All the cities in which we spent a day and night in 2015.
British Explorations, including hikes in Wales
James Work Stuff
France VIneyard Hikes
We had booked this trip ages ago, saving up a few last vacation days before the end of the year for a trip into Germany to see the legendary Christmas markets in Cologne. I pictured lots of roaming in the cold weather, sipping mugs of hot wine and enjoying the sparkly atmosphere, and our experience of the markets was just that: totally charming. Oh, but the trip itself - - what an adventure!
Our planned agenda was as follows:
What actually happened was this:
So yes, at least we made the most of our one full day in Cologne and enjoyed the markets in all of their charm and loveliness. It was also pleasantly festive in the cold winter air. Lunch in Paris was like a dream, taking a quick metro ride to our favourite place and hoping beyond hope they would have a space for us (they did, hurrah!). And then getting what appeared to have been the two last seats on a train back to London out of Europe before the entire country of Belgium ground to a halt and no trains could arrive, depart or pass through. An abbreviated visit to Germany, more like a rapidfire 36 hours than the leisurely few days we'd had planned, but on the Monday back in London, we were quite happy to wake in our own bed.
Arrive on the Caledonian Sleeper, after waking around sunrise and opening the window shade in the narrow bunkbedded room to see the rust-coloured ferns and mossy trees of the Cairngorms National Park outside.
Wander downtown in the cold air, bundled up in every layer of clothing and woolies, stopping for breakfast at a cute cafe after poking around the massive Leakey's Book Shop in an old church, where the man minding the place stacks wood inside the stove heater.
Stroll onwards, sufficiently warmed from cups of tea at the breakfast place, heading up along the Ness River to the Islands, where hardy gents stand hip-deep in the flowing waters, casting their lines.
Wander onward, alongside the Caledonian Canal, past the series of locks where ships ladder up and down, past the cluster of schoolkids getting kayak lessons out on the smooth waters. It's cold cold outside, brisk, but there's a pub up ahead with a roaring fire, a cluster of friendly locals having a chat at the bar, a pub dog making friends with everyone inside, and a plate of smoked Scottish salmon and a first taste of haggis with neeps and tatties (turnips & potatoes) - - it's good!