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UK & European Holiday News

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What's On Your 2019 Holiday Wish List?

 

Christmas is just around the corner, and we hope your plans for the festive season are coming along nicely. As well as enjoying this special time with friends and family, Christmas is also the perfect time to start making your holiday plans for next year – but what’s on your wish list for 2019? Here, we pick out a few of our trips that might help you decide – but there are hundreds more trips to choose from on our website. In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


Whichever trip you choose, Sherpa Expeditions can help to make your 2019 a very memorable year.

 

Tick off a classic UK walk

Coast to Coast

 

This classic Coast to Coast walking route, stretching from the east to west of the UK, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the Lake District. The walk starts on the Irish Sea coast of Cumbria near the huge red sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head. You cross three National Parks before reaching the North Sea at the pretty fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay on the rocky coastline of the North York Moors. Sherpa Expeditions offers a range of guided and self guided Coast to Coast walks, ranging from 15 to 18 days for the entire route, and with shorter sections available.

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

The West Highland Way
Cornwall: The South West Coast Path

 

 

Take on a challenge

The Pennine Way

 

A mountain journey across the backbone of England, The Pennine Way became the very first British National Trail in 1965. It is a long, 268 mile (429 km) hike from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, through the Cheviots and down into Scotland. Its sheer length makes it the perfect for those seeking a challenge – although you can also choose to do just the southern or northern sections.

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

The Tour du Mont Blanc

Alto Aragon : The Spanish Pyrenees

 

 

Try a Scandinavian adventure

The Fjordland

 

This trip is the ideal introduction into the magic of Norwegian walking; it is undertaken from several centres using easy transportation on trains and boats in between. From Oslo or Bergen you travel by rail to some of the wildest, most spectacular, classic “picture postcard” settings within the realms of Norwegian mountain and fjordland. The retreating glaciers from the last ice age once overwhelmed and molded this landscape, gouging out the great coastal grooves which, with post glacial rising sea levels, have become the fjords. 


Other trips that fit the bill…

Sweden: Hiking Stockholm and Beyond

 

 

Soak up some sun

Classic Amalfi Coast

 

The Amalfi Coast is the quintessential Italian holiday, with stunning scenery and mouth-watering food. Pastel coloured fishing villages are perched on the staggering cliff side overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea with some outstanding walks to experience this destination. There is no better way to immerse in this jaw dropping Italian coastline than hiking the Amalfi Coast to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you're a sun worshipper, you'll love the warmth and colours of this beautiful part of Italy.

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

Majorca: Sierras and Monasteries
Rambling in the Luberon

 

 

Enjoy a food and wine lover’s paradise

Hidden Treasures of the Dordogne

 

Everyone’s idea of what constitutes great food is different, but there’s no doubting that classic French food and wine is up there with the best. The food from the Dordogne features dishes that embody most people’s idea of classic French cuisine – this is the land of truffles, magret de canard and rich, dark wines. However, there’s much more to the Dordogne than just the amazing food and wine – beautiful medieval villages, lush, green, wooded hills and even caves all add to this lovely walking tour. (8 and 10 day trips available). 

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

Medieval France: Tarn & Aveyron
Burgundy Vineyard Trails

 

 

Keep cool in the forest

King Ludwig’s Way

 

For those that like some trees to shade them from the heat of the summer sun, this lovely, fascinating walk offers some very enjoyable stretches through the beech forests of Bavaria. The route passes two of Bavaria's most scenic lakes and through charming villages of geranium bedecked chalets with typical onion shaped church spires. The walk ends at King Ludwig’s spectacular fairy tale castle at Neuschwanstein.

 

Other trips that fit the bill…

Austrian Lake District and the Dachstein Alps

 


This is just a tiny selection of the trips available, but we hope it provides some inspiration. You can search all of our holidays here.

Autumn Foliage in Europe

The Americans call it leaf peeping,  the Japanese call it momiji gari. But if you're looking to be inspired by the shades of autumn foliage, you don't need to travel all the way to New England or the Far East – Sherpa Expeditions have a number of trips departing in the next few weeks where you can experience the splendour of the changing leaves.

 

PORTUGAL | Douro RAMBLER

Surround yourself with colour as autumn transforms the photogenic Douro River Valley, which slices across northern Portugal. As the terraced vineyards that slope along the riverbanks prepare for winter, they turn into an endless sea of red, orange and yellow. From visiting small working wine estates to taking scenic boat trips, there will be plenty of opportunities for wine tasting tours, where you can fortify yourself against the autumn chill with a glass of the region’s famed local port. 

 

Departure dates until 15 October - click here for details and booking.

 

Portugal in early Autumn

 

 

SPAIN | hiking in hidden Andalucía

The weather in Andalucía’s mountains can be harsh in the summer and winter months – but visit in autumn for beautiful gold and yellow colours of chestnuts and poplars lighting up the valleys, while the hedgerows and paths are lined with figs, mulberries, walnuts and pomegranates. With the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop, this is an exhilarating walk among terraced fields and through white-washed villages and along irrigation channels that date back to the Moorish era. 

 

Departure dates until 20 November - click here for details and booking.

 

Autumn chestnuts in Spain

 

 

GERMANY | Bavaria - King Ludwig's Way

Saturated with alpine flowers in spring and crowded with tourists in summer, southern Germany offers more relaxed tempos for leaf-peeping during the autumn months. Home to the idyllic Romantic Road, this is fairy-tale country, with geranium-bedecked chalets, onion-shaped church spires and copper-turreted castles rising out of red and green forests – including the enchanting Neuschwanstein Castle, the eccentric King Ludwig’s most famous architectural masterpiece.

 

Departure dates until 22 October - click here for details and booking.

 

Bavaria in Autumn

 

 

AUSTRIA | The Lake District and Dachstein Alps

Towering peaks, high mountain passes, alpine meadows and lakeside walks are all combined in this surprisingly compact area – there is nowhere better to experience autumn unfold in Austria than the heart of the Lake District, which encompasses 76 crystal clear lakes, the impressive Dachstein Glacier and breathtaking rock faces up to 3,000 vertical metres high. Wander through ochre mountain forests, explore glimmering lakeland shores and visit alpine villages of wooden chalets. 

 

Departure dates until 20 October - click here for details and booking.

 

Austria in autumn

 

If you like the look of these trips but would prefer to visit next spring, summer or autumn, you can book for 2019 now.



Where to Go and Celebrate the Festive Season in Europe

The festive season has started with plenty of different celebrations around Europe. Here are five festivals you can join this December or January in Slovenia, Rome, Germany, Tyrol, and Andalucía.  

 

(c)Europe-Video-Productions-Three-Kings-Parade-Spain

 

1. Three Kings Parade | Andalucia, Spain

Cabalgata Los Reyes Magos is the Three Kings Parade celebrated across Spain on the 6th January. In Andalucia, towns and cities welcome the Three Kings when the evening falls on the Iberian Peninsula on the 5th January. It's a colourful parade where the kings toss out sweets for the children waiting along the streets for the parade to pass by. 

Thousands of spectators come to witness the arrival the three wise Kings Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar dressed in traditional costumes. 

When: 6 January 2016

(c)Shadowgate-Postojna-Cave-in-Slovenia

 

2. Nativity Scene | Postojna Cave, Slovenia

The Live Nativity Scene in the Postojna Cave in Slovenia, about 1 hour drive from Trieste, is a unique performance. The caves are an attraction on its own already, but when the biblical scenes come to life they're even more rewarding. Fantasy stalactite forms, the inventive play of light, harmonious music and singing in a very acoustic environment together create an almost surreal Christmas atmosphere. At the cave's entrance a Christmas market takes place. If you want to experience the nativity scene, it's best to make a booking in advance. Shows run every half hour from 1-3pm. 
When: 25-30 December 2015

(c)www.riegersburg.com - Perchtenlauf in Reigersburg.

 

3. Krampustag | Eastern Tyrol, Salzburg & Bavaria, Austria

Perhaps less suitable for younger children, in Austria on the 5th of December the Krampustag is celebrated. Young men dress like demons: wearing fearsome masks made out of wood, fur robes, tails and use branches as weapons to chase away bad spirits. The processions organised are known as Perchtenläufe and are truly spectacular to watch. The Perchtenläufe originally take place only four nights a year, on December 21 and 24 and New Year's Eve and January 5. Good places to observe this festival are Gastein, Altenmarkt, St. Johann and Bischofshofen in Salzburg, Henndorf and other places in Eastern Tyrol and Bavaria.  
When: 21 December 2015 - 5 January 2016

Sherpa Expeditions self guided walking holidays in Tyrol & Bavaria


4. Christmas market | Stuttgart, Germany

One of the best places to go for a typical German Christmas market is Stuttgart. It is said to have one of the most beautiful markets in Europe and has a very nostalgic feel to it. The market is set up in and around the Old Palace on the Renaissance inner courtyard. There are over 280 wooden Christmas stalls, which sell a range of Christmas items and gifts. Obviously there's also plenty of German snacks and drinks available, try for example roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, Swabian specialities and mulled wine (gluewhein). 

When: 28 November - 23 December 2015
Sherpa Expeditions trips in Germany


(c)neigesdantan-Fireworks-in-Rome

 

5. Fireworks | Rome, Italy

For those of you who are in Rome over the holiday period, make sure to be part of the New Year's Eve celebrations in town. Prepare for lots of fireworks after the midnight countdown. It's especially spectacular with the backdrop of some of the world's most impressive monuments like the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, and San Marco square. Prepare for lots of noise as well; people throw old pots, pans and furniture out of their windows to 'let go of unhappiness and prepare Rome for a happier future'.  

When: 31 December 2015

Sherpa Expeditions trips in Italy


Image of Three Kings in Spain, copyright of ©Europe Video Productions | Image of Postojna Cave, copyright of ©Shadowgate Postojna Cave | Image of Perchtenlauf, copyright of ©riegersburg.com | Image of fireworks in Rome, copyright of ©neigesdantan

It's the Season Across Europe

Christmas traditions across Europe are as varied as the villages, mountains and countryside in which they take place. To give you an idea what traditional Christmas celebrations look like in Italy, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, France, Iceland, Slovenia and Germany, we did a little research among our friends and came to the below typical traditions. 

(c)tristanf-rudolph rednosed raindeer-in-Iceland

ICELAND - GLEÐILEG JÓL!

Because the days are so short and dark the Christmas lights are put up early in Iceland. Icelanders celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. On Christmas day the traditional meal that most Icelanders enjoy is smoked lamb (hangikjöt) served with leaf bread (Laufabrauð). The leaf bread is a hard, deep fried, thin bread that families get together to bake, cutting decorative patterns in the dough.

Baking holds a special place at Christmas time as it provides an opportunity for families and friends to do something together while the kids dance around the Christmas tree and sing Christmas carols.

There are 13 Santas, or Yule lads, in Iceland with each providing children a small present in their shoe for each of the 13 nights before Christmas. If the kids are naughty they get an old potato. This tradition has helped to ensure good behaviour for the second part of December!

 

(c)Nicola-since-1972-panettone-italy-christmas

ITALY - Buon Natale!

On Christmas Eve, children across the country leave out a glass of wine and cake for Babbo Natale (Father Christmas). In some cities, like Trieste, San Nicolò (Santa Claus) brings presents on December 6, while in Verona the tradition of Santa Lucia sees the whole city celebrate with Christmas markets and children receiving presents on December 13.

The traditional cakes eaten through the season include pandoro, originally from Verona, and panettone, from Milan, both sweet breads with raisins and candied fruit included in the panettone. On Christmas Day the hero dish is roasted capon (cockerel).

CZECH REPUBLIC - Ježíšku panáčku!

Advent, the period of fasting that begins four weeks before Christmas holidays, is the most eagerly awaited time of year for many Czechs as it means the preparations for Christmas can begin.

On Christmas Eve, fairy-tales are told and houses are decorated with mistletoe and of course a Christmas tree. Traditions include an all-day fast (it is said that whoever lasts until the evening will see a golden pig) or the throwing of a slipper (if it lands with the toes pointing at the door, it means that the girl in the house will marry within a year). Meatless dishes are served for lunch – peas, barley, or a mushroom casserole.

Other unique Czech Christmas traditions include; placing a candle in a nutshell and put it in the water. If the candle doesn’t sink, it means a prosperous year ahead.

(c)Dokiai-Aikido-christmas-lights-in-Slovenia

SLOVENIA - Vesel božič!

Around 60% of Slovenians are Christians and typically only this part of the Slovenian population celebrates Christmas. For many other non-Christian Slovenians New Year’s Eve is celebrated, instead of Christmas, however the family gets together on January 2 for the celebratory meal.

Children in Slovenia can receive gifts from St. Nicholas, Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, or Grandfather Frost. St. Nicholas visits on St. Nicholas Day, December 6. Santa Claus or Baby Jesus visits on Christmas while Grandfather, or Father, Frost may appear on New Year.

THE NETHERLANDS - Gelukkig Kerstfeest!

Most organisations in the Netherlands share in the festive spirit by rewarding their employees with a kerstpakket (Christmas box). Traditionally this contains groceries like lobster soup, bread sticks, ragout & patties, candles, crisps and maybe even a bottle of mulled wine.

The main Christmas meal is embraced by everyone, usually even two days in a row on the 25th and 26th (second Christmas Day) of December. These dinners in the Netherlands typically include either a roulade with trimmings or a raclette dinner.

GERMANY - Frohe Weihnachten!

For most Germans the one colourful tradition is the Christmas market. Beginning mostly in late November in almost every German city, town or village, Christmas markets will pop up on the local square and often in several other locations with beautifully decorated stalls, entertainment and all kinds of delicious foods like Glühwein (mulled wine) and roasted chestnuts.

Heiligabend (Christmas Eve) is the main day where presents are exchanged. Traditionally a small meal like potato salad with small sausages (Frankfurter/Wiener Würstchen) or carp are served before the opening of gifts.

(c)sarahstierch-christmas-market-in-France

FRANCE - Joyeux Noël!

As you would expect in France, the Christmas meal is something to behold with a Christmas turkey served with pommes dauphine (crisp potato puffs made by mixing mashed potatoes with savory choux pastry), green beans rolled in bacon, and some chestnuts. And it wouldn’t be a French Christmas without some good red wine of course!

Several days before Christmas the towns and villages of France take on a festive air. Town hall facades are decorated, huge trees are erected in the major squares and the main streets begin to dazzle with a wonderful array of Christmas lights.

Image of reindeer in Iceland, copyright of ©Dokiai Aikido | Image of panettone in Italy, copyright of ©tristanf | Image of square in Slovenia, copyright of ©Nicola since 1972 | Image of Christmas market in France, copyright of ©sarahstierch