If you didn’t know already, it’s Christmas next week (where have you been hiding…).
I love winter and the build up to Christmas is my favourite time of year. I know a lot of people dream of warmer climates when the dark nights set in, but I for one love the chilly mornings and everything else that goes with it.
Whilst some people are wishing they were sunbathing somewhere in the tropics, I wish I was back in Amsterdam where I enjoyed a lovely Christmassy break a couple of years ago. It provided the perfect winter bolthole for a few days and there was so much festive stuff to do.
Who doesn’t like ice skating? Particularly on an outdoor rink surrounding by twinkling lights. I’m one of those confident people who march (if you can do that in skates) onto the rink and assume I’m going to be amazing before taking down numerous kiddies when I turn out to be like Bambi on a frozen lake. Still, it’s pretty fun. In fact, here’s a photo of me having a whale of a time on the ice-rink by the Rijksmuseum.
Look how happy I am. That kid in the background has probably just got up from when I took her out earlier.
But it doesn’t stop there.
By day, we wandered through the streets that were bathed in the warm glow of the winter sun, stopping every now again again to warm up with a coffee (an actual coffee), before getting some tasty grub and doing some more walking after the sun had set.
(Okay, that’s tea, you’ve caught me out. I’m British, what did you expect?)
I have been to Amsterdam three times now, and the other two times I visited were in summer. It was warm, and I felt bad if I didn’t spend all my time out doors.
This is the great thing about winter – you don’t mind spending hours inside the Van Gogh Museum or Rembrandt’s House and spending even longer browsing around the gift shops. You don’t even mind queuing for ages to get into Anne Frank’s House because you know it will offer some warmth (and, of course, a truly moving experience).
When you do emerge outside, the air is fresh and everything seems so much crisper and in focus than in summer. If I could marry winter, I would.
We managed to find loads of quirky things to do that were inside, like the House Boat Museum that humbly rocked to and fro on one of the canals, and cute little shops tucked away down hidden streets that we stumbled on after hours of walking to stave off the cold.
But the best thing about Amsterdam in the winter are the lights. There are so many lights decking out the streets, the squares, the canals, and everything in between. If Amsterdam can’t make you feel festive then bah-humbug to you!
Where is your favourite winter bolthole? Let me know in the comments below – I want to hear from YOU! Yes, you.
NB: Photos by my sister.
About the author: Lizzie is a full time marketing assistant and part-time travel blogger promoting the ways to get the most out of grab-it-when-you-can travel. She spends her time creatively thinking of ways to plan trips around her job and advocating the idea that you don’t have to be ‘homeless’ to enjoy the perks of frequent travel. Aside from this, Lizzie likes questioning why people travel and the psychology behind it, watching crap American TV programmes, and drinking too much tea (cider). You can find out more about Lizzie here (go on – I know you want to see what’s behind the melon…)