1 – Madrid and Toledo (2012)
I spent the 2012/2013 academic year in Spain, living in Toledo and having Madrid on my doorstep. Toledo, in particular, became a wonderland as Christmas neared – the old Casco looking fabulous as the lights lit up the cobbled streets.
2 – Moscow (2013 & 2014)
It would seem natural that one of the coldest capital cities on the planet would be a magical place to spend Christmas – Moscow certainly delights when the snow settles and the markets appear all over the city. With Christmas markets based on a theme of various cities around the world, Moscow offered variety as well as beauty over the festive period.
3 – Sofia (2015)
Staying within the Slavic realm, Sofia transforms into a white paradise when the snow arrives. As well as hosting a wonderful Christmas market near the national theatre, its parks must be visited after a heavy snowfall – a walk around the Borisova Gradina first thing in the morning is a winter wonderland as the benches and trees show just how much has fallen overnight.
4 – Ho Chi Minh City (and Phú Quốc) (2016)
For a Christmas of a very different kind, Vietnam provided me with my first ever boiling hot festive experience! Ho Chi Minh City got into the Christmas spirit with various cafes and shops decorated in all kinds of pieces, but it was the beautiful island of Phú Quốc that provided me with one of my most memorable December memories – dipping my toes into the warm Pacific, lying on the beach, eating tropical fruit, and reading A Christmas Carol, all at a temperature of over 30 degrees. Beautiful.
5) Coimbra (2018)
I couldn’t take this trip down memory lane without sharing some pictures I took yesterday here in my current city of Coimbra in Portugal. The streets in then Baixa region are all bedecked with lights and Christmas shapes, and have even incorporated a hashtag into their decorations.