Christkindlmarkt & Northern Lights

Tour Leader: Icelandic Master Quilter Gudrun Erla

Day 1
United States - Iceland - Munich

Icelandair Plane

Afternoon departure from various US airports by Icelandair via Iceland to Munich on an overnight flight.

Departures from: Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Tampa, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Newark, Orlando, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Dallas Airports for your nonstop/overnight flight via Keflavik Airport by Icelandair, WOW Airlines, American Airlines, Air Canada, or Delta Airlines.

Day 2
Munich

Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik

Arrive in Munich at noon. Transfer to traditional 4-star Hotel Platzl, located in the heart of the city, – next door to famous Hofbräuhaus and 980ft to Marienplatz where the Christkindlmarkt takes place. Rest before „Welcome to Germany“ dinner at Hofbräuhaus, „The World‘s most famous Tavern“ – built in 1589 and accommodates up to 5,000 revelers. Enjoy the beer and the crisp roast of Bavarian suckling pig.“ Have fun!

WE OFFER YOU THE BEST:

Gudrun Erla Gisladottir, the expert quilt designer, has her business in Minnesota. She is originally from Iceland and has lead several successful groups from the United States to Iceland and other European countries. You will find Gudrun efficient, well organized and a fun girl to travel with.

 

Maximilian Bukszpan is the Bavarian expert tour guide who will meet the group on arrival in Munich and stay with the group until you leave Munich for Iceland. “Max” is a native “Münchner” who has traveled the world. For the last 20 years he has offered his services as private tour guide throughout Bavaria, – including Munich, Rothenburg and Nuremberg.

Day 3
Munich

Christmas Market

Morning tour of Munich with Maximilian Bukszpan, your expert Munich guide. Visit some of the best holiday markets across the city and soak up the holiday spirit. The afternoon is yours at the Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz. Shop for handmade Bavarian gifts, sip Glühwein, and try Lebkuchen, the gingerbread cookies, a treat since the 14th century.

The traditional Christmas Market at Marienplatz dates back to the 14th century and is considered the most original and authentic in Munich, where about 40 such markets take place annually. The romantic setting in front of the neo-Gothic town hall adds to the magic of the many stalls radiating traditional Bavarian charm.

 

Living tradition and ancient craftmanship are firmly established here, as is Germany’s largest “Kripperlmarkt” (“Manger Market”). Everything imaginable to create a nativity scene is available, from manger lanterns to gifts of the Three Magi.

Other of the better-known Munich Christmas markets is the Viktualienmarkt which offers a vivid experience of Munich’s way of life. The Christmas Market at the Chinesischer Turm is particularly popular. Seasonal melodies played by a wind ensemble in the tower sound from the Chinesischer Turm, while horse-drawn carriages make their rounds. At the stalls, there are lamb-wool slippers, hand-made dolls and wooden angels waiting to be bought by visitors, who can otherwise enjoy gastronomical delights. Then there is the Medieval Christmas Market, where merchants in historic costumes sell their wares …  Max will know where to take you, so your limited time is well spent.

Day 4
Munich – Rothenberg

Munich

Proceed from Munich along the Romantic Road for further adventures.  Stop at pristine Harburg Castle, which has never been conquered, and visit quaint Dinkelsbühl, a medieval walled city with fascinating architecture. Afternoon arrival in famous Rothenburg.  Check in at Hotel GoldenerHirsch, built in 1479 and located in the heart of the medieval town.  Walking tour with „The Nightwatchman.“  Dinner at Restaurant Glocke – one of the best in town.

In the years before the dawn of the 20th century, the night watchman was responsible for the safety of the inhabitants of this walled, fortified city. His job was dangerous, as he had to guard the city at night like a policeman. The night watchman made his rounds from nine in the evening until three in the morning. He relied on the town hall clock to tell him when to sing his “Hour Song,” reminding the people who slumbered safe in their houses that he was still alive and taking care of them. There were six of these men patrolling Rothenberg up to the year 1920. 

You will follow Hans Georg Baumgartner on his entertaining and informative rounds through the darkness. You will follow him through alleyways and across dimly lit squares and enjoy the special mood of the town at night.

Day 5
Rothenberg

Rothenberg”

Free day without a program in Rothenberg.  You will find the local Christkindlmarkt delightful and located within walking distance of your hotel. The smell of mulled wine and roasted almonds, the illumination by thousands of fairy lights and festive music by local brass bands all make for a pleasant Christmas spirit.

You will be enjoying an early Christmas in Bavaria and all the wonderful festivities that are described on these pages. It is a fact, however, that you will be traveling in the middle of winter, when mother nature may not always accommodate. The last thing that you wish for are long bus rides, having to change hotels every day, and having to face the elements at the same time.

You will stay in a cozy hotel in Rothenberg for three nights; long enough to unpack, relax and take in the local flavors. Everything will be within walking distance; not only the local Christmas market.

The day is free, and you may decide to take off on your own to explore this lovely city, by many described as the most beautiful in Germany. Quilters may join Gudrun in the morning to visit “Der Patchwork Engel,” a local quilt store, while others will join Maximilian on a walking tour of medieval Rothenberg in the afternoon. A quilting workshop will be offered in the late afternoon.

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, there are several museums to consider; a wonderful Christmas Museum, the Dolls and Toy Museum, and the Medieval Crime Museum (perfect for the men in the group!), with over 1000 years of crime and punishment in Europe on display.

Day 6
Rothenberg – Nuremberg

Nuremberg

Spend the day in Nuremberg. Visit the world famous Christkindlmarkt which takes place in the Hauptmarkt, the Central Square in Nuremberg´s old town.

Return to Rothenberg.

It will be a very special day. With about two million visitors a year the Nürnberger Christkindlmarkt is one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany and one of the most famous in the world. Your tour guide Maximilian will be in charge.

 

 

 

 

Day 7
Rothernberg – Munich – Iceland Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Proceed to Munich Airport and fly by Icelandair to Iceland´s Keflavik Airport.  Afternoon arrival after a 4-hour direct flight. Drive 2 hours to Southern Iceland and arrive at cozy Hotel Lækur, located in the perfect place to observe the Northern Lights – away from all city lights.  Welcome to Iceland Dinner.

Days are short in Iceland this time of the year. It will be dark when you arrive at Hotel Laekur. With some luck and if the conditions allow you will see the spectacular Northern Lights. If not, you will enjoy a great dinner in a very special place, – a barn refashioned as a country hotel.

When you depart from Munich you will say your by-byes to Maximilian. When you arrive in Iceland, Gudrun Erla will be in her home country and a local guide will not be needed.

Day 8
Geysir Geothermal Area – Gullfoss – Selfoss – Reykjavik

Icelandic Horses

Drive to Geysir Geothermal area, where you will see any number of bubbling, spouting and boiling hot springs in eerie moonlike landscapes. Visit Geysir, the first geyser for which all geysers are named. See Strokkur geysir erupting every 4-8 minutes. Drive on to nearby Gullfoss, the majestic waterfall, one of the world´s most scenic.  Lunch at Friðheimar Farm an amazing greenhouse complex, followed by a horse show that provides an insight into the story of the remarkable Icelandic horse breed.  Enjoy a “Meeting with the Horses.”  Continue to Selfoss and visit family and friends of your fearless leader Guðrún Erla. Drive on to Reykjavik and settle in at Hotel Arnarhvoll for a 2-night stay.  Dinner at The Icelandic Bar.

Day 9
Reykjavik – Free Day

Renowned Icelandic Quilting Master Gudrun Erla

Tour Reykjavik in the morning and see all the major city attractions. The afternoon is free without a program.  Reykjavik will be all decked out in Christmas lights and in full holiday spirit.

Day 10
Reykjavik – Blue Lagoon – Return Home

Blue Lagoon Hot Springs

The morning is free in Reykjavik, – or, you can visit (optional) the famous Blue Lagoon for a 2-hour bath. Afternoon transfer to Keflavik Airport and departure to the various US destinations.

Iceland in Summer – A Tour For Quilters 2019 SOLD OUT! Now Booking July 16-27, 2020

2019 SOLD OUT!
Now Booking July 16-27, 2020

Tour Leader: Icelandic Master Quilter Gudrun Erla

Day 1
United States – Iceland

Godafoss “Falls of the Gods”
Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik

Departures from:

Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Newark, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Dallas Airports for your nonstop/overnight flight to Keflavik Airport via Icelandair or WOW Airlines. Both airlines will be adding more departure cities and we will update this list as they come on board.

A tour with quilt designer Gudrun Erla Gisladottir to her homeland – Iceland, featuring many of the major natural attractions of this unique country – the majestic waterfalls, boiling hot springs, mountains and glaciers.

Day 2
Keflavik – Reykjavik – Thingborg - Hella

Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik
Icelandic Horses

Arrive at Keflavik Airport in the early morning. Clear customs then take a short drive to Viking World, a museum that features exhibitions about the times of the Vikings – Breakfast is served at the museum. Depart from the museum for Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, located just 32 miles north from the airport. Once in Reykjavik head directly for Hallgrimskirkja, the tallest and largest church in Iceland. A statue of Leif Eiriksson is aligned directly in front of the church, a gift from the U.S. commemorating the 1,000 anniversary of the Icelandic parliament and a tacit acknowledgement that Leif beat Christopher Columbus to North America by almost 500 years.

Your tour will include the Parliament Building, the National Theater and the main seat of government. Visit the harbor area, where older buildings have been retrofitted as boutiques and restaurants.  Leave Reykjavik and travel along the main route through southern Iceland.  Pass green farmlands where the Icelandic horses will be grazing along the roadside.  Arrive in Thingborg and visit the Wool Center, a good source for the genuine Icelandic woolen products.    Continue on to the hamlet of Hella and check in to the Hotel Laekur your home for the next 3 days. “Welcome to Iceland” dinner this evening and get acquainted with your fellow travelers.(B,D)

Day 3
Hella - Thorsmork - Gigjokull Glacier - Hella

The Adored Puffin
Thorsmork

Rise and shine-enjoy breakfast at Hotel Laekur.  Depart for  Eyjafjallajokull, the 6th largest glacier in Iceland, beneath its cap hides the volcano that erupted in 2010 and disrupted air traffic throughout the northern hemisphere.  Today you will visit Thorsmork, a hidden valley between three glaciers. You reach this verdant nature reserve by crossing lava fields and glacial rivers in a modified “Monster” truck – a exhilarating but safe experience, a adventure of a lifetime. Thorsmork  is a popular place for hikers, the “Ring of Basar” is a easy 1.5m walk.  Buffet lunch is served at Volcano Huts in Husadalur. On your return visit Gigjokull glacier with its giant icicle ravines – a good introduction to the “Land of Fire and Ice.” Dinner at Hotel Laekur. Enjoy the outside “hot pot” or the sauna. (B,L,D)

Day 4
Hella - Gulfoss - Geysir - Fridheimar Farm - Hvolsvollur - Hella

Beautiful Icelandic Landscapes
Magnificent Gullfoss

Depart the Hotel Laekur after breakfast for a full day’s excursion that includes some of the major natural attractions in Iceland. Gulfoss is the majestic waterfall that spans the Hvita River, known as one of the world’s most beautiful gorges.  A short drive will then take you to the west lakes to the next phenomenon, the “Geysir Geothermal Area”.  The Geysir is the first geyser ever mentioned in text;  the one for which all geysers are named.  Though it rarely erupts the nearby “Strokkur” keeps the show alive erupting every 4 to 8 minutes.

Drive on to Fridheimar Farm, an amazing greenhouse and horse breeding complex.  Tour the greenhouses to gain insight into the uses of geothermal heating in Iceland.  Savor a delicious lunch then enjoy a horse show that provides insight into the remarkable Icelandic horse breed.  The final destination today is Hvolsvollur, a small town, the scene of Njal’s Saga, the masterpiece of the famous Icelandic sagas. You are invited to participate in an ongoing project here where  the goal is to sew Njal’s Saga in tapestry form.  Return to Hotel Laekur for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 5
Hella - Seljalandsfoss & Skogafoss Waterfalls - Skaftafell National Park

Heydalur Activities”
Skogafoss

Depart Hella after breakfast for southern Iceland.  Todays visit will include Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls and the Skogar Folk Museum.  Lunch break in Vik i Myrdal, the southernmost village in Iceland.   Continue  driving east across the vast Myrdalssandur glacial plain where the immense Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe will offer spectacular views.  Arrive at Jokulsarlon a glacial lagoon that is 1500 deep making it Iceland’s second deepest lake.  Enjoy a amphibian boat excursion where you sail among the icebergs and enjoy this unique scenery.  You may be lucky and catch seals sunning themselves on the floating ice.  Overnight at the Hotel Skaftafell located just outside Skaftafell National Park.  (B,D)

Day 6
Skaftafell Ntl Park - Reynisfjara - Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar)

Icelandic Horses
Herjolfur

After breakfast enjoy the environment of Skaftafell National Park where the glacier is literally on the doorstep of your hotel.  Enjoy a 1-1/2 hour walk through the park with a expert tour guide or a more adventurous glacial hike (optional) of Falljokull.  Take the short drive to Kirkjubaejarklaustur, a small village that has been shaped by catastrophic natural events that has created a stunning landscape.  Lunch then depart for Reynisfjara with its black sand and crushing  waves one of the most photographed attractions in Iceland.  Board the Herjolfur ferry for the short sail to Heimaey, the largest of the Westman Islands.  Check in at the Hotel Vestmannaeyjar. (B,D)

Day 7
Westman Islands

Geysir Geothermal Eruptions
The Adorable Puffins

You have not been to Iceland if you have not been to the Westman Islands, a archipelago of 15 islands – off the beaten path of most tours.  The isalnds were formed by submarine volcanic eruptions 11,000 years ago; the youngest island island is Surtsey.  The biggest island, Heimaey is the only permanently inhabited one and is the home to appx. 4300 people.  Your tour tour guide today is Pall, once the mayor of Heimaey.  Visit the Volcano Museum and the lava fields.  Lunch at Canton Restaurant then have a afternoon of leisure with no program.  Optional horse ride on Icelandic horses is available at Lyngfell farm.  Visit Brothers Brewery for a fun lecture about the brewing of beet…followed by a tasting.  Good beer, good cheer with a welcoming atmosphere.  Dinner tonight at the “900 Grillhouse”.  (B,L,D)

Day 8
Westman Islands- Selfoss - Reykjavik

Reykjavik
Reykjavik

Today take a exciting excursion by boat around Vestmannaeyjar.  With a excellent view from the ocean you can view the cliffs teeming with puffins and other birds.  Surtsey, a newly formed volcanic island with a rugged lava coastline and colorful caves will also be in your view.  Depart by ferry to the mainland, upon arrival transfer to Stokkseyri a charming fishing village renowned for its magical lobster soup. Proceed to Selfoss, Gudrun Erla’s home town. Enjoy meeting family and friends of your fearless leader, a excellent opportunity to experience how Icelanders live.

Continue to Reykjavik by shortest route and check in at Hotel Arnarhvoll located across the street from the Harpa Concert Hall.  Your location is in the heart of the city with restaurants, shopping and nightlife on your doorstep.  Remainder of day is at leisure. (B,L)

Day 9
Reykjavik - Free Day

Renowned Icelandic Quilting Master Gudrun Erla
Reykjavik In Summer

Credit: GE Quilt Designs

Breakfast at the hotel – morning at leisure without a program. There is lots to choose from on how to spend your free day. You may visit the Whale Museum, the Museum of Iceland or attend a concert at the Harpa Concert Hall. (B)

Day 10
Reykjavik - Quilting Workshop

Blue Lagoon Hot Springs
Renowned Icelandic Quilting Master Gudrun Erla

Breakfast at hotel and morning at leisure without a program.  Early afternoon transfer to the Hotel Midgardur where there will be a Quilting workshop in their conference room where our Gudrun Erla Gisladottir will teach the class. The class will include both the American group as well as Icelandic quilters who will all mingle and learn together as Gudrun gives her instructions in both languages, English and Icelandic. Sewing machines will be provided and shared. Gudrun will bring her latest creations of designs and quilts that have not been seen before.

After the workshop attend a Quilt Show & Tell in the hotel. Show will feature quilts made by Icelandic quilters, quilts brought by tour members and quilts designed and made by Gudrun Erla.  After the show attend a “Farewell To Icelandic” dinner served at Islenski Barinn, located next door to your hotel.  Tour members and Icelandic Quilters will participate – about 40 guests are expected. (B, D)

 

Day 11
Reykjavik - Return to the United States

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

This is your last day in Iceland.  After breakfast check out of the hotel Arnarhvoll for the Reykjanes peninsula, where both the Blue Lagoon and Keflavik Airport are located.

Upon arrival at the Blue Lagoon (optional) we will spend two hours enjoying the lagoon and the adjacent facilities.  the rent of towels is included with your admission.  For those that do not participate in the Blue Lagoon visit you can have a few more hours for shopping or take a last walk through the pretty city of Reykjavik before departing for the airport and your flight home. (B)