TRAVEL: Why Europe makes for a magical winter vacation

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — When planning a winter vacation, Europe isn’t typically the first spot to jump to mind.

But travel enthusiast Dana Rebmann told KRON4’s Marty Gonzalez that travel to Europe in the winter comes with advantages.

Dana says you’ll need to pack more layers, so your suitcase may be a little heavier. But in most cases, the crowds will lighter. So it’s worth the trade off. And the costs of plane tickets.. you’ll like that too.

One of the must dos when visiting Amsterdam is a canal tour. Typically, it’s something you would want to do by day, so you can see the scenery. But in December, it’s when the sun sets that you want to be on the canals for the Amsterdam Light Festival. In its 6th

year, there are more than 40 works of art that light up along the canals. Canal boats typically have narration in English telling cruisers about the meaning of the pieces and the artists that created them. Artists are from all over the world. Some pieces are more elaborate than others, but the overall WOW power is worth staying up late for. And it’s a good way to stay up late and fight jetlag. The festival runs the entire month of December, and into a good chunk of January. (November 30th 2017 until 21 January 2018 – 53 consecutive days.)

From The Netherlands to France.. more canals are waiting, but with a very different view. This is the Petite France area of Strasbourg. The half-timbered houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries and were once home to the likes of fisherman, butchers, and tanners. It’s the type of neighborhood where it’s simply fun to wander.

Strasbourg is also home to the Renaissance-style Astronomical Clock. Located within Strasbourg Cathedral, the current mechanism dates from 1842. The main attraction of the clock is its animated figures that put on a show daily at 12:30pm.

No trip to Europe is complete without a visit to a castle. Heidelberg’s is a classic. Perched in the hillside it has great views of the old town down along the Neckar river. The castle is also home to a giant wine barrel. It’s said it was built to hold more than 34-thousand gallons of wine. (1591)

After visiting the castle, you’ll want to wander the old town. Heidelberg is home to the largest University in Germany. With a population of about 150,000 thousand, more than 30,000 are college students, it has a fun, relaxed feel.

When you travel in winter you have to be prepared for the possibility of snow. Welcome to Rüdesheim (Rude-is-heim). Located on the Rhine River, snow is not typical here, but the cable car ride was still going, even though it was coming down hard the day I was in town. With a population of about 7,000, it’s a fairly small spot, but it’s less than an hour drive from Frankfurt, so getting there really isn’t hard. Along with the cable car ride over the vineyards, the Christmas Market is what attracts winter guests.

Dana discovered Rüdesheim (Rude-is-heim) on a river cruise with . One of the big benefits to a river cruise is you unpack once and wake-up different places.. but the scenery that comes with a river cruise is a big perk as well. This is the Rhine Gorge.. lined with castles, fortress ruins, and just pretty river fronts spots. You have those moments where you just don’t know which way to look.

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