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A beer tour of Bruges

Between the beautiful architecture, tasty chocolate, charming cobbled streets and army of swans, there is another key ingredient to a holiday in Bruges lurking away in atmospheric pubs and inviting shops. No trip to Belgium, and its most visited tourist destination, is complete without sampling Belgian beer. Ali from Great Escapes recently returned from a beer-heavy trip to Bruges. This is his conclusion of his time in the medieval city and exposure to Belgium’s true gift to mankind.

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Chocolate, waffles and beer were at the forefront of my mind when I visited Bruges recently. I have long been a big beer fan, having previously worked for a beer magazine, and not many places do it much better than Belgium. Much to my girlfriend’s delight, I dragged us into giant bottle shops in the middle of walking tours, grabbed a refreshing pint before midday and even took us on a tour of the city’s oldest surviving brewery.

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I’m pleased, and slightly amazed to say, we both had a great time delving into the beery heritage of the city, and it is certainly an activity I would encourage holidaymakers to explore during any break to Bruges; particularly those travelling by Eurostar, as avoiding those pesky flight weight restrictions will ensure you can bring back as many bottles as you can carry home with you!

One of the first big beer stops that visitors to Bruges should make is at De Halve Maan, Bruges’ most historical brewery. Beer has been brewed here by the Maes family for centuries and today, the brewery and its adjoining museum are open for guided tours, culminating in a free glass of De Halve Maan’s most famous product, Brugse Zot. Tours take place every hour between 11 am and 4 pm and tickets can be booked on their website or purchased upon arrival.

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The next stage of your trip, which comprised about 65% of my visit, should be spent dipping in and out of Bruges’ fine beer pubs and bars. Two reign supreme in the city, Cambrinus Beer Brasserie and ‘t Brugs Beertje. The former can be found to the north east of the Grote Markt on Philipstockstraat and has one of the thickest beer menus I’ve ever had the pleasure to peruse, while the latter is located on Kemelstraat to the south east of the GroteMarkt. It was in Cambrinus Beer Brasserie where I sampled a bottle of Westvleteren 12 – often referred to as the world’s greatest beer.

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When your beer pub and bar pilgrimage has come to an end, you’ll want to find a suitable shop where you can purchase your new favourite beers for their journey back to the UK. Look no further than The Bottle Shop, discovered on Wollestraat just a stone’s throw from the Grote Markt. This remains the largest beer shop I’ve ever set foot in, and I managed to purchase 12 beers here to transport home with me.

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It is safe to say that beer nuts will find a haven in the city of Bruges, but even those who don’t consider themselves a fan of the world’s finest beverage will be intrigued by the history of the city’s beer culture, or better yet, find themselves converted.

If you’re more of a wine and champagne kind of person, make sure you take a look at some of our Great Escapes to France.


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Top 10 eats in Cologne, Germany

If you’re looking for some culinary inspiration during a trip to Cologne, or want to know some of the best eateries the city has to offer, dive into our top ten eats and discover where you can get a great burger, a traditional bratwurst, a delicious local beer and much, much more…

Bei Oma Kleinmann

With a busy and bustling atmosphere, this restaurant is a great place to visit if you’re looking to dine on traditional German schnitzel – and lots of it!

Zülpicher Str. 9
50674 Köln
Phone:  +49 221 232346

Website: https://www.beiomakleinmann.de/

Image credit: Larry Hoffman, Flickr

Image credit: Larry Hoffman, Flickr    

 

Die Fette Kuh

With many guests claiming they had ‘the best burger they’ve ever had’ here, it’s no wonder it makes our top ten. The pictures you’ll find on their Facebook page are enough to tempt you into making a pit stop.

Bonner Str. 43
Cologne
Phone: +49 221 37627775

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DiefetteKuh#_=_

Image credit: designsquad, flickr

Image credit: designsquad, flickr

 

Zippiri Gourmetwerkstatt & Wein-Bar

A little Italian restaurant with fabulous food and great service, if you fancy a slice of Italian cuisine during your break in Cologne, this is a great place to try.

Riehlerstr. 73
50668 Köln
Phone: +49 221 92299584

Website: http://www.zippiri.de/

Image credit: Cucino di Te, Flickr

Image credit: Cucino di Te, Flickr

 

Gilden im Zims

For something a little more than just food, visit this beautiful historic gastropub that’s more than 550 years old. Here you’ll experience great, traditional food, refreshing Kölsch and a helping of German history all in one place.

Heumarkt 77
50667 Köln
Phone: +49 221 16866110

Website: http://www.haus-zims.de/index.php/en/

Image credit: Raymond - Raimond Spekking, Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Raymond – Raimond Spekking, Wikimedia Commons 

 

Hanse-Stube

Located inside Excelsior Hotel Ernst, a 5* hotel in Cologne, its restaurant is just that – 5*. With spectacular gourmet dishes on offer, this is a great place to dine if you’re partial to meat and fish.

Trankgasse 1-5 / Domplatz
50667 Köln
Phone: +49 (0) 221 270 1

Website: http://www.excelsiorhotelernst.com/restaurants-bar/restaurant-hanse-stube-koeln.html

Zen Japanese restaurant

For a taste of Japan during your break in Cologne, choose from Zen’s extensive Japanese menu and enjoy the taste of exquisite tempura, ura maki and sashimi dishes.

Bachemer Str. 236
50935 Köln
Phone: +49 (221) 2828 5755

Website: http://www.restaurant-zen.de/

Image credit: kanonn, Flickr

Image credit: kanonn, Flickr

Ristorante Al Solito Posto

Eat pizza and pasta until your heart’s content at this small and rather quaint restaurant. Fresh, homemade sauces compliment their Italian specialities and they’re also very reasonably priced – an ideal place for a quick spot of lunch.

Wattstraße 9
51105 Köln
Phone:  +49 221 16877018

Website: http://al-solito-posto.de/index.html

Image credit: Matthew Kenwrick, Flickr

Image credit: Matthew Kenwrick, Flickr

Gast und Weinhaus Brungs

This is a great restaurant to experience authentic German cuisine and sample beautiful wines from their 14th century cellar. Using local ingredients, you can choose traditional dishes such as Bratwurst, or Italian options are also available.

Marsplatz 3-5
50667 Köln
Phone: +49 221 2581666

Website (only in German): http://www.weinhaus-brungs.de/#_=_

Image credit: Oxfordian Kissuth, Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Oxfordian Kissuth, Wikimedia Commons 

Gilden Brauhaus

If you’re looking for a traditional German Brauhaus with a cosy and rustic atmosphere, then add Gilden Brauhaus to your itinerary. Enjoy a refreshing glass of fresh local beer (Gilden Kölsch) and choose a dish from the daily menu – Thursdays include Jägerschnitzel, or head down on a Wednesday for traditional Bratwurst.

Clevischer ring 121
51063 Köln
Phone: +49 221 6406339

Website: http://www.gilden-brauhaus.de/gilden_brauhaus__koln-mulheim.html

Image credit: Raimond Spekkin, Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Raimond Spekkin, Wikimedia Commons 

Rheinau

Described as a ‘hidden gem’, this restaurant is off the tourist track and popular with locals. It’s ideal for lunch or dinner, and the extensive menu has something to suit everyone, why not finish your meal with tasty apple pancakes with cinnamon? It’s also worth noting you might want to make a reservation here, as it does get very busy.

Im Sionstal 2
50678 Köln
Phone: +49 221 99701230

Website: http://www.rheinau-cafe.de/Seiten/de/menu.aspx

Image credit: Jeffreyw, Flickr

Image credit: Jeffreyw, Flickr

 

If this has inspired you to explore all the culinary delights that Cologne has to offer, you can book your very own holiday to Cologne through Great Escapes.


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Top Ten Things to do in Lille for Mother’s Day

Lille is the perfect location for a girls’ getaway and, with Mother’s Day coming up, a long weekend with your Mum would make a fantastic treat for her (and you). In a blatant attempt to persuade you to visit, here are our favourite things to do, eat and drink in Lille. Together they add up to make a Mother’s Day or even a weekend to remember.

Top Ten Things to Do, Eat and Drink in Lille for Mother’s Day

1. Personal Shopper at Printemps

39-45, rue Nationale

Printemps, Lille, France

Splash out at this famous department store with your very own assistant guiding you to the latest fashions that will flatter your figure and reflect your personality. You’ll need to book it in advance. Tel: +33 (0)3 20 63 62 76.

 

2. Visit Wazemmes Market

Place de la Nouve Aventure

Wazemmes Market, Lille, France

If markets are more your style than department stores, then a visit to Wazemmes famous Sunday morning market is a must. Pop inside to pick up some fabulous cheeses or wander around the outdoor stalls selling a huge variety of things including flowers, Indian fabrics, antiques and street food from around the world.

Open: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Metro: Line 1 to Gambetta

 

3. Morning Coffee (and cake) at Coffee Makers

151 rue de Paris

Coffee Makers, Lille., France

Reputedly serving the best coffee in town, Coffee Makers are also known for their delicious homemade cakes and tasty sandwiches.

 

4. Cycling Tour of Lille

Cycling tour of Lille, France

Perfect for the more active Mum, a cycling tour with Le Grand Huit is a great introduction to the parks and historic sites of the city. You can read about my experience with them on my personal blog, Exploring Lille by bicycle.

 

5. Lunch at Guinquette de la Marine

8 Avenue Léon Jouhaux

Guinquette de la Marine, Lille, France

After all that cycling you’ll have worked up an appetite and this quirky riverside brasserie is the perfect place to refuel. Try their Carbonnade Flamande (Beef and beer stew) or their Tarte au Maroilles (Cheese Flan), both traditional to the area and utterly scrumptious. Arrive early to be sure to get a table. Tel: +33 (0)3 20 39 85 43.

 

6. Afternoon Tea at L’Impertinente

9 boulevard Papin

Impertinente, Lille, France

A fantastic tea room with a warm and friendly atmosphere where the delicious homemade cakes are bound to tempt you.

 

7. La Piscine, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent

23 rue de l’espérance, Roubaix

La Piscine, Roubaix, Lille, France

Not far from Lille in neighbouring Roubaix, which you can easily get to by tram, is my favourite museum and art gallery, La Piscine, a former art deco swimming pool with a fascinating history which you can read about in this previous post, La Piscine, a beautiful museum in Roubaix, Lille.

For more information about public transport in and around Lille visit the Lille Tourism website and for more information about opening times and prices visit their website, La Piscine.

 

8. Waffles and chocolates at Méert

27 rue Esquermoise

Méert, Lille, France

A beautiful and historic shop and café, famous for its chocolates and waffles. You’ll also find them in Lille’s Printemps store.

 

9. Champagne at Alliance Couvent des Minimes

17 Quai du Wault

Alliance Couvent des Minimes, Lille, France

Just ten minutes from Lille’s main square you’ll find the city’s only champagne bar. Located in the glass-roofed courtyard of this 17th century former convent, the hotel beautifully combines many historic features with modern design. (And they are currently running a 3rd night free offer which you can find out more about at the end of this post.)

 

10. Dine at Basilic Café

24 bis rue Esquermoise

Burgers

A little further down the same street as Mason Méert, away from the tourist traps of the main square, you’ll find this trendy, reasonably priced restaurant known for their excellent burgers with a twist. They have a number of vegetarian options and I’ve heard they can also offer vegan dishes on request (although talking to them in advance is recommended).

 

3rd Night free offer at Alliance Couvent des Minimes

To make this Mother’s Day a day to remember, book a long weekend in Lille at one of the many lovely city centre hotels. The elegant Alliance Couvent des Minimes currently has a 3rd night free offer for travel completed between 15th February and the 9th March. With this offer the price for 3 nights, including breakfast and travel by Eurostar, is from £187 per person based on 2 sharing a room. And you can travel in style with an upgrade to Eurostar’s Standard Premier from £73 per person each way.

For more information or to book call 01489  866932.

Please note that the price for the Eurostar element is subject to fare availability.

 


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Speciality dishes from different regions in France

As we’re sure you’re already aware, France is a foodie’s paradise. It’s a place where connoisseurs can revel in all kinds of weird and wondrous cuisines, from escargots and ratatouille to soupe à L’oignon and tartiflette. That’s why we’ve decided to give you a whistle-stop tour around this flavoursome country, delving into a selection of different regional dishes, so you can choose which regions of France are to your taste.

South France

Making a start at the bottom in Southern France, this area is appreciated for its seafood, tomatoes and olive oil. Cassolulet (a slow cooked casserole with meat and white beans) is a popular winter dish, and a distinct Spanish influence can be found in their cooking, including spicy sausages and peppers. You’ll also find that lamb is the most popular meat in the south.

On the seafood front, bouillabaisse is popular (especially in Marseille), which is a traditional fish soup with a hint of aniseed, along with Brandade de morue – a starter made up of pureed salt cod combined with cream, garlic and olive oil, served with bread or potatoes.

You’ll certainly find an aromatic mix of Mediterranean flavours in the south, more so than in any other region, so if these dishes ignited your taste buds, it’s time to head down to the south of France.

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Bouillabaisse, image credit: Blue moon in her eyes, Flickr

South-West France

Wonderfully rich foods dominate this region, with duck, oysters and truffles being some of the main specialities. One of the delicacies popular in south-west of France (and arguably all over the country) is Foie gras, meaning duck or goose liver, which has a rich and buttery taste and can be prepared as a mousse, pâté or parfait.

You’ll find a great lobster terrine here too, known in France as Homard Persille, which is cooked with some wonderful herbs, including parsley. Confit de canard (duck confit) is another speciality which comes from the Aquitaine region of France, and to finish it all off, if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, have a look out for Touron – a multi-variety, multi-coloured marzipan roll made with all kinds of sweet ingredients.

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Foie Gras, image credit: Charles Haynes, Flickr

Confit de canard
Confit de canard, image credit:
Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr

North France

Now let’s take a trip up to northern France, where there’s a whole new world of gourmet delights to discover. Although a close neighbour to us in the UK, Truite Ardennaise (pan fried trout with smoked ham and cream) or kougelhopf (a delightful ring shaped cake with sultanas and almonds), are not necessarily dishes you’d find in abundance in the UK. Generally speaking, northern France is influenced by German and Belgian gastronomy and tends to be less Mediterranean-esque. Cold meats and root vegetables are popular, and if you’re a seafood fan then you’re in luck, as there are plenty of mussels and oysters to go round, especially in Normandy.

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Normandy mussels, image credit:
Connie Ma, Flickr

North-East France

As close neighbour of Germany, as you might expect there’s a German influence in north-eastern French cuisine. Quiche Lorraine is perhaps one of the more well-known dishes which originated from German culture (although with a slightly varied recipe). Tarte flambée is another popular dish, especially in Alsace. It can be best described as a mix between a pizza and a crepe, and is traditionally laden with crème fraiche, onions and bacon. And finally, pickled cabbage or ‘choucroute’ is a very popular accompaniment to north-eastern French meals.

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Quiche Lorraine, image credit:
Olga/ Олька, Flickr

Tarte flambée
Tarte flambée, image credit:
Nicolas Winspeare, Flickr

West France

With such a vast stretch of coastline, you can certainly expect western France to be a seafood lover’s paradise, with everything from crabs, shrimps, cockles, whelks, and lobster, right through to the more unusual delicacy of fried eel, which is a popular dish in the city of Nantes.

Farci Poitevin, traditionally a stuffed herb and pork pâté is a popular starter in the region of Poitou-Charentes, and Rillettes de Porc, a rich pork terrine which is usually enjoyed with crackers or bread.

A classic French sauce titled ‘Beurre Blanc’ also originates from the western region of Pays de la Loire; however both Nantes and Angers lay claim to the recipe. Being deliciously buttery, smooth and of course very popular, it’s no wonder that both towns would want to claim it as their own. Find the recipe here.

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Seafood platter, image credit:
Archangel12, Flickr

Central France

The ideal place for both meat and cheese lovers alike, central France is home to some real culinary treats, including Potee Auvergnate, a warming casserole from the Auvergne region with pork, cabbage, bacon, sausages, carrots and potatoes. There’s also some top quality meat to be discovered in Limousin, as its pork, lamb and beef are acknowledged throughout France as being second to no other.

Pâté aux pomme de terre Limousin is a traditional dish of the region which puts their fine produce to good use, being a pastry or bread filled with potato, sour cream, bacon, sausage meat and parsley, usually served with a green salad.

With cheese in abundance, especially in Auvergne, make sure you stop by on your travels to appreciate the sensational tastes and smells this region has to offer. Strong blue cheese titled ‘bleu d’Auvergne’, and one of the oldest French cheeses ‘fourme d’Ambert’ can be found here, and if you’re really into your dairy delights, there’s an Auvergne cheese trail, where you can learn about the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses.

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Bleu d’Auvergne, image credit:
Coyau, Wikimedia Commons

If these culinary delights have prompted you to head to France for a gastronomic getaway, then visit GreatEscapes.co.uk for more information and to book a trip to the ultimate foodie’s paradise!

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2016 Culinary Events in Amsterdam

Although it’s probably safe to say we’re all completely stuffed after the Christmas and New Year festivities, with so much going on food and drink-wise in Amsterdam over the coming year, we just couldn’t ignore it. Unfortunately we couldn’t possibly include them all, so here’s a little taster of some which have caught our eye and we think sound extra appetising…

Whisky Weekend (15th – 16th January 2016)

If you’re a fan of a particular distilled alcoholic beverage, made from fermented grain mash and aged in wooden casks (whisky that is), then this event will be right up your street. In a little place called Posthoornkerk, a tasting room appears for a couple of days in January, which becomes host to every type of whisky you could possibly imagine. Creamy, malty, smoky, woody, nutty, oaky – the descriptions are endless. Find out more about the annual whisky festival and see where to book tickets here.

Food Soul Festival (29th – 31st January 2016)

Held in De Kromhouthal in Amsterdam Noord in January, you’ll find all kinds of weird and wonderful cuisine from all over the world at the Food Soul Festival. Experience this massive mobile restaurant (with free entry) and we’re certain you’ll be opening up your taste buds to some truly great foodstuffs.

Chocoa Festival (4th – 6th February 2016)

An exciting opportunity for every chocolate lover, Amsterdam holds the annual Chocoa Festival at the Beurs van Berlage, promising pure, chocolate-loving heaven. For as little as €10 per adult, you’ll have access to chocolate booths, live cooking and demonstrations just to name a few, and not forgetting the best bit – free tasting sessions. With Chocoa adopting a strong company ethos dedicated to high quality, sustainable chocolate, what you’ll find at this festival will be some of the very finest chocolate, along with top chocolatiers, and the opportunity for a great education about the cocoa chain – from tree to bar. You can book tickets here.

Amsterdam Coffee Festival (18th – 20th March 2016)

Featuring anywhere up to 100 artisan roasters, along with food stalls plus equipment makers, Amsterdam’s coffee festival is sure to help you get your caffeine fix, and pronto. Held at the Westergasfabriek events venue, you can watch various demonstrations, get involved in different workshops and immerse yourself in the coffee art project on display. But of course, the best bit by far – drinking great quality coffee until your heart’s content.

Meibock Festival (19th April 2016)

Celebrating spring beers (or Meibock), this boozy festival is a great opportunity to try a huge selection of both bottled and draught beer from a range of brewers. €7 will bid you entry, plus a festival glass, and from there you can purchase beer tokens at around €2 each. Some previous beers which have made an appearance are: Northern Night (TigerTops), Neoclassical (Butcher’s Tears), Saison (Kompaan) and Violante (Maximus). You can see a full list here.

Dutch Raw Food Festival (12th June 2016)

Take a chance to experience raw food at its very finest at this festival. With a strong focus on healthy living, you’ll find lots of stalls, tasting sessions and demonstrations to keep you busy for the day. Experts are available for any questions you may have, and you can attend workshops where you can learn how to make lots of different dishes and snacks. The festival takes place at The Colour Kitchen Langerlust in 2016.

Gelato Festival (9th – 12th July 2016)

Actually an Italian tour which is very popular, the Gelato Festival makes a stop in Amsterdam to share their incredible authentic gelato. Beginning only in 2010, the aim of the festival is to celebrate the origins of Florence gelato, invented by the Medici family during the Italian Renaissance. The best way to enjoy this event is to go online beforehand and purchase an ice cream card, which gives you fast track access to the stalls, where you can enjoy 5 tubs of ice cream, as well as other perks. You can find out more about the festival, and about buying a gelato card here.

Het Bacchus Wijnfestival (2nd – 4th September 2016)

The Bacchus Wijnfestival, or wine festival in English, combines music, food, and most importantly great wine into one weekend event which is sure to get your taste buds tingling. With a great selection of well-known wine merchants attending each year, whether you’re a wine connoisseur, or just like wine in general, you’ll have a fabulous time at this event. Listen to the experts talk about different wines, and then take a seat at one of the restaurants to discover all kinds of wondrous culinary pairings. You can access the official website here (it’s in Dutch though).

If any of these events have whetted your appetite, take a look at the Great Escapes website, where you can find your perfect short break to Amsterdam.

Also, if you’ve been to any of the above events, it would be great to hear about your experience, so please do comment below.


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Tis the season…

Christmas has finally arrived! So we wanted to treat you all to a compilation of beautiful Christmas photos from around Europe – a mixture of food and drink, markets and lights – arguably all the best things about this wonderfully festive time of the year.

So let’s make a start with a classic Christmas in Paris, the city of love…

You can’t really beat the gorgeous Eiffel Tower, covered in a glistening layer of snow, a beautiful backdrop to a very festive looking carousel.

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As you can see, Galeries Lafayette knows exactly how to decorate for Christmas and keep up an ambience of class.

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I’m sure you’ll agree there’s nothing more magical than wandering around a Christmas market, mulled wine in hand, looking at all the trinkets and gifts on sale. And in the snow, it couldn’t be much more festive!

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As we all know, it’s not just Paris that are skilled in adding that little (or large) festive touch…

Lille, France is a dab hand at adding a touch of bling to their architecture.

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And Reims looks stunning when the markets start to pop up, coating areas of the city in lights.

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Now let’s take a stop next door to Belgium, and see the handsome buildings of Grand Place, in the central square of Brussels take your breath away…

29884_4952045_Other.. BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

And definitely not forgetting one of the best activities associated with this time of year, ice-skating! Take to the ice in one of Belgium’s Flemish Christmas markets.

41861_3004552_Serenity_&_3rd_Party BELGIUM

Once you’ve spent the evening picking yourself up off the ice and probably feeling rather worn out, a Rakomelo is certainly well deserved. Actually a traditional Greek beverage, its warm, sweet (and alcoholic) taste will be sure to go down a treat – only for adults though, sorry kids!

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So moving along again, this time to Deutschland, we’ve found that Cologne is a trinket buyer’s paradise. With gifts galore and all sorts of wonderful bits and bobs to look at, we couldn’t not feature it in this blog.

Here’s a rather unique stall at one of the markets:

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Now here’s the bigger picture for you…

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And the ice-skating rink looks perfect for a family friendly race (if you can stay on your feet of course).

Blick auf die große Eisbahn auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt "Heimat der Heinzel" auf dem Heumarkt in der Altstadt Köln, im Vordergrund das Reiterdenkmal, im Hintergrund Dom und Groß St. Martin.

Our final stop on this festive tour takes us to a little place called Amsterdam, which embraces the Christmas spirit in a delightfully cultural way.

The most impressive perhaps, is this Christmas tree made of bicycles:

4205497257_94c8df9078_o AMSTERDAM

Image credit: Xavier Vergés, Flickr

We then have performances from the ‘World Christmas Circus’, which is a festive tradition in Amsterdam.

3166681145_499af3273e_o AMSTERDAM

Image credit: DirkJan Ranzijn, Flickr

And finally, I can’t think of a better way to round up these images than with a drink, and better yet – a Christmas drink! Delirium Christmas, a festive Belgian beer will send your taste buds tingling with hints of fruit, spices, caramel malt and candied orange. You can buy a bottle or two here.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Image credit: Hideyuki Kamon, Flickr

We hope you’ve enjoyed our mini festive tour around Europe, and are now well and truly in the Christmas spirit!

So now’s the time to go and get your favourite festive drink, a mince pie or two, put your feet up and await tomorrow’s fun and food filled day.

From everyone at Great Escapes, we’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Foreign festive foods

With Christmas nearly upon us, the supermarkets are now well and truly laden with traditional treats and food that we all know and love – mince pies, Christmas puddings, chestnuts ready for roasting, turkeys, sauces – the list is endless. But if you’re off on a Christmas getaway or short break abroad this year, or want to know where’s good to go at Christmas for a bit of a culinary overhaul, what might you expect to be eating this December 25th? We’ve looked at different traditional cuisines across Europe and a little further afield, to see what feasts appear on their tables…

France
Christmas eve is the main event for the French, as they celebrate le réveillon (or ‘wake-up’ meal) after attending midnight mass. Here, the aim is go all-out trying new, fancy recipes and impress the family with creative culinary skills. Meats such as goose, duck and partridge are popular, but also refined dishes including filet mignon garnished with truffles can appear on the table in a French household. Christmas day sees entrées include escargots, (cooked land snails) and oysters, and mains can be anything from a traditional turkey, to fish, lobster or boar (depending where you are in France). Thinking of taking a short Christmas break to France? Visit www.greatescapes.co.uk for more information.

Holland
Holland sees food fairly similar to ours grace their tables, including roast pork and game meats, although interestingly, part of their festivities can include grilling and cooking your own meat and veg at the table together. ‘Kerstkrans, wreath shaped pastry decorated with glacé fruits and filled with sweet almond paste, ‘speculaas’ – spiced cookies, and ‘Duivekater’ which is sweet bread, are also gorged on during this time of the year. If you’d like to find out more about short Christmas breaks to Holland, visit www.greatescapes.co.uk.

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Image credit: Agnes Kantaruk, Shutterstock

Italy
Festive dishes in Italy vary across the different regions, so if you’re visiting this year, you could find some very unusual food at Christmas time. Basilicata, a region in the south of Italy, traditionally sit down to a dish called ‘Baccalà Con Peperoni Cruschi’, or in English – salted cod with fried peppers.

In Sicily, you might be enjoying ‘Timballo Di Pasta Al Forno In Crosta’ – which is macaroni pasta in pork sauce baked in a breadcrumb-lined pan.

But perhaps the most similar to our traditional dinner can be found in the Lazio region in the central peninsular of Italy, where they like to dig into ‘Abbacchio Al Forno Con Patate’, which is roast suckling lamb with potatoes – now that’s more like it!

Germany
A goose with red cabbage and dumplings can be found on the table in a German household at Christmas, stuffed with a meat or dough filling and served with gravy. Another traditional meat which makes an appearance during the festive season is duck, filled with a variety of fruits, and again served with red cabbage and dumplings. If you fancy dining on a German inspired Christmas dinner, you can find an easy recipe for roasted stuffed duck here.

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Image credit: Dar1930, Shutterstock

Goa
If you venture slightly further afield to the western region of India, you’ll be met with an even more intriguing Christmas menu. ‘Sorpatel’ – a traditional Goan curry made with pork meat and liver, pork vindaloo, and ‘bebinca’, a Goan coconut flavoured layered dessert, typically served with ice cream. Christmas is a magical time in Goa celebrated by both Hindus and Christians alike. The day is commemorated with feasting, fireworks and many festivities all over the state. If you’d like to book your traditional Goan Christmas break, you can visit www.goaexperience.co.uk.

Hopefully we’ve given you a little insight into what some other countries might be tucking into this Christmas, so if you start to see new and intriguing festive foods entering our UK supermarkets, you might be more tempted to give them a go and embrace an international Christmas.