Atop a mountain in Austria
During the 2007/2008 winter season I worked in a holiday park in central Austria and together with the other holiday people we enjoyed amazing fireworks and the whole mountain became an open-air party. People also give each other little pigs made of marzipan which symbolise good luck for the new year. Not sure this is a tradition for kids, but the people on the mountain kept giving them to us. Maybe they just wanted us to leave.
On a square in Stockholm
Imagine awaiting the New Year in ice cold Stockholm and singing along to ABBA’s Happy New Year right after the countdown while you … Well, that is not how it went for me … first of all, there was no ABBA anthem – but a traditional song instead! I’ve heard that most locals spend New Year’s either at a party or at a dinner with friends and family (like pretty much everywhere).
At the London Eye in … London
I felt like I had to experience it and waited hours on Westminster Bridge for those damn fireworks. The wait was long and was mainly about taking photos as the Eye changed colours, at 11 PM people start texting people in mainland Europe and then after the countdown people are wowed. And it was pretty good and definitely did not disappoint, but I don’t feel like it something I would do every year. I now prefer good food, beverages and a movie marathon.
On top of a building in Melbourne
NYE in Melbourne was … weird. 42 degrees centigrade and a barbecue does not scream ‘you’re about to enter the New Year!’. But as soon as the celebrations start, the crowds appear and the fireworks begin it is the same as anywhere else.
A trip around the world in Brussels
My NYE in Brussels was as international as the city, the evening was all about cooking with people from around Europe and awaiting the new year at one of the squares and ending up at a Brazilian family friendly party. Enjoying waffles, Belgium fries and that delicious chocolate, and more waffles.
Dullsville in the Netherlands
As with much of Europe, in Holland it’s common to set off your own fireworks. Unfortunately this also includes feeling a bit unsafe leading up to the 31st because idiotic kids will often try to scare you with those damn firecrackers. Right after countdown it’s common that people go outside and set off their fireworks and wish the neighbourhood a very very happy new year. The Dutch also like to eat Oliebollen (they will try to make you believe that it’s the the Dutch version of doughnuts, but it’s far from it), which are pieces of fried dough covered in powdered sugar. Bigger cities do display shows and the one in Rotterdam, from what I heard, has the biggest wow factor.
How is NYE celebrated in your country?
When it comes to Christmas Markets, the Germans sure know what they are doing. I won’t bore you with the countless stand out markets you’ll see everywhere, but I wanted to share this peculiar take on the Christmas tradition: a market set in an abandoned theme park. It was a bit cold and a bit muddy, but being able to enjoy some gluhwein while sitting in miniature train car made up for it. Plus, I discovered a dish called Langosh – a East European deep fried flat bread which was delicious.
Do you have any favourite Christmas market recommendations, or surprising foods you found at them?
HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE
While I often recommend places to eat and things to do, the downside is that you actually might not be anywhere near these places, or you might be fed up with too many shout outs to one-off ‘hip’ attractions (not my intention!)…so this time I am focusing on chains and franchises that you will find all around the city and that have the Tea stamp of approval. Chains have a bad name and ‘travellers’ often avoid them, but it’s a shame if you would skip these.
I’ll take any excuse to visit Wahaca and have one a selection of their delicious tapas-like Mexican dishes. Absolutely one of my favourite places in London.
Every self respecting street has a Pret A Manger and it’s perfect for a quick lunch that is actually tasty: there is selection of sandwiches, there are soups and salads. There is also EAT, but I prefer the range at Pret. It’s not amazing, but relatively cheap for what you get.
When it comesfor a place to sit down, charge my phone, steal a bit of the wi-fi and have an overpriced hot chocolate I like to go to Caffe Nero. Especially for the Milano with Belgian chocolate. Costa and Starbucks hot chocolate does not live up to my expectations. I assume the coffee is pretty good too.
Muji is a Japanese store with some serious must-haves and should only be entered if you have a strong willpower not to buy EVERYTHING. They sell slick stationary, minimalist style furniture and some locations have a sizeable clothing section.
Honest Burger does Burgers (yes, with a capital B that is) and delicious rosemary salt chips. You won’t see them EVERYWHERE like Gourmet Kitchen and Byron but there are enough locations through the city so you don’t have to travel all over the place to find one. There’s also the off-menu choice for if you’re ridiculously hungry.
The Diner they have locations in the main tourist hubs so there is probably a location near you. They have all day breakfasts, a selection of burgers and other diner-like food for a reasonable price, plus you can almost pretend you’re in a scene from Pulp Fiction, or countless other films. There is also Breakfast Club, but their queues are crazy!
As I’m not a fan of sushi I can’t say much about that but my co-workers love Itsu so I guess you can get your raw fish intake there. With this weather I am fan of their noodle soups and rice potsus which keep me from freezing.
I mentioned Ben’s Cookies in this Covent Garden article, but their amazing cookies deserve another shout out – if you spot one make sure to get yourself some of those.
Joy is where you’ll will find clothes and cute must haves that you don’t need but you need to buy them.
Move over Hummingbird Bakery because artisan bakery Gail’s is the place you to be for a tea/coffee with cake (The carrot cake is to die for). With locations including Soho, Portobello Road and South Kensington, it’s an easy one to stumble across.