While I am very grateful for my part-time job here in London, I often complained that being confined in Camden Market for 7 hours a day for the greater part of December meant that I completely missed out on the Christmas atmosphere that has been going on all over the city.
Before I knew it, the last month of this year has flown by – it’s Christmas Eve and it is time for me to pack for my trip back home.
As I was backing up my pictures to my hard drive and looked through some of the photos that I took over the past few weeks, I realised that I have actually visited a number of Christmas-themed landmarks in the city.
The good thing about London is that it is crazy about Christmas. The festivity has started since early November, practically right after Halloween. While some people including me find it slightly off seeing Christmas baubles being sold everywhere so early, it actually came as a saving grace this time round since that meant that I still managed to enjoy some of the beautiful Christmas lights sprinkled throughout the city.
Although I do have to admit, sometimes London did take the whole Christmas thing a bit too far. They had a full-blown event for the Oxford Street Christmas light-up, which was basically when tourists flooded the street – I am ashamed to admit that I was one of them – in the rain and freezing cold waiting for two hours for Craig David to flick a switch, with a prelude by some substandard band blasting their songs through crappy sound systems.
But other than that, the rest of the Christmas atmosphere was wonderful.
The alleyways right next to the busy Oxford Street was very charming for example.
I am so behind my travel writing that before I know it, it is Christmas Eve. Since everything is closed here in Oslo (and pretty much the whole of Europe, probably), I decided to finally tie myself down on a chair in my hotel room and write.
The problem is, I don’t even know where to begin. Should I start from the time when I flew from Aarhus to Shanghai just for the weekend? Or my perfect weekend in Stockholm celebrating Santa Lucia? Or when my room got broken into by two thieves? Or when I was caught in snow blizzards with some friends in Copenhagen?
But since it is Christmas, I have decided to talk about something happy and share with you a little secret for a beautiful photo spot in Tromsø (and also because I don’t have all the pictures from the other trips in my computer), which we discovered by accident while taking the bus from Hamna to Tromsø city centre.
In a bid to see the Northern Lights from the comfort of our room, I had decided to book an Airbnb flat away from the city lights. But the problem with that was that in order to reach most of the attractions in the city (including to go for a tour to see the Northern Lights), we had to take a 30-minute bus ride. And because of the remote location, the public transport route did not exist in Google Map. Thank goodness our Airbnb host was extremely helpful and Norwegian people are as willing to help strangers as Danish people that we managed to locate the obscure bus stop amidst the pile of snow that covered the city.
Christmas has always been a special time of the year for me. When I was younger, my family always travelled close to Christmas time since that was the time we could escape from the tropical heat and went somewhere cold. As I got older, I had the habit of travelling on Christmas Day since that was when flight tickets are cheapest. In 2012, I had one of my best Christmases ever when I decided to take on a solo trip to Copenhagen and London after being deprived from my beloved Europe for two years.
As of last year, Christmas Day has just gotten a little bit more special, with the birth of this blog. Not only has this been my travel diary for this year, but it has also become one of my main sources of comfort and helped to get me through tough days – from days when I get a little stressed out over travel preparation, or when crappy things happened during travels to when, like these days, my travel plans look bleak and I feel miserable…
I love Christmas markets. There is something very charming and romantic about those rows of little wooden huts with slanted roofs, fairy lights tracing their edges, selling everything from warm wine to cakes and earmuffs.
Over the years, I have visited Christmas markets in Copenhagen, London and Paris and never seemed to get enough of them. They are definitely one of the things that I miss the most from being in Europe.
So imagine my thrill and excitement when I found out that Christmas market has finally come to Singapore. I love it so much that I have been there not once, not twice but three times over the past week!
The Christmas market (or Christmas Wonderland as the official name goes) is located at Gardens by the Bay’s Supertree Grove. The Supertrees on normal days are already very impressive if not somewhat menacing (a lot of people have mixed feelings about the veins sprouting everywhere from the ‘trees’ and I do agree that from afar it looks kind of odd). I always compare them to scenes from the movie Avatar.