Last weekend, I visited Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte with my friends Chloe and Sandeep to see the famous holiday decorations. The stable, castle, and estate are all beautifully decorated. The first thing we noticed aside from all the pretty lights was that each room had a distinct scent–gingerbread, chocolate, peppermint, and apple cider. What a thoughtful touch to the whole place.
If you’re visiting France close to Christmastime, you must visit Strasbourg and Colmar. Just two hours by train from Paris (albeit our OUIGO train was 3 hours late…), these two cities are famous for their Christmas markets, which date back to year 1570. While Strasbourg is more well-known and slightly bigger, I preferred the markets and neighborhoods of Colmar. You can easily take a 30-minute train between the two. We decided to stay two nights in Strasbourg and just took a day trip to Colmar. A friend of a friend based in Strasbourg also recommends visiting the nearby Kaysersberg if you have time.
Amsterdam, which takes its name from the Dutch meaning, “the dam through the river Ansel”, has 150km of canals and over 400 bridges–more canals than Venice. The city is extremely diverse and what impressed me the most was how accepting the people of Amsterdam are overall. For example, our Uber driver moved from Washington D.C. and said it was much easier to integrate with the locals compared to, say, France. There are over 177 cultures living in the city.
Amsterdam is populated with SO many bikes throughout the city; the saying to avoid getting run over is, “If you hear a bell, run like hell.”