A Guide to Monschau Christmas Market by Driving Dad

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Driving Dad Matt Hyotte is no stranger to taking a European road trip. Since moving to the UK over 10 years ago, he’s loaded up his car and has explored the best of Europe, with his wife and 3 boys in tow. He recently wrote his guide to the Champagne region (featuring a tree top Champagne bar), but now the weather is getting colder he’s letting us in on the know about one of the best hidden gem Christmas markets. When the temperature drops, the leaves start to change colour and the chunky sweaters come out of the back of the closet, it’s clear Autumn has arrived. And for us, Autumn’s arrival means planning our annual road trip to one of Europe’s Christmas Markets. The Christmas season just isn’t complete without a weekend of steaming mugs of gluwein and hot chocolate, crispy potato pancakes and roasted chestnuts. A quick internet search will pull up lists of the largest and most popular Christmas Market destinations in Europe, however many of these cities are too far for a weekend drive. And whilst the atmosphere of a city Christmas Market is undeniably festive, the small-town Christmas Markets can feel more authentic than their larger counterparts. After a hike to Monschau castle, although I use the word hike very loosely… Credit: Driving Dad For those looking for one of the more off-the-beaten-track Christmas Market experiences within a manageable drive from Calais, look no further than a magical town in the little known Eifel region of Germany. Monschau Where in Germany: Aachen Drive from Calais:840km / 3h 57m Just under four hours from Calais and just over the Belgian border into Germany (seven minutes over to be exact) lies the village of Monschau. If you were to try to design the perfect set for a Christmas Market, it would be difficult to create a better backdrop than here. The half-timbered, slate-roofed houses that make up the medieval town centre are nestled in a shallow valley which is overlooked by an imposing 13th century castle. Not exactly 11 pipers piping, but some pretty serious horn blowing. Credit: Driving Dad Monschau's pedestrianised old town is small and one can walk the cobblestone streets from end to end in about 12 minutes, even with children in tow. The river Rur winds its way through town, flowing under the delightful bridges that connect the different parts of the old town and ensuring the sound of rushing water is never out of earshot. If you're lucky there will be a dusting or more of snow to complete the perfect wintery scene. The Monschau Christmas Markets have the traditional craft and food huts clustered throughout the town that one expects in Germany. However, in addition to the ubiquitous bratwurst, currywurst, mulled wine, lebkuchen and kasespatzle, a few gastronomic treasures set Monschau apart. I could stock up on wine and food and stay here all winter! Credit: Driving Dad First, Monschau is home to the Senfmuhle Monschau (Monschau Mustard Mill) which has been producing mustard since the late 19th century. They have a shop right in Monschau’s old town where you can sample and buy over 15 types of mustard (highly recommended is the fig mustard and beer mustard), or you can tour the mill itself, which is located on the edge of town. Second, Felsenkeller is Monschau’s 19th century brewery that has been converted into a museum. The small museum is worth a tour and whilst the beer (Monschau Zwickelbier) is now brewed off site, you can still taste a litre or two of it at the brewery’s restaurant. Finally, the one hut not to miss at Monschau’s Christmas Markets is the homemade schnapps hut. Choose from over 20 flavours of schnapps, all made in Monschau, which you can drink on site or buy in a bottle to take home. Guaranteed to warm you up on the coldest December nights. Before you set off, check out when the Monschau Christmas Market is open here. For the kids For the past few years we have packed up the car and headed to Germany. Credit: Driving Dad A great midday activity for the kids is a hike up to the Burg Monschau, Monschau’s 13th century castle. While this is not a particularly strenuous or long hike, it’s important to wear appropriate footwear as the paths can be slippery in winter. Though the castle is not open to the public, the sweeping views of the Monschau are well worth the climb, particularly at dusk, when the street lights illuminate the historic buildings. Belgian beer side trip Given the proximity to Belgium, a quick stop en route to Monschau is perfectly justified. And a mandatory side trip for Belgian beer lovers is the Kerkom Brewery in Sint Truiden. A short 10 minute detour off the E40 motorway, the Kerkom Brewery has been brewing beer since 1878. They currently brew about 10 different beers, some of which are seasonal. If you’ve timed your December visit right, the aptly named Winterkoninkske (Winter King) beer, their dark winter ale, will be available. Half the fun is getting there! Credit: Driving Dad But at 8.3% alcohol, make sure you aren’t the one driving the final hour to Monschau. Conveniently attached to the brewery is a country pub, complete with a pot-bellied wood burning stove (to ward off any chills the beer cannot) which serves hearty Flemish specialties that pair well with their beers. Are you ready to live the Christmas spirit in Monschau? Be inspired by Driving Dad and book your tickets with us in advance to take advantage of the best prices.

From Calais to Slovenia on a pawsome adventure!

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Where’s the farthest destination you’ve travelled to with your pet? Bloggers behind World Wide Walkies Jackie and Mark and their four Cavapoos have explored as far as Slovenia, all in one caravan and here to inspire your next adventure. When I arrive in Calais, I love the sense of freedom – a whole WORLD within reach. You could drive to Outer Mongolia if you wanted to. Our plan was a little more modest. We Brits love France, yet there is so much on our doorstep. So, with our caravan (that we’ve named Kismet) and Les Quatre Cavapoos, we decided to explore Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia before cruising home via Italy. In fewer than 1000 words, I can’t give the low-down on these wonderful countries. However, I have picked out some highlights for you! Rothenburg ob der Tauber Where in Germany: Franconia, Bavaria Drive from Calais: 767.1km / 7h 39m Fairytale city I was promised; fairytale city I got. Rothenburg is truthfully THE most beautiful place I have ever visited. Who needs Disneyland when real places like this exist? My hubby was right when he said; “We have reached the Kingdom of ‘Far Far Away’!” Rothenburg is one of the most beautiful places we’ve travelled to. There are 42 towers on the medieval walls surrounding the town (42 - the answer to Life, the universe and everything!). We walked the walls with the dogs and were treated to beautiful views of the Tauber valley. It was 27°C at 9am but thankfully, the walls and gardens were gloriously shady. If, like Wizzard, you ‘Wish it could be Christmas Every Day’ then Rothenburg is for you. It boasts the largest Christmas Village in Europe, which is open all year round! We had our photo taken with the larger-than-life wooden toy soldier outside the Christmas Village (above). Of course the dogs went down a storm as usual, Germany is very dog friendly and our four-legged friends were allowed on trains, subways and into most restaurants (with some restaurants and shops even bringing your pets some water). The Saxon Swiss National Park Where in Germany: Saxony Drive from Calais: 990.7km/ 10h 32m On the border with and continuing into the Czech Republic, The Saxon Swiss National Park is definitely a destination to get on your bucket list! In Germany (like France) dogs aren't often allowed off lead in National Parks. In the Saxon Swiss, however, the Tourist Information will tell you routes and areas where dogs can run free. The stunning Bastei Bridges towers 194 metres above the Elbe River. There are 1200km of well-marked walking trails on the German side. The ‘Malerweg’, or ‘Painters’ Way’ is a long-distance walking route through the area where certain parts are dog friendly. A Julia Bradbury Walk takes in many of the must-sees, like magnificent castles at Hohnstein (home of puppetry), Königstein Fortress and Bastei Bridge, which is built into the rock – there’s plenty to see in the area! To connect with nature, there are many curious ‘Lord of the Rings’ landscapes; walk in the ‘Lost World’ of Uttewalder Grund, hike the glorious Polenztal Valley or see whether you think that the fabulous sandstone rock formations towering above the River Elbe compare to those in Monument Valley! Colditz Castle Where in Germany: Saxony Drive from Calais: 880.8 km/ 9h 16m We’ve seen the film, played the board game and now – we have sat in the famous prisoner’s courtyard in Colditz Castle. It was amazing to actually visit such an iconic place where the dogs were allowed in the castle and on the guided tour too. It was a lovely, cool walk through the forest from the campsite to the castle; passing through a dilapidated tier garden. Dogs were allowed both in Colditz Castle and on the guided tours. There are 1000 years of history in the walls of Colditz Castle so there is a lot to discover, but the few years of WW2 dominate. My favourite exhibit was a collection of watercolours and excerpts from the diary of William Faithfull Anderson, a prisoner of war in Colditz from 1940-1945. It was a really personal story. I particularly loved his painting of the prisoners relaxing in the courtyard and his description of “a human sundial” chasing patches of sunlight around! The Most Beautiful River in the World Where in Slovenia: Western Slovenia Drive from Calais: 880.8 km/ 9h 16m There are plenty of off-lead walks near our campsite in Slovenia. The moment we entered Slovenia, my jaw dropped. (It only re-clenched again as we descended the many hairpins of the Predel pass!) At 1156m, all we could see from the top of Predel were the bright, white limestone peaks of the Julian Aps soaring into the air over deep chasms of emerald green, far below. The pyramids were once faced with limestone so that they shone out in the landscape; this was more impressive. I took the dogs for an evening walk from Camp Soča (a dog-friendly campsite we stayed in). As I turned the corner from an unassuming little path, I thought I had been transported to paradise. The river Soča wages the hefty claim of being ‘The Most Beautiful River in the World.’ As the track opened out and I was greeted by the deep turquoise waters of the river bordered by golden shallows, edged with pale beaches and pure white stones where the river emerged from a steep gorge with walls like polished alabaster, I was not inclined to disagree! I hope that this has given you some inspiration to explore a little further from home. The Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) and the Castle Road (Burgenstraße) both take in Rothenburg. ‘SLOVEnia’ is the tag line for the Slovenian Tourist Board. If mountains, lakes, caves and castles float your boat, you will truly LOVE it! There’s a world out there for your pet to explore! Feeling inspired? Start your next pawsome adventure with your pet by booking your tickets with us early and taking advantage of the best prices.

Kobee the Dog’s Guide to Germany & Austria

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Looking for a new destination to holiday with your dog?  If you haven’t thought about taking your dog to Germany let Kobee the Shih Tzu inspire you with his favourite destinations in Germany and Austria. Although Kobee the Shih Tzu may be small, he loves going on big road trip adventures with his family to Europe. Having travelled with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle a total of seven times, he’s explored countries like Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. However, it was the latter 2 countries that particularly caught his eye.  If you’re looking to take your pet’s paws further this year, find out more about Kobee’s adventures in Germany and Austria. Nuremberg, Germany Drive from Calais: 814.3 km / 8h 25m Explore the medieval streets of Nuremberg with your pet. One of Kobee’s favourite places to visit is Nuremberg, which usually consists of a stop-off in Luxembourg for one night.  The long journey is worth it though when reaching Nuremberg, being Bavaria’s second largest city it’s both beautiful and dog-friendly.  There are a number of very dog-friendly hotels (Kobee recommends Mövenpick Hotel Nürnberg) and plenty of outdoor seating areas. Thankfully, dogs are allowed inside some of the city’s cafes, restaurants and department stores (supermarkets are an exception), so you don’t have to leave them alone in your accommodation.  Getting around the city is easy too as dogs are also allowed to travel for free on the trams, railways and the city’s U-Bahn (underground rail system). If you’re staying in Nuremberg for a long break, Kobee recommends a day trip from here to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  A well-preserved walled medieval town – taking your furry friend for a walk along the ramparts is not to be missed!

Experience the V8 Hotel & Autobahn

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For those of you who are fans of cars, nothing is better than an open stretch of road, a beautiful day and a tank full of petrol. But why not really experience a car-lover’s dream and drive the autobahn and rest for the night in the V8 Hotel? Driving through Europe is a holiday in itself. Motoring through the different European cities and countryside provides a completely different driving experience. But, what is the icing on the cake for the real car fans out there? V8 Hotel and Motorworld 7 hours from Calais Located at Motorworld in Stuttgart, the V8 Hotel is the ultimate place to rest your petrol head. Before you get to your motor-themed room (more on that later) there are lots of activities you can get involved in at the ultimate place for car lovers. What to do at Motorworld Discover the history of your favourite car brands at Motorworld. Credit: Frank Hoppe Go back to where it all began, 125 years ago, at the Mercedes Benz Museum, and discover the history of the world-famous brand. For fans of speed, the Porsche Museum is the first place to go to immerse yourself in the supercar brand. Or, take to the skies and fly to your dream destination on the flight simulator. With lessons from a professional pilot, you can discover what it’s like to be in control of a plane. If the rest of your family aren’t quite as car-mad as you, there are still plenty of activities for them to get involved in. Outlet City Metzingen is near the V8 Hotel, and is packed with shops selling top designer brands. So, after your stay at the hotel you can drive away with a head full of memories and a car full of souvenirs. The Rooms at the V8 Hotel Love Mercedes? Spend the night in the ultimate Mercedes shrine. Credit: Frank Hoppe While the car-activities are reason enough to visit the V8 Hotel, it’s the accommodation that makes you stay. Every room is car based, but some are a little more special than others. Take the Mercedes Suite for example: four floors of Mercedes madness, including a panoramic bathroom and sauna! Go back in time to the 1950s and sleep in a vintage gas station. Credit: Frank Hoppe If the Mercedes Suite is out of your budget but you still want to stay somewhere a bit special, there are plenty of other options for you. Spend a night in one of the themed rooms, from Route 66, to a drive-in cinema, and even an automatic carwash, there are lots of fun options. Drive the Autobahn One of the most famous road systems in Europe, the autobahn is any speed lover’s dream. While there are many roads that motorists long to drive down in Europe (such as Route Napoléon and Col de Turini for example) there is one very famous road system that is of course, the autobahn. Rather than just one road, the autobahn is the German motorway, and stretches over the whole country, totalling about 8000 miles. The reason why so many people want to drive these roads, is due to their lack of speed limit. German authorities insist you must drive at the recommended 80mph, but you can drive faster if you wish. It’s good to always be aware of the other drivers on the road, as it’s not uncommon for cars to zoom past you at 100mph, or faster. So, are you eager to put the peddle to the metal? It won’t be long before you’re in Germany, the home of fast cars and precision engineering. It’s just 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, so start planning your route now. Top image credit: Frank Hoppe

Family Holidays in the Black Forest

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Home of the cuckoo clocks and the delicious berry-infused gateaux, as well as ski resorts and beautiful lakes, the region of the Black Forest is a fascinating place to explore no matter the time of year. To get you inspired for your drive down to this magnificent region of Germany, we've put together a guide on how you and your family can make the most of your time there. From hitting the rides at Europa park, to learning about the region's enchanting culture, there's so much to do in this beautiful part of the world. Where to stay Whether you choose to stay at the top of one of the many valleys, or deep within the trees, there are plenty of places to stay in the enchanting Black Forest. During the summer months, one of the best ways to enjoy your time there is to set up camp. Located in the midst of the forest is Muellerwiese, a camping park that has around 75 camping pitches, caravan spots and log cabins, which overlook the River Enz. Situated within the town of Enzklösterle, this camping park also provides ample opportunity to peruse the town's bakery and butcher shop, as well as dine out at the local restaurants and bars. For somewhere a little more indulgent, book a room at the Maritim Titisee Hotel, a welcoming place that's located on the shores of Lake Titisee. On top of the magnificent views of the forest and lake, the hotel also has an onsite bar and restaurant, as well as a kids club for your little ones and a bowling alley for when you fancy an evening in. Lake Titisee. What to do and see Although Hiking through the breathtakingly beautiful Black Forest, spotting red squirrels and watching eagles fly is a delight in itself, there's so much more to this part of Germany. Here's what else you and your family can look forward to. Lake Schluchsee At 500-hectares, Schluchsee is the biggest lake in the Black Forest, and a great place to take part in water sports during the warmer months. Dive in for a refreshing swim, or relax on the sandy banks while the kids build sandcastles. As previously mentioned, another great lake, but slightly smaller, is Titisee, where you can rent boats and sail past the vast forest, or take to the waves and learn to surf. To ensure you don't miss out on the water fun during the winter, head over to Badeparadies, a waterpark that offers both indoor and outdoor heated pools and slides for your family to enjoy. Europa Park Located in the town of Rust is Europa Park, a fantastic theme park that you and your family will love. If you enjoy water rides, try out the Atlantica Supersplash, or get a taste of Ancient Greece with the high-flying Pegasus rollercoaster. The thrill-seekers amongst you can get your adrenaline pumping on board the Silver Star; a ride full of twists, turns and heights. On top of the rides, there are many Black Forest-themed experiences you and your kids can get involved with. Tip toe around the witch's ginger bread house from Hansel and Gretel, or pop by the Grimm Library to take part in an interactive story. Ride rollercoasters at Europa Park | © Europa Park Feldberg Ski Resort As well as being a great place for summer sun, the valleys and hills of the Black Forest combined with the 110 days of guaranteed snow, make it the perfect skiing destination. The Feldberg ski resort is the highest mountain in the forest, and provides skiers with 31 lift services, and 55-kilometres of ski and snowboard pistes. The resort includes blue slopes for beginners and kids, as well as black FIS World Cup runs, which are designed for those of you looking for a challenge. Schwarzwald Museum Delve into fascinating history and culture of the Black Forest, with a trip to the Schwarzwald Museum. Wander around this charming collection of old artefacts and crafts, such as cuckoo clocks that were made over four centuries ago, glassworks, intricate wood carvings and local costumes. After you've explored the beautiful crafts from the past, be sure to enjoy a meal at the museum's café, where you can dig into a bowl of traditional Flädlesuppe, a beef broth with slices of pancake, and finish with a slice of the original Black Forest cake. Delicious Fruits of the Forest cheesecake. Vogtsbauernhof If a visit to the Schwarzwald Museum kick-started your interest in this region's interesting past, finish your Black Forest trip with a wander around Vogtsbauernhof, the Black Forest Open Air Museum. Get to grips with how life was in the past, by watching regular demonstrations of various skills, such as bread making in the onsite bakery, clock making and weaving, all using the tools from the 17th century. Aside from the demonstrations, the museum also has a range of buildings you can explore, as well as charming herb and vegetable gardens. Great places to eat The Black Forest has the most Michelin stars than anywhere else in the country, so there's a fantastic choice of great restaurants. If you want to treat your family to a three Michelin star meal, head over to Schwarzwaldstube, a quality restaurant that's run by top chef, Harald Wohlfahrt. Working together with the restaurant's sommelier, Stéphane Gass, Harald has created beautiful dishes that work perfectly with the wine. Dig into delicately cooked mallet with lemon, or sample local meats, such as marinated breast of duck and veal medallions. For somewhere slightly more casual, head to Freiburg's Burger Chalet, a gourmet burger and chips joint. Staff will ask how you like you meat cooked, and what toppings you want, before serving it up with a side order of salty fries and an ice cold drink of your choice. It's perfect for when you and your family are in need of a recharge, after a long hike through the forest. Classic dishes of the Black Forest. Inspired to make the journey to Germany's Black Forest for your next family holiday? It may take around six hours to drive from Calais to the forest, but with the journey between England and France only taking 35-minutes with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle you'll be there in no time at all.

Berlin on a Shoestring

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Getting around Berlin One thing that makes Berlin so accessible on a shoestring budget is that it's easy to explore. The benefits of having your own car are obvious, and there are some fantastic areas within an easy drive of Berlin's city center. Walking is obviously the cheapest way of getting from A to B, but if you're travelling with young ones, there are plenty of bus tours you can take for under five euros. If you're feeling more active, Berlin is full of bike rental shops, and under sunny skies the city is beautiful to discover on two wheels. Just 30 minutes in the car from Berlin's center is the Grunewald Forest, a 3,000-hectare green space which is perfect for picnics, cycling and walking. You can even take a dip in one of its many lakes, Wannsee and Schlachtensee lakes being popular with both locals and tourists in the hotter months. If it's a warm day and you're just looking to explore the city on foot, walk along the river Spree and see street musicians, artists and pop-up markets lining the walkways. A vivid history If you don't already know about Berlin's history, you will after this trip. The city is dotted with memorials, palaces and museums that tell a visual story of Berlin's eventful past. The best thing about discovering the city's culture and history is that most museums are free, and you can see many of its monuments simply by strolling through the streets. Museum Island is home to five of Berlin's best museums, and the cheapest way to see them all is by buying a pass for €18. The first place that many visitors head to is Brandenburg Gate. Viewed today as a symbol of peace, and of the trials and tribulations of Europe's history, the gate was the brainchild of Frederick II of Prussia and built in the 18th century. It's a beautiful neoclassical structure, and free to visit. The impact of the royals on Berlin's landscape is vast, and can be seen in the form of the city's palaces. One of the most popular is Charlottenberg Palace, which sits within the beautiful Charlottenberg gardens. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, parts of its remains are today used as a museum and monument in the form of the Topography of Terror. This immersive museum will guide you along the wall, and is one of the best history museums in Berlin. Be warned, a visit here will leave you feeling a little emotionally drained, but it's unparalleled in the information it gives about the events in the run up to WWII and how the Nazi party rose and fell. A chilling but worthwhile experience. There's lots to learn about at the Topographie des Terrors Plenty of free activities There's always something going on in Berlin, especially in the warmer months. To see some cool street art, pop to the world's largest open-air gallery – The East Side Gallery on the Berlin Wall. This long stretch of the wall is home to 105 paintings that sit side-by-side and are free to view. Today, some of the works are quite badly damaged from erosion and vandalism, but in recent years much of the wall has been restored, and it's a great place to visit especially as a way to introduce children to Berlin's history. The monumental Reichstag building houses Germany's government, and visitors can take a free ride up to its glass dome. You'll have to book quite far in advance, as this free journey draws in heavy crowds, but it's well worth the wait. Once you reach the top, you'll get panoramic views over Berlin and the free audio guide will teach you about many of its sights and monuments. If you're visiting in the summer, pop to the Sommerkino Kulturforum, and view the latest cinematic hits within the beautiful surroundings of the Potsdamer Platz. Entry is under €10 for adults, and opening night is often the most exciting. Whilst you're in the area, it's a great excuse to explore the history and architecture of Potsdamer Platz, which was destroyed after WWII and has been reconstructed to create a beautiful urban complex. For more classical architecture, head to the Gendarmenmarkt, which is thought of by many as Berlin's most beautiful spot. Another free place to visit, the square is home to the Konzerthaus (a concert hall), as well as French and German cathedrals, and was originally built in 1688. In the center you'll find a huge statue of poet Friedrich Schiller, and the square is arguably best visited on a clear night, when lights illuminate the buildings and they take on a dreamlike quality. Take a ride up the Reichstag dome Easy eating There are some really delicious foods to be tasted in Berlin, most notably the nation's classic of currywurst – chopped up sausage served with a tomato-curry sauce, often with chips. You can find this delicacy at many stands throughout the city, but one of the best is Witty's. This small eatery will serve up an organic version of the tasty treat for no more than five euros – bargain! One of the city's oldest establishments is Konnopke's Imbiss, which has been run by the same family since 1930. The currywurst here is served with copious amounts of spicy tomato sauce, and comes with perfectly fried chips. You'll find this gem on the corner of Danziger Straße and Schönhauser Allee, under the tracks. Where to stay For somewhere comfortable to sleep, many people turn to Airbnb, which offers affordable apartments for rent, that are often of a high quality, depending on the owner. This can be a good option for families and groups of friends who want a more private stay in the city. For lone travellers, cheaper hostels are a great way to meet people and save money, and Berlin is packed with them. If you're set on staying in a hotel, there are some affordable ones in Berlin that, whilst low in cost, are high in creativity. Hotel Huttenpalast offers up quaint caravan rooms, loft spaces and wooden cabins from €80 a night. Alternatively, head to the Nürnberger Eck B&B for a more traditional stay, for around the same price, including breakfast. Getting there and around Take a shuttle to Calais from Folkestone in just 35 minutes with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, your gateway to Europe. Berlin is under 10 hours in the car from Calais, so it's a great final destination for a road trip! Book your journey

Europa Park Germany

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Things to do at Europa Park Europa Park is Germany's largest theme park, second largest in Europe after only Disneyland Paris, and a fun thrill-packed day for the whole family! Last year, almost 5 million people visited Europa Park, and if you still haven't been, make this the year you go! What's new for 2014? New for this season is the 'Arthur – In the Minimoys Kingdom', based on the 'Arthur and the Invisibles' movies, which is due to open in time for this summer. Europa Park has teamed up to work with Luc Besson, world-renowned director of the film, to create the most elaborate indoor attraction at the park yet! On an island spanning 10,000m² together they have created a completely new themed area. A team of over 500 staff, including top designers and set builders from Hollywood, have been working tirelessly to recreate every aspect of the magical Minimoy world, right down to the finest detail. What's going on elsewhere in the park? Across Europa Park, there are 11 rollercoasters to experience throughout the themed zones. The newest rollercoaster is Wodan Timbur Coaster, a wooden rollercoaster that you will find in the Iceland section of the park. Also in this area, there is the ever-popular Blue Fire megacoaster, which catapults you from 0 – 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds! For even more excitement, check out the France themed section and get in line for the ride of your life on the Silver Star 'hyper coaster', which reaches speeds of up to 130 km/h! Europa Park's France is also a great place to take a refreshment break, with a wide range of delicious restaurants and snack bars on offer. There are also plenty of shops here too, if you want to pick up a souvenir from your day out! If you're visiting with little ones, or just fancy something a little gentler, then head to Grimm's Enchanted Forest. Here you can interact with all of your favourite fairy tale characters, including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood, amongst many others! Want to stay longer at Europa Park? There is so much to see and do at Europa Park that you may find that you want to stay for longer. Well, there are five hotels, one guesthouse and a special campsite if you do fancy spending the night! Choose from Hotel "Bell Rock", Hotel "Colosseo", Hotel "Santa Isabel", Hotel "Castillo Alcazar" or Hotel "El Andaluz", all of which are 4-star hotels. If you fancy something a little different from the atmosphere of the big hotels, there is also the smaller Guesthouse "Circus Rolando" or the unique Wild West inspired Camp Resort. Visit Europa Park Germany Getting there and around It only takes just 35 minutes to cross the Channel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, from Folkestone to Calais. It is then an easy drive down to Europa Park, located in Rust, Germany, just over the border from France, which will take you a little over 6 hours. For the quickest route to Europa Park, take the A26 southbound from Calais towards Reims, before joining the A4 towards Strasbourg. From here, you simply need to follow signs for the France-Germany border across the Rhine and then onwards to Rust. Book your journey

German Christmas Markets

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Christmas shopping in Belgium and Germany The Christmas countdown starts as the decorations go up and the mince pies are gobbled down. If you're looking to spice up your celebrations this year, there are lots of interesting traditions and festivities to discover throughout Europe. Nowhere do they do Christmas more spectacularly than in Belgium and Germany, where atmospheric markets and streets filled with seasonal cheer are just waiting to be discovered. To add a bit of magic to your shopping expeditions, let Eurotunnel Le Shuttle introduce you to some of the top festive markets in Europe. Belgium The children of Belgium have two Christmas visitors each year, first on 6th December when St Nicholas is thought to bring presents, followed by Santa Claus on Christmas Day itself. There is fun to be found for all the family in Belgium, over the festive period, as different regions plan their celebrations and start to create their winter wonderlands. Brussels Right in the heart of Belgium, you can find one of its essential Christmas markets; the Plaisirs d'hiver, just two-and-a-half hour's drive from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais Terminal. Strolling amongst the twinkling lights of the Grand Palace and Place St. Catherine, you can browse hundreds of chalets, each dressed up as fairy tale gingerbread houses. In the glow of the city's beautiful historic buildings, you can pick up some unique gifts, from artisan products to fill up those stockings, to tasty local delicacies. If you visit Brussels' Winter Wonders you can even get involved in some outdoor fun including ice-skating, sledging and taking in panoramic views from the Ferris wheel. You can also step through the jaws of the Ice Monster; At 40 metres in length, this dinosaur made of ice is a hungry fellow, devouring thousands of visitors every year! Getting there Brussels is 2 hours from Calais following the A16 and E40 Bruges   If you're looking for something on a smaller scale, then it doesn't get much quainter than this. The Unesco World Heritage listed city of Bruges has intimate cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and picturesque bustling squares. Add to this an abundance of twinkling lights and impressive Christmas decorations and you've got one magical city. The main market activities take place in the Market Square, overlooked by the Belfry of Bruges, a medieval bell tower that dominates the city skyline. You can expect to see people gliding around the outdoor ice rink or warming up with a hot Belgium waffle or mulled wine. Getting there Bruges is 1 hour 20 minutes from Calais, taking the E40. Germany Escape modern Christmas commercialism with Germany's traditional markets, offering handcrafted quality gifts. Most German towns and cities have Christmas markets so there are plenty of festive shopping options, just a short drive over the Belgian border. Dusseldorf   Dusseldorf is in the north west of Germany just 434km, four hours and 40 minutes from Calais. What makes the Christmas market at Dusseldorf special is that it is held in six individual locations throughout the city. You can browse for handmade gifts at the little festive huts outside the town hall, or take the whole family for a free skate on the huge open-air ice rink at Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz. Schadowplatz is perfect for family fun with a merry-go-round and super-sized Santa Claus hats. Other highlights include the promenade along the Königsallee with big chestnut trees decorated in thousands of little lights, while Engelchenmarkt is the place to go for the hearty taste and smells of traditional German food. Rhine Tower   If you're all shopped out and looking to discover a quieter side to Dusseldorf, you could climb the Rhine Tower (Rheinturm) and see picture postcard views of the city and surrounding area from 240 metres up. The communications tower has an observation deck which is open to the public from 10am until late evening. Alternatively, take a walk along the tree-lined promenade here, following the mighty Rhine River and you'll find plenty of cafes to grab a spot of lunch. There's no need to worry about losing track of time in the evening; Horst H. Baumann's light sculpture on the side on the Rhine Tower pierces the dark to become the largest digital clock in the world. Siegburg If you're really looking for that alternative Christmas, then you should visit the Medieval Market in Siegburg, just outside of Bonn (438 km, four hours and 15 minutes from the Eurotunnel terminal at Calais, along the E40). On the first day of advent, the city takes a journey back in time with a festive medieval spectacle. Vendors dressed in period costume, jugglers and medieval artisans put up their tents and showcase their skills and wares. You'll be able to buy crafty gifts for your loved ones including baskets, clothing and wooden toys. The absence of electricity and artificial light adds to the dim medieval glow. Step back in time and give the whole family a Christmas to remember this year with a trip to Belgium or Germany. How to get there The magical festive markets in Belgium and Germany are all only a few hours' drive from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais Terminal. Book your journey

Nurburg and the Nurburgring

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Guide to Nürburg and the Nürburgring Watch the best cars in the world race in Germany at the Nürburgring Travelling by Eurotunnel will provide you with a trip that is calm, fast and convenient in the comfort of your own car – so you will be able to explore all that Nürburg has to offer beyond the race. Just under a 5 hour drive (489.3km) from Calais, makes travelling by car a perfect option (and you won't have to pay for excessive baggage fees from airlines).. The Nürburgring racing tracks are famous and home to numerous motorsports, bringing motor lovers together each year. Your Nürburg adventure is just a train trip away! History   The Nürburgring Grand Prix race track was built in the 1920s. However, it was closed down for many years before recommencing business in the 1950s after the World War II when it was in fact home for the Formula One World Championship and the German Grand Prix. In 1984 new racing circuits were constructed at the complex. Throughout 2007 to 2009 the venue was refurbished to include VIP lounges, grandstands and new box buildings. It used to be just a racetrack although nowadays the brand of Nürburgring, synonymous with racing both in and out of Germany. The venue has 24km worth of tracks – it is long and famous for holding many motor events such as the European Grand Prix; the famous Formula 1 event uses 5km of the roads. Annually the tracks will hold more than 300 events - not only motorsports but leisure events such as the "Rock am Ring" concert. The Event and Tickets   Nürburgring is open for several famous motorsport events and only a short walk from the town centre.   The events tend to be scheduled during the warmer months from late June and run till early September. The most famous race being Formula 1 at the Grand Prix Strecke venue, it is held from 21st July till 24th July and the tickets range from €89 to €399 depending on your seating. Tickets can be purchased online; so remember to book early to save! Other prestigious events held in the complex are the ADAC Zurich 24-hour race held the 23rd till 26th June which plays host to powerful cars from Mercedes, BMV, Audi and Porsche – in a race that will drive both men and cars to the edge. Tickets are available for a day, a weekend and there are also 4 day tickets, with prices ranging from €24 to €59. The ADAC Truck Grand Prix is a monster race with high performing US trucks racing against each other. This event is full of astounding stunts in an open space and you can walk through the Fair Park. The park is full of activity where you'll be able to see the trucks mechanics for hard at work. The event will also feature German country and western music, artists such as Gunter Gabriel, The BossHoss, Tom Astor and TruckStop. It is held from the 8th July till 10th July and ticket prices are around €28 for a day pass and €40 for a weekend pass. DTM (German Touring Car Masters) is another popular event held at the tracks of Nürburgring. Ideal for watching thrilling rear-wheel drive vehicles and listening to the roar from four-litre V8 engines the DTM is a dream come true for any Grand Prix lover. This is event tends to be very much family-friendly and is a great opportunity for all fans of motorsport. In addition to the race visitors will get a chance to see the open pit lane, see concerts, attend autograph sessions and enjoy video walls and fan TV. The event is held from the 5th – 7th August and is one of the cheaper races, tickets for a day are €10 and €20 for the weekend. This is a great option for families looking to try something new or take in an event that is a bit friendlier on the wallet. The AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix is a classic race where old heritage race against eachother head-to-head. The current rules allow in classic Formula 1 cars up until the year 1961 to compete and will see nearly 600 drivers compete in front of 60,000 other motorports fanatics. This is a great opportunity for any car enthusiast, but definitely a favourite among the class-car lovers. In addition to the race there is also an open-air museum where you can have a look at the classic cars. The Oldtimer is held on the 12th till 14th August and prices range depending on the day of the week, Friday is the cheapest with 18€ and the rest of the days cost 38€ (58€ for the whole weekend). Finally, the FIM Superbike World Championship is the only famous motorbike race that is held at the Nürburgring tracks – however, it is definitely a marquee event. The event sees modified versions of bikes that are usually available to the consumer (including a number of well known brands like Ducati, BMW, Honda, etc.) race against eachother and the event in Germany is an important late-season race. The Championship is held from 2nd till 4th September, the admission is free for Friday, Saturday is 29€ and Sunday 39€. The Nürburgring is a great venue and clearly has a number of exciting races being held all throughout the summer – if you are a big motorsports fan, Nürburg should definitely be on your list of exciting places to visit. Accommodation After spending a whole day at the tracks you will definitely want to get a good night's sleep. Some of the best recommended hotels nearby are the Lindner Congress & Motorsport Hotel Nürburgring. This luxurious 4-star hotel will definitely relax you after a busy day around the village. The rooms are soundproof with free Wi-Fi and a modern spa. The Dorint Am Nürburgring Hocheifel is another fine 4-star hotel with spa included. Most of the rooms bring a sense of tranquillity and comfort, with a view of the Nürburg countryside. An excellent 3-star hotel choice is Hotel Am Tiergarten. The best thing of all is its free parking, Wi-Fi and breakfast. It is a family run hotel but very much modern, peaceful and best of all beautiful. There is a wide selection of hotels and B&B's at Nürburg, whatever hotel you choose to stay in it is advisable to book in advance especially before major events to ensure availability. Others sights   The village of Nürburg is a beautiful place to discover – and although motorsports may be all about noise, power and breathing in the sweet smell of exhaust, Nürburg also offers the very best in European countryside and will give you a chance to get back in touch with nature - perfect for those who like hiking, Nordic walking, or even mountain biking. Are you thinking of visiting during winter? Nürburg also has excellent ski trails for you to practice skiing or snowboarding. There are various competitions and events held there too. For those who enjoy history there is a castle from the Middle Ages situated in the village. It is the highest castle in the Rhineland-Pfalz region and on a clear day you will be able to see in the distance the Cathedral from Cologne. Whether you are a huge fan of racing and are eager to see your favourite driver on the track, or whether you are just looking to explore a new part of Europe, Nürburg offers a fantastic opportunity for you to discover nature and motorsports whilst Eurotunnel connects you to the rest of Europe. Book your journey

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