Sunday, December 21, 2008

Your Fantasy Christmas

by Kirsten Scott

I was reading a great Harlequin Desire the other day (The CEO's Christmas Proposition, by Merline Lovelace) and it was filled with fabulous descriptions of Christmas in Salzburg. You could see the homemade wooden toys, taste the buttery breads, and hear the children's choirs singing in the background of a wintery wonderland. (Here's a picture of Salzburg in the winter -- incredible, isn't it?)

Of course, if you're going to be stranded somewhere at Christmas time, it helps to be stranded with a gorgeous millionaire. But that's beside the point.

The point is, I am now adding "Spend Christmas in Salzburg" to my Bucket List. 


Not long after, I was at a holiday party and a friend of mine was complaining about her dysfunctional family and how Christmas brings nothing but angst and fighting. Some year, she vowed, she would be on a beach for Christmas, far away from everyone but her sweetie.

Hmm...Christmas in Oahu? I hadn't really considered it, but once she said it, the idea started to grow on me. Sure, I'd miss the kids and all, but putting that aside, wouldn't it be great to take that dreary, cold, wet time and spend it covered with suntan lotion, sipping a fruity beverage with my husband at my side?

Which leads me to the subject of today's blog: Your Fantasy Christmas.

Where would you go, if you could go anywhere in the world? I suspect most of us want to be exactly where we are, surrounded by family and friends, close to our church and all the people we love. But work with me here -- we're romance readers. No one does fantasy better than us. If you have to, you can imagine you've been stranded by cancelled flights or some other Act of God, and simply CAN'T get home (thereby absolving all Christmas-related guilt).


So what would it be, and who would you bring? A warm beach with your sweetie? A trip to Sweden's Ice Hotel with your best friend? How about New York City, with all the hustle and bustle, the ice skating in Central Park, and the giant Christmas tree?

Remember, we're still counting down the 12 Bandita Days of Christmas! One lucky commenter wins a prize! So let yourself go. Close your eyes and start fantasizing!

116 comments:

limecello said...

mine?

limecello said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirsten said...

Hey, congratulations limecello! The GR has been very much in demand of late! :-)

Warm sounds fabulous, and I am a sucker for amenities included. Maybe a cruise? Or I came across a lot of Disney ads in my research for this blog. Maybe some year you could spend Christmas in Orlando! ;-)

Helen said...

Well done limecello enjoy your day with him.

Kirsten what a fun post my fantasy Christmas would be spent on one of the islands off the coast of Scotland in a nice cabin stocked with lots of food and drink an open fireplace and of course my hubby. There would have to be lots of snow and we could build snowmen and admire the scenery then have a nice meal by the fireplace nice music in the background very romantic.

Have Fun
Helen

limecello said...

Great post, Kirsten (oops :X) ! Ooo I have no idea where I'd go... :X but whoever wants to go off this year and do that this year can! There are tons of travel deals (though one would have to act fast)- cruises, etc.
(And I'm going to have to look into that book - a SD? The setting sounds fabulous!)

Were I to travel, I'd like to go to some warmer place that has people/all the necessary amenities... but not too crowded.

Kirsten said...

Hi Helen! That sounds like a fabulous vacation -- Scotland would be so romantic for Christmas (do they get a lot of snow there?). I love the part about the open fireplace (and the hubby, of course!).

Are you bouncing a little one on your knee right now? Hope that baby is doing well!

Keira Soleore said...

Yes, Limecello, you got it! Fine nabbing.

I've done Christmas in NYC and Christmas at Disney World. This year, we're in India.

For an ultra special Christmassy Christmas, I'd like to be in a village in Bavaria for three weeks (pre and post the 25th) and participate in every tradition, no matter how small.

Louisa, I'd love to read about your Salzburg Christmas.

Minna, what are the most important Finnish traditions for you?

p226 said...

Fantasy Christmas.....

That'd be in the open desert, twenty miles east of Bethlehem between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Alone with my wife in the emptiness. I imagine that the lights of Jerusalem would be a visible glow on the western horizon.

Where it all began. Likely very close to some of the paths the key players took.

jo robertson said...

Clever topic, Kirsten. Wow, there are so many places I'd go if I had carte blanche, money wise LOL.

I really like winter, which we don't see too much of here in California, so I think I'd want a Christmas in a lovely chateau in the Swiss Alps. Lots of good food, good company, and roaring fires. But you see, I wouldn't actually have to go out in the snow!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Limecello, it's a while since he visited you, isn't it? Congratulations!

Kirsten, what a lovely post! It really got me thinking - as you know, travel fantasies are a staple in my brain! Helen, Scotland sounds lovely, especially the snow. My critique partner Annie West is actually having Christmas in Salzburg. How cool is that? Friends of mine had Christmas in Salzburg back in 1985. I remember they loved it - they capped off the day with a sleigh ride through the snow with white ponies drawing them and bells on the harness. How romantic is that? I had Christmas in London the same year. My loveliest memory is coming out of midnight mass at St Paul's Cathedral just as it started to snow. Sadly, that was all the snow we saw. It all turned to sludge on the day. Sigh. All our traditions down here come from cold climates, so I'd love a really white Christmas one day! Perhaps I'll book the cottage next to yours, Helen! We can swap our romance novels once we've finished them - I know how quickly you get through a good book!

kim h said...

hawaii of couse

fiji islands

Minna said...

Well, for starters, I would spent my Christmas in Lapland...


http://images.google.fi/images?gbv=2&hl=fi&q=lappi+talvi&btnG=Etsi+kuvia

flchen1 said...

Ooh, very fun question, Kirsten! All the choices mentioned sound appealing in different ways, but I like p226's idea of seeing Christmas the way some of those very first celebrants did--that would be an incredible experience indeed.

Congrats on the GR, Limecello!

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Limecello.

I would love to go to Tahiti. I could spend the day at the beach and sip cocktails while watching the sun set. I would also be indulging in the exotic cuisine and massages.

Helen said...

Kirsten

Yes Corey is here and I have just had a big cuddle now Poppy is trying to get him to sleep and I have just spoken to Bec on the phone she needs more sleep.

Some of these fantasies sound great and Anna I would be very happy to swap books although I haven't had much of a chance to read lately to busy not that I mind.

Have Fun
Helen

Laurie said...

I'd like to go to the Greek Island of Santorini. The pictures look so beautiful with the blue roofs and azure waters. Finally, guaranteed sun shine!! I think they only get rain a couple a days a year!!

Maureen said...

If I couldn't be with my family I would want to be somewhere warm on a beach and, of course, I would take my husband.

Margay said...

When I was growing up, I always thought it would be fantastic to spend Christmas in Paris. Hm...that's still not such a bad idea. I'd love to see the City of Lights lit up for the holidays.

Anna Sugden said...

Interesting post, Kirsten. You've really got me thinking. I'd love to visit Lapland - what a giggle that would be. And also the Ice Hotel in Sweden. Somehow, Christmas has to be somewhere cold - even though I'm the ultimate beach bunny the rest of the year.

Christmas in Salzburg would be my step-daughter's ideal. I can see the appeal. But, really I'm so boring. We travel so much during the year I'd rather be at home for Christmas.

Anna Sugden said...

Sorry to disillusion you, Helen, but snow in Scotland isn't that common! Wet and windy is, so you could have a cosy cuddle in your cottage anyway.

P226! Welcome back! We missed you! What a lovely thought for Christmas - now that I could do.

Laurie - Santorini is special - though I think it gets cold in the winter too. Fabulous place, though and Greek orthodox celebrations always seem magical to me.

Anna C - you're welcome in Cambridge! Carols at Kings would be right up your street.

Other places that appeal are Denver, Whistler, Ottawa (skating on those frozen canals) and Vancouver - okay so there might be some hockey to be had in those places too *g*.

DianneCastell said...

I think Sulzberg has that Christmas Mart that is supposed to be great! I've added that to my bucket list too. :-)

Rosemary Laurey went there this year. Said it's like magic.

But going someplace warn sure sounds good as I look out my window to snow and gray.

Dianne

Buffie said...

I have a couple places where I would love to spend Christmas.

The dh and I would love to rent a cabin in Montana or Wyoming and send the holidays there. It would be great to see all that snow -- we would have a blast playing outside with the kids.

Another place would definitely be Paris. I saw a show on Travel Channel recently and they showed Paris at Christmas. Just beautiful. The City of Lights adds thousands more lights.

P226 -- Although I was not there at Christmas, the area you describe is utterly beautiful. There is such serenity in that barreness and ruggedness. It is one wonderful area.

Gannon Carr said...

Oh, Salzburg at Christmas would be lovely, wouldn't it?

I would love to spend Christmas in Ireland, in a charming thatch-roofed cottage. Someday....

Congrats on the GR, limecello.

Joan said...

Hmmmm...alternate Christmas?

DisneyWorld. One time, I'd like to be in DisneyWorld for Christmas.

I had a friend who went there through New Year's. They were provided with a tree in their room and spent the countdown with thousands of others at the Magic Kingdom!

And Ireland. Would love to experience it in the most beautiful spot in the world.

PJ said...

I think Salzburg would be lovely for Christmas. Really, anywhere I'm surrounded by my loved ones is my idea of a fantasy Christmas. We're scattered around the country and it's been more than 20 years since we were all together for Christmas.

Congrats on grabbing the GR, limecello!

Trish Milburn said...

Someplace warm. I know this comes as a great shock to you all. :) A few years ago, hubby and I went to Disney World the week before Christmas week and it was great. The crowds weren't bad, and the whole place was decorated for Christmas. It was so much fun. So I'd be up for doing that again and having a beach Christmas on the Gulf Coast. I'd get a Christmas tree and fill it full of white lights and all kinds of beach-themed ornaments.

Trish Milburn said...

Keira, your Bavaria Christmas fantasy sounds great.

p226, I like your idea about the desert near Bethlehem.

Crianlarich said...

Ha ha ha, Kirsten... yes, Christmas in Salzburg is hard to beat. Though any place in that corner of the world is extra-special this time of year. The Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) in Munich is phenomenal. And Vienna is another city that glitters in December. (and any time, for that matter) London, Dublin, and Edinburgh are fabulous in their own individual ways. Stateside, many rave about Christmas in NYC. Not my personal cuppa - I prefer Europe. But anyway, Salzburg gets my vote because in addition to its fairytale appeal, it is also pretty small and you can enjoy the main sites on foot. Of course, there are those sleigh rides, too....

Minna said...

Most important traditions? um, well, taking candles to the graves is one of them, watching the Declaration of Christmas Peace on tv and Christmas sauna. We don't sing carols, though. And Santa hasn't visited for a few years now, as all my nephews and nieces are mostly grown up by now. There's of course the Christmas dinner, but we don't(fortunately) do anymore as much stuff for it as we used to. Less stressful, that way.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_Eve#Finland
http://virtual.finland.fi/xmas/
http://virtual.finland.fi/

http://cankar.org/sauna/

http://www.cyberbohemia.com/Pages/historyofnordic.htm

Declaration of Christmas Peace
http://areena.yle.fi/suora
I suppose the link where you can see the show will open here "Suomen Turku julistaa joulurauhan, TV1 ke 24.12. klo 11:55-12:10 (Koko maailma)" on the right side of the page on the 24th.

traveler said...

Spending the holidays in Italy would be like a dream come true. Venice, and Lake Como. What a setting and experience. Romance, delectable goodies and the husband to share it with. Thanks for this lovely interlude.

Kirsten said...

Minna, thanks so much for sharing some of your traditions. I just love the Declaration of Christmas Peace. What a beautiful tradition for the whole country to share. For all of us English speakers, here's part of what I found on Wikipedia (hope it's accurate, Minna). It sounds like this is read every Christmas Eve.

***
Tomorrow, God willing, marks the most gracious feast of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, and therefore a general Christmas peace is hereby declared, and all persons are directed to observe this holiday with due reverence and otherwise quietly and peacefully to conduct themselves...
***

Kirsten said...

Keira, love to you and your family in India right now. I hope none of you were affected by the events in Mumbai (though, of course, it would be impossible not to be).

I wish we could all have a little declaration of peace, all across the globe.

Kirsten said...

Oh, but before I wax a little too depressing and philosophic -- Bavaria sounds perfect for Christmas!! :-) Will you bring Miss Wee or have a little sneaky Christmas holiday with just yourself and Mr Keira?

Kirsten said...

p226, that would be a very powerful Christmas experience. I like to imagine the shepherds out there with their sheep, and the total silence of the desert.

Back in college, I spent three months in Mexico on a backpacking trip and when I got back, I couldn't believe how loud our world has become. I still enjoy the silence more than most. My husband thinks I'm crazy that I putter around the house without any music or radio on.

Kirsten said...

Ah, Jo, the chateau in the Alps! yes yes yes! And I can just imagine the roaring fire and the thick fuzzy slippers on your feet, and a mug with something warm and slightly alcoholic? Maybe a hot toddy? Hot cocoa with Bailey's? And there would be this extraordinary view out the window in front of you, soaring mountains covered with perfect white snow, and people out there on their skis, maybe some kids (all very well behaved and cute, absolutely no whining), and maybe a puzzle or two? Something to dawdle over while you don't otherwise move a muscle?

Virginia said...

Congrats limecello of getting the GR, he's been hard to get lately.

I prefer to spend Christmas with the family but if I could go anywhere in the world for Christmas I thing I would visit Ireland and Scotland and take my sisters with me.

Kirsten said...

Anna, maybe you can have my mom's cottage in Buffalo one year for Christmas (she gets oodles of snow, and she's in a little forest with huge old trees) and we can have your place! I've always wanted to get to Australia and see those lizards and (though half the fun would be visiting with you, so maybe not...)

London would be beautiful, and that sleigh ride sounds just awesome. I would need lots of heavy lap furs, though. All that snow sounds lovely and romantic until you freeze your little cheeks off (and I don't mean the ones you cover with your scarf!).

I wonder if Annie is on the net today! She could give us a live report from Christmas in Salzburg!

Kirsten said...

Ah Kim, Hawaii and Fiji. 'Nuff said. ;-)

Kirsten said...

Minna, when I started the blog, I had some adorable pictures of Lapland reindeers in it too! I would love to see them. But I hear their habitat is in danger as a result of global warming. :-(

(Nothing warm about my part of the globe right now!! We're having the storm of the century here.)

Kirsten said...

Fedora, I agree -- experiencing Christmas the way those first people did would be life changing.

BTW, I bet you're busy this time of year -- do you design Christmas cards?

Lois said...

One year, a number of years ago we were in NYC for the day, and we saw the tree and the skating rink, think FAO Schartz too, but I really don't remember a whole lot of it. So that I'd like to repeat. . . and try for a Jane Austen Christmas in England would be cool. . . but I'd also love to go floating around the Earth on the Space Station anytime, holiday or not! :)

Lois

Kirsten said...

Jane, Tahiti definitely sounds like fun! I think the best part would be the exotic cuisine and the massages. I'm actually scheduled for a massage on Christmas Eve, but our whole city is shut down right now in an ice storm, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to get to it!

I wish you luck with your Tahitian vacation some day!

Kirsten said...

Laurie, Santorini looks truly incredible. I had to Google it, but it looks like I should have heard of it before. What an incredible place. And it's a runner up for one of the 7 Wonders of Nature. Wow.

Did you see Mama Mia? Hilariously bad movie (great music!) and take your breath away scenery. I'm not sure where it was shot, though.

Kirsten said...

Helen, good luck with your cuddling and bouncing and grandmama-ing! I hope the little one is sleeping (and Mama is recovering!)

Kirsten said...

Maureen, I agree -- with both the beach and the husband! We get so few chances to share these special times with JUST our sweethearts. It would be nice to have them to ourselves for once.

Kirsten said...

Margay, that's a lovely fantasy Christmas! I have never seen Paris (I like to travel, but don't get to do it much, other than around the USA) but Paris at Christmas must be beautiful.

Do you speak French?

Kirsten said...

Hi Anna! I can imagine for someone who does so much international traveling, the thought of getting on a plane at the holidays would NOT be a fantasy. LOL. But seeing those Lapland reindeer would be a kick, wouldn't it?

Was Christmas in the USA very different from the UK? I imagine it was much more about the prezzies here in the States. We're very "thing" oriented here.

And I find the Ice Hotel idea so intriguing! I'd just like to see it. I'm not sure how you'd change your clothes without freezing your you-know-what off, but it would be something to see. :-)

Kirsten said...

Oh Dianne, welcome back! And I must agree -- Salzburg sounds lovely, but now that we are on day 8 of our cold front, and it's been grey and snowy for over a week, I'm ready to flee to somewhere warm. There's a reason I DON'T live in Buffalo anymore! :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Anna, getting into Carols at Kings might be the problem. I brought that up on the Romance Radio interview as a tradition here. It's always on TV on Christmas Eve and none of the Americans had heard of it. It's so beautiful, I'd love to make it one day! Book me a berth, Bandita!

Kirsten, Annie is just about to arrive in Salzburg. I'm hearing from her fairly erratically. She's having a wonderful time - absolutely loved Paris, the lucky duck!

Helen, gosh, you MUST be busy if you're not reading ;-)

Actually I thought of somewhere else I want to spend Christmas. When I worked in a dress shop in London, I had a lovely customer who I got friendly with. She told me about how when she was in her early 20s in the 70s, she spent Christmas in Venice. I don't know if they still do it - a lot of Venice has got EVEN more commercial even in the couple of visits I've had there - but they did a kind of Renaissance Christmas. They did a procession with the relics and candles and the choirs around St. Mark's Square and then they went inside for the midnight service with the double choirs answering each other the way they did in Monteverdi's time. She made it sound absolutely wonderful!

Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten, I don't like the idea of the house swap, purely because, as you said, we wouldn't get to hang out. I think we'll have to organize things better than that!

I was thinking we should invite Annie back to talk to us about Christmas in Salzburg. The lucky duck (you can imagine that phrase appears quite often in my replies to her, LOL!).

Kirsten said...

Hi Buffie! Thanks for bringing your avatar out to play with us today! :-) I am a huge fan of Montana, and I had a lovely camping trip in Glacier this summer. And I love the image of Christmas with horses and cowboys and wide open spaces...

On the other hand, I spent Christmas in Wyoming one year in a tiny town (less than 400 people) on the prairie and let me tell you, we did not do a lot of playing in the snow. It was INSANELY cold. The wind blew all the time, and it had to have been 30 below with the windchill. I wonder if we can add into our fantasy that there would be lots of snow, but it wouldn't be too windy or too cold? LOL.

There are probably some places in Montana that would be beautiful and fun and snowy -- and maybe you could find someplace tucked into the mountains so the wind wouldn't blow. :-)

Kirsten said...

Gannon, I can see you in that cottage! I know you'll get there sometime soon!

What's your best Christmas trip that you've taken? Did you ever go anywhere special for the holidays?

Kirsten said...

Joanie, I can definitely see the appeal of the Disney Christmas -- and New Years. The fireworks would be gorgeous, and it would be great fun to do Epcot and go to all the different countries. I bet they show you different Christmas traditions from all over the world, and you'd get to see the performers from all over the world too. We spent just a day at Epcot this year, but I really wished I could have spent more time there.

Have you been to Epcot before? Or Disney? It's exhausting, but really unlike anything else.

And, naturally, Ireland. Maybe we can have a Bandita group trip! :-)

Kirsten said...

PJ, what a lovely Christmas wish. Having everyone all together would be just remarkable. I knew we would have some softy who wouldn't be able to resist the Fantasy Christmas of being together with everyone they love. :-)

Kirsten said...

Oh, Trish, did you go to Epcot? That's my new Christmas fantasy. Avoid the crowds and the traveling to the real location and see them all at Disney. LOL.

Spending the winter at the Gulf sounds lovely. And it reminds me of your Firefighter in the Family book -- did you live there at one time? You describe the beach so well!

Minna said...

Yes, the Declaration of Christmas Peace is the same, every single year. Only the person reading it changes.

Kirsten said...

Crianlarch, are you in Germany? What's Christmas like at home for you?

I must admit NYC isn't my cuppa either, but I know it looks like great fun for some. I'm not really a hustle and bustle sort. Christmas in Europe sounds just heavenly. I guess they put European Christmas in our DNA or something, because it's such a strong desire. :-)

Gannon Carr said...

Kirsten, when my husband was still on active duty in the Navy and he was deployed, my mil, his grandmother, our two sons and I met him in Barcelona for Christmas. We spent almost 2 weeks there and it was wonderful. One Christmas gift to our boys was to tell them we were expecting another baby--their sister. Wow! That was 10 years ago. Where does the time go?1

Kirsten said...

Traveler, welcome! This is the perfect day to stop by -- for a traveler like yourself. LOL. Have you been around a lot of different places for Christmas? Any special memories you could share?

You're the first to say Italy, but I'm sure it would be a beautiful time of year to visit and eat great food (oh, and drink great wine -- that would be fun too).

Minna said...

So, if you are able to watch the declaration on your computer on the 24th 11:55-12:10 o'clock (Finland's time), in case there are no subtitles, you are still able to follow the show if you have that text provided by Wikipedia in front of you.

Kirsten said...

Hi Virginia! We are definitely going to have to organize a group Bandita trip to Ireland for Christmas. LOL.

How many sisters do you have? I have one sister and I miss her tons at Christmas, now that we live on opposite sides of the country. There's something about running down the stairs with someone for years that's hard to duplicate.

Kirsten said...

Oh, Lois what a great memory of Christmas in NYC! Now those are two great other ideas -- Jane Austen and the Space Station. Doesn't get much more distinct than that. LOL.

I would definitely love to see the earth at Christmas. Maybe we could say the Declaration of Peace at the same time. And think about how we need each other and need to preserve our world. I'd love to see that sunrise over the earth like in the pictures.

And the Jane Austen Christmas -- I never even thought about that. With lovely Regency parties and long dresses and lap robes in the carriages and lots of warm tea.

Hmmm...come to think of it, I'd like a year 2000 Jane Austen Christmas, where we can have all those things with central heating on top of it. LOL.

Kirsten said...

Oh, Anna -- Renaissance Christmas in Venice? Be still my heart! Now that does sound extraordinary!

(yet another Christmas I'd like to experience from the comfort of the twenty-first century, though!)

And yes, we must have Annie on to talk about her Salzburg Christmas after she returns. Lucky duck is right!

Kirsten said...

Oh Gannon, thanks for sharing that memory! That must have been a really special time, but also a little scary, since your husband was still deployed. What sort of things did you do in Spain for Christmas? Any special traditions there you've brought back to the states with you?

My husband and I also found out that we were expecting on New Year's Eve. It was VERY unexpected, but we were thrilled.

And Bandita Susan was the first to know -- we were with her and her husband at the time!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Fun post, Kirsten!

I'll be on the massage table right next to Jane's, with several lovely, scantily clad Tahitian lads working us over... AHEM! Massages, of course!

FERGITABOUTIT with a white Christmas! I'll take warm any time.

AC

Keira Soleore said...

Minna, thanks for sharing some Finnish tradition. Like Kirsten, I too like the Declaration of Christmas Peace.

Trish & Kirsten, I wouldn't miss taking Ms. Wee with us to Bavaria for the world. It's the wonder and joy through her eyes that I want to see. Festivals are always more fun from their viewpoint.

Crianlarich, we'll hit the Christkindlmarkt at Munich, too.

Kirsten, we're doing fine. We're avoiding the city with ports of entry and exit being different cities, so we're OK. But the first few days we were here was fairly tense, and no one knew what was happening and what to do. The sheer audacity of the plan and its meticulous planning has given everyone a deep shock.

Joan said...

Yes, Kirsten, I've been to Disneyworld a multitude of times...just never during the Holidays.

I have to say though, that Epcot is my least favorite park. I favor The Magic Kingdom, then MGM (I think they've changed the name)Animal Kingdom and then Epcot.

I would LOVE to be in the Grand Floridian during the holidays! That would be a winner Christmas.

Speaking of winners, stay tuned as the winners of the daily prize are announced. (The elves are debating Naughty or Nice :-)

Louisa Cornell said...

Way to go limecello! He is obviously making his Christmas rounds. Got too cold in Toronto!

Kirsten, what a fun post!

And La Campbell you must tell my Mom's favorite author how jealous I am of her Christmas in Salzburg! I was fortunate enough to have three Christmases in Salzburg and they are some of the sweetest memories of my life.

And yes, the Christkindmarkt is an Old World trip to heaven. I have some of the most exquisite blown glass Christmas ornaments that I watched being made. And my late DH collected chess sets. I have a miniature hand carved chess set that I bought at the Markt. I can still see the old gentleman's face who made it.

It snowed all three years, sometimes heavy, sometimes not. I sang at both cathedrals (St.Sebastian's and the Dom) during the Christmas season and there is some extra special magic to singing Rejoice Greatly O Daughter of Zion at Christmas in those great old cathedrals.

The entire city is done up in its Christmas best, but the Old City, where Mozart Square, Getreidegasse, the Burg (Castle)and the cathderals is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. Truly an elegant Old World lady dressed to the nines and the perfect holiday hostess. The cobblestone streets, the Bishop's palace gardens in all their symmetrical beauty blanketed with snow. The quiet. Kirsten you would love it. The Old City at Christmas is so quiet of technology, but alive with the sounds of snow, music and people calling Grus Gott and Froliches Weinachten.

The sleigh ride is not to be missed. The view of the entire city from the top of the Burg. You must buy roasted chestnuts and cider from the street vendors. (We bought some for our sleigh driver and his horses one year.)

A group of us in the opera company went up into the Alps to a ski lodge for a weekend and the best part was sitting in front of the fireplace eating black forest cake and sipping some of the thickest cocoa in the world and singing Christmas carols. (In English and German!) Before we had finished we had quite an audience. Apparently a group of opera singers aren't bad Christmas carolers.

So, yes I would love to go back to Salzburg one more time. I say we get a group of Banditas and Buddies together for a Christmas trip.

However, my first fantasy Christmas would be to return to the little village of Kelsale in Suffolk for one more Christmas. I want to lie in my bed and hear those Christmas bells and believe that hope is reborn and we've all got another year to get it right. I'll vote for your moratorium on war any time, Kirsten.

Minna said...

Minna, when I started the blog, I had some adorable pictures of Lapland reindeers in it too! I would love to see them. But I hear their habitat is in danger as a result of global warming. :-(

Yeah, winters certainly seem to have become warmer here. But in some places winters certainly don't seem to be becoming warmer: in some part of Russia the temperature is nearly minus 60 degrees celcius. Brrr.

Kirsten said...

AC, I thought you would end up in a warm destination for Christmas! And with a scantily clad something or other besides!

You've been to so many beautiful places -- did any really stand out for you as a place you'd want to be for the holidays?

Kirsten said...

Keira, I'm glad to hear you are well, though I can imagine the grim, sad feeling about the country right now. My heart goes out to all the people who are suffering.

And I agree, by the way, that things are much more fun through the eyes of the kids. They have such wonder about them -- and their wonder allows us to shed our adult layers of cynicism and appreciate the magic in all its splendor as well.

Kirsten said...

Joan, I can't believe you don't like Epcot! Now, I can appreciate the Magic Kingdom, but there were so many cool shows at Epcot (granted, we didn't see any of them because it was 90+ and 100% humidity and the kids just wanted to play in fountains, but still!)!

I haven't been to MGM or Animal Kingdom, though. I'm really a Disney novice. ;-)

Kirsten said...

Oh Louisa, your post made me cry! What a beautiful memory of Salzburg, and what a lovely sentiment of the hope that is Christmas.

You know, we just watched the Grinch Who Stole Christmas last night (see, things always go back to the kiddos with me...) and I was reminded that it really doesn't matter if you're religious or not -- Christmas is a holiday that has meaning deep in everyone's soul. It's about starting over, about peace, about holding hands and singing and finding each other even when there's dark times around us.

(*dabs eyes daintily*) I wish I could have heard you sing, Louisa. I bet it was remarkable. Your impromptu concert probably lives in someone's memory as one of their most incredible Christmas experiences -- "remember that time when we were at that chalet in the Alps, and a bunch of people started singing? it was the most incredible music, just like a choir of angels in the room with us..."

Isn't it amazing to think that YOU have created memories like that for people all around the world?

Kirsten said...

Minna -- as I look out on 8 inches of snow (certainly the deepest snowfall I've experienced in Oregon!) and a forecast of a week more of snowfall, I can't say I'm feeling too much global warming right now! LOL.

Helen said...

Anna
I am reading could never not read but just not as much at the moment.

I too would love to hear about Annie's trip when she returns home.

My choice of places to visit is getting bigger reading all of everyones's posts. There really are some beautiful places in the world.

Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

Louisa

I loved your post you made me feel as if I was in Stalzburg and in the cabin listening to you singing.
I do hope you get a book published soon I really would love to read it.

Have Fun
Helen

Crianlarich said...

Keira Soleore - Munich is fabulous all year. In summer - a good summer, as it can be cold, gray, and rainy all summer in bad years -but, anyway, summer brings Biergarten Zeit: beer garden time. And that is another Munich must-see. As are the wild and crazy rafts on the Isar River that runs through the heart of Munich. These are huge 'floats' that look like they're made of telephone poles. They hold about fifty people and start a good way south of Munich and end just on the city outskirts. Each such float also has a small 'oompah band' onboard and even an 'outhouse.' Well, the outhouse sort of looks like a four-sided shower stall. People sit on benches and the rafts ride the rapids and zip along the river to oompah music and good cheer. They make one or two pauses along the way, at beer gardens and also serve beer and things like sausages and pretzels on the rafts. People line up along the riverbanks to cheer and wave as the rafts go by. So it's lots of fun - both for the people on the rafts and the observers. Just one of Munich's many, many charms.

Whoever mentioned Santorini - that is the most magical of the Greek isles. It has a real mystic feel to it. Amazing place....

anne said...

What a delightful and special post today. I am enthralled with this idea. My ideal fantqsy would be to escape to an extremely special lodge up in the Canadian Rockies, secluded and serene. Just a perfect setting and memorable scene.

ruth said...

My ultimate holiday fantasy would be to hideaway in a beach house fit for a king with a beachside view of the Mediterreanean. Warmth, tranquil locale and beauty. Alone with my husband to enjoy this romance.

Shari C said...

My husband and I would take a long leisurely trip and explore Australia. It has always been a dream of ours to go there when we would have the time (and money) to travel the whole country and see everything we could possibly see and meet some of the wonderful people who live there.

Crianlarich said...

Kirsten - No, I'm not in Germany. Not now. I did live there for many years, though. I married a German and we lived south of Munich, in the Bavarian Alps for fifteen years. I'm stateside now as my husband has business here. But we get back as often as possible, plus I travel solo a great deal. Almost always in the UK and/or somewhere in Europe. I miss living over there very, very much and hope we move back soon.

Christmas -was- better there. To me, anyway. Like you, I don't do hustle and bustle. Or commercial. Olde World Christmas appealed to me much more.

It is also celebrated much longer than here. Christmas for us began on the weekend closest to Dec. 6th. St. Nicholas Day. German children put out their shoes and would find them filled with treats in the morning. Adults exchange small gifts.

Best of all, we had friends who owned a rustic lodge across the border in the Austrian Alps and a bunch of us would go there for the St. Nicolas Weekend. Fun would be a visit to the village inn on the night of Dec. 6th when the "Grampus" would descend on the town. These were village men who dressed in frightening guises - they sort of looked like giant Yetis or Big Foot, sometimes with a bull-like head complete with horns and bells around their necks. They'd carry big sticks and move through the villages, making mayhem and 'scaring people.' They would stop at every house, pop into every inn. After they left, 'St Nicholas' would arrive and bless you, handing our nuts, apples, and oranges.

Great old world fun and for a medieval buff like me, a real live chance to get a glimpse of ancient tradition.

But, anyway, no I am not there now. But I was for many years and still have family (in-laws) and friends there. I enjoy our trips back and look forward to returning for good one of these years.

It was also a lot easier to zip around Europe (and Greece, etc..) while living there than Stateside.

Christie Kelley said...

You know, I really thought about this but my prefered Christmas is right here with about 6 inches of snow. I traveled to my mom's house the past two years for Christmas. It was hard. Taking all the packages and hiding them from the kids in the car. No thanks!

And I really don't want to be on an island for Christmas (Thanksgiving was great but not Christmas).

So this is my Christmas fantasy, minus the snow.

Kirsten said...

Helen, I'm with you. I want to see Louisa's book published so we can hear her voice put to the world of romance! What a thrill that will be.

And between us -- I don't think we will have to wait forever. She's too good for NY not to snap up before too long!

PJ said...

Louisa, you've clinched it for me. A Salzburg Christmas is a "must do" for my list. Right after I win the lottery. :)

PJ said...

Christie, I know what you mean. I've been packing the van this afternoon and getting ready to leave for Charlotte tomorrow. Thankfully, I won't have to drive in any snow and, though it's a headache to take all the Christmas "stuff" with me, it's worth it to spend the holiday with people I love. Plus, I'll get to cuddle a beautiful baby girl born just two days ago!

Kirsten said...

Crianlarich, your description of the rafts that go through Munich reminded me of a festival in Latvia (where my mom is from) called Jani -- it's a midsummer festival (has nothing to do with Christmas!) but it's crazy fun, and one of the things people do is decorate their boats with flowers and leaves and paddle around drinking and carousing all night long.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jāņi

Your description of St. Nicholas weekend also sounds absolutely dreamy fun. When we were kids, our best friends were Dutch, so they celebrated St. Nick and we did with them -- we'd set out our shoes filled with hay and sugar cubes for St. Nick's horse and during dinner he'd magically take the hay and sugar and leave us with candy and sometimes a little toy. It was great fun, mostly for the drama, because my parents would go to enormous lengths to have the candy appear in the middle of dinner in our hallway (I still don't know quite how they did it!). It was very exciting!

Kirsten said...

Christie, I think it's wonderful that you're living your Christmas fantasy. I must admit, the one benefit of living far away from family is that we have a built in excuse to stay home at Christmas. We don't live close enough to drive to anyone's house, and traveling by plane for the holidays is just out of the world expensive. So we stay home and have Christmas dinner with our friends. I miss the family, but it's nice not to have to travel.

You must be particularly thrilled this year because the house is remodeled -- are you finally finished with everything?

Kirsten said...

Anne, thanks for your kind words and thanks for stopping by! Your cabin in the Canadian Rockies does sound lovely. I do hope there would be a roaring fire, perhaps some skis, and a hot toddy somewhere in the picture as well. :-)

Kirsten said...

Ruth, we'll just have to get the group rate on the villa in Santorini. Maybe we can take over the family home of one of the Harlequin Presents heros (they have so many Greek Tycoons running around, surely they can lend us a villa or two!).

And then we will make sure to build in lots of private time for you and your hubby. :-)

Kirsten said...

Shari, we will have to arrange for Anna and Christine and Denise Rosetti to show you the sites of Australia! We could set up a "Great Romance Authors of Australia" tour and you could travel all over the country hanging out with our Aussie Banditas and BBs and taking in the sites.

And yes, you'd need lots of time. We never take really leisurely vacations anymore. Everything is so scheduled and fast paced. It seems vacations are more exhausting than regular life.

By the way, I wonder what Aussie traditions you'll bring back with you? Perhaps the Pilgrimage of the Tim Tam? ;-)

Kirsten said...

Congratulations, PJ!! And have a lovely safe drive! :-) Merry Christmas to you!

Louisa Cornell said...

Helen and Kirsten, aren't you sweet! And as to NY snatching me up, from your lips to God's ear, my dear!

It is easy for me to write about Salzburg. It truly is a place where one can step back in time and visit a world that is completely underestimated these days. From the beginning of my stay to the end there were moments and even entire days when I lived from moment to moment in constant amazement. You must understand to a musician and especially to a singer whose dream of singing in Europe was fulfilled in no small part by the music of Mozart to walk where he walked, see the things he saw, very little changed from when he saw them, was a miracle. I am not surprised the little boy from Salzburg wrote such beautiful music. I would be surprised if he did not.

And Christmas in Salzburg is a season brought in on the winds of music and ushered out on the voices of angels. The people there know how to keep Christmas. I like that phrase - to keep Christmas. I think if you can keep the magic of Christmas, store up those breath taking moments, those sighs and laughter - keep them in a little bottle like perfume. Then when times are tough and it seems like there is no magic left, you open that bottle, breathe it in and there you are back in Christmas again.

That is what I wish for all of you - to keep Christmas so that all the hope and wonder of the season get you through those times when Christmas seems very far away. You are all so supportive and so much fun and mean a great deal to me.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey, y'all!! Lovely post, Kirsten. I think Christmas in Salzberg sounds heavenly....at least once.

For me, I have two destinations.

First I'd love to fly my whole family to Ohio on Christmas Eve, new grandbaby and all, and show up at my parents' house just in time for dinner! Would be the best present in the world for all of us, especially since my mom hasn't gotten to hold her new great grand daughter, yet!

The other, would be a small town in New England, complete with sleigh rides, hot mulled apple cider by the fire side, and snow a foot deep!

Louisa Cornell said...

Suzanne, now THAT would be a truly magical memorable Christmas. There is no gift at Christmas like a baby!

And Christmas in New England with all the trimmings sounds wonderful too!

Leslie said...

Christmas in Kauai with all of my family and my brothers and sister and their families. That would be perfect. No presents to buy, the trip would be the present. Just hanging out with family at the beach or exploring the island.

If it was just me and my sweetie then I'd want something more secluded like say a cabin in Idaho. It would be stocked with everything we could possibly want ~ food, movies, games and of course books. Just the two of us hanging out and getting to know each other all over again.

Beth said...

What a fun post, Kirsten. Hmm...I'd love to spend Christmas somewhere warm and sunny but not necessarily at the beach. That might be a bit too weird as I'm used to snow, cold and even more snow *g*

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, I've always thought a visit to the Ice Hotel would be cool - but probably TOO cool for me! I don't have any Scandinavian genes that I know of and I'm not sure my subtropical blood could handle it. You know, though, they wake you up with warmed grape juice in the morning to help you shake the hypothermia. *g*

I think Christmas in Helsinki or Prague would be magical. Paris would be charming, but perhaps too crowded for Christmas. I really enjoy Christmas at my mother's house, though, so it would have to be a REALLY spectacular trip to pry me out of North Carolina.

Caren Crane said...

Jo, I'm with you on the Swiss Alps but ONLY if I'm not required to go out into the snow. I can enjoy it just fine from inside the chateau. *g*

Joan, I have a friend whose family spent Christmas at Disney most years. She said it really is magical. These days, though, it's quite crowded at Christmas. I prefer to go when the only people there are tourists from South America. *g*

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten - reading all these fabulous locations makes me want to start packing suitcases. *g*

I think as long as my dh was with me, I could make anyplace a fantasy Christmas. Just not cooking, not cleaning, not decorating would go a long way toward that fantasy *g*. Once liberated from domestic chores - sightseeing by sleigh (or surfboard), fabulous restaurants with unlimited desserts would add to the fabulous-ness. What fun to dream.

Caren Crane said...

Wow, Donna. I'm not sure I can imagine Christmas without all the frenetic activity. I think if I could envision such a thing, it would be lovely to take off with my husband - even somewhere tropical! I am not much for the sun and I'm terribly traditional about Christmas, so I would prefer gorgeous Salzburg to, say, Fiji at Christmastime. And other time, though, Fiji would be mighty tempting!

Kirsten said...

Oh Louisa, thank you so much for that beautiful sentiment. I will print out your message here and keep it close to me -- and it will help me keep Christmas. Thank you thank you.

Kirsten said...

Hi Suz! Thanks for checking in! And congratulations to you again on the new grandbaby! :-) I love the idea of surprising your mom with the whole family. My mom is often alone on Christmas Eve (she spends Christmas day with my sister, but she works right up until Christmas eve, we live too far away for her to get there before then) and I would love to surprise her someday myself.

I love the New England Christmas -- you don't have to go to Bavaria to have sleigh rides, beautiful snow, and picturesque little towns. And big thumbs up on the mulled cider! Yum!

Kirsten said...

Oh Leslie, I do love the idea of "getting to know each other all over again." It's so easy to lose touch when you're raising kids, and busy with work, and all the things of life. We need to get back to each other and reconnect sometimes.

And the trip with the family to Kauai would indeed be a great present to give each other. No bows or wrapping paper necessary. :-)

Sue A. said...

My fantasy Christmas would be spent in Europe I can't decide quite where I'd be, but it would involve being able to eat everything I want without gaining a pound (well maybe losing some wouldn't be bad). And I forgot to mention I'd meet a handsome chef at the beginning of this gastronomic vacation.

Kirsten said...

HI Beth! Hmm, we will have to figure out the best place for you to go...maybe Costa Rica? I think it's warm but rains a lot. That wouldn't be too sunny, would it?

(I'm trying here! That's a tough one, you know!)

Well, stay warm, stay off the roads, and don't shovel too much snow, m'dear! That sounds a little bit like a fantasy these days, I'm sure. ;-)

Kirsten said...

Caren -- warmed grape juice? Really? Hmm...Maybe I'll have to rethink the Ice Hotel...

Now Prague sounds pretty amazing. What's Helsinki like? Have you been there before?

But what's this about not getting out of the chateau in the Alps? Are you kidding me? Do you not understand how fun the snow is? LOL.

Joan said...

I love the New England Christmas

Does that include the 2 tons of snow the Weather Channel is reporting in like, Lowell, MA?

Kirsten said...

Donna, I like the way you're thinking! I think we loaded and unloaded the dishwasher three times today -- and that's just because we're housebound and had friends coming and going. I can't imagine what it would be like to entertain a big family at the house for any length of time. Sheesh!

And the blog has been fun today, hasn't it? I had no idea I was going to have to add so many fun places to my fantasy list!

Kirsten said...

Okay, Sue, now you're clearly someone who hasn't forgotten how to use her imagination! :-) A calorie free Christmas, what a hoot! I can just think of all the fabulous ways I would fill my belly if that were the case. And meeting a chef would be the perfect way to start that vacation!

Thanks for playing!

diane said...

My fantasy holiday would involve a European tour especially through Southern France and Italy which appeals to me greatly. Exploring the beauty, history, and culture during this season would be a sight to behold.

Dina said...

My fantast Christmas vac is a dream vac and it doesn't matter what time of year it is, lol, but to visit England or Scotland during Christmas without any worries of anykind would be sweet, not much I don't think. :)

Kirsten said...

Diane, a European tour sounds just lovely. Maybe if you get lucky, you'll be able to hear some singers like Louisa. :-)

Kirsten said...

Dina, the key to any fantasy vacation is leaving behind all those nasty worries and realities -- like money, calories, family problems...you name it, it's left behind. Now doesn't that sound like fun?

I guess if you get to do that, it doesn't really matter where you go, does it?

Amy S. said...

Hawaii with Keanu Reeves

Kirsten said...

Oh, Amy, raising the stakes I see! Keanu, huh? Well I guess if you're going to have a Christmas fantasy, you might as well bring along a fantasy gentlemen with you! LOL.

Caffey said...

Oh I'm going to be in Scotland, wandering the grassy hills to reach a castle. I will get to have a tour there (a MIK-Men In Kilt) will be my tour guide. I'd then return to the land and roam those hills to the waters and even lazying under the trees with my books and all. I'd have all I need.