Tag Archives: zagreb

Christmas in Europe

Christmas is a magical time in Europe, when cities bloom in soft lights and decorations abound along windows and roads. And it’s never too early to think about spending holidays with your loved ones  abroad. These three capitals know how to do Christmas right.

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Christmas Market at Schonbrunn Palace, flickr CC Otto Schlappack

VIENNA

The weeks from late November to the end of the year transform Austria into a special wonderland. Charming Christmas Markets pop up in historic town centers, the smells of Glühwein (mulled wine) float through the air, and young and old taste their way through roasted chestnuts to yummy Christmas sweets. Be enchanted by the Kunstkammer, Vienna’s realm of overwhelming gold, bronze and ivory pieces—and don’t forget to stop by the Christmas Market just in front. Need inspiration for gifts? In Vienna’s city center, the elegant store Österreichische Werkstätten offers a wide selection of handmade products such as jewelry, glass design, furniture and accessories. The Museums Quartier in Vienna becomes synonymous with a different kind of Christmas atmosphere. Just think ice pavilions, artistic light installations, DJ sounds, ice curling rink, and fun Punch variations!

Two hours south of Vienna, the city of Graz also turns into one giant Christmas spectacular. Glowing decorations, a massive ice crib, and a gigantic Advent calendar projection are just the beginning. Did you know the carol Silent Night originated in the small village of Oberndorf near Salzburg. Visit the humble and most charming chapel where the story began.

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Zagreb’s Ilica Street, flickr CC rom@nski photo

ZAGREB

Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia, is a time of festivities and food. Stands crop up everywhere in the city, selling goodies and delicacies certain to delight. Wrap your fingers around a steaming cup of mulled wine, grab seasonal candies and take home some special wooden toys and ornaments as souvenirs. Often bands will set up to play a few traditional tunes under the frosty lights. In recent years, Croatia has seen a reemergence of open-air ice skating, and in December rinks are installed near the main train station and King Tomislav’s Square. It’s truly a magical time in Zagreb!

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Christmas Market in Bratislava, Flickr CC fortysix_vie

BRATISLAVA

The Slovakian capital of Bratislava’s many historic buildings are testaments to the country’s intriguing history. Travelers can tour the Old Town, with landmarks such as Roland Fountain and the Old Town Hall, and stop by an outdoor market to sample traditional dishes, such as grilled sheep cheese, dumplings and the Bratislavsky rozok, or sweet roll.

Chat with us about spending your holidays abroad. Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Croatia, the Jewel of the Adriatic

Since emerging from the breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia has grown into one of the top destinations for vacationers. The timely richness and breathtaking landscapes of this Adriatic country is capturing the attention of travelers from all over the world. Over the course of its history, Croatia’s many conquests have developed into a distinct and charming blend of Mediterranean and Slavic cultures. The best time to go is summer, when streets festivals are abound with music, dancing, and street performers. Here are some of the top places to see in Croatia:

Zagreb – The capital of Croatia boasts charming medieval flavor, Baroque architecture, and clean, wide streets. The Upper Town has developed into a vibrant scene of restaurants and bars, and there are plenty of museums and parks for tourists to enjoy. Major sights include the St. George statue, the Dolac Market, Ban Jelačić Square, and café-strewn Tkalčićeva Street.

photo by Roger Nelson

Dubrovnik – The seaside old town of Dubrovnik is renowned for its enchanting bay, thick fortress walls, and cobblestone streets. Known also by its old name Ragusa, it is said to have been established by Greek sailors, and is a marvelous maze of old stone streets and earth-colored ceramic rooftops. The traveler can delight in countless sights, including medieval towers, fountains, pharmacies, churches, an arboretum and a Franciscan Monastery.

photo by Alex Proimos

Diocletian’s Palace – Arguably the star attraction of Split is Diocletian’s palace, a gorgeous Roman castle built in the 4th century C.E. as the Emperor’s retirement home. Currently undergoing renovations by the World Monuments Fund and registered with UNESCO, the palace measures at about 30,000 square meters and it is lauded as the world’s most complete remains of a Roman palace.

Plitvice Lakes National Park – This pristine park is home to the largest lakes in the country. Altogether it covers over 73,350 acres, all of which are protected by UNESCO and Croatia’s government. Its prime attraction is the 16 interconnected surface lakes that gather in the heart of the park from a network of small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes’ colors, ranging from azure, green, gray and blue, frequently alter with sunlight, and the ebb and flow of minerals and organisms. Swimming is (understandably) not permitted.

photo by 29cm

Istria – The largest peninsula in the Adriatic, Istria is home to a variety of beautiful and well-preserved attractions. From its Roman and Byzantine ruins, green hills, sloping valleys, basilicas, frescoes and beaches, the peninsula offers something for every type of traveler. Tourists can hop on a ferry to the Brijuni islands, famed for their dinosaur footprints and international zoo, or meander through the charming streets of the Venetian town of Rovinj.

Hvar – The idyllic island of Hvar is a popular site for tourists. The old town is rich with delicate Venetian architecture, two massive fortresses, and ambling hillside streets. The so-called Spanish fortress provides beautiful vistas and houses a collection of amphorae and other historical objects. Once the Adriatic center of culture and trade, Hvar is now a sleepy tourist destination and maintains a number of bountiful galleries, museums and exhibitions.

photo by Jeremy Vandel

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Willamette International Travel agents are highly qualified and experienced in booking tours and itineraries in Croatia. Ask your agent about group, private or individual travel, ranging from simple city tours to day trips to extended schedules. We work with expert tour companies who are local to the area. Check out some of their amazing itineraries on offer this year, such as:

Belgrade to Zagreb – 11 Day/10 Nights; Belgrade (2), Dubrovnik (2), Split (1), Plitvice Lakes (1), Bled (2), Zagreb (2). Escorted motor-coach tour, includes accommodation, daily breakfast, 6 dinners, transport, guided tours, transfers, and professional tour director.

Dubrovnik to Venice – 11 Days/10 Nights; Dubrovnik (3); Split (1); Plitvice Lakes (2); Bled (2); Venice (2). Escorted motor-coach tour, includes accommodation, daily breakfast, 6 dinners, guided tours, transfer and transport.

Scenic Croatia – 8 D/7 N; Zagreb (1), Plitvice Lakes (1), Brac (2), Dubrovnik (3). Hosted private car tour, includes accommodation, sightseeing, transport, and daily breakfast.

Interested in traveling to Croatia with a tour, on a cruise or individually? Willamette International Travel offers a variety of services in and around the Adriatic isles. Call us at 1.503.224.0180 or email at info@wittravel.com.

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