9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg

The warm wine fragrance of glühwein, the waft of woodsmoke and roast pork and the shouts of excitement from the children on the old fashioned carousel. The evening may be chill but the atmosphere is convivial, as families and friends enjoy time together. Somehow there’s nothing better than a German Christmas market to start the festive season! Last weekend we spent a few days in Heidelberg at the beginning of Advent and experienced many German Christmas traditions that were both familiar and new to us. Here are some of the memories we brought home with us;

German Christmas Traditions Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

How many Christmas Markets are there in Heidelberg?

In December, there’s a Christmas market wherever you look in Heidelberg! Bounded on one side by the river Neckar, on the other by a wooded hillside, the pedestrian Hauptstrasse runs through the heart of the old town. Along this strip of picturesque houses and cobbled streets are small squares, each with its own Christmas market. Up on the hillside there’s a Christmas market in the grounds of Schloss Heidelberg and another down the river at Neuberg Abbey. After a while we stopped counting and just meandered through the streets and stalls, soaking up the atmosphere.

Heather and Guy in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Guy in Heidelberg

While I’ve visited the larger Christmas markets in German cities such as Munich, I really enjoyed the smaller scale of the Heidelberg markets set in such pretty surroundings. The town still keeps its medieval charm, since the Americans in WW2 planned it as their headquarters after the war and so held off the bombing. During the day things are quiet but as dusk falls the squares become festive as friends meet for a glühwein and a bratwurst and families enjoy the lights and entertainment.

I hope you enjoy the video below about Christmas in Heidelberg

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Christmas Market in Kornmarkt of Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas Market in Kornmarkt of Heidelberg

At least half the stalls seem to be selling delicious things to eat and drink, while the rest sell candles, christmas decorations and other handicrafts that will make perfect gifts or souvenirs to bring home.

“Christmas time in Heidelberg is truly magical with Christmas Markets that dot the gorgeous Old Town and create a wonderful holiday spirit. My classmates and I would use our 15 minutes class breaks to run to the Christmas Markets for a mug of Glühwein. For me, it isn’t officially Christmas season until I have my first Glühwein! When in Heidelberg, make sure to check out the Christmas Market at the castle. It is the best and most authentic one in the city.”
Jordan B Wagner of  Beer Time with Wagner

Christmas Market in Heidelberg Universityplatz Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas Market in Heidelberg Universityplatz

Take a boat trip to the Neuberg Abbey Christmas Market

Late in the afternoon, we took a river boat for a 30 minute ride along the Neckar to Stift Neuberg, the Benedictine Abbey where a Christmas Market is held on each weekend of Advent. As we climbed the worn stone steps from the landing stage and walked through the gardens, we could just make out the wicker edged herb beds, shrub roses and statues in the dusk. Now the smell of woodsmoke reached our nostrils and we turned the corner to see a tall pine tree festooned with light bulbs and the stalls of the market in the Abbey courtyard.

Taking the Boat trip on the Neckar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Taking the Boat trip on the Neckar to Neuberg Abbey in Heidelberg

The air was damp and cold, but we found the wood fire that was roasting a suckling pig on a spit and stood nearby to keep warm. Guy ordered a firewürst, a sausage spiced with chilli, while I went for the roast pork in a bun with lashings of mustard. An upturned log with the heart cut out in a starburst was burning as a natural brazier with tables nearby to rest your food and drink.

Christmas market at Neuberg Abbey in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas market at Neuberg Abbey in Heidelberg

In the wooden barns were plenty of stalls selling crafts. I had my eye on some felt slippers in a strawberry pattern, but settled on a toadstool Christmas tree decoration, while Guy discussed beekeeping at the stand selling honey and beeswax candles. In the monastery window we could see a single candle burning, and speculated about the shadowy hooded figures we saw walking up the path until we realised that this was the way to the Zum Kolosterhof restaurant and brewery!

“I love the German tradition of meeting friends at a Christmas market for a mug of Glühwein. The focus is on spending time together and enjoying each other’s company in a way that involves very little cost and gets back to the real spirit of Christmas.”
Laurel Robbins at Monkeys and Mountains

Mushroom Christmas decorations in the Neuberg Abbey Market Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mushroom Christmas decorations in the Neuberg Abbey Market

Find out more about the Neuberg Abbey on their website here (German) or on the Heidelberg Marketing site here . The Abbey can be reached in a walk along the path by the river from Heidelberg, by the No 34 bus from Heidelberg or by boat as we did from the Weisse Flotte pier near the Old Bridge. This trip (€7 return) runs on the weekends in Advent timed with the market but other cruise trips are available depending on the season. The Abbey can be visited year round as there is a farm shop, organic brewery and restaurant with a beer garden.

Enjoy a Glühwein at the Christmas Market

As the afternoon turns to evening in the Christmas Markets of Heidelberg, friends meet for a drink and a chat, resting their mugs on the bar tables beside each stand. You’ll smell the Glühwein of course, the spiced mulled wine that is guaranteed to chase away any chill, especially when you’ve had a few! Each stand has a decorative Christmas mug to serve their Glühwein and you pay a small deposit which is refunded when you return the mug, or you can keep it as a Christmas souvenir.

Drinking Gluhwein in the Christmas markets in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Drinking Gluhwein in the Christmas markets in Heidelberg

Another of the Christmas traditions in Germany is the Fuerzangenboule, a stronger version made of spiced wine with a sugar cone soaked in rum which is flamed in front of you and drips into the mixture. Be sure to let the blue flame subside before you take a sip! While we are glued to old Bond movies on TV over Christmas, the Germans enjoy watching the 1944 movie Der Fuerzangenboule, in which the actors drink their Fuerzangenboule while recalling nostalgic memories of their schooldays.

Fuerzangenboule in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fuerzangenboule in Heidelberg

“Lovely Christmas time! Every year I am looking forward to it as it is my highlight of the winter here in Munich. I usually meet with friends and colleagues at the Christmas market to have Glühwein or hot chocolate with rum which keeps you warm in the cozy evenings.”
Matthias Derhake at Travel Telling

Make or buy some traditional Christmas biscuits

Baking special Christmas biscuits is a German tradition that families enjoy at home during Advent, but those of us just visiting can find them in the Christmas markets and bakeries of Heidelberg. Everywhere we noticed Zimsterne or cinnamon stars topped with white icing, but there are plenty of other varieties and of course each family has their own recipe.

Also popular is German gingerbread or Lebkuchen, a biscuit made with honey and nuts as well as Christmas spices including ginger. The large heart shaped Lebkuchen decorated with brightly coloured icing are on sale in every Christmas market but I think I’d rather leave these for decoration and stick to the smaller varieties sold in the bakery to have with my coffee.

Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg

“For us the time before Christmas is the nicest season of the year, when we can relax and do things we never find the time for during a busy travel year. One of these is to stand in our kitchen and prepare christmas cookies together. That is a christmas tradition I have loved since I was a child in my parents’ home. My sister and I used to ‘help’ my mother prepare cookies which were then hidden until a few days before Christmas, otherwise they would never have survived until the holidays! “
Monika Fuchs at TravelWorldOnline

Another Christmas favourite are the Springerle biscuits with their pressed relief designs. We loved those at Cafe Gundel in Heidelberg with charming antique motifs such as angels, hearts or historic scenes. The designs are made by pressing the biscuit dough into moulds or by rolling a sheet of dough with a special rolling pin that has the designs carved into it.

Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg

During weekends we get together and bake biscuits with our loved ones. My favourite Christmas biscuits which I highly recommend to try are the traditional Nuremberg Lebkuchen (Ginger Bread), Spekulatius (speculoos), Zimststerne and Domino Steine which you can buy at every Christmas market and even supermarket.
Matthias Derhake at Travel Telling

Taste some hearty German Christmas dishes

We couldn’t visit Heidelberg without trying a hearty German dinner in one of the restaurants of the Old Town. Our choice of  Goldener Hecht, was right beside the Old Bridge with an outdoor terrace that would be a prime people-watching spot in summer. Inside we settled for a table in the cosy dining room with wood panelling and painted murals.

Christmas goose with red cabbage in Heidelberg at Goldener Hecht Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas goose with red cabbage in Heidelberg at Goldener Hecht

The hotel’s claim to fame is that the revered German poet Goethe ‘almost’ stayed here in September 1815 – apparently he called in to enquire about a room but all were taken. Personally I think it’s stretching the connection a bit, but then Goethe is held in as high regard as we English hold Shakespeare. I ordered the goose breast served with red cabbage and dumplings, which is often served at a German Christmas eve dinner. Like our own Christmas meal of turkey-with-all-the-trimmings it was most enjoyable but I’d be happy to save this for a treat just once a year.

Bolied Veal at Goldener Hecht in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boiled Veal at Goldener Hecht in Heidelberg

Guy decided to try another traditional German food, the boiled veal with vegetables served in a copper pan of bouillon which he highly recommended. There was apple sauce on the side and a dish of roasted potatoes, cripy with onions.

Christmas Chocolates to take home

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without us stuffing ourselves with too many chocolates and ruining our appetite for the Christmas Turkey. Of course we had to make a trawl of the best chocolate and sweet  shops in Heidelberg to bring back a few stocking fillers. We found the ultimate souvenir at Chocolaterie Knösel where they sell the ‘Students Kiss‘ chocolate truffles.

These were invented over a hundred years ago when the male students of Heidelberg University might admire the young ladies from the local colleges. They could buy a box of Students Kiss chocolates to present to the object of their affection, even if the presence of watchful chaparones meant they could not steal a real kiss.

Students Kiss chocolates in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Students Kiss chocolates in Heidelberg

For fruity candies we enjoyed watching the lollipops being made in the Heidelberger Bonbon store near the Old Bridge, where you can buy a Darth Vadar lollipop as well as the traditional candy hearts and Christmas canes. Also look out for the boxes of Advent chocolates at Vorbach in Kornmarkt where there is a numbered chocolate for each day of Advent – sweet anticipation indeed!

Lollipops at the BonBon shop Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lollipops at the BonBon shop Heidelberg

“One tradition that Jim and I always loved was on December 5th putting out the kids’ shoes so that St. Nikolaus would come by and fill it with candy or coal, depending if they were good or bad. We also enjoyed the Advent calendars where you get to open a door to a tiny treasure each day leading up to Christmas which puts everyone in the spirit.”
Corinne Vail of Reflections en Route

An Advent wreath for your home

As we were in Heidelberg on the first weekend of Advent we noticed many Advent wreaths on sale. The wreath of pine foliage is decorated with ribbons and four candles, one for each of the Sundays of Advent. The tradition of the Advent wreath was started by the German Lutherans in the 16th century when a candle would be lit for prayers and carols on each Sunday of Advent, but now it has been adopted as a German Christmas tradition by everyone.

Christmas wreaths on sale in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas wreaths on sale in Heidelberg

Advent seemed to be a much bigger deal in Germany than in the UK and is marked by Advent calendars in many different forms. It might be the chocolates, each in a numbered box for a different day of advent, or calendars which have a small door behind which is hidden a tiny gift or treat. In Germany it is more typical to put up your tree on Christmas eve so the wreaths and calendars create anticipation in the weeks running up to Christmas before the house is decorated.

Christmas wreaths in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas wreaths in Heidelberg

A Christmas Nativity scene

In German churches and homes it is traditional to have a Christmas crib with figures of the holy family, shepherds and wise men, often beautifully carved in wood which is an art form in Germany. But at the Jesuit church on Universityplatz in Heidelberg we spotted a Christmas crib with a difference. The large papier-mâché figures had been made in the nearby prison and included not only figures of the Holy Family but many other scenes from German life.

Nativity scene at Jesuit Church Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Nativity scene at Jesuit Church Heidelberg

Below the Holy Family, the German football team was celebrating their World Cup win and while the Pope seemed to be blessing the baby Jesus, other parts of the nativity included prostitutes, cripples and even a tragic scene of drowning refugees. “Jesus was born to save the whole of mankind” seemed to be the message.  He’s here not just for the powerful but for the poor and downtrodden, the weak and the disposessed in our world.

Nativity scene at the Jesuit Church Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Nativity scene at the Jesuit Church Heidelberg

Christmas is all year round at Kathe Wolfhart

If you long for the magic of Christmas to stay with you all year round, I have good news for you! The Kathe Wohlfart shop in Heidelberg sells Christmas and festive decorations throughout the year, so be sure to pay a visit to soak up the atmosphere, even if it feels a little incongruous in summertime.

Over the years we have collected many different souvenirs on our travels and lately we’ve taken to buying a Christmas tree decoration wherever we go. When we put up our Christmas tree, we love to remind each other of where and when we bought them to relive those holiday memories.

Christmas decorations at Kathe Wohlfhart Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas decorations at Kathe Wohlfhart

Kathe Wohlfart is also a great place to buy cuckoo clocks, although since they cost hundreds of Euros it’s not a cheap souvenir!

Cuckoo Clocks at Kathe Wohlfhart in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cuckoo Clocks at Kathe Wohlfhart in Heidelberg

I’m sure readers from Germany or those who’ve lived there will remember many other German customs they enjoy as part of the Advent season. Please do share your own family favourites with us in the comments. While we love to spend Christmas in Bristol surrounded by family and our own Christmas traditions, our visit to Heidelberg was a great start to our festive season, and I hope to yours. Read about more fun things to do in Heidelberg here.

More about Heidelberg

My Top 10 things to do in Heidelberg – Video
A Food Lover’s Guide to Heidelberg, Germany

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Read about German Christmas Traditions in Heidelberg, Germany

Plan your visit to Heidelberg

For more information about planning your trip to Germany, visit the Germany Tourism Website and read more about German Christmas Traditions  | Follow them on Social Media | Twitter @GermanyTourism | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube |

You can also find information about Heidelberg on the Heidelberg Marketing website.

Compare prices and book Hotels in Heidelberg through my Hotel Booking page powered by HotelsCombined.com – see below for my hotel recommendations.

If you need a guide in Heidelberg, we highly recommend Susanne Fiek who runs culinary and other tours of Heidelberg.

Where to stay in Heidelberg

Heather and Guy stayed at Qube hotel, a stylish boutique hotel that was a 20 minute walk or short tram ride from the Old Town. Our room was in Villa Qube, a large townhouse next to the main hotel, on the 4th floor under the eves. Our windows faced the gardens at the back and was quiet, with sloping ceilings and a grey linen sofa and desk as well as a huge comfy double  bed.

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany

There were interesting lighting effects which bathed the room in a purple glow and the bathroom was huge with both walk in shower and bathtub. The Qube restaurant has an excellent reputation (although we didn’t eat there) and in summer you can reserve a table on the rooftop terrace with views towards the river.

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany

Qube Hotel Website | Address: Bergheimer Str. 74, 69115 Heidelberg |Twitter @QubeHeidelberg | Facebook |

How to get to Heidelberg

Heather and Guy flew from Bristol to Frankfurt and took the train to Heidelberg. Trains run around every hour from the Frankfurt airport station with a change at Mannheim. On arrival in the airport follow signs for train station and then Fernbahnhof ( long distance train). Tickets can be bought from ticket machines as you reach the Fernbahnhof. The cost is €25 one way or €19 for a saver ticket which must be purchased 1 day in advance. The journey takes around 1 hour.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Charming Patmos – Day 3 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

After braving the crowds on Santorini and Mykonos it was a relief to arrive at the quiet and charming Greek island of Patmos on Day 3 of our Azamara Cruise. Because the island has no airport, the ravages of mass tourism have passed it by and most visitors come in on the ferry from Athens or via the nearby islands of Kos and Samos.

View of Azamara Journey on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View of Azamara Journey on Patmos, Greece

On Patmos we tried one of the Insider Access tours that are offered by Azamara Club Cruises which give insights that are a bit more unusual than the typical tourist sights. With our guide Carolyn we took the coach up the hill to the village of Chora, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, perched on the hill around the St John’s Monastery. On the way we heard a bit about the history of Patmos which is a site of pilgrimage for Christians, since it was here that St John the Evangelist was exiled from Ephesus and lived for 18 months, during which he wrote the Book of Revelations. In recent years, island has become popular with wealthy Europeans and celebrities who value the quiet and seclusion of the island and have been buying up the old houses of Chora.

Convent of Evangelismos on Patmos Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Convent of Evangelismos on Patmos

Visiting the convent of Evangelismos

The monastery of St John was built in the 11th century and on the hillside below there is a much visited cave which is thought to be where St John went to pray and meditate and perhaps write the Book of Revelations which he dictated to his scribe Prochorus. We visited the nearby Convent of Evangelismos or Annunciation, where the Sunday service had just finished as we arrived and the congregation were enjoying a coffee after the service.

Convent of Evangelinos on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Convent of Evangelinos on Patmos, Greece

The convent is a community of 40 Greek Orthodox nuns who offer religious retreats, grow their own food in the gardens and carry out their other duties of religious work and prayer. We took a walk around the vegetable gardens with fruit trees of pomegramates, figs, lemons and other fruits which are made into the ‘sweet spoon’ preserves that the Greeks offer to guests with coffee. In the gardens we saw the beehives for honey and wax candles and in the gift shop were examples of the ‘Spitha’ or Spark embroidery made by the nuns, with stitches so fine that they are like tiny sparks.

View of the Convent of Evangelismos on Patmos Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View of the Convent of Evangelismos on Patmos

Although the small church looked old and was filled with beautiful icons and frescos it was actually built in the last 10 years to replace a smaller chapel built in the 1930s which in turn had been build on the site of the original monastery founded in the 1600s. We saw a few nuns, dressed in their long black robes, going about their business and chatting with the congregation. One of the sisters came with us to see the church but seemed happy to stay in the background and let our guide, Caroyn do the talking. When told that were were journalists who would write about the convent she was distinctly unimpressed. “It doesn’t matter”, she said ” we depend on God not man”. The frescos and icons inside the church had been created by one of the nuns who was a skilled painter, although unfortunately no photos were allowed inside the church.

Dressing modestly for visiting a Greek monastery or convent

If you visit a Greek orthodox monastery or convent you need to dress modestly;

  • Men should wear long trousers with shirts that cover their shoulders and no hats inside the church.
  • For ladies shoulders and knees should be covered. In the strictest places such as the convent skirts must be worn but in other places trousers are allowed.
  • If you are not suitably dressed, usually wraps or shawls are provided outside the church to cover bare legs and shoulders.
  • The nuns do not wish to be photographed and so you should not point the camera in their direction.
House of Morfousa Simandiri on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

House of Morfousa Simandiri on Patmos, Greece

Visiting a traditional house on Patmos

After our visit to the convent we made made the short drive back to Chora and walked through the narrow streets to visit a local house. The village was built between 1500 and 1800 when many seafarers and merchants settled on the island from Crete and Asia Minor and built fine mansions here. These are now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site and behind the high walls and small windows are surprisingly large houses and gardens that you don’t see from the street.

House of Morfousa Simandiri on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

House of Morfousa Simandiri on Patmos, Greece

The island was subject to pirate attacks in the past, so the high walls and small windows were there for protection. When a pirate ship was spotted in the bay, the house owners would cross the interconnecting flat roofs to make their way to the protection of the monastery of St John.

The house that we visited was owned by a lively lady aged 92 called Morfousa Simandiri whose family had owned the house for eight generations. There was a portrait on the wall of her ancestor, a wealthy merchant who had built the house, with many beautiful antiques, paintings and lace on display as we walked through the rooms of the house.

Heather and Guy on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Guy on Patmos, Greece

After our walk around the streets of Chora we returned for lunch at a nearby restaurant with a fantastic view from the terrace, overlooking the bay where we could see Azamara Journey. Here we were able to try many of the tasty Greek specialities such as small stuffed pastries, Greek salad and the local fava bean hummus.

Fava Bean at the Cafe on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fava Bean at the Cafe on Patmos, Greece

After our tour we were dropped off in the harbour and wandered around the streets of Skala, the main harbour town of Patmos. The town had a charming, relaxed air that was a world away from the crowds and commercialism we had experienced on Santorini and Mykonos. Since there is no airport on the island, most visitors have to take a long ferry ride from Athens or a flight to one of the neighbouring islands of Kos and Samos and then a ferry from there.

Shopping on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Shopping on Patmos, Greece

It was interesting to compare the distinctive architecture of each of the Greek islands we had visited on our Azamara cruise. The houses on Patmos had patterned white plasterwork that followed the lines of the stones underneath, often with natural stone corners and window facings and paintwork of washed blue compared to the intense turquoise of Santorini. Since it was Sunday afternoon, I imagine that everyone was home having a siesta and we walked along the harbour to have a sit and a swim on the town beach.

Boats in the Harbour of Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boats in the Harbour of Patmos, Greece

Returning by tender on board the Azamara Journey we relaxed and changed ready for the White Night dinner which is a tradition each cruise and the closest that the relaxed Azamara Cruise gets to a formal night. The tables were set out around the pool area and guests dressed mainly in white enjoyed their dinner in the warm night air.

White Night Party on Board Azamara Journey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

White Night Party on Board Azamara Journey

We were entertained by the Azamara singers and dancers as the sun set over Patmos, a lovely end to a relaxing day and the end of the Greek island portion of our cruise, as tomorrow we head to the Turkish port of Kusadasi.

Sunset Over Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sunset Over Patmos, Greece

About Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises is a small luxury cruise line with two ships; Azamara Journey that Heather and Guy sailed on and Azamara Quest, each with a capacity of 686 guests. The smaller ship size means you often visit destinations that larger ships can’t get into and the ships can dock in more central locations. The emphasis is on destination immersion; enjoying the destination to the full, arriving early and sailing late so that guests can enjoy nights and cool places ashore, with insider access programmes and a unique AzAmazing evening included in each cruise. No itinerary is the repeated and each year the ships visit different destinations around the world. Azamara is part of Royal Caribbean Cruise group. Visit the Azamara Club Cruises website more information about a Mediterranean luxury cruise like the one Heather and Guy enjoyed.

You can also connect with Azamara Club Cruises on Social Media via:
Azamara blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube | Flickr

Joining your Azamara Club Cruise

Heather and Guy flew from London Heathrow to Athens and back from Istanbul using British Airways, although obviously each cruise is different in the best way to get there.

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service booked through Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who offer airport parking at a range of airports across the UK as well as travel extras such as airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays.

Both flights and transfers from the airport to your cruise ship can be arranged through Azamara Cruises.

Thanks to Azamara Club Cruises who hosted Heather and Guy for their 7 day Greek Island Cruise and to Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who provided their airport parking at Heathrow.

Read More about our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

Sailing into Santorini – Day 1 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Windy Mykonos – Day 2 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Visiting Kusadasi and Ephesus – Day 4 of our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise
Istanbul the golden – final stop on our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise

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This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Windy Mykonos – Day 2 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

On the second day of our Greek island cruise with Azamara Club Cruises we awoke in Mykonos, well known as the island where all the beautiful people come to party. We took a 10 minute ride on the shuttle bus from the new port to the edge of Mykonos town and walked around the harbour watching the super-yachts parking up. Guy instigated a game where we each had to say which of the boats we would like to own and why. I always go for the least flashy ones and he likes anything that’s made of wood, but perhaps you would choose one of those millionaire yachts that have endless staff polishing every surface?

Heather in the Harbour of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather in the Harbour of Mykonos, Greece

The first thing that struck me was that while on Santorini the roofs were domed, on Mykonos all the houses were cube in shape. The second thing that struck me was how windy Mykonos was, which meant that it was cooler than the baking heat we had experienced on Santorini, but could be a little wearing if you had to cope with it every day. Because of the wind we decided against a trip to Delos to see the archaeological remains, fearing that a 30 minute boat ride in high winds might be rather rocky.

Mykonos’ iconic windmills

Many of the other cruise guests were heading to the beaches but since we had enjoyed plenty of beach time in Greece a few weeks before, we opted for exploring Mykonos town at a leisurely pace. We soon found the 5 windmills on the hill that are the main landmark of Mykonos and took photographs of them from every angle, the best view being from the car-park that was unfortunately placed right behind them.

Heather at the Windmills of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather at the Windmills of Mykonos, Greece

Below the windmills there is a line of colourful buildings dating from Venetian times, known as little Venice with balconies that overhang the water. Many of the buildings are cafes where you can sit on the balcony with a view of those picturesque windmills. Further along are terraces where the water splashes right up, but be careful where you sit on a windy day as you may get unexpectedly drenched by the waves.

The Windmills of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Windmills of Mykonos, Greece

A wander round the narrow streets of Mykonos

With the main sights of Mykonos ticked off our list we wandered around the narrow streets, some with old ladies chatting underneath washing strung between the houses. Mostly though there were just a lot of shops and cafes, all selling everything stylish and fashionable you could wish for. We ended up having lunch at Yummy’s café which served excellent crepes and fresh juices at reasonable prices.

Walking Around the Streets of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking Around the Streets of Mykonos, Greece

On our wandering we spotted Petros the Pelican, another landmark of Mykonos, hiding in a doorway. I felt a bit sorry for him as he was encircled by tourists trying to take photos and looked like he was trying to escape the paparazzi.

Petros the Pelican of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Petros the Pelican of Mykonos, Greece

Later in the afternoon we went back into town to visit the folklore museum, an old sea captain’s house set overlooking the harbour. The museum was free but of course we made a donation and the guide gave us an interesting explanation of the collection of objects from all over Europe. I was fascinated by the drawers of votive offerings, little flat silver shapes that you would offer in a Greek church to be displayed in front of the icon as a prayer for good fortune. There were different shapes depending on what you were hoping for; in the shape of a leg if you needed help with healing your leg or a baby if your baby was ill. We also visited Lena’s House, another folk museum that had been the home of a lady from Mykonos now preserved in the original 19th century style.

Lenas House Folk Museum on Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lenas House Folk Museum on Mykonos, Greece

Island hopping in the 1980s

As we walked back toward the ship, Guy reminisced about his student days, when he came to Mykonos on holiday with a group of friends. He remembered camping by the beach or sleeping on the roof of people’s houses and that the island seemed to be a haven for gay couples. It was unusual to see men holding hands openly in the 1980s.

Evening View of Little Venice in Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Evening View of Little Venice in Mykonos, Greece

Church in Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Church in Mykonos, Greece

We returned to Azamara Journey and enjoyed the Indian buffet in the Windows Café, enjoying eating in the warm night air, with after-dinner entertainment around the pool of Soul and Motown. Everyone was enjoying it so much that the captain held off the sailing time for 20 minutes as once we left port the wind meant that the passage was rather swaying. There was a full moon and as the ship sailed we watched the necklace of lights along the shore. As we settled into our stateroom, I’m sure the party was just getting going on Mykonos. Tomorrow we arrive at Patmos.

Azamara Journey at Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Azamara Journey at Mykonos, Greece

About Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises is a small luxury cruise line with two ships; Azamara Journey that Heather and Guy sailed on and Azamara Quest, each with a capacity of 686 guests. The smaller ship size means you often visit destinations that larger ships can’t get into and the ships can dock in more central locations. The emphasis is on destination immersion; enjoying the destination to the full, arriving early and sailing late so that guests can enjoy nights and cool places ashore, with insider access programmes and a unique AzAmazing evening included in each cruise. No itinerary is the repeated and each year the ships visit different destinations around the world. Azamara is part of Royal Caribbean Cruise group. Visit the Azamara Club Cruises website more information about a Mediterranean luxury cruise like the one Heather and Guy enjoyed.

You can also connect with Azamara Club Cruises on Social Media via:
Azamara blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube | Flickr

Joining your Azamara Club Cruise

Heather and Guy flew from London Heathrow to Athens and back from Istanbul using British Airways, although obviously each cruise is different in the best way to get there.

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service booked through Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who offer airport parking at a range of airports across the UK as well as travel extras such as airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays.

Both flights and transfers from the airport to your cruise ship can be arranged through Azamara Club Cruises.

Thanks to Azamara Club Cruises who hosted Heather and Guy for their 7 day Greek Island Cruise and to Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who provided their airport parking at Heathrow.

Read More about our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

Sailing into Santorini – Day 1 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Charming Patmos – Day 3 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Visiting Kusadasi and Ephesus – Day 4 of our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise
Istanbul the golden – final stop on our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise

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Read about our cruise stop on Venice with Azamara Club Cruises

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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