This month finds us all over Germany and surrounding countries on what our friend has called the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All Tour of Europe”! After being on the go nonstop, illness caught up to us and put me completely of commission for the past week, hence the dragged feet on my next post. For me, it’s been less writing, more sleep and tea and Harry Potter.
The following is all the magical land of German Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmärkte), which can be found at this time of year just about anywhere you go! You can’t go wrong with these places that light up the dark winter evenings that last too long, offer warm drinks, and stall after stall of things to eat, drink, buy or if you’re like me, just gawk at. There are all sorts of clever crafts for sale that might be commonplace for a typical German but have been novel to me, like games and toys and cozy hot water bottle covers (!)–the list goes on. Ah, Glühwein (mulled wine), Lumumba (a delicious spiked hot chocolate with whipped cream, named after Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba–not a huge fan of the name bc y’know racism; also apparently called Tote Tante/”dead aunt”), Reibekuchen (potato pancakes aka latkes) crispy and freshly hot out of the fryer, and tons of other local goodies that I didn’t think to record the names of because I was enjoying them too quickly. So, here are Weihnachtsmärkte from Bonn and nearby towns Rech, Ahrweiler, Siegburg, Köln, Frankfurt, even Vienna, Prague, and Berlin!
We took a day trip to Rech and hopped off the train in Ahrweiler on the way back, following the masses of pensioners who had the same idea. Ended the day at the tremendously awesome Siegburg medieval-themed Christmasmarket, which doesn’t use electricity, so it was very dark and candlelit and instead of Euros they charged you Taler, a very old form of German currency. I saved the clay Glühwein cup from this one, which has a dragon carved into it. The system for purchasing beverages at such markets is such: when you purchase the drink, you pay for the beverage itself (maybe 2,50€ for Glühwein) plus a deposit/Pfand on the container it comes in (maybe another 2,50€), whether it’s a mug, glass, tankard, etc. When you’re finished with your drink, you can return it to the counter and get your deposit back, or you can keep your cup as a keepsake of the fond memory of having visited this particular market or stall. Many of them have clever designs and are specific to the location and year, so unique. I’ve also been told that it’s kind of a sneaky way for those who run the stall to make extra money off of people who have had a little too much Glühwein and forget about getting their deposit back, maybe leaving their cup somewhere else.
We took an evening trip to Köln one day and wandered through a whole bunch of them! The most obvious one being at the Kölner Dom, which fares on the shopping-mall side of the spectrum, but the funnest one there being the gnome-themed “Home of the Heinzelmann”. Apparently legend has it that Köln was built with the help of these Heinzelmännchen!
Frankfurt and a sneak peek of our travels to Vienna, Prague, and Berlin!
Frohe Weihnachten, everyone.