Friday, December 17, 2010

A visit to German Christmas markets

Last year we started a tradition. Each Christmas season we visit a different Christmas market. After some thought this year we decided to head to Düsseldorf in Germany for a weekend.

The city had a number of small markets, much smaller in size than the ones in Köln, which we visited last year. We spent a day drinking glühwein from our coloured mugs, to keep us warm and walking around the little wooden huts each housing a different shop.The huts sell all sorts of things, not all Christmas related. Many showed local craftsmanship while others were selling all types of local food. Somehow we all managed to spend more money than planned!  We ate so much food, obviously starting with a bradwurst sandwich, followed by marshmallows covered in chocolate (luckily for me there was another chocolate lover in the group), followed by mushrooms in gravy, potato fritters and yummy bread with pork meat and onions. And that was just during one afternoon!

If you're planning to go to a Christmas market be ready to walk a day in the cold weather, so try to wear comfortable and warm clothes. The markets are very popular with foreigners, this one particularly popular with the Dutch, so be ready to miss some of the most crowded huts and push your way around in some sections. The markets are children friendly, but pushchairs are not very easy to move around. All this popularity means that for most of the evening most bars and restaurants are full. If you want a nice sit down meal be prepared to be rejected at many restaurants and be ready for a long waiting time!

 Düsseldorf can be easily reached from the Netherlands, with trains of just over 2 hours from Amsterdam. If you're visiting by car you have to make sure to get the Milueu stickers for Germany. These you obtain from ANWB pretty quickly. Also since December 1 2010 you will need winter tires fitted on your car while driving in Germany, otherwise you might get fined.

We had a great time on our short visit and will be looking forward to visiting a different market next year!

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