Saturday, 29 June 2013

Weihnachtmarkets (Edited: Now with Pictures)

Our last week in Berlin happened to coincide with the opening of the Weihnachtmarkets, or Christmas Markets. Having heard from many German friends that these markets are what they missed most about Germany, I was keen to check them out. It also proposed a good solution to our problem of what to get family for Christmas on an almost non-existent budget.

The first Weihnachtmarket we hit up was the Lucia, a Scandinavian-themed market located in Prenzlauer Berg’s Kulturbrauerei. We chose this one because it was close, which meant that David could spare some time to come with us, and because it had Scandinavian glögg on offer, a new version of mulled wine to try. We quickly found that the main offerings of the market were alcohol and meat, with a few stalls here & there where one could purchase little gifts. So we fortified ourselves with glögg and went for a wander, with the good luck of getting gifts for all of David’s family at this market. After a heavy afternoon of shopping we refreshed ourselves with some boulette am brot from a little wooden shack – David couldn’t resist trying the burgers as they were cooked on a giant swinging iron grill over an open fire. The food was delicious and gave us the energy we needed to haul our tired selves back to Wedding. 
A hot mug of glögg
Roast meats!
Walter and I dedicated one day to visiting various markets in Mitte. The first one we went to was the rather posh Weihnachtmarket in the Gendarmenmarkt. You had to pay to enter this one if you came in the afternoon, so we made sure to get there a little early. It was a really pretty market, and all the door keepers were wearing period dress to try and fit with the Gendarmenmarkt ambience. The stalls were pretty ritzy, for the most part, and a few restaurants had even set up shop. Considering this market is just off of Unter den Linden and fairly near the embassies it’s not a huge surprise. 

I’d planned to get lunch at one of the markets and I couldn’t resist trying the Neuburger Rahmbrot when I saw the cute little hut and crowd of hungry, happy Germans surrounding it. The bread was fresh made while I waited and I got to watch the process from start to finish before enjoying my treat. Fresh baked bread with sour cream, bacon, & green onions? Yes please!

How could I resist?

Plus it was made in the cutest little hut!
My plan was to walk to the big Christmas Market at Alexanderplatz, but along the way I got distracted by a little one on Museum Island. The markets were all selling the same goods with the exception of one or two special stalls, and the real winner at this one was a little booth of Russian goods, including some lovely hand painted pieces. 

Market the Second
As darkness fell we finally reached Alexanderplatz, home of the city’s largest Christmas Market. The highlight here was discovering that the Neptunbrunnen was turned into a giant skating rink, complete with some Strauss recordings for background music. I think Walter & I spent about an hour checking out all the different booths and trying desperately to finish our Christmas shopping (success after asking the intercession of St Anthony!). We even managed to buy some quarkbällchen with currants in them as a treat for David, since he couldn’t come with us. 

Alexanderplatz -- note the birds circling for scraps

The giant fountain of Neptune was turned into a skating rink, complete with piped-in Strauss
We returned to our flat exhausted but triumphant – Christmas shopping completed, on budget, and everything small & light enough to fit in our suitcases for the next stage of our journey: Home for Christmas!

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