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Christmas Markets -- Summary

November 28 through December 23 , 2008

Written January 1

Dear Friends and Families,


OK. We've done our month-long research into German Christmas Markets. We visited 14 markets, more or less, in eight cities and towns. What did we see and what would we recommend?

First, all the markets have a certain similarity: high-calorie food, mediocre-but-addictive spiced wine, people having fun.

Second, each market has a flavor of its own. It's sometimes hard to identify what makes up this "flavor", but even the small markets differed from each other. Maybe it's the people, on both sides of the kiosk counters.

Third, all Christmas Markets look better at night than in the day. The crowds are also much larger.

Finally: our best-of nominations:

-- Largest: Nuremberg. I'm not sure "biggest" should be considered equivalent to "most varied", since it seemed like there were many overlapping kiosks. Question: Just how many lebkuchen kiosks does a place need?

-- Dullest: Ansbach, at noon on a Sunday.

-- Most Foreign Tourists: Rothenburg ob der Tauber.I don't mean this as a negative comment, just a report of a fact. We have gone to Rothenburg often enough that the tourists are just decoration and, at Christmas, varied decoration is appreciated.

-- Best Food: Probably Hamburg, Rathaus. Nowhere had gourmet food, but these are outdoor markets after all. Second place might be the half-meter wursts in Rothenburg. Other markets also had these extra-long dogs, but the ones in Rothenburg actually tasted good.

-- Most Unique: Hamburg, St. Pauli. I mean, an X-rated Christmas Market? It's a hard concept to top.

-- Most Crowded: Hamburg, Rathaus. However, the crowd, a mix of all ages, sizes and shapes, was having fun.

-- Best Overall: Thurm und Taxis, in Regensburg. I first thought of the Hamburg Rathaus, and is was a close call, but surrounding the market with a grand old palace created magic, despite wet and nasty weather.

Our best souvenirs are the memories we have of traveling in Germany in this special time of the year. Next best are the hundreds of pictures we took. After that, it is the collection of glühwein mugs. I have to admit, we probably drank more wines than we collected mugs. Roll over the pictures below and then click to see the diary pages of the towns where they came from.


Next year, I expect we'll limit ourselves to just a few markets, but the 2008 Tour did accomplish what we wanted: it gave us an excuse to visit new places, as well as revisit some of our old haunts. If you want guidance for 2009, give us a call.


John and Marianne


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