[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A Special Magic in the European Christmas Markets
Welcome to my corner……of the world! It’s a great pleasure to join The Travel Mechanic team as a monthly guest blogger!
I invite you to travel along with me through my blog articles and many pictures. My love for travel started at a very early age through the wonderful opportunity to live, grow up and go to school in England. The experience was life-changing, and it was the catalyst for my long-time passion of exploring the beautiful and interesting places that other people call home.
If you want to add the best kind of whimsy and Christmas magic to your holiday season, plan a trip to the Christmas markets in Europe! This is an experience that you need to add to your bucket list. I’ve mentioned in past blogs that I’ve never actually made a bucket list. However, I keep having experiences that fall into my “I’m So Glad I Did It” list, and my recent trip to the Christmas markets in Prague and in Germany is at the top. Our trip was a combination land tour in Prague followed by a five-day river cruise from Nuremberg to Frankfurt on a wonderful Avalon river cruise aboard Artistry II.
The earliest Christmas markets were reported in the 14th century in Germany and the tradition continues to be an important part of the Advent season from December 1st to December 24th. Most cities and towns in Germany and throughout Europe have markets, and each one of them thinks that theirs is the best! I found a unique feature and “vibe” at each market so I was convinced that wherever I was at the moment was the best![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]HINT – if you plan to visit Christmas markets on a river cruise or a land tour, book now for 2019! Yes, these trips sell out well over a year in advance.
Christmas markets are located in the main city squares and there is constant activity amidst cafés, restaurants and shops. Often, the beautiful town church anchors the square where there are impressive sculptures and fountains. Prague has an imposing historical monument and the churches of St. Nicholas and Our Lady over Tyn. Nuremberg features a magnificent carved and painted fountain and the Frauenkirche.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image onclick=”link_image” image=”3468″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A stroll through the market is a feast for the eyes and for the taste buds! You’ll find traditional handmade figurines made of prunes and walnut shells (Nuremberg Prune Men) , Christkind dolls, crystal ornaments, nutcrackers and smokers.
The culinary offerings are just as traditional — pork knuckle and Trdelnik (sugar-coated rolled pastry cooked over an open fire) in Prague. In Nuremberg you will find a great assortment of sausages from miniature (a sandwich with three small sausages on a roll) to a whopper measuring over 18 inches!
Nowhere is the traditional Lebkuchen (spiced and fruit-filled cookie which we often think of as gingerbread) more delectable than in Nuremberg although it’s available at every market. Booths are bursting with the beautifully decorated cookies — it’s confection heaven![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image onclick=”link_image” image=”3467″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3466″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3469″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image onclick=”link_image” image=”3454″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Munich has a huge evergreen tree that dominates the Marienplatz. The wooden stalls give the appearance of an alpine village and, if you are fortunate enough to have snow, you’ll feel as if you’re in a snow globe! It’s truly enchanting! Although it is cold in December, there is plenty of opportunity to warm up during your market visit. You can relax with a coffee inside a heated café patio and observe the bustle of holiday visitors.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]HINT – be sure to dress warmly! Think down-filled coat, warm gloves, hat and boots. It gets cold when you’re outside for hours. I was happy that I had bought a faux chinchilla hat in Budapest in May in anticipation of this trip. The one day that I thought I didn’t need it, I had to buy a wool hat at the market![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image img_size=”large” onclick=”link_image” image=”3470″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image img_size=”large” alignment=”right” onclick=”link_image” image=”3471″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]To accompany your sweets, enjoy a steaming mug of Glühwein (hot mulled wine) served in a souvenir mug. You pay for the beverage ( €2 – 3) and an equal deposit for the decorated market mug. You may return the mug and get your deposit back, or you may prefer to keep your mug as a souvenir. I ended up coming home with five mugs — one from each market!
HINT – take a sturdy, reusable, waterproof shopping bag with you or buy one in a souvenir shop near the market. I never saw bags for sale at the market itself and the prices are variable in nearby shops. I found a great bag with a zipper in Slovakia last year (about €7) and have taken it on every trip since. It’s one of my best purchases.
Another Hint – although some of the merchants do take credit cards, it’s much easier to use cash for small purchases.
Some travelers “shop till they drop” at the markets while others (like myself) mostly browse, take in the ambiance and drink gluhwein!
Whichever type you are, you will return home with a wealth of beautiful memories![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]