Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chrsitmas Getaways Part 2

We continue with interesting places to spend the Christmas holidays....

Key West, FL
Good cheer and warm temperatures are typically Key West’s winning attributes, and Christmas is no exception. The trimmed palm trees, done-up historic inns (tours Dec. 11, 12, 18, and 19), and four festooned blocks of boats along the historic waterfront (the “Bight Before Christmas”) only amplify the town’s merriment.

Where to Stay: Just off bustling Duval Street, the boutique Marquesa Hotel is an oasis of chill: three historic buildings and one new one sharing a leafy courtyard with two pools. On Christmas morning, they serve a buffet breakfast poolside. Doubles from $345.

And for Holiday dinner....Nine One Five, housed in a 1906 Victorian manse, has a holiday menu that mixes tapas (bacon-wrapped dates; duck liver pâté) with entrées such as Soul Mama seafood soup and mushroom risotto.

Shopping: Bésame Mucho is your best bet for sensual gifts like perfume or handwoven shopping bags made from palm fronds. Despite its moniker, local department store Fast Buck Freddie’s stocks tasteful—and sometimes whimsical—housewares and clothing.

Quebec City:
Lit-up cobblestone streets, 16th- and 17th-century stone houses, and lots and lots of snow make Quebec’s 400-year-old walled city an atmospheric and European-like place to be at Christmas. Quebec’s good cheer and great food could make you remember you love winter after all.

Where to Stay: Housed in former 19th-century stone warehouse in Vieux-Port, Auberge St. Antoine stands out for the perfection with which it juxtaposes old and new. Soaring ceilings and cast-iron beams are complemented with such amenities as heated stone floors, and artifacts unearthed during its renovation are on display throughout. Doubles from $209.

Holiday Dinner: Serving traditional Québécois cuisine based on 17th-century French recipes, Aux Anciens Canadiens is offering its main menu on Christmas Day from 5 p.m. Appetizer highlights include foie gras au torchon on a baguette and scallops and prawns in a white-wine sauce, while entrées run the gamut from a vegetable terrine to filet mignon of wild caribou. (Prix fixe $36-$79, depending on the main course, or à la carte.)

Stocking Stuffers: Step back in time with a visit to Maison Jean-Alfred Moisan grocery, a 140-year-old Vieille Quebec mainstay. For Québécois clothes, try La Maison Simons department store, and for hand-wrought ceramics, Boutique Pauline Pelletier is a good bet.

Trømso, Norway
The snowy city island of Trømso offers unparalleled views of the northern lights and a chance to say you’ve been to the North Pole—well, the Arctic Circle, anyway—for Christmas. Plus, there’s dogsledding, great food, and a mountaintop cable car. Here, “day” is just a couple hours of twilight blue.

Where to Stay: Most hotels shut down for the holiday, but not the Clarion Hotel Bryggen, right on the harbor. The great views of Trømso Sound are best seen from the roof’s steamy Jacuzzi. Doubles from $194.

For holiday dinner, stay put at the Clarion for a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner at its restaurant, Astro. The chef will serve pinnekjøtt, cured lamb ribs, served with puréed rutabaga and boiled potatoes; and ribbe, a crispy version of spareribs, accompanied by Christmas sausage, apples, prunes, and red cabbage.

Shopping: Norwegian chain Husfliden is the place to go for traditional clothing, including bunads (the Norwegian national costume) and handwoven sweaters. Blåst, a glassblowing studio, sells the wares of its three resident artists.

Suzanne Brevelle is from Lafayette and works at Avenues To Travel. You can contact her via email or telephone 337-231-5656. She is a Certified Specialist for Sandal’s and Beaches Resorts as well as Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Hawaii. Her specialty is couples and family vacations, groups, honeymoons and corporate travel.

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