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that's German for "Christmas Market."

snow -1 °C

We've been to two German Christmas Markets now, and I'm just dying to tell you all about them. First of all, you must understand that, in Germany, as one of our tourist maps informed us, Christmas ("Weihnacht") is A Very Big Deal. They start setting up the first Weihnachtsmarkts in early November. In fact, we saw one under construction near the art history museum in Vienna when we were there, around about November 5th or 6th. The Weihnachtsmarkt in Dresden wasn't open yet when we were there, but it's apparently the oldest one in Germany, so it's a really big deal. Anyway, these Christmas Markets open in mid to late November, and then that's where everyone goes to shop, hang out, drink, eat, socialize (you get the idea) for the next month. Imagine a giant farmer's market, only each stand is a little wooden house with a counter for serving and selling, and everything is decorated with evergreen boughs, lights, red apples, tin ornaments, etc. Now add snow, 14th-century churches, cobblestones, and glühwein. Ah, perfect!

Lübeck Weihnachtsmarkt.

Sandra took us to the Kiel Weihnachtsmarkt the night before last, which she and her friends complained was not very big or very exciting. It seemed pretty big to me, but then yesterday we took the train with Sandra and her friend Britta to Lübeck and spent four hours in the Weihnachtsmarkt there. There were different sections of Weihnachtsmarkt all over the city: a Mediaeval market, a children's market, a big chunk of market in the main town square, and more off to the side with a huge Ferris Wheel and other rides - and then when we were leaving town we saw more market along the river! Lübeck is great because it didn't get bombed to smithereens during WWII, so it actually does have 14th-century buildings. It's a beautiful old city. We started out with some bratwurst and deep-fried cauliflower in the main section of the market, and then we went to check out the famous Niederegger marzipan shop. Wow, what a place! They had EVERYTHING made of marzipan. They also had every kind of Christmas kitsch you could ever possibly want, and a cafe, and something else upstairs that we didn't check out. Niederegger is supposedly the best marzipan in the world, so we each ate a little chocolate-covered marzipan heart. Here's a photo of some marzipan fruits and vegetables:


After the marzipan shop, which was pretty overwhelming, we wandered into the Mediaeval market and found a stand selling hot mead and hot red wine they were calling "Dragon's Blood." We had some. It was delicious. We wandered some more - Sandra wanted to find a waffle. There seemed to be no waffles to be had anywhere, so we had some hot eierpunsch and glühwein instead. Eierpunsch is a little bit like egg nog, but more alcoholic. It's made with "egg liquor" (I have no idea what that really is) and cream, etc. We sampled some Amaretto-candied-almonds. Still no waffles. Time for more glühwein, or maybe some hot chocolate with mint liquor served up by young people dressed in traditional Finnish costumes. I'm fairly certain that the main purpose of a German Christmas Market is to get people to eat sausages and drink hot alcoholic drinks, because most food stands will have either bratwurst or glühwein or some combination of those along with whatever else they're selling. There are also stands selling gift items like jewelry, wooden handicrafts, toys and games, but there aren't nearly as many of these as there are food and drink stalls. I should add that there are plenty of hot non-alcoholic drinks as well, like winterapfel (apple juice) and numerous teas and coffees. Whatever you want to drink, they probably have it at the Weihnachtsmarkt. Sandra ended up getting a quark bällchen (like a spherical sour cream doughnut) because we couldn't find any waffles, and Jason got a bag of muzen (small pillow-shaped pieces of deep fried dough with sugar and cinnaman) to share. It was a cold day, and walking around outside for so long made us all grateful for our warm seats on the train back to Kiel. It started to snow on the way back, too, which seemed just right.

Lübeck gates on our way back to the train station.

I should add that there are lots more photos up on Flickr, so just go check out my photostream if you're interested.

Posted by arwyn 07:45 Archived in Germany

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