Originally Written: December 24, 2017
One of my family’s favorite new traditions here in Germany is visiting Christmas markets during the holiday season. It’s a new custom but one I couldn’t imagine skipping. The mulled wine, warm waffles, overpriced rides all come together to create exploratory day trips to European countries. I see more of the cities surrounding me during the holiday season than I do at any other time of the year. That’s because every Saturday we’re walking the streets, looking in shop windows, listening to our world neighbors. It’s a lovely way to experience the culture, and I cannot believe I only have one more year to get my market fix.
This year, Alex and I blended old with new and took turns returning to old favorites and discovering new locations.
Starting off the season was the Luxembourg Weihnachtsmarkt.
About an hour and half’s drive from us, this market was right in the city center and provided excellent views of the area. The stalls were separated into three different areas; my group only visited two of them. The first one had the kid rides and sold my favorite mug of the year.
Our good friends joined us for this market, which meant we spent a lot of time finding foods acceptable for the younger crowd and taking turns riding rickety contraptions. (My poor friend Ashley drew the short straw and had to take all four kiddos at once. She really took one for the team in that regard.) For lunch, I had homemade bread with a cream cheese spread, peppers, and paprika. The dish was new and unique and quite tasty.
he best part about this visit was the discovery of an awesome park near our parking garage.
The next weekend my family hit two classics in one day. We began our afternoon at Bernkastel and ended at Dudeldorf.
Dudeldorf’s market was extremely crowded and difficult to navigate. I tried to look at a few stalls but there were too many people standing around, and I was worried I’d lose sight of one of my kids. Alas, I think that’s the last year I’ll venture to this market.
Bernkastel, on the other hand, was wonderful. It seems we must pick one of the coldest weekends of the month to visit this market, because just like last year it was freezing! Thank goodness there was gluhwein at every turn to warm our bodies. A city set along the Mosel River, its half-timbered houses and cobbled streets have to be the most beautiful setting for a Christmas market. The center flaunts a massive tree and windows transformed into an Advent calendar.
Alex and I have kept the mugs we received with our drinks from both last year and this, and I am already looking forward to getting a third one next year. If I had to pick one market to see next year, it would be this one.
Another weekend brought us to Alex’s favorite, Sankt Wendel. Half medieval market, half traditional Christmas market this town has it all. Delicious food, including the best chimney cakes around, camels led by three wise men, live music, a hill for tubing, and even two reindeer.
Alex can’t pinpoint why, exactly, he loves this market as much as he does, but something about its offerings captivates his interests. I think Landon and Evie would pick this one as their favorite, as well, due to the activities and live animals. It was certainly the one they complained the least at while touring.
Our final market before Christmas was all the way in Metz, France. It took about an hour and a half to get there but was worth the lengthy drive due to the Disney ice sculptures on exhibit. Plus, the market was unusually empty that morning. No lines for food or drinks, lots of open sidewalks to let the kids run, and nobody blocking the displays. Alex and I ordered lunch from a Swiss stand and split a sandwich made from fresh bread, cheese, and bacon. As well as a potato soup with onions and cheese. Both dishes were delicious! And, not going to lie, a nice change from the usual bratwurst fare.
The Disney ice sculptures cost us 30 Euros to see, which was a little overpriced for what it was. However, they were beautiful and richly detailed and was something the kids got a kick out of seeing. In addition to Cinderella, Olaf, Darth Vader, (Captain) Jack Sparrow, etc they also had an ice sled and a chair and an ice slide available to use. Because the lighting was dark and pink lights were used to illuminate the sculptures most of my pictures turned out terrible, but I’ll include one to showcase the amazing intricacies involved in each statue.
Funny. When I lived in Florida, I saw creations made out of sand. I move to Germany and see works made out of ice. Really goes to show any platform can be used when an artist is talented and creative enough.
Alex and I were really happy we got to see a mix of markets this year and experience as many as we did. Naturally, there are people stationed with us who visited dozens more than us, but with two young kids and our tendency not to drink or spend a lot, we are very content with our five accomplishments. As I mentioned earlier, it’s sad to think about only having one more year to do these kind of trips, but that just means they are going to be extra special. We’re creating memories that are going to stay in our hearts for many Christmases to come.