I love Christmas in Europe. It might be cold and dark by 4pm but there’s a real charm to this time of year with all the pretty lights, Christmas markets and the smell of spice in the air.
Having only ever had Christmas in summer, it was such a different experience moving to London in 2012 and having my first cold Christmas (and longest winter ever!). It was only when I was standing out in the freezing cold watching the ice skaters zooming around, sipping on my mug of mulled wine and eating my bratwurst at Winter Wonderland that it really dawned on me what Christmas is all about. It’s not that Australia doesn’t know how to celebrate Christmas – it does – but it’s an incredibly different atmosphere. In Europe, there’s such a wonderful build up as the days start growing shorter, the winter coats and gloves come out, the Christmas markets and crazy Christmas jumpers start appearing and all the stores and streets start putting up their lights and decorations. It’s actually kind of exciting!
This year my parents came over to visit so we had a big family celebration – first on Christmas day at my uncle’s house for an extended lunch and then on the weekend with Micu’s family. Both lunches involved lots of good food and plenty of wine and champagne; the perfect combination for Christmas!
© 2014 Fiona Tregeagle.
We escaped the English winter for four blissful days, venturing to the incredibly beautiful oasis that is the Four Seasons, Sharm El Sheikh.
It’s an absolutely stunning resort. The grounds feel more like a small village than a hotel; full of lush gardens which wind down through the layers of the resort, past the pools, all the way to the shimmering seafront. The coral reef sits right up by the water’s edge, giving you the opportunity to explore and observe the schools of fish and sea creatures living in the ocean. The villas are surrounded by pools, palm trees and a wonderful view of the sun softly setting over the Red Sea. The entire resort instills a sense of calmness and relaxation that makes you never want to leave.
We didn’t do a lot besides alternating between lounging by the beach and the pool, eating, reading, swimming and snorkelling. It’s indulgent, but it’s an easy lifestyle to get used to!
The highlight was spending hours snorkelling, quietly watching the sea life interacting with the delicate reef. I didn’t expect it to be quite so alive and vivid, having been to other places where the reef has sadly been eroded and destroyed.
Although it’s a little expensive by Egyptian standards, staying at the Four Seasons was definitely worth it for the quality of the experience. The food was delicious, the staff were genuinely friendly and would stop by to have a chat or go out of their way to make our stay more enjoyable, and the attention to detail throughout the resort was outstanding. Plus, waking up each morning to the view below was something that I will not be forgetting anytime soon!
Photos by Micu and I.
© 2014 Fiona Tregeagle.