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Christmas - Round Two

December 4-5, 2010

Written December 7&8

Friends and Families ,

Last time we told about the start of our German Christmas season in Erlangen and now we'll go slightly down the road.

December 4, Saturday, Forchheim

Just a few kilometers north of Erlangen is Forchheim, a 1200-year-old town that sometimes feels like an Erlangen suburb. Locals, however, point out that Forchheim is far older and, until after WWII, larger and more important.

For us, it was simply an easy Christmas Market to add to our score. We found a place in the central parking garage, often the hardest part of visiting some German towns, and headed up onto the Hauptstrasse or Main Street (or High Street for British-speakers since they use a literal translation from their Germanic language roots). The snow made even this street festive and at the end we found the familiar Weihnachtsmarkt kiosks. In Forchheim, the city hall has windows decorated as Advent calendar windows, but opening time is in the evening and we were making a mid-day visit.

One advantage of an early visit time is that the market is relatively empty and we can wander easily from merry-go-round to palace to food stalls and, finally, to the churches with "Krippen" (Nativity scenes). The Krippe under the town palace was full-size, with real burrows and sheep. The church scenes were smaller, some reflecting a real Bethlehem scene and others showing Mary and Joseph in a proper German village. It was all fun.

The rest of the day was chores, another Saturday tradition in Germany. Nothing worth a mention or a picture. At the end of the day, we did have a nice winter sunset in the backyard and a little bit of "Skype-ing" with Marianne's cousin in Hungary. Staying in touch -- that's also part of the Christmas season.

December 5 - Bamberg

After a lazy Sunday start, we decided to go up to Bamberg, just to get out of our stick at home comfort zone. Of course it wasn't WAY out of the zone since it's just a 20-minute drive.

Our first stop was in a "medieval" Christmas Market, complete with costumed street performers, spit-roasted snacks and, of course, gl├╝hwein. This year, we seem not interested in "things", just atmosphere and snacking -- and not too much of the latter. I think we bought every Christmas decoration there is in our first several years so it is nice to be past that stage.

We did notice that the Bamberg Market had not changed from earlier years and remained, like it's larger Nuremberg cousin, a very commercial setup, other than the little medieval corner. All the kiosks are the same size, all in the same places as before. Even the people eating and drinking seemed the same. Maybe it was a stage set after all.

December 5 Post-Script -- Frensdorf

On the drive home, we took a 2 kilometer detour to Frensdorf. Here, the local little museum was hosting their Christmas Market. In this case, the feel was anything but commercial. The small museum "hof" (courtyard, or barnyard) could only hold three or four kiosks so the real action was inside the old barn. The place was filled, not hard because it's pretty small, and the atmosphere was even more seasonal, as it was clearly a place where the locals ran into friends and family.

This was just the second part of our Christmas season. There are more Christmas markets to come. Stay tuned!

John and Marianne


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