The Atterbury Europe team have been getting used to a very different type of festive season, with a winter Christmas as opposed to sunshine, beaches and braaivleis. They share their holiday plans.
What do you like most about a European festive season compared to one in Pretoria?
Henk Deist: Fortunately, I am never in Pretoria during festive season, but at the Cape coast. The Christmas markets and the hype around Christmas in Europe is excellent, but it is cold and dark…
Roux Gerber: This will be our first white Christmas and we are blessed to have some of our South African family sharing this with us. We totally underestimated the winter here; although the inside living spaces are heated, the outside temperatures are below zero most of the time! We acquired all the “winter gear” and were so eager to test our new “snow” outfits, but soon realised the admin of removing layers of clothes as the day progressed… The festive season spirit is enormous in Eastern Europe and huge effort is made by all to enjoy this time. Bucharest is absolutely beautiful with all the Christmas light decorations and the Christmas markets are a must to visit. They sell mostly food, snacks and memorabilia but the atmosphere, especially with a glühwein in your hands, is amazing.
CJ Wegner: What I like most about the European festive season is the jolliness in the air. Everyone is filled with Christmas excitement, dressed for the occasion, drinking glühwein and feasting around Christmas markets. On the downside it goes on for too long for my taste – all the way from early November through to the end of December. But summer Christmases in the southern hemisphere definitely get my vote!
Ansu Kretzman: I am based in the Middle East where Christmas is not traditionally celebrated… you don’t get the same holiday feel as elsewhere in the world…
Martin Olivier: There are a lot of Christmas markets around Europe which we enjoy visiting with friends over weekends, but taking a break from the European winter and getting some much-needed African sun over December is a must.
David Downes: My favourites are the food (oliebollen, glühwein and kruidnoten) and the cosy atmosphere when it gets dark at 4pm. European Christmas is right out of a story book!
Vlad Valcea: I grew up with a “White Christmas” and that’s how I normally picture it, together with family and friends. Haven’t experienced the one in Pretoria yet but I hope to get the vibes sometime in the near future!
What are your holiday plans? And how will you spend Christmas this year?
HD: The traditional South African way – at the coast with a braai.
RG: With the family visiting, we’ve planned a trip to the mountains in Brasov, where we will enjoy time at a ski resort and explore the beautiful town of Brasov. We’ll also explore exciting offerings in and around Bucharest: Theme, an indoor waterpark and spa, seems to be a popular place to spend the day in a swimsuit while the outside temperature is below zero degrees. Christmas is planned to be in a mountain cottage in Sibiu, with a fireplace!
CJW: I’m heading down to South Africa, spending quality time with friends and family on the beach and surrounding areas.
AK: This will be the first time in four years that we are going home for the Christmas holidays, so we are looking forward to a traditional South African Christmas with family at the coast.
MO: Spending the holiday back in sunny South Africa with family and friends.
DD: In sunny SA with family – you’ll find me wearing a pair of shorts for the first time this year in Knysna!
VV: Christmas with family skiing/snowboarding in the Romanian Carpathian mountains and then lucky to be travelling to South Africa to enjoy some sun on the Cape coast
If we can send you a Christmas gift from South Africa, what would make you happiest?
HD: Ina Paarman spices, beskuit and Corenza C.
RG: Mrs Balls chutney! You can’t imagine how much simple everyday items mean in a foreign country where you can’t read the label or distinguish the difference between milk and cream in a box.
CJ: A bottle of South African brandy (any label will do).
AK: South African wine!
MO: Homemade “beskuit” and biltong would really be excellent gifts if we stayed in Europe over December.
DD: A bottle of FMC by Ken Forrester
VV: A bottle of Badenhorst red wine and some biltong, which I rarely get here in Europe.
What would be your ultimate holiday activity this year?
HD: I have a big 50th birthday bash with friends and family; looking forward to that!
RG: Taking the family, especially the kids, for their first snow and ski experience.
CJ: Diving for kreef on the West Coast of South Africa.
AK: Sun, sea and of course Henk’s big birthday bash!
MO: I’m really looking forward to the daily braais in Vleesbaai, with golf in between.
DD: Chilling in Knysna, no rain.
VV: Snowboarding and then water sports while at the Cape coast – I’m getting the best of both worlds.