I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
I’ve been dreaming of a White Christmas for 8 1/2 years, ever since we moved east. One would think living on the east coast of the US, it would be a given to see a blanket of white on Christmas morning, but alas… it has yet to happen. We’ve come close, maybe a few days before or after, but never on the actual holiday. Maybe this year?
While I dream of a White Christmas, I’m cozied up in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate. I’m going to take a walk down memory lane and reminisce of Christmases past.
Wherever we’ve been at any given time, when the calendar page turns to December, we point ourselves in the direction of home. That includes traveling home from Europe or road tripping across the United States to make it happen. We’re fortunate in that we’ve never missed a Christmas with those we love most.
Here’s a look back at some of our most memorable Christmases, and a few travel tips we’ve learned along the way.
If you’ve been with us for a while you know we lived in Porto for three months. We flew back to the US just before Christmas of that year, but not so soon that we didn’t get to enjoy the spirit of the holiday. Now, of course a White Christmas is not an option in Porto, but we have never seen a city so completely decked out in Christmas lights/displays. It was spectacular! To top it all off, the city boasts a beautiful fireworks display in Liberty Square and, I’m fairly certain everyone who lives in Porto makes their way to the square to take in the wonder of it all.
To read more about Christmas in Porto and to watch the fireworks, click here.
- Whenever we’re in Porto, or traveling through Europe, our go to sim card is Orange. With multiple options such as all-inclusive, data only, and top-up packages in 30 European countries, our needs are met.
- Casa Natal and Garrafeira do Carmo are by far our most favorite stores in Porto. The products are exceptional as are the owners/staffs, and both stores offer authentic Portuguese goods. Don’t miss an opportunity to shop ’til you drop. It’s so much fun!
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago is one of our favorite cities in Spain. We walked in to Santiago from the Camino Francis and again from the Camino Portuguese. It’s the destination of pilgrims from around the world.
For us, returning to Santiago for a Christmas visit was an opportunity to get to know the city a bit better when we weren’t exhausted after walking hundreds of miles. It gave us a chance to see the city in another light so-to-speak.
Much like Porto, Santiago celebrates Christmas in a joyous fashion going all out with artisan markets and twinkling lights adorn the city. It’s a wonderful time to visit the city.
While out exploring we came across the most incredible nativity we’d ever seen. The panoramic scene was 40 feet long and 12 feet wide with sounds, lights and figurines. It filled our hearts with child-like wonder, it was beyond impressive.
To read more about our Christmas in Santiago, click here.
- Our favorite hotel, one we easily recommend, is the Hotel Miradoiro de Belvis. It’s a quiet tourist hotel just on the perimeter of the historic city center. The hotel is clean, comfortable and reasonably priced. We’ve booked with them on each of our visits.
- El Papatorio – An excellent eatery in the heart of Santiago, not to be missed. Grilled rib-eye or fish, fries, salad, tapas, they have it all and it’s all delicious. We would return to Santiago just to eat there again.
Christmas in Washington, DC
It would not be impossible to experience a White Christmas in Washington, DC as it does snow each winter. But, getting it to snow on Christmas Day is another story. I continue to wait, not so patiently.
The city of Washington, DC is (sadly) synonymous with politics. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Washington, DC is so much more than politics. It’s a beautiful pedestrian friendly city. There is an endless list of things to do and see, and of course an abundance of history. We’ve enjoyed many a Christmas holiday season in Washington, DC. It’s one of our favorite cities for many reasons. Looking to spend Christmas in DC? Here’s just a few of our favorite suggestions we often share.
- Take a walk on the National Mall at night to experience the lights.
- Visit the National Botanic Garden decked out in live holiday plant-based displays
- See the Christmas Tree at the Capitol and the White House
- One of the biggest tips we can share with you is to park your car and take the Metro, or just start walking. The Metro is super user friendly and safe. It’s also very reasonably priced.
Brandywine Valley Yuletide Road Trip
To tell the truth, we’d never heard of the Brandywine Valley. But, I always say sometimes the best experiences can be found in your own backyard, or just a bit down the road. This is definitely the case with Brandywine Valley. I mean, don’t you love the name? It has to be good, right?
We started our yuletide road trip in Havre de Grace, Maryland, on the upper Chesapeake Bay, an absolutely charming seaside town. The historic center offers visitors a step back in time with holiday displays and a Santa parade.
From there the road lead us to Brandywine Valley near Kennett Square, PA. What a find! A sweet charming town with a plethora of shops and eateries. The area was settled and built by the DuPont Family and the family estates dot the landscapes. They are grand examples of life in the gilded age. Tours of Nemours, self-guided, and Winterthur, guided, are not to be missed.
It all makes for a wonderful, albeit briskly cold, yuletide road trip and a fantastic way to kick off the holiday season. We love it and have returned several times.
- Longwood Gardens is magnificent on any day of the year, but when the gardens are decked out for Christmas it is truly magical.
- Nemours Estate is extraordinary. Built in 1909, with a massive 47,000 sq. ft., it was the home of Alfred I. Dupont and his second wife, Alicia. He built a children’s hospital adjacent to the estate. A tour of the home is not to be missed.
- Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library is like no other place we’ve visited. Built by Henry Francis Dupont it was the family home. With a collection of 50,000 to 70,000 objects, it evolved from a family home to an extraordinary American museum. Again, a tour of the home is not to be missed.
I’m Dreaming of a While Christmas
Well, that was a lovely walk down memory lane of Christmases past. My hot chocolate is gone, the fire is fading and it’s time to dream of a White Christmas still to come.
What’s your favorite Christmas memory?
Merry Christmas to both of you. I’m living in Chico near my oldest son and his family. I was out looking at lights here last night was amazed at how many homes have gorgeous light displays. So so fun. Glad you will be with family.
Merry Christmas, Sandy! It’s so nice to hear from you. I’ll reach out privately.
I’ve been to Winterthur when it was decked out for Christmas. It’s extraordinary any time of year, but it’s even more compelling during the Christmas holiday with room after decorated room. Even Philly is worth a visit during the holidays. We have a Christmas market in and around City Hall, where there’s also an ice skating rink, a ferris wheel, the official City Christmas tree, and a nightly sound and light show projected on City Hall after dark.
We enjoyed Winterthur so much on our first visit, we planned our yuletide road trip with the intent of touring Winterthur while decked out for the holidays. It did not disappoint! Happy Holidays Suzanne to you and yours. And, my 2023 bring the best of health.