Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A glimpse of the 2010 Christmas markets...

Last year (it feels so weird saying that still!) we managed to get to a few Christmas markets, both near and far. One of my fondest memories of the last time we lived in Europe was the Christmas markets and so we were quite motivated to see some different ones this year. We kicked off the holiday season with a visit to Schloss Moyland in Germany, about 45mins from where we live. I had a listing of all the local Christmas markets and this one stood out from all the rest - a Christmas market - 100 craftsmen from all over Europe - in Germany - and in a CASTLE?!?! One very wet afternoon before our Aussie friends arrived, Mitch and I headed off to see it for ourselves. We paid our entrance fee and the first thing I saw when walking in the grounds was a stall dedicated entirely to marzipan (and a little nougat as well) - yummmm!!!!

The market itself wasn't huge and was more of a general craft market then a 'Christmas' market (think a European version of the Eumundi market but with much better quality, hand made gear). Being in Germany, the food choices were as usual hearty and delicious - Mitch enjoyed some German sausages (a staple) while I opted for fried mushrooms with a cream dipping sauce - they were quite tasty! And of course, some gluhwein and hot punch - yummmmm (although Mitch and I both remain convinced that Mitch makes the best hot wine. Ever!).

Our next Christmas market for the season was in Cologne, Germany. As well as boasting a massive (and I mean massive!) cathedral in town that was gorgeous in the falling snow, Cologne had something like four Christmas markets - although we found 2 was enough in a day. The first markets we stumbled across by chance as they were outside our subway station and they were fantastic. The food choices were tasty & warming and we all went back for seconds. The second market was behind the cathedral and just didn't quite have the same atmosphere although they were still reasonably good... The markets in general were a lot more 'Christmassy' then the castle markets and we all enjoyed wandering through them as it snowed all day. I'd really recommend Cologne markets - our original intention had been to go to Bruges but due to all the heavy snow we had been getting and the long drive to France ahead of us, Cologne was much more practical and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the markets were.

Being one of my favourite countries, it's no surprise that I thought the Christmas market in Strasbourg, France was equally fantastic! I must say, out of Holland/Germany/Switzerland & France, the French put on the most impressive Christmas lights display - Strasbourg was lit up so beautifully it looked rather fairy tale-ish wandering around the old district of le petite France. More hot wine was sampled by the boys of course (the French also do this best - well, second best compared to Mitch's master brews :P ) and I thoroughly enjoyed discovering pommes chaud - hot spiced apple juice. Yum!

Finally, we did visit one last Christmas market in Paris, France - post Christmas though. There was a small market still going across the other side of the Seine from the Eiffel Tower - and it was absolutely full of food :-) That could be the reason why we only have 2 photos from this market - and they're both of food.... We were thoroughly enjoying sampling the delicious macarons this stall had on offer... yummmmm...

All in all, it was a pretty good selection of Christmas markets for 2010 - I'm already looking forward to what this year has to offer!

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