This is part two of a four-part series on German Christmas markets. Part 1 (Aachen) can be found here.
From Aachen, it’s about 20 miles (45-minute drive by car) to Monschau, a small town set in the hills of the Eifel Mountains along the valley of the River Rur, close to the Belgian border. Since parking is limited in Monschau, we opted for one of several available park-and-ride shuttle services (3€ round trip), which depart for Monschau every 10-15 minutes.
Monschau offers one of the smaller markets (note: it’s open only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the four weekends of Advent) but is packed with charm. It’s no wonder tourists flock here year-round. With its half-timbered houses and narrow cobblestone streets that show hardly any change from the past 300 years, Monschau makes you feel like you’re stepping back in time.
As in Aachen, there was a choice: make a serious photography attempt or simply enjoy the experience. Since crowds + tripods ≠ my idea of fun, for me, it was a no-brainer. Later on, when I saw one gentleman struggling to find a bit of space for his tripod, it confirmed my decision to leave mine back at the hotel once again.
On the other hand, there was the matter of glühwein or eierpunsch?
I went with the eierpunsch, an “egg punch” made with eggs, spices, rum, and white wine—similar to egg nog except it’s served warm rather than cold.
At all the markets, hot drinks are served in ceramic mugs, for which you pay a 2-3€ pfand, or deposit. You can return the mug and get your deposit back, or you can keep the mug as a souvenir. Most markets have the name of the town/city and often the year printed on it.
If you go: don’t go for the shopping. It’s not like other markets where there are strict regulations about merchandise quality. There’s not as much of the traditional handcrafted “made in Germany” items here. Go for the food, drink, and ambience as you stroll through the town. It’s the kind of quaint and romantic atmosphere that’s hard to find anywhere else.
Next up: Köln (Cologne)