Monday, December 2, 2013

Visits of Christmas Markets Past - Cologne Germany

Over the many years I lived in Europe, I have visited countless Christmas markets in many different countries. Last December I posted a little series on this here blog that turned out to be surprisingly popular.  The posts highlighted markets in Strasbourg, FranceBasel, Switzerland and Munich, Germany and were recycled from my old expat blog.

Back  by popular demand, this year  I picked three more cities for your viewing pleasure.  I will be traveling home to Germany for a few weeks over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Undoubtedly there will be more holiday posts from there. In the meantime, I thought I would kick off the season with three more of my favorite Christmas markets.

I lived in Cologne for a few years. At first, part time, as I was commuting between Munich and Cologne for work. Then Dr. B and I ended up living there full time.

There are a lot of great things to see and do when you are in Cologne. Although once described as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Cologne was largely destroyed in WWII and not reconstructed to it's former glory like some other cities in Germany. There are some incredible pieces still left, like a Mikveh from the middles ages and the most obvious, the Cologne Dom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also worth mentioning are the Stumbling Blocks. These are found all around the city in front of houses where people who were deported by the Nazi lived. They remind me of putting a lost piece of the city back. Very moving.

I always said Cologne is a great place to spend a weekend. Now, since we live 45 minute outside the city, I like to go for the day to shop. Cologne has six main Christmas markets all very different, some unique.

After arriving, I headed over to Rudolphplatz which is in front of the beautiful Hahnentorburg, one of the old medieval gates of the city.

The theme for this market is fairytales which is illustrated by the figures on the roofs of the huts and by the Heidi themed info booth.

I loved this huge advent calendar.

Cute and festive garbage cans.

And this booth selling vintage ornaments.

Stollen from Dresden and booth after booth full of delicious treats.

Lekker Grünkohl and Christmas table linens.

Then I backtracked towards the train station to Neumarkt Where the market at Rudolphplatz was aimed at children and very kid friendly, the market at Neumarkt had a more sophisticated crowd and style.

Yummy Food.

Delicious pastries, Stollen and Marzipan.

Beeswax items, Wonderful brushes for kitchen and household, Customized Bread Boards.

Cakes and Crafts specific to Cologne.

If you are a Rocky Horror fan, this booth is for you. Everything 4711 - Cologne Water - the tattoo on Frankenfurter's thigh..

After Neumarkt, I walked through the pedestrian zone to get to the Alter Markt. this Christmas market is in the oldest (and most touristic) part of the city, the Altstadt.

An ice skating rink was set up near Heumarkt at the edge of the market.

Some of the booths had these cute animals blowing bubbles on the crowd below.

Love this organ grinder.

No shortage here either of great things to eat, drink or buy.

On my way to the next market I saw this little train.It runs between the Christmas markets in the city. For 5 Euro you can hop on and off as you please.

The next stop was the MS Wappen, a ship which is docked on the Rhine and decked out as a floating Christmas Market. The cost of admission is 2 Euro collected at the entrance by an angel.

Most of the booths had second hand merchandise and a lot of antiques, mostly jewelry, books and glassware. There was also a fortune teller!

The Boat has some nice places on board to grab some coffee and cake. The uppermost deck has been converted to a glüwein tent, a great place to take a hot toddy break and take in the view.

After leaving the boat, I walked along the Rhine to the Chocolate Museum and paid 3 euro to visit the Medieval Christmas Market

This was by far the most unusual and my favorite of the day. The commitment on behalf of the vendors and the performers is impressive. The detailed costumes down to the shoes (for some were only bundles of rags) to the dancing to speaking in Medieval dialect.

Then it was time to head back over to the Dom to the largest Christmas market in Cologne. This one is spread out around the Dom. It has an international flavor with food stalls and items for sale from all over the world. The setting is just incredible, no pictures do the Dome justice.

Some of the international food specialties.

The line is always out the door with people waiting to buy Käthe Wohlfärt ornaments.

A very popular and much loved Christmas purchase in Germany are these letter trains. Adorable, No?

Hand dipping candles.

I bought some pine flavored honey at this Finnish arctic honey stand.

I'll close this with more shots of more delicious food.

Next Stop..Colmar, France...

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful to be able to stroll through each and everyone of the markets! They appear to have thought of everything anyone could hope for right down to the adorable waste containers! The grand kids would get a kick out of that Advent Calender, the huge gingerbread cookies and those wooden trains. The architecture in all of the places is gorgeous. Safe travels back to Germany Lora!


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