A Christmas Markets Trip Along the Rhine & Soup to Warm You On This Cold Day

I had a big decision to make today. So what did I do? I procrastinated and started cutting up vegetables, instead.

Best Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe


This is the best vegetable beef soup! It smells so insanely good while cooking…makes the whole house smell that way, too.  It’s made from a recipe I found in an old Southern Living magazine, if I’m remembering correctly. I always change the recipe a bit by adding some stew beef. The recipe makes a big pot of soup, which means leftovers for days! Love that!

You’ll find the recipe in this previous post here: Vegetable Beef Soup.

Hearty Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe


Christmas Markets Along the Rhine

So about that big decision: I won’t be able to be with my son, dil and grandchildren for Christmas this year, so at this late date I booked one of Grand Circle Travel’s (GCT) “Last Minute Travel Deals.” You may remember when I traveled with them to Italy in the fall of 2015–read more about that trip here: Italy. I traveled with their sister company, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) to Morocco this past spring–read more about that trip here: Morocco.

The trip I’ll be taking this time will be a 12 Day Christmas Markets trip along the Rhine River. (Read about it here: 2017 Christmas Markets Along the Rhine.) After I booked the trip, I was told they still had one room left. I see they have removed the trip from their “last minute travel deals” page, probably because it’s getting almost too late for them to book the flight at this point.

The trip was discounted down from $1,795 to $795 and the flight was $1,200 which isn’t bad considering the flights are well over $3,000 now if I were trying to book it myself. They charged a Single Supplement of $495, something their sister company, OAT, doesn’t do. So the trip including all meals, flights and transfers (and the single supplement) worked out to be $2,400. Not too bad for a 12-day trip.

Christmas Markets Along the Rhine


I’ve always wanted to see Germany during the Christmas season. At the start of the tour, we’ll see a bit of Amsterdam and later in the trip we’ll venture into France, but the majority of the tour will be in Germany. Here’s a map showing all the places we’ll stop off along this Rhine Cruise. The ship will only carry 140 passengers, so I think it will be a fun trip.

As mentioned, there was one double room left after I booked my trip today. I don’t see the trip listed now under their last minute travel deals, but if you’re interested in going, give them a call to see if that room is still available and if the last minute deal is, as well. It works out to be $1,000 off per person, and if two folks are going, you won’t have to pay a single supplement like I did.

Christmas Markets Tour


They used to give another $100 off if referred by someone. Not sure if that works for their Last Minute Travel Deals, but doesn’t hurt to ask. My Customer number for referrals with them is 2634289 if you want to try for that extra discount.

View all their current last minute travel deals here: Last Minute Travel Deals. Not all are really “last minute” at that link, some don’t leave until April 2018, yet they are still discounted as last minute deals.

If you like small group tours, check out GCT’s small group travel site, Overseas Adventure Travel. They also give an additional amount off if referred. That’s who I used for my trip to Morocco where I slept for two nights in the Sahara Desert under the most amazing stars I’ve ever seen in my life! (See photos here of our camp here: Luxury Camping in the Sahara Desert, A Moroccan Adventure.)

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  1. So sorry to hear that you won’t be able to spend Christmas with your son and his family. Your trip sounds wonderful though. I’ve really enjoyed the one river cruise I took and would love to take a Christmas Market one. Can’t wait to hear all the details from your trip. Have a wonderful time!

    • Thanks, Karen! I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait to share it with you in a post. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post while there, unless computers are banned on flights.

  2. Lucky you! All those sweaters and boots you bought will be put to good use.

    • lol Definitely! I’m wondering though if I have a heavy enough coat. I may just need to layer under the one I do take along. I need to see what I have for really cold weather.

  3. Jill from Southern NH says

    So happy for you Susan – you’ll have a wonderful time! I remember reading about the Christmas markets in my favorite magazine, Victoria several years ago, in a print issue from 2008. Luckily I found an online article from a couple years ago; hope you enjoy it. https://www.victoriamag.com/exploring-the-german-christmas-markets/amp/

  4. What a smart thing to do when you can’t be with family.

    I am especially interested about the France part of the trip. I know that is not the main focus, but would love to hear about what you get to see, and what city/town you visit. Oh, and what the food is about, because I am always interested in food….:)

    • It’s funny, I booked this trip two years ago when I didn’t think I would get to see my son/family…then it turned out they were going to be home for the holidays. I had just booked the trip so it was within the cancellation period, so I was able to cancel it. I always figured I’d try to go when I couldn’t see them, so looks like this is the year. I could actually drive up on Christmas Day to see them since the family that will be there leaves on Christmas Day, but they have to go back to work the very next day, so it just doesn’t work out for me to go this year. So Germany, here I come. lol
      Thanks, Madonna! I will let you know how that is. I think we are only there for one day, I think it’s the Strasbourg stop along the Rhine.

  5. I think it sounds absolutely FABULOUS! I can’t wait to see your photographs. You will have an amazing time. I hope to take a similar trip someday!

    • Thanks, Tammy! I hope you do go one year! I probably won’t do a lot of shopping in the markets since I’ve pretty much purchased all my Christmas gifts, but I’m looking forward to seeing all the decorations and drinking some mulled cider. 🙂

  6. Anne Shaheen says

    What a marvelous gift to yourself, and you know you willabsoltely have a wonderful time.

  7. “Fröhliche Weihnachten!!” This is grand news…how much fun you will have!! We have to “share” holidays with our children, too, as families on “both sides” looks forward to seeing kiddos. Keep us posted!! franki

  8. donna a zoltanski says

    Enjoy your holiday trip! Sounds lovely!

  9. We were in Manchester once for Christmas marts — they were amazing! Your post brought back wonderful memories. I hope you have a splendid time — dress very warm and bring comfortable shoes. God bless and have a merry Christmas!

  10. You are such a smartie to do a great trip when you can’t be with family!
    I can’t wait to see what you buy in the markets. You don’t usually bring back heaps of souvenirs, so I’m wondering if you will be able to resist tons of amazing goodies this time. Just think of all the ornaments, nutcrackers,etc! I’m thinking an extra piece of luggage may be in order for everything! Lol
    Have tons of fun, Susan!

    • Thanks, Cynthia! I know I’ll want to bring back a few, will try to resist going too crazy. 🙂 If I see a really big, beautiful cuckoo clock, I might not be able to resist. 🙂

  11. How exciting Susan. Germany is probably my most favorite place to visit. I’m sure you will have a wonderful time. Viel Spaß! (have fun). Vikki in Va.

  12. I’ve been in England in December and that was rather magical. Hope you have a great time and can share with us. Seems you learned the best from your kitty–to land on your feet!

  13. What wonderful news! So exciting! I can’t wait to “hear” all about it. Every detail!
    You’re soup looks so appetizing. Veggie soup one of my fave comfort foods.

  14. Cyndi Raines says

    Susan, how fun! You will enjoy the trip down the Rhine, seeing castles and the wine country. At least that’s how I remember it from a trip I was on when I was 14, more than a few years ago, lol. I was able to go to Frankfort and west Berlin and also behind the Iron Curtain/east Berlin, thank God the Iron Curtain is no more. You will have to buy a beautiful beer stein as a keep sake and maybe a Hummel or two. Wish I would have purchased a cuckoo clock, they have beautiful ones. Can’t wait to see your pictures, will pray for safe travels for you.

    • Many years ago I was in the home of someone who had the biggest, most beautiful Cuckoo clock I’ve ever seen in my whole life. She and her hubby had purchased it while in Germany. I could not take my eyes off of it. I wanted one so badly. I think she said it cost around $2,500 and that was probably 20 years ago, so I can’t imagine what they cost now. It was all handmade in the Black Forest. She had to choose one she liked and then it was made for her. She received it many months later when they shipped it to her. I eventually did buy a Black Forest Cuckoo clock, a much smaller one. I would love to visit the shops in the Black Forest one day and see those huge clocks. Wonder if I’ll see any in the Christmas Markets. I also want to see Neuschwanstein Castle, so I need to go back to Germany. Wonder how close Neuschwanstein is to the Black Forest. lol

  15. What a wonderful trip, Susan…one that I have always wanted to go on! Have fun and Inwant all the details when you return!

  16. Take plenty of pictures ! Hope you have a wonderful time !!

  17. Your trip sounds exciting. We did a river cruise last year from Amsterdam to Budapest and lived all Ott Germany stops. Hope you have a wonderful trip. I thought about all the Christmas markets in these cities we also visited. I have a friend in my book club who did the Christmas markets a year or so ago and lived them. Can’t wait to hear your stories.

  18. Sounds like a magical, fun-filled trip, Susan. Have a delightful time. I went to Vienna in December one year and walked around their Christmas market. It was awesome! They had delicious, homemade gingerbread cookies that were probably the best gingerbread I’ve ever eaten. I would think you’ll find delicious gingerbread in Germany, too.

  19. Oh, Susan! If ever I was to do anything at Christmas time overseas it would be the Christmas Markets! I have a friend who lives in Oxford, UK and sends the most delightful photos! I have heard Germany is the best! With all that gingerbread you will feel like Hansel and Gretel! Have a wonderful time! I’ll look forward to your photos and comments when you get back! Such a great thing to do when you can’t be with family.

  20. Drink lots of gluehwein to keep warm at the markets and save room in your suitcase for the mugs the gluehwein comes in. Each market has its own and they will be great on your hot chocolate bar.

  21. Georgette Velasquez says

    We lived in Germany for ten years in the Heidelberg area. Travelled down the Rhine many times. Christmas is the most magical time. Dress warm and drink lots of gluehwein. We have collected gluehwein cups from all our Christmas market travels.

  22. Mary Lou Miggo says

    Dear Susan, I’m so sorry that you cannot be with family on Christmas but am so envious of your cruise. My husband and I have been to Germany twice and I have always wanted to be there for Christkindlesmarkt. We were fortunate to be able to stay with my husband’s cousins and travel to many places. I get very nostalgic thinking about those little villages with their old world feel. In Rotenburg ob derTauber we were able to go to Käthe Wolfhart’s fabulous Christmas Shop and it is always Christmas there. If you ever get there don’t miss it. I looked it up but she does not have a shop in any of your stops. The town is a marvelous medieval town too. It seems to me the markets would have cuckoo clocks. You will be traveling along the edge of the Black forest on the southern part of your cruise. Neuschwanstein is on the other side of the forest and it is gorgeous there too. I’m so happy for you. You will love it all.

  23. Dear Susan, I’m so sorry that you cannot be with family on Christmas but am so envious of your cruise. My husband and I have been to Germany twice and I have always wanted to be there for Christkindlesmarkt. We were fortunate to be able to stay with my husband’s cousins and travel to many places. I get very nostalgic thinking about those little villages with their old world feel. In Rotenburg ob derTauber we were able to go to Käthe Wolfhart’s fabulous Christmas Shop and it is always Christmas there. If you ever get there don’t miss it. I looked it up but she does not have a shop in any of your stops. The town is a marvelous medieval town too. It seems to me the markets would have cuckoo clocks. You will be traveling along the edge of the Black forest on the southern part of your cruise. Neuschwanstein is on the other side of the forest and it is gorgeous there too. I’m so happy for you. You will love it all.

  24. Bobbi Duncan says

    Shopping and more shopping–gee, I don’t know if this is the right trip for you to take lol! OMG, will you ever have a ball, and the countryside is so beautiful. I am from Karlsruhe, Germany, just outside the Black Forest–you will be going very nearby on your route. Wish I were going with you. Can’t wait to hear about EVERYTHING! Know how it goes, having to share the littles, as we have to do the same. That’s why I so wish they lived nearer to us. But, oh, what a great Christmas you’ll have anyway. Happy holidays!

  25. Judy MacDonald says

    OMG! How lucky are you?! Visiting the Christmas markets is definitely on my bucket list and I can’t wait to see your photos and hear all the details. Have a wonderful time. Merry Christmas!

  26. WOW! That’s an empowering move. I hope you thoroughly enjoy your trip and Christmas, Susan!

  27. Thea Reynolds says

    I just got back from Prague and a day trip to the Dresden Christmas Market. And if I can give you one tip it would be “bubble wrap”. Have a great time.

    • Love your bubble wrap tip. Whenever I go to Europe, a big roll of bubble wrap is always in my luggage. And I use it, a lot! (My husband never understands why I’m taking up space with bubble wrap.)

  28. Susan, have a wonderful time! My husband and I leave tomorrow for a four day visit to very French Quebec City in Canada. Can’t wait as it’s on my bucket list. Suppose to b very romantic and magical with fabulous food. My husband is excited to go toboggan! I’ll blog about it after we return. Looking forward to your posts.

  29. This trip looks heavenly. But as a celiac I wonder if I would starve to death. Lol.

  30. I just wore my Teva boots day after day for a trip with a lot of walking, they were perfect! I bought them on your recommendation- Thank you! You will have a wonderful trip- Can’t wait to see your posts or Instagram photos of Germany! Can you extend the trip through Switzerland from Basel? You would enjoy that, too!

  31. I absolutely love Germany! They have the friendliest people there!
    I can’t wait to hear about the trip & see the pictures! There are German markets in & around the Chicagoland area this time of year but you get to see the real thing! Have fun & send us lots of pictures! :0)

  32. Susan, I spent Christmas a few years ago on a similar trip. It’s truly magical! You’ll have these memories forever.

  33. Oh, Susan, just the other day I mentioned to my hubby how much I would love to see Germany at Christmas! I envision soft snowfall covering towns that look like they are straight out of a Pinocchio movie with soft sparkling Christmas lights in the windows! Have a WONDERFUL time! Can’t wait to see your pictures!!

  34. The trip sounds wonderful! You can really just relax and enjoy the Christmas magic! I can’t wait to hear all about it and see lots of photos!

  35. Just FYI – in Germany the day after Christmas is also a holiday and all stores will be closed.

  36. Look out for the wonderful ornaments made by Wendt & Kuhn. You can recognize their lovely little angels because they have colorful polka dots on their wings.

  37. We made this same trip in reverse a couple of years ago in June (different cruise line). Be sure to see the cathedrals in Cologne and Strasbourg. There is a Technik (technical) museum in Speyer that is full of trains, planes, automobiles, submarines, etc. We had fun there. After Koblenz is a section of the river with about 40 castles. We spent an extra day in Basel. Nearby (short train ride) is Augusta Raurica, the largest roman ruins outside of Italy. If you like walking and the weather is not too bad, you might check it out. I think you will like this tour. Have a great time.

  38. Sounds fabulous! Looking forward to your pictures!

  39. Marlene Stephenson says

    Have a wonderful time and see lots of great places, glad your going on this trip, sometimes being alone on Christmas is no fun. Be sure and send us what you can, i’ll take anything you can get,lol. I wonder how cold it will be!

  40. Hi Susan, My daughter lives a half an hour outside of Amsterdam and has for about a year and a half now. She was just at some of the Christmas Markets in Germany last week. She especially liked Cologne the best. There, the biggest Christmas Market is near Koln Dom (Cologne Catherdrale) which she said is gorgeous. She also said that Koln was absolutely beautiful with the Dom in the background. Dusseldorf ‘s Market is near the Rathaus also is really nice. Rathaus is city hall and pretty much every city has a market by it’s Rathaus.

    She also said to try feuerzangenbowie or gluhwein (both are hot wine drinks) You pay a 2-3 Euros for deposit and can keep the mug/stein or return it. Each market has their own design of stein that you can collect. She also said that in pretty much every market there will be heart shaped cookies that she doesn’t recommend to try!! (Gross, she description not mine) What she does recommend is baked potatoes with quard (Kartoffel) Quark is kind of a yogart/sour cream sauce. She also suggested to carry small money and maybe learn some German numbers. She was at the one in Berlin last year and said it was just a small pre-official market (not a proper market). The markets have many beautiful things from: nutcrackers, smokers (incense burners)) to Christmas Pyramids (Welhnachtspyramide) I hope that some of this information helps.

    Our good news is she will be home on the 22nd of December and will be staying into mid January. We would love to go visit her there but unfortunately we are caring for my mother-in-law at the present time. The videos and pictures she has shown us are just beautiful. I know you will just love it. Have fun, stay safe and Merry Christmas. Susan!

  41. Good for you! It would be no fun to mope around alone so I take my hat off to your positive attitude. It will be beautiful, hope the weather is friendly. You will meet new people and see gorgeous sights.

  42. Susan, Friends of mine did this Christmas market cruise last year and really enjoyed it. They have done a lot of European traveling but always in warm weather so they said it was quite cold and damp but lovely. I love the idea of the markets but if I can only travel once during a year I can’t face more cold. Right now outside it is snowing and 20 degrees.

  43. Mina Flor Teatime & Garten says

    Dear Susan, I‘m so happy to hear, that you will come to Germany. I hoppe, that you enjoy your stay here very much. Perhaps the next time you come to Germany you can visit Berlin. (I would love to be your guide ) I wish you a wonderful time!

  44. I’d love to tag along on this trip!

    Bring a clock back for me! 😉

    safe travels, looking forward to your posts!

  45. Susan, wishing you a wonderful time and if its anything like the photo it is bound to be magical with all the dazzling Christmas lights and displays. To conclude; have fun and stay safe! ” MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU” Warmest hugs -Brenda-

  46. Sounds MARVELOUS, Susan! I’ve always wanted to go during Christmas…being a Southern California gal used to 80 degree weather during Christmas would I survive? 😉 Cannot wait to “read all about it”

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