February 21, 2018

Christmas Dinner Traditions

Before I begin discussing food, I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Enjoy your holidays, be safe and see you back here in 2012!

As I am sitting here making my shopping list for our Christmas Dinner I started wondering what the traditional foods for Christmas Dinner are in Europe.

But first, I’ll tell you the traditional foods that are enjoyed in Casa Beardsley!  After all the shopping and wrapping is completed,  Christmas Eve starts off the holiday by sipping Mulled wine while enjoying Christmas Vacation 🙂  The next morning starts off with my husband’s sticky buns which have been rising all night and bake while we start opening gifts.  Dinner is Prime Rib, twice baked potatoes, brussels sprouts layered with Gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses and the best deviled eggs you’ll ever eat.  Dessert changes every year but this year will be Cherry Pie and Hot Chocolate Fudge Cakes!  Of course, the meal is served with wine.

Christmas Tree in Berlin Germany

Christmas Tree in Berlin Germany

Now here are a few traditional meals in Europe!

Austria favors goose, ham, gluhwein, rumpunsch (rum punch) and Chocolate Mousse.

Roasted Goose and Dumplings

Roasted Goose and Dumplings by Ekki01

Families in the Czech Republic enjoy fried carp, potato salad and special Christmas cookies.

Traditional Christmas meals in Denmark include roast pork, goose or duck, potatoes, red cabbage and plenty of gravy!  Dessert is rice pudding with cherry or strawberry sauce.  Christmas drinks are Glogg (mulled wine).

Smorgasboard Feast

Smorgasboard Feast by Anders Jonsson

If you’re dining in Finland you may find ham or fish, served Swedish Smorgasbord style, with bread, mustard, potatoes, carrots and rutabaga’s all washed down with Glogi (mulled wine).

Germans enjoy goose or carp although port or duck may be served accompanied by cabbage, potatoes and brussel sprouts.

The Irish meal sounds very familiar with turkey, ham, brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, stuffing and vegetables.

Glass of Akevitt, Akvavit or Aquavit

Glass of Akevitt, Akvavit or Aquavit by Vadakkan

In Norway, the traditional meal is focused on “Svineribb” whish is pork belly prepared with seasoning that allows for the right amount of ‘crackling’.  Side dishes include sauerkraut, red currant sauce, bread and akevitt to wash it down.  From personal experience, watch out for that akevitt!!!!

Boiled dry-salted codfish with cabbage, boiled potatoes, eggs, chickpeas and onions is tradition in Portugal.

Christmas Pudding from Britain

Christmas Pudding by Musical Linguist

Last but not least is the Britain where turkey with stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, brussel spouts, parsnips, carrots and Christmas pudding are standard fare.


What is your traditional Christmas dinner?

Merry Christmas to you All !!!!!!!!!

Get into the festive spirit with a visit to London’s winter ice rinks!

As we get ready for the Christmas holiday, I thought it would be great to share with you a guest post from Hostelbookers about the amazing ice skating rinks that have popped up in London!  My family and I have enjoyed some of the rinks that pop up in San Francisco during the holidays and am sure any one of these would be a great addition to any trip to London.

London is well and truly in the Christmas spirit now – traditional Christmas markets line the South Bank, mulled wine stalls are doing a thriving trade across the city, and temporary ‘pop up’ ice rinks are everywhere. There are so many ice rinks to choose from but this is our pick of the best – so that you can get your skates on, whether you live locally,  are staying in some cheap hotels in London, or just wish you were here!

Tower of London

Our first choice is a very iconic location for an open-air ice rink – the famous Tower of London. It’s a very popular attraction in itself, so if you’re visiting the capital, a trip to the rink here could kill two birds with one stone.  The rink is set in front of the imposing fortress on the tower’s moat, so skating here gives some great views of the castle.

Skating by Tower of London England

Skating by Tower of London by Graham Racher, on Flickr

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is famous for its dinosaur, planet and human science exhibits. However, in winter it’s also home to a 900 sq meter open-air ice rink.  We love the architecture of the Natural History Museum and, as an added bonus, the outdoor café sells hot chocolate and mulled wine. It’s a good place to take a date with the bars and restaurants of Soho just a short walk away.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink London England

Natural History Museum Ice Rink by iJammin, on Flickr

Somerset House

Somerset House is a very glamorous skating location. The rink is sponsored by none other than the famous jewelers, Tiffany & Co. The house itself is a magnificently proud building and they’ve even erected a sparkling 40 ft Tiffany Tree to add to the decadence. If you’re a little bit of a drama queen, this is the perfect skating location 🙂

Ice skating @ Somerset House London England

Ice skating @ Somerset House by drew_anywhere, on Flickr

London Eye

The iconic ‘eye’, giving 360 degree views of the city, calls its rink the Eyeskate. A little touristy, the Eye is the closest thing we Brits have to the Effiel Tower and, love it or hate it, it does look pretty lit up at night.  The best thing about the Eyeskate is its location on the South Bank – just a short walk away from countless cultural attractions, like the BFI cinema and Royal Festival Hall.

Hyde Park

Not only is the Samsung Galaxy Ice Rink London’s biggest ice rink, it’s also a part of Hyde Park’s famous ‘Winter Wonderland’, which is where the city’s largest open space is transformed with markets, fairground rides and even a circus.  One of the highlights of Winter Wonderland is the ‘carousel bar’ where you can sit on a plastic horse as you sip mulled wine. Winter Wonderland is so popular that it’s worth going just to experience the crowds and the atmosphere.

Skating Hyde Park London England

Skating Hyde Park by Donna_Rutherford, on Flickr


So, what do you think about London’s ice-rinks?
Are they a good way to get into the festive spirit?

Finding the Best Santa in Switzerland!

In Strange Games & Unique Festivals and Crazy Strange Sports we experienced some of the more unique games and sports that can be found in Europe.

Today I’ll share one that has a definite holiday feel to it!

Samnaun Valley Switzerland

Samnaun Valley by Fiesch Wikimedia Commons

For these games we will venture to Samnaun Switzerland which is home to the annual ClauWau Championships.    Samnaun is located at the border with both Italy and Austria and offers hiking and mountain biking during warmer months and an abundance of winter sports.  An added benefit, it is the only tax free resort in Switzerland!

The ClauWau competition is no joke folks as it crowns the World Champion Santa Claus!

While this is a serious competition, you will see it is also a grand Christmas celebration.

Group Photo ClauWau Samnaun Switzerland

Group Photo ClauWau Copyright Engadin Samnaun

Teams of 4 must all be decked out in Santa costumes to compete for the prize money!  Yes, there is actual cash to be had for the best 3 Santa teams showing their prowess in all events.  Each team will dance, climb, sing, run and act like children as they vie for the first prize money of approximately $5,800.

Sledding fun at ClauWau Samnaun Switzerland

Sledding fun at ClauWau Copyright Engadin Samnaun

To show they are capable of being the best Santa, teams compete in these events:

  1. The Zipfy Bob Race tests the speed and dexterity of each team as they race to the finish line in record time.
  2. The Santa Parade will judge each teams costume and Christmas spirit.
  3. Santa’s must know their way around the world and in Santa’s Journey each team will be able to show off their knowledge of the world’s sights by matching tourist sights to the city or country where they belong!

    ClauWau Samnaun Klauben Fun Switzerland

    Klauben Fun during ClauWau Copyright Engadin Samnaun

  4. As a way to show their artistic ability, Creative Santa asks each team decorate gingerbread and create an original and beautiful sculpture out of snow.
  5. Part of Santa’s job is to effectively distribute presents which requires Santa be a master at driving a sleigh, hence the Santa’s Sleigh Race!
  6. We all know how Santa gets into our houses, so it’s probably no surprise that there would be a Santa’s Chimney Climb.  Testing the ability of our competitors to scale a chimney while carrying a bag full of presents!

    Steinbock Race at ClauWau Samnaun Switzerland

    Steinbock Race at ClauWau Copyright Engadin Samnaun

  7. Santa Clauben is an event that finds all members snuggled under a very large Santa hat as they maneuver a course as quickly as possible while collecting presents along the way.
  8. The Steinbock Sprint is a relay race where teams compete while riding wooden rocking horses.
  9. With this much prize money at stake, each team gets ready to lay it all on the line in the Karaoke Santa event!  This grand finale is an ear shattering treat and a great way to end this amazing event!

    Karaoke at ClauWau Samnaun Switzerland

    Karaoke at ClauWau Copyright Engadin Samnaun

As you can see, the “competition” is full of fun and a perfect way to get in the Holiday spirit!


What is your favorite way to get in the Holiday spirit?

All I Want For My Birthday . . .

Reading through the posts here on European Travelista you can very easily pick up on how much I love Germany!  So this next statement will not come as a surprise to many readers.  One of the things at the very top of my Bucket List is to spend my birthday enjoying the Christmas Markets in Germany!

What is probably most amazing is that I haven’t made it yet.  I’m even amazed by this fact but it is sadly true, I have not been to a Christmas Market in Germany or any other foreign country.  Now that we are in the Christmas market “season”, I have once again been dreaming about my visit!

Erfurt Christmas Market Germany

Erfurt Christmas Market by Neumann, Barbara

I am lured by the quaint stalls all dressed up in holiday splendor and the smells of baked apples, cookies, and gluhwein!  Of course another draw is the seasonal festbier.  Besides food there are nutcrackers, Christmas ornaments, hand carved nativity sets, hand painted blown glass baubles, music and much, much more!  It all has been calling me for too many years.

There is one problem, with over 2,500 Christmas markets in Germany which ones should I visit?

Of course I’m always up for a trip to Munich where you can enjoy daily live alpine music as you wander the Marienplatz or Nuremburg would be awesome with its medieval atmosphere and wonderful bratwurst and roast almonds.  Cologne would be magical with the cathedral as the back drop but I really want to experience some of the markets in smaller villages too and since Christmas traditions vary by region traversing the country would be special!

German Christmas Market in the Harz

Christmas Market in the Harz by Goslar Marketing GmbH

A journey to the east brings you to the Christmas market at Dresden, home to the oldest Christmas market in Germany.  Dating back to 1434 this market is named after its famous cake or stollen.  Look for carved wood items, pottery, lace and gingerbread all made by locals! Or maybe a trip to Lauscha which is the birthplace of the glass ornaments that decorate so many of our trees.  If a ride through the snowy countryside in an historical carriage pulled by a steam engine on the Harz narrow-gauge railway would be appealing, then a visit to Wernigerode and its timber framed houses may be for you.

Lubeck Christmas Market View Germany

Lubeck Christmas Market View by Kruger, Norbert

For a more nautical theme, head north to the markets in Husum or Rostock.  Romantics will enjoy the market at Glucksberg Castle where a decorated bridge leads across the moat to the courtyard where you’ll be enchanted by the more than 70 stalls sitting near the Christmas tree.  By the way, the castle is open to visitors too!  Or visit Lubeck for the Iceworld Snow and Ice Sculpture festival.

Trier Germany Christmas Market

Trier Germany Christmas Market by Cowin, Andrew

Traveling west brings us to Schwalmstadt where you will find a Christmas market steeped in fairytales!  Schwalmstadt is where the Brothers Grimm wrote some of their stories, including “Little Red Riding Hood”.  Enjoy needlework from local artisans and local food specialties.  Lanterns and candles make the market at Broich Castle seem very medieval!  Enjoy storytellers as they wander town reenacting scenes from the Nativity while sipping wine and mead.  For a very international market, stop by Rudesheim am Rhein.  The market in the old quarter contains stalls from 12 countries who share their Christmas customs with visitors!

Ludwigsburg Germany Christmas Market

Ludwigsburg Christmas Market by Ludwigsburg/Neckar Stadtmarketing u. Touristik GmbH

Southern Germany is home to the Romantic Road and there are many villages near Rothenburg ob der Tauber that would be of interest.  Busy Rothenburg is one of my favorite villages and I would love to see it all lit up and decorated for Christmas!  Others villages that may be worth a visit include Prien with its Christmas market on an island in the middle of Lake Chiemsee!  A trip around Lake Constance on the Christmas ship would be equally amazing.  Also luring is Altotting with is celebration of Alpine Advent songs complete with alphorns!

Whew, too many Christmas markets for one trip or maybe even a lifetime!


What German Christmas markets can you recommend?