It’s no secret that I love to travel, whether to see new places or to revisit longtime favorites. My husband, Joe, and I have enjoyed visiting some incredibly romantic destinations, from the canals of Amsterdam to a cabin on a lake in Maine. Here are three romantic destinations that have inspired the settings for my holiday stories…and one of them is in my own backyard.
Most years, you’ll find me at home with my family for Christmas, but a few years ago we packed up and flew to Ireland, landing in Dublin on Christmas Eve. Carolers, bell-ringers and pubs made me think of Charles Dickens! We joined the crowds in Brown Thomas, an elegant, historic department store on pedestrians-only Grafton Street. (I bought socks; I still can’t figure out why.) We wandered through historic St. Stephen’s Green with it shallow ponds and many statues. Friends had warned us Dublin would be cold, dark and wet in December, and they were right! We loved it, and it wasn’t wet every day. Not much is open in Dublin at Christmas, but that makes it perfect for long walks through the city to soak up its romantic atmosphere. To top it off, we discovered the charms of buttery mincemeat tarts and did our very first Irish whiskey tasting. We are always planning return trips to this endlessly fascinating Dublin.
I’d heard of “twee” English villages long before my first trip to England, but I never quite knew what that meant until I visited the Cotswolds, a region of rolling fields and honey-stoned houses west of London. Whatever the season, the extensive network of marked trails are a draw, whether for a short village stroll or a multiday, inn-to-inn trek. We discovered a bookshop that sells hats—or was it a hat shop that sells books?—and enjoyed lingering in a tea shop with warm scones, clotted cream and gooseberry jam. So taken with the Cotswolds, Joe and I not only are plotting our return but we have been known to watch Inspector Lewis to remind us of this romantic spot (without the murder investigations, of course!).
Just down the road from our hilltop home in Vermont, picturesque Woodstock is situated between the Connecticut River and the popular Killington ski area. It’s been rated as one of the best small towns in the USA for Christmas, and for good reason. Its historic houses lining pretty village streets and its elliptical-shaped town green are a great sight anytime of year, but they’re truly special at Christmas. Billings Farm and Museum offers horse-drawn sleigh and wagon rides, ornament-making and tours of its Victorian farmhouse, decorated for Christmas. Wassail Weekend is a jam-packed few days of concerts, carolers, winter activities and home tours that draw visitors from all over to this romantic village.
I hope you enjoy the holidays as much as my family and I do and that A Knights Bridge Christmas inspires you to think about what the romance of the season means to you.