We have all sung Christmas carols describing snowmen and have given Christmas cards depicting beautiful wintry scenes at this time of year.
It’s Christmas, but for many of us — especially in Shepparton — it means hot days, swimming in the pool and enjoying crisp salads with cold refreshing ice-cream.
Little in common with our Northern Hemisphere counterparts.
While I spent a number of years in Japan enjoying a very white Christmas, it missed the magical atmosphere of what I was to discover in Europe.
After returning from Japan I made a last-minute decision and I found myself in Paris in December with just a backpack, snowshoes and camera.
What awaited me was a destination of culinary delights with stunning winter scenery.
After exploring Paris for a few days on my own, my mum flew from Australia to meet me, complete with her snowshoes also strapped onto her backpack.
We found our way soon to Stuttgart in Germany, where I had reserved a hire car with snow tyres.
The markets in Stuttgart were breathtaking. I had never seen anything like it.
That evening we were entrenched in markets rich in Christmas delights.
Colours of reds, golds and green contrasting against a steely blue sky were a truly fantasy landscape.
And it was only a taste of what was to come.
Our itinerary took us through Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, France and back into Germany.
We had not set a plan for our trip apart from spending as much time in the mountains as possible.
The days were spent snowshoeing and exploring with the evenings driving to towns and villages to experience the warming Christmas markets.
Hot chocolate as thick as soup with ripe wheels of brie and camembert were just some of the delights to eat walking through festive villages.
It was my second trip to explore the mountainous peaks of the Italian Dolomites and the second time to lose my heart in one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes.
Basing ourselves in the village of Caviola we were able to explore the region, including seeing the sun set on the storybook village of Alleghe.
We soon found ourselves driving through the Swiss Alps and putting the car on the Lötschberg Car Train to avoid mountain roads closed for winter.
Arriving at the mountain resort town of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps was breathtaking to be based at the foot of the Matterhorn for a few days.
Evening walks around the town watching locals play curling after hearty meals of rösti topped off the winter wonderland experience.
Our 14-day trip ended back in France at the famous 30m Strasbourg Christmas tree, sipping mulled wine while looking back on our adventures travelling through a Christmas storybook.