desert
This one's a bit off-piste, but bear with me: if Santa was to bring me what I really wanted for Christmas, it would be a pair of tickets for me - and whoever else I could persuade to come with me - to go to Chile. Chile has been on my travel bucket list for years, and December sounds like a great time to go. Imagine waking up on Christmas Day in the Atacama desert: the views! the sunsets! the petroglyphs! the Large Millimeter Array! It might not be a traditional Christmas trip, but it would be one you'd never forget.

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  1. Wow these look great - one of my colleagues is just back from strasbourg and says it is so lovely there at this time of year - I would love to be anywhere in europe and enjoy a cold christmas (so hot today I am ready for a blast of cold). But I can highly recommend our local Christmas markets with everyone sitting on the grass enjoying some live music and food from the food trucks on a summer evening in Melbourne.

  2. Those are all wonderful looking places I would love to visit some day too.

  3. I spent my thirties going away to European cities for New Years but we never made it to Vienna. I've only been in the summer too but I bet Christmas would be just wonderful. Back in the 90's when I worked for Oddbins the wine merchants I won a day trip to Lapland along with 3 other staff. It was to a place called Hetta which is in the north on the map in your link. It was fantastic but unbeliveably cold. It was in the days before digital cameras and we couldn't take photos because the film in the cameras froze and wouldn't wind on!


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