Posts tagged with "holiday travel"

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, COVID-19

Covid Risk Increases During Holidays

By Hannah DiPilato

With the holiday season quickly approaching, Covid cases are skyrocketing all over the country and officials are advising people to social distance this holiday season.

According to CNN, more than 12 million people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and over 260,000 people have died. With those that are elderly or immune-compromised, the risk of complications due to COVID-19 is higher.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated the safety guidelines for traveling. “CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving Day period,” Dr. Henry Walke, Covid-19 incident manager for the CDC, said in a conference call.

“Right now, especially as we are seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” Walke continued.

The CDC has also recommended people stay in their immediate households for the holiday season. Even without traveling across the country, seeing those you don’t usually see can lead to a breakout of coronavirus.

Walke said he does not plan to visit his own family for the holiday season. “I haven’t seen my parents since January. I’m staying home and that’s been difficult as I have older parents who would like to see me and who would like to see my children as well,” he said.

“It’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months now, and people are tired. And we understand that and people want to see their relatives and their friends in the way they’ve always done it,” he continued, “But this year, particularly, we’re asking people to be as safe as possible and limit their travel.”

If you plan to gather with those outside of your immediate household, there are important precautions to take to prevent the spread of coronavirus. First, keep gatherings as small as possible. Many states have restrictions in place which limit the number of people allowed to gather inside. Check your local and state regulations to ensure your gathering is following the laws.

The CDC’s Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz said, “The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household.”

If possible, move your Thanksgiving dinner outside. Coronavirus is less likely to spread outside where there is better ventilation than indoors. Although many places are getting cold, tell your guests to load up with blankets and winter gear. If it’s too cold for an outside gathering, keep the windows open to ventilate the area.

One of the most important and simplest things you can do to stop the spread of Covid is to wear a mask. In many states, masks are required in public places and Thanksgiving dinner should be no exception. Keep your mask on unless eating and remain six feet away from other guests.

It is also recommended that guests handle making their own food and bringing their own utensils to Thanksgiving dinner this year. This prevents the spread of germs as well as cross-contamination between households. Remember to frequently wash your hands when cooking, eating and generally to stop the spread of germs.

Covid cases are rising in communities as well as healthcare networks which is making the virus even harder to handle. Many more people are becoming hospitalized due to the virus and healthcare workings are at risk.

According to the Associated Press, 905 staff members at The Mayo Clinic Health System have been infected with coronavirus in the last two weeks. The Mayo Clinic Health System is a network of clinics and hospitals in the midwest that are run by Mayo Clinic.

Executive dean of Mayo Clinic Practice, Dr. Amy Williams, said that most cases came from exposure within the community and not from work. “It shows how widely spread this is in our communities and how easy it is to get COVID-19 in the communities here in the Midwest,” she said.

If a virtual gathering isn’t in your Thanksgiving plans this year and you will be seeing people outside of your family in person, consider isolating yourself beforehand. Since the incubation period of the virus is 14 days, a negative test result doesn’t necessarily mean a person does not carry the virus. Although a negative test result for coronavirus isn’t a sure sign of safety, it is an extra precaution everyone should add before mingling this holiday season.

Besides getting a coronavirus test, people should also consider a 14-day quarantine before seeing loved ones, or afterward. Isolating before seeing family will decrease the risk of spreading the disease within your holiday circle. If you plan on traveling for the holiday, consider isolating yourself after returning to prevent the spread of covid in your community.

The CDC has predicted this will be a dark winter and although a vaccine is in the works, it likely won’t be ready for mass distribution for a few more weeks. The holiday season will only lead to more cases with an increase in travel and group gatherings. As the weather in many places gets colder, inside gatherings are more likely to occur.

The CDC also recommends everyone get their flu shot for the upcoming flu season. By protecting yourself from the flu, you can help the healthcare system more easily manage the large influx of people going to the hospital.

In all states except Hawaii, Maine and Vermont, there is an active or imminent outbreak of coronavirus according to Covid Act Now. Even these three states are at risk for an outbreak. Currently, North Dakota has the highest number of new daily cases per 100,000 people with 159.6 cases. Wyoming and New Mexico follow closely behind.

Many states have separated their cities and counties into different zones depending on the number of Covid cases present. The restrictions in place for these areas are then determined by the number of cases.

New York City is starting to enforce tighter restrictions as cases start to rise. “In the next week or two we should see some substantial restrictions,” said Mayor, Bill de Blasio. “I think indoor dining will be closed, gyms will be closed.  I’m not happy about it. No one is happy about it but that’s what’s coming.” There is currently a 10 person gathering limit and a curfew for nonessential businesses between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Similarly, in Boston, Governor Charlie Baker has released a stay-at-home advisory for the same time frame. People are urged to only go out between these hours for essentials. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people while outdoor gatherings should be capped at 25 people.

Things on the west coast seem just as bleak. According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, restaurants, bars, wineries and breweries will be closed for dine-in services for at least three weeks. People in Los Angeles are being advised to stay home and have a similar curfew to Boston and New York City.

In some cities where cases are skyrocketing, restrictions are not being put in place as heavily as in California and New York. In Miami, restaurants are able to be open to 100% capacity and seat 10 people per table. Most things in Miami are reopened, but with restrictions such as requiring masks.

It is crucial for everyone to work together to bring covid cases back down over the coming weeks. As cases spike, it is important to remember that each state has precautions in place for a reason. Although many states won’t fully shut down, you can decide to continue social distancing and only going out for essentials.

Rita Azar illustration for 360 MAGAZINE travel stories

Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress and Staying Mindful While Traveling

The holiday season is typically the busiest time of the year for traveling. People enjoy going to see family members or exploring new locations as they have time off from their jobs and schoolwork. This year, traveling may come with a bit more stress and anxiety due to the pandemic that people are facing around the world. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help reduce holiday stress, as well as stay safer while traveling.

“There may be fewer people traveling this holiday season, but there will still be a lot who do, and they need to know how to make it more enjoyable,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “Mindful travel is the key to reducing stress, staying safer, and making the most of your time traveling. This year will be a great exercise in mindfulness, which is something to be excited about.”

As an expert at using mindfulness, Sandler helps people not only reduce their stress, but also reach new goals. The key to traveling safely during the pandemic, as she points out, is in using the technique throughout the experience. By remaining mindful, travelers will go about their experience in a way that is conscientious and intentional. Just as with many things in life, this is an issue that comes down to learning to be more focused and plan ahead.

Sandler has created a recipe for mindful safe travel in the era of COVID, which includes the following tips:

  • Forget being spontaneous. This is not the time to be spontaneous. In order to help reduce risks and stress. Figure everything out ahead of time. Know about everything before you go do it. This goes for restaurants, excursions, and even visiting others. Call ahead so you can plan out as much as possible.
  • Know the rules and regulations. The rules today differ by city and state, so it’s important to know what they are for where you are heading. Get the information you need so that you are prepared. Whether it means all meals will be takeout, you will have to wear a mask, or you need to limit the number in your party, avoiding surprises will help keep things stress-free.
  • Get tested before you go. Getting a COVID test before you travel is a good way to help reduce stress and the spread of the virus. This way you will know that you are not unknowingly spreading it around wherever you may go.
  • Create a checklist to use. A checklist is a great way to ease the hassle of ensuring you have everything covered. Make a list of what needs to be packed, calls that need to be made, things that must be done before heading out, etc. This will prove much easier than trying to simply remember everything.
  • Make reservations wherever possible. This is a great time to make reservations for everything possible. Whether it’s at a restaurant, a tour company, or something else, this is a great way to help them limit the number of guests allowed in any one place at the same time.
  • Be kind and patient. People you come across while you are traveling are doing things differently, too, and it may cause them to be stressed out and provide slower service. Take that time to remind yourself to be in the here and now, and focus on being kind and patient.

“The holidays are a special time, and most of us still want to travel,” added Sandler. “While we shouldn’t live in constant fear of the virus, we should strive to keep being keenly aware of the situation and our surroundings. When we do that, we will reduce the stress and anxiety, help to keep everyone healthier, and still be able to enjoy life, even more than when we travel without being so focused.”

Through her personal development and career coaching services, Sandler has helped people in many different ways. From helping them to identify things holding themselves back to being able to achieve personal goals, she brings a crucial, helpful outsider’s perspective. In addition to personal achievements, she helps many people with their career goals, as well as working with companies to provide their team with impact training. Through her efforts, companies have been able to reduce absenteeism rates, motivate their team, reduce stress levels, engage their employees, and create a better workplace.

Sandler offers impact retreats, corporate impact events, and one-on-one coaching services. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practices. She has also spent time as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins. Upcoming retreats include Reignite in Tulum, Mindfulness in Mykonos, Rewire and Renew in The French Alps, and Mindfulness & Mindset in The Hamptons. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

Gaylord Opryland Country Christmas Nashville

Winter Happenings in Tennessee

Although traveling may look different this year, Tennessee has great activities to offer for the upcoming winter. This list is new, trendy and sure to please everyone.

Nolensville – Artist Kim Radford painted the “This Girl Can” mural on the side of Mama Java’s Café as part of the statewide Walls for Women project to celebrate Tennessee’s role in the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Clarksville – Start a new holiday tradition with a mini-glass blowing workshop like designing your own ornament at Erin’s Farm. Afterward, stop by the gift gallery for goods, crafts and artworks produced by local artisans.

LafayetteThe Barn on Church Street is a magical place for a wedding or event. Steeped in history, the 100-year-old barn has been lovingly renovated to maintain the charm of a barn while providing modern conveniences.

Knoxville –Stroll the Downtown Peppermint Trail among more than 100,000 lights and garlands which create a winter wonderland and restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, bars and boutiques feature peppermint specials.

Chattanooga – Delight in a million sparkling lights, decorate a gingerbread cookie, experience the icy borealis lights, visit Santa in his North Pole Workshop and indulge in holiday treats during Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights.

Southeast Tennessee – The new Tennessee Gravel website showcases ways to enjoy beautiful backroads around the Blue Ridge Mountains and Cherokee National Forest, including day trips, overnight backpacking adventures, bike races and events.

Johnson City – The Windsor Speakeasy is known for its unique craft cocktails, seasonal cocktail menus, inconspicuous exterior, low lighting, leather and velvet pieces. The speakeasy is in downtown Johnson City, but you may have to hunt to find it.

Dover – Learn a new hobby and handwork skills with the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm Old Time Skills Workshops, including traditional Christmas decorations. Safety protocols will be observed. Masks and social distancing will be required.

New Restaurant, Attraction & Shop Openings

Nashville49 new restaurants, bars and cafés have opened this year, including Yolan (directed by James Beard Award winner and Michelin-starred chef, Tony Mantuano), and three new concepts by James Beard Award-winning chef, Sean Brock: The Continental at the Grand Hyatt, Joyland and Audrey.

Nashville – The National Museum of African American Music will showcase the roles African Americans have played in shaping and creating all genres of music. The museum will integrate history and interactive technology to share the story of more than 50 music genres and subgenres. Stay tuned here for information on the grand opening.

Pelham – Explore an underground room three football fields long. Hear about geology, lore and Grundy County’s unique history. Take a daily tour behind-the-scenes of The Caverns’ world-famous music venue and end with a photo op on the iconic stage.

Knoxville Live from the Bijou is a reduced capacity, in-venue experience and live streaming series of concerts every Friday night. Safety measures are in place inside the venue. Proceeds support the artist and sustain the venue.

Pigeon Forge – The new REI Co-op store offers top-quality outdoor gear, rentals, expertise and experiences in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Johnson City – The Women’s Suffrage Mural by Artist Ellen Elmes is depicted in three stages. The design honors the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement with a focus on Tennessee stories, including a historic 1916 march in Johnson City.

New Breweries and Distilleries 

Clarksville – The locally-owned Strawberry Alley Ale Works in historic downtown combines chef-inspired food and expertly made craft beer.

Franklin – Curio Brewing Company on the Franklin’s Masters & Makers Trail brews coffee and beer. The kid-friendly atmosphere offers the family a spot to gather safely while still enjoying experimental brews. 

Johnson City Watauga Brewing Company is a three-story brewery, rooftop bar and restaurant featuring upscale New American cuisine with Appalachian southern roots. Little Animals Brewery on Main Street offers barrel-aged sours, Saison beers, IPAS, lagers and vintage British beers.

Kingsport – Gypsy Circus Cider, Tennessee’s first cidery, takes pride in using locally-sourced, fresh-pressed apples. With a newly renovated outdoor cider-garden, there’s room to socially distance while enjoying a drink. 

New & Reimagined Hotels

Memphis Canopy by Hilton pays homage to the soulful spirit of downtown while infusing a hip, modern feel. Chef Fabio Viviani showcases American cuisine with Spanish and Italian fare at the hotel’s restaurant, Curfew.

Nashville – New hotels dot Nashville’s skyline including the 262-room Virgin Hotel, 591-room Grand Hyatt, 297-room The Joseph Luxury Collection, and the 346-room W Hotel.

Knoxville – The new Graduate Knoxville is just steps Neyland Stadium with Rocky Top lore and bursting with Big Orange pride, including Saloon 16, a high-end watering hole opening in partnership with Peyton Manning. The new Cumberland House Knoxville, Tapestry Hotel by Hilton is ideal for families, leisure and business travelers alike. 

Sevierville – The new boutique Historic Central Hotel downtown features two-and-three bedroom suites, located in an old, renovated bank building.

Winter In-Person & Virtual Events Across Tennessee

Memphis – (Nov. 19-Dec. 12) Nearly 50 artists offer online booths for holiday shopping at the Pink Palace Virtual Crafts Fair.

Obion Co. – (Nov. 19-Dec. 18) Collect stamps with the Happy & Healthy Holiday Passport for a chance to win a Northwest Tennessee getaway. Visit stops like Discovery Park of America, Blue Bank Resort and Higher Ground Coffee Company.

Nashville – (Nov. 19-Dec. 23) Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Store and Hatch Show Print online this holiday season to find clothing, accessories, home décor and historic prints from one of America’s oldest letterpress print shops.

Union City – (Nov. 19-Dec. 30) Put on your cheeriest holiday pajamas and explore one million twinkling lights without ever leaving your car during Discovery Park of America’s Let It Go Light Show. The cost is $10 per car. Be sure to ask about the North Pole Milk, Cookie Kit and 3D glasses.

Nashville – (Nov. 19-Jan. 3) Twinkling lights, Christmas trees, shimmering ornaments, holiday movies, selfie spots, letters to Santa, gingerbread decorating, carolers, carriage rides and more abound during Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas.

Pigeon Forge – (Nov. 19-Jan. 3) Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas features 5-million glistening lights, award-winning shows, culinary delights, seasonal shopping and holiday do-it-yourself kits to take home, including gingerbread houses.

Sevierville – (Nov. 19-Jan. 3) Immerse yourself in custom-built light displays synchronized with festive music, Santa’s Beach Party display and Santa’s Village during Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland. Tickets start at $25.

Memphis – (Nov. 19-Jan 8) Christmas at Graceland kicks off the holiday season with a virtual holiday lighting, special Christmas tours, an overnight package at The Guest House at Graceland, Nativity scene, Santa and his sleigh and other fun activities.

Sevierville – (Nov. 19-Jan. 10) Glide across the rink with outdoor ice skating at Wilderness of the Smokies. Skates are available to rent at the rink. Guest admission is $10 for the entire stay and public admission is $17.99.

Gatlinburg – (Nov. 19-Jan. 31) Gatlinburg SkyLift Park transforms North America’s longest pedestrian bridge into a dazzling winter wonderland with a tunnel of 40,000 synchronized lights and dancing trees during “Lights Over Gatlinburg.”

Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville – (Nov. 19-Feb. 15) Many of the region’s entertainment and tourist attractions transform for the holidays with light displays, unique shopping and award-winning shows during Smoky Mountain Winterfest.

Nashville – (Nov. 20-22) Nashville Ballet will open its 2020-21 performance season with a virtual production of Community. Community celebrates the spirit of the city with works by three artists whose careers blossomed at Nashville Ballet.

Clarksville – (Nov. 20-Dec. 18) Enjoy vintage and modern holiday classics at Roxy Regional Theatre in the heart of downtown. Admission is $5, refreshments are available in sealed packaging and the theatre limits seating for social distancing.

Chattanooga – (Nov. 20-Dec. 31) Holiday under the Peaks at Tennessee Aquarium features festive decorations, holiday music, a seasonally-themed scavenger hunt and a trip on The Polar Express in the aquarium’s IMAX 3D Theater.

Nashville – (Nov. 20-Jan. 10) Over a million lights adorn the gardens during Cheekwood’s Holiday Lights. Enjoy seasonal favorites like real reindeer, a Poinsettia tree, trains lit up for the holidays and a unique story of the Nutcracker exhibit. 

Gallatin – (Nov. 21) Bledsoe Creek State Park celebrates Native American Heritage Month with a lunch and learn. Bring a picnic and learn about Native Americans who lived and hunted in the area 11 a.m. at the Visitor’s Center back porch.

Columbia – (Nov. 21) A Very Maury Christmas features over 30 vendors and boutiques 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Memorial Building downtown. A $5 entry fee will be accepted at the door benefiting aMuse’um Children’s Museum.

Gatlinburg – (Nov. 23-Jan. 3) Twinkling lights, visits from Santa, special events, fire pits and a whimsical stroll through the Treetop Skywalk make for an Enchanted Winter at Anakeesta.

Clarksville – (Nov. 24-Jan.1) Stroll and be captivated by light displays with over two million lights and a popular light tunnel during the half-mile Cumberland Riverwalk during Christmas on the Cumberland open nightly, weather permitting.

Clarksville – (Nov. 26-Jan. 2) Stay in the safety of your car to experience the Clarksville Speedway’s Drive-Thru Christmas Lights. Load up the car and cruise the one-mile track to take in the glow and sounds of the season. The cost is $25 per car.

Livingston – (Nov. 27, Dec. 4 & 11) Christmas in the Country 5-8 p.m. on the historic downtown square includes local merchants, carriage rides, performances by local dance students, a live nativity scene and pictures with Santa.

Castalian Springs – (Nov. 28) Journey through Christmas through the Ages: A Victorian Holiday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Historic Wynnewood. Learn about Christmas traditions, tour the home and enjoy hot cider.

Collierville – (Nov. 28-Dec. 19) Take horse-drawn carriage rides around the Town Square, snap pictures along the Holiday Photo Stroll and experience a quarter of a million holiday lights during Christmas in Colliervilleevery Saturday.

Townsend – (Nov. 28, Dec. 4, 12 & 19) The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center’s Christmas in the Village features a pioneer celebration, living history interpreters and an Appalachian Village full of handcrafting demonstrations, lights and décor.

Franklin – (Nov. 28-Dec. 26) Holiday Magic on Main downtown features downtown merchants along Main Street offering special discounts and promotions, pop-up appearances by Dickens characters, period dancers, live music and holiday décor.

Cookeville – (Nov. 30-Dec. 24) Take a night drive to see Cookeville’s decorated homes during the Christmas Tour of Lights. A free map is available at Cookeville City Hall. Find and print it here. New this year with the map is a Christmas scavenger hunt.

Savannah –(Dec. 1-31) Downtown businesses deck out in starry lights during December for Christmas on Main. The Savannah Christmas Parade 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 is unique with a “reverse” parade with floats stationary and viewers drive through to view. 

Hornbeak – (Dec. 1-31) Soak in the season with more than 400,000 Christmas lights, enjoy s’mores by the fire, visit with Santa, listen to Christmas music and enjoy the enchanted Winter Wonderland at Blue Bank Resort. The resort also teams up with Discovery Park of America each year to offer a “getaway package” through the holidays.

Kingsport – (Dec. 3) Grab Christmas gifts & support small businesses while shopping safely during Jingle & Mingle 5-8 p.m. downtown.

Columbia – (Dec. 4-5) Tour homes festively dressed for the season while benefiting the Athenaeum Rectoryduring the Maury Christmas Historic Home Tour. For ticket information contact The Athenaeum at 931-797-3316.

Bell Buckle – (Dec. 4, 5, 12, 19) The Bell Buckle Night Market 4-8 p.m. Dec. 4 kicks off Bell Buckle’s Olde Fashioned Christmas with local artisans, a fire pit, outdoor games and a scavenger hunt. The fun continues each Saturday with sleigh rides.

Jonesborough – (Dec. 4-26) Gingerbread houses, replicas of historic buildings and more will be on display in store windows during Main Street Jonesborough’s new walkable holiday contest and display, Jonesborough’s Gingerbread Village

Kingsport – (Dec. 5) Kick off the holiday season at 6 p.m. with Kingsport’s Virtual Tree Lighting. Due to COVID-19, the annual Christmas parade has been canceled.

Columbia – (Dec. 5) Get ready for the Christmas in Columbia “Night of Light” Christmas tree lighting and Columbia Main Street Christmas Parade in the Historic Downtown Square. Festivities kick off at 5 p.m.

Columbia – (Dec. 5-6, 12-13) Enjoy a fun-filled day of holiday vendors, food trucks, pancakes with yummy toppings, Christmas cookies, crafts, letters to Santa and more during A Blue Barn Christmas Market and Winter Festival.

Johnson City – (Dec. 6) Scott Miller and special guests perform at a drive-in concert at 4 p.m. at The Mall at Johnson City. Tennessee Hills Distillery craft cocktails will be available for purchase. The suggested donation is $100 per vehicle.

Cookeville – (Dec. 6-Jan. 3) Christmas in the Park kicks off with a live-streamed tree-lighting at 6 p.m. at Dogwood Park. The Christmas Tree Lightshow synchronized to holiday music begins at the top of every hour every night 5-9 p.m. 

Winchester – (Dec. 11-12) Step into a Hallmark movie during Santa Claus is Coming to Town downtown with carriage rides, pancake breakfast, live music, special guests and all merchants will be open late for holiday shopping.

Knoxville – (Dec. 11-Jan. 3) Holidays on Ice moves to the Civic Coliseum for the season on the same ice where the Ice Bears play hockey. Enjoy skating on a 180-foot rink while listening to music. There may even be a “Peppermint Panda” sighting. 

Gallatin – (Dec. 12) Join Grammy Award-winning country star John Berry for his 24th annual Christmas Songs & Stories at 8 p.m. at the Palace Theatre. The show will practice social distancing and follow CDC guidelines for safety.

Shiloh – (Dec. 27) Shiloh National Military Park celebrates its 126th anniversary with a birthday party at 2 p.m. at the visitor’s center with cookies and a time of fellowship. Learn stories with a tour of the battlefield which covers 4,200 acres.

Columbia – (Dec. 31) The Mule Drop benefitting Center of Hope held on Historic Public Square will ring in the New Year. Rubik’s Groove will keep the party going until the Mule Drops. Fireworks and confetti cannons will ring in 2021.

Birchwood (Jan. 11) The 2021 Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival is canceled due to COVID-19, but online events start Jan. 11. The viewing area at the Hiwassee Refuge is still open to guests. Please follow all CDC recommendations.

Knoxville – (Jan. 30) Indulge in amazing treats from area chocolatiers, restaurants & bakeries 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. during Chocolatefest at World’s Fair Park. Tasting tickets are $25 and benefit Knoxville’s Ronald McDonald House.

Gallatin – (Jan. 24) Meet incredible vendors who make any wedding day a dream day, taste yummy samples of sweets and savories from area caterers and make planning a breeze at the Sumner County Bridal Show.

For a complete list of what’s happening in Tennessee, visit tnvacation.com/calendar.  

Croatia by Patrick Cooper for 360 magazine

Christmas In Croatia

By Patrick T. Cooper

This year has been anything but ordinary. Extraordinary would even be an understatement! Most who dare to read this article are grappling with the thought of where your first travel destination will be post-pandemic. Well, forget pulling out all of those dusty ornaments and slaving in the kitchen to prepare the family meal. Croatia is calling you to blend your love of travel with holiday traditions to make your season a memorable one.

Croatia offers a unique old-world feel with a hip awareness that locals will eagerly share while illustrating the countries fair and flare. The gift of travel is evergreen and never antiquated. Give the gift of lifetime memories well beyond the impact of material goods. This past year should be your throttle boost to knock off the destinations of the world that you have always hungered to see. Christmas in Croatia is not just a catchy title but a rhythmic vibe that will have you singing in the city streets.

The aha moment is forthcoming once you maneuver through the city cafes at the center of Zagreb. Beyond the city’s annual Festival of Lights is a community that is welcoming, warm, genuine and excited to educate you on the rich culture of this region in the world. While travel has been practically extinct this year, this story gives you ample time for planning to experience The Ultimate Holiday Gift – Christmas in Croatia.

Christmas in Croatia by Patrick Cooper for 360 mag

The Bucket List

Positioned on the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is a country at the intersection of Central and Southeast Europe. The Croatian economy is dominated by the services and industrial sectors as well as agriculture. Tourism is the paramount source of revenue, ranking Croatia among the 20 most popular tourist destinations in the world. The country measures 21,851 square miles and a population of 4.07 million, most of whom are Catholic.

Zagreb, Croatia’s northwestern capital, is riddled with distinguished 18th and 19th– century Austro-Hungarian architecture contributing to your eyes dancing as you wonder about the city. Most infatuated upon my arrival, I, of course, had to make the 13th-century St. Mark’s Church and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as my initial stops. From the colored rooftop of the church to the edifice of the cathedral, I hastened to mark three destinations off of my travel bucket list.

At this point, I have piqued your curiosity, similar to anxious adolescents on the night before Christmas. Never fear, I will be the calming hand to give you a Croatia travel cheat sheet. The path is now lit!! Continue reading and start preparing to soar into the unknown and craft memories to enhance your personal journey.

Lights in Zagreb

By day, Zagreb’s main square is perfect for people watching. A brief stop in Dolac’s open-air market will intensify your cultural submersion. Prepare to indulge in the ultimate Christmas experience by evening. The city literally lights up!! The splendid display of the holiday spirit is like no other in the world. Advent on European Square, Advent on Zrinjevac, Ice park, and Advent in Tunnel are all close in proximity and offer an array of souvenirs, decorations, food and beverages to heighten the beginning of your fairy-tale in Croatia.

Truffle Hunt in Istria

Everyone loves a day trip to Istria which includes phenomenal hunting. Fetching some of the world’s most renowned mushrooms is quite an adventure. Prior to exiting the field, fuel up with your personalized truffle cooking class at Karlić Tatufi. Opting for the scrambled truffled eggs and a variety of truffle-infused pastries is the perfect breakfast to start the day. Excitement ensues watching the eagerness of canine energy to hunt the delicacy of the Croatian culture. The benefits of eating, education and exposure culminate in creating a magical endeavor.

Truffle photo by Patrick Cooper for 360 magazine

Rest in Rovinj

From the sleek curbside appeal, the Grand Park Hotel Rovinj is perhaps one of the sexiest hotels that I have visited. Modern, yet minimalist furnishings and features make this property award-winning. Beyond the architecture, you prepare to be rewarded with elegantly appointed seafront views overlooking St. Katarina Island and the Old Town of Rovinj. Completed in 2019, this hotel represents a collaboration with Milan studio Lissoni Architecture by Piero Lissoni. From its beaches, pool, dining and spa the Grand Park Hotel Rovinj is an unforgettable designed stay.

Grand Park hotel photo by Patrick Cooper for 360 magazine

Chocolate in Opatija

A chocolate Santa Claus is such a treat!! Literally one of Opatija’s sweetest events happening the first weekend of December is when you should be ready to taste and experience the finest chocolates from the world’s best chocolatiers. Everywhere the eye can wander, you shall see white, milk and dark chocolate creations that elevate from edibles to works of art.

By all means, secure your global selfie stamp by posing with famous individuals like Gustav Mahler and Isadore Duncan of Opatija at the Open Air Theatre at the Park Angiolina.

Chocolate Santas by Patrick Cooper for 360 Magazine

Castles in Rijeka

Korzo is the main promenade in Rijeka. It is the focal point to capture the hustle of the city and a quick coffee in a multitude of cafes. At nightfall, it is the climb to the Trsat Fortress that will illuminate your love for Rijeka, Croatia. Never before have I seen such a delicate display of holiday savoir-faire. From carriages to castles dripping in bright lights, prepare to spend your upcoming holiday in this historical winter wonderland. Croatia is certainly worth planning an entire year in advance.

Traveling with a pet over the holidays?

Make sure you’re up-to-date on all the rules and regulations around travel with your pet! Just this year, Delta revoked a rule that animals could not accompany passengers on flights 8 hours or longer, with the exception of Pitbulls.

“Flying and traveling stirs immense anxiety in some people, and leaving home without their Emotional Support Animal or pet can be traumatizing. It’s great that Delta and other airlines continue to recognize the importance of allowing travel on their aircrafts.” – Prairie Conlon, LMHP and Clinical Director at CertaPet

While the debate wages on over whether Emotional Support Animal’s are considered legitimate, CertaPet emphasizes that their clients must complete a clinical evaluation, as well as a therapy session, before a licensed mental health professional determines whether they need an ESA letter. CertaPet therapists only write ESA letters for dogs, cats, and rabbits. And in fact, CertaPet sees a ~25% increase in the need for an Emotional Support Animal during the holidays. Most airlines charge a fee ($100+) for small, regular pets (non-ESA’s) to fly with you as a carry-on. ESA’s are protected by law and require no additional fee to travel as a carry-on.

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