Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Market Trifecta

The German Christmas markets begin the end of November.  In most cities these street markets run for the four weeks of Advent.  In smaller towns and villages they’ll hold their Christmas market usually for just one weekend.  Depending on where you are in Germany, these markets are called Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt but whatever they’re called these markets are a wonderful celebration of the season.

This past weekend we decided to take in three Christmas markets that we hadn’t experienced during our current stay in Germany; Wiesbaden, Köln and Düsseldorf.  Here’s some images of our Christmas Market Trifecta.

Christmas Market #1, Wiesbaden

No matter what Christmas market you attend, the drink of choice to warm yourself and get into the festive mood is Glüwein.  It’s a hot spiced red wine, very tasty and certainly does a good job of warming you up.  In this picture, Dornfelder is probably the most popularly produced red wine in Germany.

One thing that’s changed over the years at Christmas markets is the introduction of a new annually designed mug for that particular city’s festival.  As you can see, we’re in Wiesbaden.  If you look closely at these cups you’ll see that Wiesbaden has a special name for their Christmas market, the Sternschuppenmarkt, which translates to the manger star market.  We’ve been to the Wiesbaden Christmas market a number of times but not since 1995.  At that time the city’s Christmas market ran through the main shopping street but now it’s held in the Schloßplatz, Palace Square.

The next few photos are some of the sights and scenes of the Wiesbaden Christmas market. 
One of the pretty vendor stands.  This one sells all sorts of wood plaques, plates and signs.

Pretty Christmas decoration vendor.

Unique smokers.  If you’re going to sell smokers you gotta have a Bob Marley smoker; only 24€.

You want herbs and spices.  They got herbs and spices.

Küsse (kisses) are a favorite at every German festival whether it’s in the summer or winter.  Küsse are a very light, airy white creamy center blob with various types of sweet coating.

A vendor selling beautiful glass mosaic Turkish lights.

Mandeln (almonds) are another German favorite at their festivals.  They coat them with all sorts of wonderful, sugary flavors.

At the base of this huge Advent pyramid windmill is a drink vendor.  Beer, glüwein, schnapps, coffee; they got it all.  The church behind is the Marktkirche, Market Church.  It’s a huge Protestant, red brick church that was built in 1853.  The Marktkirche, along with the city Rathaus, town hall, sit at the center of the the Wiesbaden Schloßplatz, Palace Square.

Here’s one of my favorite festival treats, sautéed mushrooms with sour cream sauce.  Yummy, another great thing to warm you up at a Christmas market.

Beautiful lights of the Wiesbaden Sternschuppenmarkt with the Rathaus behind.

If you throw a festival in Germany you’ve got to have some rides for the kids and one of them has to be a pretty merry-go-round.

Strange group of statues; Santa, Pinocchio and Wilhem I.  How did Pinocchio work his way into the Christmas scene?

Pinocchio again, this time with a wild boar.  Man, Pinocchio and wild boars really make me think of Christmas.

I’ve shown you pictures before of these big grills at German festivals.  Here’s video that shows it in operation.  Pretty impressive!

Jeff and I are going to have a great German meal in the cellar of the Rathaus.  The restaurant is run by one of our favorite places in Germany.  Here’s a hint.

OK, if you couldn’t guess from the picture above try this one.  Yes, Kloster Andechs Doppelbock Dunkel, world’s greatest beer according to Jeff.  Kloster Andechs operates the restaurant in the Rathaus cellar.

We’re back outside.  Oh my goodness, Dampfnudel!!!  It’s an awesome desert!!  It’s a sort of sweet bread with vanilla sauce over the top.  Scrumptious!!!

Christmas Market #2, Köln

Next morning we’re on our way to Köln (Cologne) but before we leave Wiesbaden we stopped by the American Arms.  For decades, the American Arms was an US Army hotel in Wiesbaden where transit and temporarily assigned military members and their families where billeted.  Well, they’ve built a new hotel near the BX/PX complex and so the American Arms hotel was turned over to the Germans and it’s presently closed.  Here’s what it looks like today.  Ghost town.

OK, we’re in Köln and we've met up with our friends Linda and Cassius.  After checking into our hotel we needed some refreshment.  Right across the street from the Köln Dom (Cathedral) is a great Kölsch gasthaus, the Gaffel am Dom. Here’s Linda and me.

Well, we’ve been at Gaffel am Dom for a bit drinking Gaffel Kölsch.  Kölsch waiters, who are called Köbes, put a tick mark on these beer mats for each beer purchased.  So you can see at this point that we’ve had 27.  But, don’t be too appalled, Kölsch is normally served in small 0.2 liter glasses called a Stange (rod or pole).

Before we get into the Köln Christmas market scene here’s another Kölsch joint we needed to try.  Sion, another Kölsch brand brewed in Köln.  Really, in accordance with the Köln Brewery Association, all Kölsch is brewed in Köln; anywhere else and it just isn’t Kölsch.

Jeff in the Brauhaus (Brewer House) Sion.  See, those really are small beers.  However, Kölsch waiters are very attentive and a fresh Kölsch is never far away.

All right, here’s part of the Köln Christmas market in the old town square.

Germans love their Christmas markets and when you attend one in a large city it’s usually very crowed.

We’re down on the Rhine.  In case you didn't know, the Rhine flows from Switzerland through Germany and Holland and empties into the North Sea.  This boat is going north, with the current, so he's moving pretty quickly.

Pretty buildings along the Rhine River promenade in Köln.

Great St. Martin Church near the Rhine.  This church was almost completely leveled during WW II and was virtually totally rebuilt after the war.

We brought a bottle of schnapps along to the river and since it's a bit chilly we're going to use that to warm up a little.  Cassius, me and Jeff.

Back to the Dom and the main Christmas market in Köln.  A really amazing setting for any festival at the foot of the Köln Dom (Cologne Cathedral).

Got a glüwein with St. Nicholas.  Also a little tag along guy that wanted in the picture.

The Christmas tree at the center of the Cologne Christmas market.


It’s getting a little chilly so we’re inside the Früh Brauhaus.  Früh is another favorite Köln Kölsch. Me, Linda and Cassius.

Our table and bench offered this nice little Stange holder for our Kölsch glasses.  Those tick marks are adding up.

At the Früh Brauhaus they offer a 5 liter, fresh wooden barrel of Früh Kölsch.

Yes, they’ll bring a barrel of beer to your table but they’re going to make sure you don’t take it home.  Note, the chain.

We’re at the Malzmühle (Malt Mill) Brauhaus for our evening meal.  Here’s a picture of the special tray used in all the bars in Cologne to carry Kölsch glasses.  Of course, this tray has a special name too, it’s a Kranz (wreath).

This video shows the technique to fill Kölsch glasses at the bars in Cologne. At this place it's poured right out of a wooden barrel and they don't worry about the head on the beer.  That's desired to bring out the flavor.  Once the beer settles a bit they'll fill these glasses right up to the .2 liter line with a nice creamy head on top.

Our last stop for the night, Cologne’s world famous Dixieland jazz bar, Papa Joes.

It’s the end of the night and we’re on our way back to the hotel.  We’re walking through Cologne’s main train station.  It’s never too late for sausage.

Christmas Market #3, Düsseldorf

Next Christmas market destination is Düsseldorf, just a short half-hour drive north of Cologne.  Düsseldorf is the capital of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.  The city is near the confluence of the River Düssel and the Rhine.  With that you arrive at the name of  Düsseldorf by combining the river's name with Dorf (village).  Düsseldorf has a long competitive history with the city of Köln (Cologne).  In medieval time that competition involved out-and-out war.  Now there’s still competition but it mostly takes place on a soccer pitch or the favorite beers of each city.  After checking into our hotel we’re walking toward the Altstadt (old city) and come upon this store.  It’s a mustard (Senf) store.  Düsseldorf is well known for its spicy mustard. Take note of the cartwheeling kid on the white sign at the left; more on that later.

Outside the mustard store is this mustard poster that shows the various brands of Düsseldorf mustard.  We can probably get one for you if you’d like this poster on your wall.

Löwensenf (Lion mustard); a favorite Düsseldorf mustard.  This is a huge replica of a traditional Düsseldorf mustard pot, a Mostertpöttche.

The old city of Düsseldorf claims to be "Die längste Theke der Welt," (the Longest Bar in the World).  That’s based on the fact that there are really a lot of bars, pubs, cantinas, saloons and Brauhauses in the old city.   Down the street from the mustard store is one of Düsseldorf’s favorite Brauhauses, Uerige.  Well, we’ve got to check that out.

The favorite beer in Düsseldorf and the type that’s produced by the breweries in the city is Altbier (old beer).  This is one of the competive issues between Düsseldorf and Köln, the beers they favor; Düsseldorf Altbier and Köln Kölsch.  You don’t order Altbier in Köln and you don’t order Kölsch in Düsseldorf.  As you saw in the pictures of Kölsch, it’s a light colored and tasting beer.  Here you can see Altbier is darker. It also has a more pronounced but certainly not heavy taste.

In Uerige they serve their Altbier out of wooden barrels.

A fresh barrel waiting to be tapped.

Lifting the barrel; it takes three guys.  I think they've done this before.  Eins, Zwei, Drei!

Near empty barrel on the left, fresh barrel on the right.  You can see here that Uerige is a dark, wood paneled place; very traditional Düsseldorf Brauhaus (brewer house).

Time to hit one of the Düsseldorf Christmas markets.  This one is in the main square of the old city with the old Rathaus (city hall) in the background.

More old city square Christmas market.

See, gotta have a merry-go-round for the kids.

Time for lunch and we’ve walked down the street to Hausbrauerei zum Schlüssel, The Key Brewery House.

Another tasty Altbier at zum Schlüssel.

Zum Schlüssel is a beautiful gasthaus and even more so with its Christmas decorations.

Even the zum Schlüssel bar was pretty.

We’re walking to another part of Düsseldorf to see some more Christmas markets.  This is one of the city’s manhole covers.  It depicts two children doing cartwheels.  Legend has it that when the people of Düsseldorf heard of their victory over the city of Köln (see, very competitive cities) during a battle in 1288 the children began doing flips that eventually evolved into never seen before cartwheels.  Yes, Düsseldorf, home of the cartwheel.

Sort of an upscale little market along one of Düsseldorf's shopping streets.

Germans really enjoy crepes and Christmas pyramid windmills. Here's both side by side with a street tram thrown in.

This is a canal that runs down Königsallee, Kings Way, the most upscale shopping street in Düsseldorf.  Of course, I drug Jeff in Louis Vuitton.

Yet another little Christmas market area.  This bratwurst place really went all out with the evergreen roof.

Quick stop for replenishment.  Another Altbier favorite in Düsseldorf.

At the north end of the Altstadt, along the Rhine River is the Schlossturm, now a museum, with the St. Lambertus church's unique crowned steeple behind.

From the promenade along the Rhine; St. Lambertus, Schlossturm and the Christmas market Ferris Wheel.

These cartwheeling figures were all over Düsseldorf.  Remember, Düsseldorf, home of the cartwheel.

Pretty sign welcoming folks to the old city Christmas market.

St. Lambertus, Schlossturm and the Christmas market Ferris Wheel.  Our little attempt at an Ansel Adams moment.  

Well, that's our Christmas Market Trifecta.  I do have one point that I've made before and I'd like to make again because now I have some better ammunition for my argument.  Why does the English speaking world change the names of German cities that have an umlaut, the two little dots above a vowel?  München becomes Munich, Köln is Cologne.  But now, here's my new argument, why do we just change Düsseldorf to Dusseldorf and are happy with that?  Why can't we  make München, Munchen and Köln, Koln?  Why?

More Christmas markets soon; I'm sure.

1 comment:

  1. I love all the Christmas market pictures. Wish we could have been there this year. The dampfnudel looks so yummy. I love the Pinocchio and wild boar figurines.

    I didn't realize that the American Arms was closed. I loved staying there. Remember when we stayed in 2005 and I was really sick. We had a nice suite there. Also, when I was younger and I woke up at night thinking it was the morning because I was watching cartoons.

    I love the little kid in the picture of you and St. Nicholas. Or maybe he was already taking a picture and Mom jumped in on the action haha.

    I like your argument about the English language changing German city names. It's very frustrating!!

    Great blog with beautiful pictures.