In which I reminisce about the most awesome run up to Christmas ever
So technically an old post, but it’s December and I want to talk about German Christmas markets, OK? It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.
I love German Christmas markets. Fact. I’m sure everyone who visits them also enjoys them as much as me, but seriously they are simply the most Christmassy things ever. I spent the November and December of 2009 (whilst I was on my Year Abroad) exploring some local to me where I was living in Plauen, Saxony (Sachsen). I plan to return someday, and to take Mother as she’s never been and I’ll know she’ll love them (this is now in writing, Mother!).
I went to 5 German Christmas markets on my Year Abroad: Plauen, (where I lived), Chemnitz, Nürnberg, Dresden and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I wanted to show you some photos (as I was trawling through them and smiling so much) so thought I’d republish them on here, with a little information about each of the markets themselves. Each one was special and honestly, I could not get tired of all the good food and drink available, as well as the different stalls selling everything from decorations, clothes, toys and more. If I wasn’t spending Christmas in New Zealand this year, I’d definitely be hankering a lot more after a return to Germany!
Now, I have no idea how I don’t have any photos from my home town German Christmas market, but will a photo of cocktails be enough?!
Plauen was a fairly small town, so obviously the offerings of stalls were no so great, however they did have live music and lots and lots of Glühwein (mulled wine, you’ll need to learn this word, I’m going to use it a lot!) so that satisfied myself and Steph and Nichola who were visiting at the time. There was also snow, which made the square look extra Christmassy. What was great about Plauen was the Christmas decorations. The town itself is very famous for lace, so there were a lot of beautiful lace decorations. I bought some and they now feature regularly in my family Christmas – my particular favourite being three snowmen dangling one below the other.
One other thing that I bought in Plauen were roasted and sugared nuts. There are so many different varieties at all the German Christmas markets, so having sampled pretty much all the varieties, I can confirm that pecans are the best.
Chemnitz was another German Christmas market I went to with Steph and Nichola. It was still located in Saxony, which meant on the train we could get a “Sachsen Group Day Ticket,” which meant we could travel anywhere in Sacshen as a group for that day. I think it cost around €26 at the time although I’ve just checked on bahn.de and it’s now €27 for 3 people for one day – still a bargain anyway!
Again, a fairly small market but interesting none the less with the different Christmas pyramids and decorations. Also this town featured a lot of penguins, so I was very happy!
This was somewhere I had visited as a child on a school German exchange, and being only 2 hours from Plauen I thought well worth a look back down memory lane, although having gone previously in summer it was definitely different to visit in the winter!
Nürnberg is a fairly famous city in the Bavarian region of Germany, for more than one reason throughout history. However, the Christmas market there is considered to be one of the best examples in all of Germany. The Christkindlesmarkt is watched over by the Christmas Angel, who is usually portrayed by a local teenage girl.
The capital of Sachsen, Steph, Nichola and I again visited it on a day ticket, although we actually stayed overnight too to experience the town in daytime and nighttime. The Streitzelmarkt is considered to be one of the oldest German Christmas markets, if not the oldest by some.
What Dresden is most famous for is Stollen, the German Christmas cake. Only Stollen in Dresden, the capital of Stollen, can be given the name ‘Dresdener Christstollen,” just like Cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce and other name based products. The market also boasts the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid at 14 metres high.
Yum. So many places to eat, so many things to see and so much Glühwein to be drunk!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
OK, so in 2009 this was technically the one I visited first, but I’ve left it last on this list for one reason: it was the most magical. This was another place that I’d previously visited on a school exchange, but again only in the daytime and many years previous.
I stayed for a night and was lucky enough to arrive on the evening of the opening of the Reiterlesmarkt, the name of the market in Rothenburg. The market was opened by the Reiter riding on a horse and lots of songs were sung.
Simply stunning, although the only thing that was missing was the snow, but I was a little early for that, it being the end of November when I arrived. The delicacy from Rothenburg is the Schneeballen, which is a ball which is about fist sized, made of sweet dough strips and covered in suger, chocolate, cinnamon or other sweet goodness.
Here is a picture of Steph getting her jaws around one in Dresden:
The town hall has windows which they use as an advent calendar in December with all the windows. Again, as it was November it hadn’t started at that point.
The town is worth a visit whether Christmas or not. The Reiter is also the Nightwatchman, a man who runs a tour twice every night (one in English and one in German) about the history of the town. Well worth a listen and his English jokes have also been honed down the years too.
German Christmas markets are magical. Truly. I have so many beautiful pictures from these fantastic places that I cannot show you them all. I also have other souvenirs in the form of Glühwein mugs from each market. When you buy Glühwein, you usually pay about €4,50, of which €2 is usually a pfand, or a deposit which you get back when you hand the mug back (most places have many mug return stalls, as after a few mugs you can forget where you bought the Glühwein from!). Alternatively, like me, you can just keep the mugs. So stealing, but not really, as I’ve technically paid €2 for it! Other alternatives to Glühwein is hot chocolate served with a shot of spirit, usually vodka, whiskey or something of your choice. Go for hot chocolate and amaretto – simply amazing!I hope this has whet your Christmas appetite! If you’re looking to getaway last minute to Germany, check out this site to see when the markets are on in the different towns and cities in Germany. Or, bookmark it for next year, as this was the site I used way back in 2009 – it is regularly updated!