Traveling in Europe for the holidays could be one of the best experiences in your life. You can find great deals, even in pricey places like Paris and London. The secret is simple: knowing where the bargains are.
Did you know you can see the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and Pompidou in Paris for free, get full meals in London for less than $10, and spend the night in a Bavarian castle for $125?How about staying inside the storied Alhambra palace grounds in Spain for less than $150 a night, dining in Rome for under $30, and cruising on the Bosporus in Istanbul for $1?
Navigating the Christmas markets of the Upper Rhine Valley—Germany, France and Switzerland – is more than a seasonal shopping expedition. It’s a serious culinary outing that demands constant refills of gluhwein, the steaming cups of heated red wine spiced with cinnamon, cloves and star anise. The spicy beverage is part of the European custom of adding exotic fragrances to the celebration of the yuletide season.
In Basel, Switzerland they can’t seem to get enough cheese. Diners dip chunks of bread into pots of bubbling cheese fondue. More calories come in the form of raclette, thick waffles and sugar-sprinkled crepes. There’s no shortage of decadent Swiss chocolate.
In Baden-Baden, Germany, the market stands sell enormous, heart-shaped gingerbread cookies, drizzled with messages in coloured icing. From morning through night there are sausages large and small, and plates of noodley spaetzle drowned in delicious forest mushroom sauce.
In Freiburg, capital of Germany’s Black Forest, small potato pancakes sizzle in vats of bubbling oil. Vendors package freshly roasted chestnuts into paper cones for immediate snacking. Hot chocolate gives the gluhwein a run for its money.