Christmas Markets, Music, and Castle Tour
November 26 - December 6, 2016
Commencing - Saturday, November 26th: Fly to Europe
Day One - Sunday, Nov. 27th:
Arrive into Frankfurt Airport. We'll link up with our fellow revelers of this Christmas season and head over to the rental car office. It's a two hour drive to our first overnight destination with a stop for lunch along the way.
We'll check into our hotel in Stuttgart, home to one of Germany's oldest and biggest Christmas markets. With bags dropped off, we'll head into the heart of the old city. In the Renaissance inner courtyard of the Old Palace, enjoy an afternoon concert of four choirs, performing Christmas music to put you in the right spirit for the contemplative Advent season.
Feel free to walk about the vast array of stalls and take in the magic of Germany's unparalleled celebration of Christmas: hand-painted ornaments, hand-made crafts and clothing, and everything in between. There's no shortage of culinary delights, either, and it's hard to choose between roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, candied almonds, Swabian specialities, fried sausages and mulled wine.
It should prove to be a wonderful start to our tour.
Day Two - Monday, Nov. 28th
We'll check out of our hotel late morning, allowing you to head out and explore a bit more of Stuttgart's markets and sights. Leaving bags at the hotel, we'll have lunch before we strike out for our next destination: Ettal, Germany.
Located in the Alps, Ettal is home to one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in the Alps. Built in the 1300s, it was remodeled in the Baroque style and has become a main attraction of visitors and pilgrims alike. The Ettal Abbey furthermore houses a brewery, distillery, and a cheese factory.
Enjoy the afternoon walking the charming booths and stalls of Ettal's own Christmas market, with the snow-covered Alps to make sure our Christmas is "White." :)
Day Three - Tuesday, Nov. 29th
After breakfast at our hotel, we'll load up and make a 45 minute drive to Germany's most beloved landmark - the world famous castle of Neuschwanstein.
Embodying the architectural fashion of castle romanticism, combined with King Ludwig's love of the operas of Richard Wagner, this truly is a sparkling beauty that has been untouched by war and preserved for a unique experience.
We'll stop for a late lunch at a favorite local restaurant away from the tourists and dine on some delicious Bavarian specialties, before heading over to visit King Ludwig's only fully completed castle, Schloss Linderhof.
We'll be back in Ettal for dinner and an evening to enjoy a night of serenity under the stars and snowy peaks.
Day Four - Wednesday, Nov. 30th
After a mid-morning breakfast, we'll check out of our Alpine hotel and head north for the bustling, merry capital city of Bavaria: Munich.
There are few rivals for the energy, diversity, and charm of Munich. It has a wide array of different markets found around the city. Along Munich's famous promenade, you'll find everything from an ice skating rink to the legendary Kripperlmarkt - a large section of stalls strictly devoted to manger scenes.
Discover the Tollwood Christmas Market, Munich´s fantastic ethnic festival. On the grounds of the famous Oktoberfest, you will find a spectacle of tents offering an exciting mix of international musicians and drama groups, performances, live music, art and culture as well as popular Christmas Market ideas with handicrafts and cuisine from all over the world.
Among the 20 different Christmas markets within Munich is even a Medieval themed one, with gospel singing... or the hysterical gay market full of color and zany gifts and characters.
Day Five - Thursday, Dec. 1st
Enjoy a full, free day of Munich without any set schedule. Continue to enjoy the markets around the city or take a stroll over to the Deutsches Museum, a massive complex dedicated to a wide array of important subjects, including music... with a live organist playing Christmas carols and hymns.
In the early afternoon, your guide will offer a walking tour of several of Munich's incredible cathedrals and churches, including the Asamkirche - a small but utterly opulent church privately built by one of the most famous cathedral sculptors of his day.
Make sure you have an empty stomach by the end of the day, for we'll head over to one of Munich's best restaurants for an impeccable meal of Bavarian specialties!
Day Six - Friday, Dec. 2nd
A Christmas market tour simply isn't complete with what has become our favorite destination in all of Europe.
We'll check out of our hotel in Munich after breakfast and make the two-hour drive to one of the jewel cities of the Alps. Home to one of Europe's most beloved Christmas markets, numerous gorgeous cathedrals, and a first class walking street full to the brim with shops and cafes, Salzburg will certainly be another highlight of our tour.
We'll head out after checking into our hotel for an orientation walk to give everyone their bearings for the next two days of sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas season. Then you're on your own to enjoy a wonderful time!
Day Seven - Saturday, Dec. 3rd
Enjoy breakfast and a free day to enjoy the many sights of Salzburg. From the museum in the house where Mozart was born to the cathedrals and the mountainside catacombs... or even a nice walk to the Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria von Trapp once studied, there is much to do and enjoy in this charming city.
We'll arrange an afternoon meet-up to head over to the famous castle Christmas market of Hellbrunn, which offers a setting which is the stuff of fairy tales.
At 7:30pm, we'll head over to the evangelical Christuskirche for a wonderful Christmas concert, featuring a trio of trumpets, percussion, and organ.
Day Eight - Sunday, December 4th
Today will be quite the Sunday of Advent...
We'll have breakfast and check out of our hotel in Salzburg, before making a short drive over to Oberndorf bei Salzburg to see the chapel built in commemoration of the world's most famous Christmas carol, "Silent Night." It was in this village where it was first performed in 1818.
We will then head north to the famed city of Passau. This city has a lovely Christmas market but is more importantly home to the largest cathedral organ in Europe. And here, in this cathedral with its organ of over 15,000 pipes, we'll hear Germany's premier boy choir perform an unforgettable Christmas concert. It won't get any better than this...
Day Nine - Monday, December 5th
Final day! We'll finish breakfast at our hotel, check out, and hit the road for our final day in Europe...
And there's no more fitting finale than to visit the picturesque town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, home to Germany's most famous Christmas ornament maker and a village that is right out of a child's book.
Walk the streets among half-timbered houses which are frozen in time and explore the shops and market for any final Christmas shopping needs. Or simply take the time to soak in the charm and peace of Advent.
We'll arrange a time to leave and finish our drive over near the Frankfurt airport, staying in a plush hotel and enjoying a final, farewell meal together.
Day Ten - Tuesday, December 6th: Fly Home
Cost: $3,250 per person (single supplement is additional)
Included: All hotels, all breakfasts, all transportation, full-time guide, all listed events, and three dinners, and one lunch.
Flight: Not included, but round trip air fares are currently holding at the $1,000 mark. This will not last. Time is of the essence.
Group size: this will not exceed two vans and 14 people. Intimacy is paramount for this experience.
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