Robert and I are completely disenchanted with the hassle air travel so we’ve begun traveling by train! Living in central Aarhus, 15 minutes walk from the central station, we can reach pretty much anywhere in Europe by train… we can get to Prague in a day, which is pretty cool. A couple weekends ago, we took a long weekend in Hamburg by first class train to see the Christmas Markets.
There are quite a few Christmas Markets in Hamburg, but my favorites were the Rathausmarkt, and the Weisser Zauber Market which is located on the promenade that runs along the Binnenalster. I had high hopes for the “naughty” market in St. Pauli, but it turned out not to be very naughty, though they redeemed themselves with veggie burgers and falafel!
The Rathausmarkt is one the most famous German Christmas markets, its booths are divided into food, handicrafts, and toys. Millions of fairy lights make it absolutely magical after nightfall, but the best part is when Santa comes flying in and hovers above the market, speaking to market visitors against the backdrop of the beautiful city hall. He of course speaks German, so I couldn’t understand him, but his way of saying, “Ho, ho, ho, kleine Kinder…” sounded a bit creepy.
Sweet almonds, candied apples, gingerbread, roasted chestnuts, and sausages are the among the most popular food items at the Hamburg Christmas Markets. And of course, no visit would be complete without a mug (or two) of Glühwein!
I think Glühwein is better in theory than reality… if you’ve never tried it, imagine horrid boxed red wine warmed with winter spices, and you’re close. But strolling around the Markets with Robert, bundled up and sipping Glühwein amongst the fairy lights is one of my best memories!
The Markets were most enjoyable on Thursday and early Friday. Come Friday evening and Saturday, the crowds sort of carried us along and it was difficult to see anything. So, if the German Christmas Markets are on your bucket list, I suggest visiting during the week for the best experience.
Would I travel a far distance to visit the Markets? No. Robert and I had a wonderful time, but if we’d traveled from the States just to see the Markets, we’d have been sorely disappointed. We’re planning to make the Christmas Markets an annual trip for as long as we live on the Continent; next year, we’d like to go to Vienna by night train.
Overall, the Markets are quite small, and a commercialized version of their historical selves. As you can probably imagine, prices are jacked, a small mug of Glühwein set us back €3.00, plus a €2.00 deposit on the mug. I’d love to visit Christmas Markets in the smaller villages of Bavaria, and since Robert speaks fluent German, we probably will. That said, it was a romantic and cozy place to be, and it gave me the feeling that now I’ve really done Christmas in Europe. I still can’t believe that this is my life!
Happy Christmas to my celebrating Readers :)