European Christmas tour

Six weeks of Europe in a series of short impressions.

Sweden

In Stockholm, Wednesday is called ‘little Saturday’. Young students can get into clubs that on Friday and Saturday are off limits to under 21s.
Apparently, this started as the night out for domestic maids, young women out on the town on their day off, with he local youth chasing tail.

My airbnb host not only was a distant relative of Max Von Sydow, but also has one of the most infamous Swedes as a grandparent.

Hungary

Instead of Holland’s Saint Nicholas, with his Black Peter helpers, central Europe is more familiar with Krampus, a goat-like creature who punishes children during the christmas season who have misbehaved. Although Saint Nicholas also awards well behaving children, Krampus captures particularly naughty children in his sack and carries them away to his lair.

Meanwhile, Budapest is changing into a culinary capital of gastronomic adventures.

Germany

Cologne is the gay capital of Germany, exemplified by the ubiquitous presence of gay-themed stores around the office of my host in downtown Cologne. This is such a big thing that there’s even a gay-themed weinachtsmarkt in downtown Cologne.

Belgium

If Brussels still is the cheaper sibling of Paris, I feel sad for how high prices in Paris must be now.

Netherlands

12 stores later, I splurged. I’ve denounced non-Apple products and am now an Apple fanboi. All I now need is the upcoming iPad Pro.
To compensate for my excessive splurge, I added a 3.45 euro case from Aldi.

Ireland

A family visit for Christmas with a healthy sprinkling of absinthe jelly.

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England

A day late for the ferry being cancelled due to high winds, I only had some 12 hours to get cosy with old friends. Then, as if the universe was conspiring to tell me something, my bus to Stansted had broken down.

English train stations are sad facsimiles of their former glory, sadly dilapidated, a shadow of their former selves.

Before flying out of Stansted, I stayed at a friend’s parents’ place in the town of Bishop’s Stortford, birthplace of Cecil John Rhodes.

Italy

A wonderful reception, a superb house party, and a rave suited to insecure twentysomethings, which should have been avoided.

Raw horse meat sandwiches, farinata with blocks of cheese, and just too much good food and drink.

Turkey

A run through town on a long layover, paid for by Turkish Airlines.