The new conversation hearts…”on fleek.”
The new conversation hearts…”on fleek.”
Walking in someone else’s footsteps…
Dear ol’ Dad
iPhone image processed with Tangled
Week 2: Traditional Landscape
Just before the rain
Time for a new challenge!
This year it’s Dogwood Photography’s 52-week project. Week One was already a stretch with one of my least favorite things—the self-portrait.
This is the last part of a German Christmas market series. Part 1 (Aachen) can be found here. Part 2 (Monschau) can be found here. Part 3 (Köln) can be found here.
For the final leg of this whirlwind Christmas market tour, I made my way to Nürnberg, home to one of Germany’s oldest and most famous markets.
Nürnberg’s market is known as the Christkindlmarkt (Christ child market), held on the Hauptmarkt square in the old town.
The “Rauschgoldengel” (gold foil angel) is a symbol of Nürnberg’s Christmas market. In one of the legends involving the angel, a father was grieving over the death of his daughter. One night, she visited him in a dream, appearing angelic in a golden dress. When he woke, he crafted a doll made of metal to preserve the memory. It later became tradition for people to place the angel decoration on top of the Christmas tree.
Nürnberg’s market is big on tradition.
The Frauenkirche is where, on the Friday before first Advent, the Christkind delivers her famous prologue that officially opens the market. In the square, there are 180 stalls decorated uniformly with red and white striped awnings, live green garland, and white lights.
There are strict rules about what can be sold here: only traditional food and handcrafted items. Let’s talk about the food first.
Another thing Nürnberg is known for: bratwurst. There are rules about the bratwurst produced here, too. Each sausage link must be between 7-9cm, weigh between 20-25 g, and be made within the city limits to be called Nürnberger bratwurst.
Some more of the sweets found here:
A popular souvenir from the Christkindlmarkt: the prune men. These originated sometime in the 18th century, said to be the creation of a father who wanted a gift for his children but only had some wire and the plum tree in front of their house.
Of the four markets I visited on this trip, I would say Nürnberg offered the best shopping for gifts and traditional souvenirs.
A short walk from the Christkindlmarkt is the imperial castle Kaiserburg, offering lovely panoramic views of the city.
It was good having two days in Nürnberg. A few more would’ve been even better.
One thing I liked about the Christkindlmarkt is that, rather than having multiple markets spread out in different areas, everything is right there in the old town. Walking is easy. No need to look at a map.
Just north of the square, there is the smaller Market of the Sister Cities with two dozen or so stalls offering international goods. Then there is also the really well-done Kinderweihnacht market featuring a beautiful, two-tiered carousel, ferris wheel, and numerous hands-on activities geared to small children.
If you go: in case I didn’t rave strongly enough earlier in this post, the bratwurst and lebkuchen are a MUST. Seriously. No lebkuchen I’ve ever had either in the States or even in Germany compares. It’s that good. As with the printen in Aachen, you can buy the lebkuchen in packages of six, so they’re great to bring home to give as gifts or hoard them all for yourself. :)
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After two days in the beautiful city of Nürnberg, it was time to head home. Four markets in five days…far too short, but the trip still exceeded my expectations. Not only did I enjoy experiencing a variety of markets ranging from cozy and romantic to the mother of all markets and everything in between, but I learned that with Christmas markets, it’s not a case of seen-one-you’ve-seen-’em-all. Each city or town had its own vibe, unique traditions, and culinary specialties.
So, which would be my favorite? Here’s how I’d rank them:
Have you been to any Christmas markets? Which is your favorite?
This is part three of a four-part series on German Christmas markets. Part 1 (Aachen) can be found here. Part 2 (Monschau) can be found here.
Besides being the most difficult German city to pronounce, Köln (let’s just say “Cologne,” shall we?) was a complete MADHOUSE. In the main Christmas market under the Dom, it was wall-to-wall congestion of people when we arrived mid-day, making it nearly impossible to approach any of the stalls. I learned it was especially busy that day because it was one of the few Sundays a year when the city’s regular shops would be open.
I had hoped to climb the Dom and get some bird’s eye photos of the square below, but signs posted indicated the observation deck was closed that day. Bummer.
So, we stayed away from the Dom and opted instead to visit a few of the other six markets, including the Alter Markt, Markt der Engel, and Christmas Avenue, each of which has its own unique atmosphere.
The Alter Markt is a short 5-minute walk from the Dom square. Its theme is “Heimat der Heinzels,” or “Land of the Gnomes.”
After a pit stop at the LEGO store, we moved onto the favorite market of Ivanka’s 6-year-old daughter: Christmas Avenue, the gay and lesbian market known for its bright and shiny decor.
In the early evening, I parted ways with Ivanka’s family and met up with some of my relatives on my mother’s side. We met at the Markt der Engel (Angel’s Market), which is held on the Neumarkt in the heart of Köln’s shopping district.
We enjoyed catching up over waffles and glühwein here before rain arrived, and unfortunately, cut short our time at the markets.
And that was it for my one day in Köln. I most enjoyed the three markets away from the Dom. As breathtaking a backdrop as it is, the crowd there was just unbearable to me.
If you go: to state the obvious, spend more than one day, if possible. With seven diverse markets spread throughout the city, it takes a good 2-3 days to enjoy them all. Be prepared for crowds. Köln’s markets attract nearly two million visitors per year. If I returned, I’d probably try to visit mid-week.
Next (and final) stop: one of Germany’s biggest and most popular markets, Nürnberg