As I write this it's December in the UK. It's getting dark outside at 4pm, it's wet, miserable and cold. I want to get away somewhere nicer.
But with only a few Avios (formerly Air Miles) in my pocket, where can I go in Europe to blow away the British Winter Blues?
Brrrrrrrrrr! The Winter in the UK is enough to drive anyone to despair. Rather than crisp, cold mornings as you would get on the Continent, the UK excels in drab, grey weather.
More than one in two days are overcast here, and Winters tend to be milder than our neighbours but far more depressing.
So if you've got a pocketful of Air Miles like I have, or a small budget for a cheapo Ryan Air, Easyjet or German Wings flight, where should you be jetting off to at Chrimbo time to escape the blues?
The way I see it, you've got two options in the winter: escape it or embrace it. Both choices offer great holiday options, if you do them right.
To escape the Northern Hemisphere Winter you/'re going to have to fly southwards (obviously) to somewhere near the equator. Over Christmas thousands of Brits flock to southern Spain to their holiday homes for a more palatable Christmas break, although you/'re unlikely to be sunning yourself by the pool. Thousands more flock to their High Street travel agents - or go online - for holidays to Greece or Turkey, hoping for clear skies and sufficient sun to top up their serotonin levels, where temperatures can "soar" to over 20 degrees Centigrade, and lows are only as far down as 10. Yet more head to the volcanic Canaries - Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the popular destinations - for a resort-bound holiday.
Whilst sun-seeking is an admirable option, you're not really going to get super-hot temperatures within Continental Europe in the depths of Winter. You really need to head further south - consider the Middle East (Dubai) or the tropical areas of South East Asia (Thailand) - if you have the extra beads for the flight (or a stack of Avios/Air Miles).
: A Great Escape, but would be even greater if you held off for a few months.
Continental Europe excels in Winter compared to how we experience it in the UK. Think: piles of fluffy white snow that doesn/'t
grind the country to a halt, crisp, fresh days and ear-burningly cold nights. But as long as you wrap up warm, I find Continental Europe to be an even more Christmassy affair than back in England. Prague is a popular Christmas break destination for those looking to embrace the cold, but my personal favourite is Germany. Every town or city has a Christmas market selling goods, sausages in rock-hard bread rolls, and cups of mulled wine, the smell of which permeates the whole area. If you fancy a cold lager, you can even get that there too. Just make sure the glass doesn't freeze to your hand!
Brass band, mulled wine, fir trees, tacky Xmas decorations on sale... it has to be Germany every time for those who wish to embrace the European Winter.