I have always heard that being away for holidays is difficult but I never thought I would be spending the holidays in a foreign country with my family thousands of miles away. The holidays has always been a very important time for my family and I, we always get together with family and open presents and etc. Therefore when I made the decision not to travel back to the United States for Christmas, I knew I was missing out on these traditions for the time being.
The decision not to come home for the holidays was hard. There were a lot of positives and negatives to both. Although, I dreaded missing out on my family gatherings and an opportunity to see my friends I decided not to come home. I thought two weeks was not enough time to see everyone I wanted and to feel relaxed at home over the holidays. I knew my jet leg would be horrible and the constant reminder of having to fly back across the world in less than two weeks was too much. As the holidays approached, it was a hard pill to shallow knowing I had the opportunity to be home with my family and decided to travel instead but I knew it was for the best.
I got to spend a Christmas traveling around Europe and seeing the most beautiful places during Christmas time.
This experience was truly an opportunity that I am not sure I will be able to have again in my lifetime. Since living over in Europe it makes it easier to travel from place to place and cheaper. My friend Celia and I traveled to Vienna, Prague, Oslo and Bergen. We stayed in Vienna for two days, Prague for three days, and Oslo for two days and Bergen for one day. I feel so fortunate that I was able to spend time in three different countries in the timespan of eight days.
In Vienna, we learned very quickly that the sunsets and it get dark around 3:30-4PM. This was something that was so foreign to us because in Madrid it is light until at least 6 PM everyday. We had to adjust our schedules to see what we wanted to see in the light. We woke up really early so we could get our sightseeing in within the times when the sun wasn’t gone. Although, it was dark most of the time we spent a lot of our time at Christmas markets, which were almost prettier in the dark because of the Christmas lights. Vienna was so beautifully decorated for Christmas. There were different Christmas lights hanging on all the streets downtown and it was full of Christmas markets. The one we spent so much time at was called “Frohe Weihnachten”. We stumbled upon this market and fell in love with it; it had so much to do. It had ice skating, pizza in a cone, things to buy and so much more!
From Vienna we took a train to Prague, the train was quick and painless. I actually enjoy trains because they are peaceful and people are relaxed. During the train ride, you have more legroom and can watch the scenery as you pass it. It makes the time go quicker when you have something to look at other than just clouds like on an airplane.
We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Prague. When we arrived to Prague almost everything was closed and it was starting to get dark. We went to an information desk and they told us that almost everything in the city is closed until the 26th. We couldn’t believe we had not thought about that. So we found a “mini market” that was open across the street and got wine, pretzels and salt vinegar chips for our Christmas Eve meal. Although a lot was closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we did our best to seek out what was open. We saw a lot of Christmas markets and spent a lot of time in the Old Town because it was a tourist destination and filled of people doing the same thing as us. We spent the day after Christmas doing a lot of the things that were closed on the previous days. Prague is a beautiful city and it has such unique architecture. Every building is unique and has its own style to it.
From Prague, we traveled by plane to Oslo, Norway. It makes me laugh because both my friend and I are from relativity cold areas of the United States and we underestimated how cold it would be in Oslo. Right when we arrived in Oslo, we went on a boat tour to see the Oslo Fjords. The wind plus the weather was something we weren’t used to. It was definitely the coldest I have been since last winter. The grounds were completely covered in ice and the rest was covered in snow. It was kind of refreshing to see snow since I have not seen snow since last winter in the United States. We went to the Vigeland Park in Oslo that had all the sculptures made out of stone. It was unlike any other park I have ever been to, considering there was not a lot of green space it was mostly these beautiful sculptures. We also went to the National Art Museum in Oslo and saw the famous “Scream” painting. It was not as crowded as people trying to view the Mona Lisa but definitely people came to the museum to see the painting.
Last minute, we decided to go to Bergen. We heard such great things about the Fjords and how they were something you could not go to Norway without seeing. The Fjords are essentially these big cliffs that you can see from the water. They are all throughout the northern part of Norway; Bergen is basically the start of these big fjords. We only spent one night in Bergen but during our time there we went on a three-hour boat tour out to see the fjords. It took about 40 minutes by boat to get to the big cliffs but we passed multiple little cities on the water when going out to these fjords.
This experience and seeing the fjords was something unlike anything else I have ever done. It truly made you feel so small when you stood next to these large landmasses that towered over you.
I would highly recommend doing this, because it will be something I talk about for the rest of my life.
Traveling Europe during Christmas was not the most traditional thing I have done, but it was worth taking advantage of an opportunity to see Europe during Christmas time. I feel so fortunate this Christmas season with all the kind words and messages I have received even from thousands of miles away. I am truly blessed.