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Trip Report Christmas Markets - 2012

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Beginning 6 Dec. 2012, I started my Christmas Market extravaganza trip. The first few days were spent near Frankfurt as simple day trips, and then moved on.

* Frankfurt - Big market, always fun, I call it the party market as so many of the Frankfurters get off work and head down to the market to drink Glühwein. Certain stands are known for having the best potato pancakes, bratwurst, hot wines, and almonds. The atmosphere at the Römer is lively, but can be really full on a weekend night. The area around the Hauptwache is less full. Love the Honey House set up in front of the Paulskirche. This year saw the 1st Pink Market in Frankfurt. Rather small, but had a cosy feel to it. Best tips? Be at the Römer on Wed. and Sat. night for the brass band playing from the gallery of the Alte Nikolai. The tourist office also offers tours that take you up on the same gallery, which is a treat.

* Mainz - It was snowing quite a bit in Mainz, which was fun. Went to the Ibis Temple ruins, the Cathedral (one of my favorites) and to St. Stephans for the Chagall windows. The market itself was spread out nicely but had the regular stuff sold at all the markets. Best tip? The huge wooden barrel type huts with tables inside of them, set up in a circle behind the Dom. Big bonfire burning in the middle of the circle. Coolest thing ever, and my hat goes off to the city of Mainz for this great idea.

* Wiesbaden - This is a pretty market, due to the star lighting set up above the entire market. All the stands look the same which gives a certain feel to the place. It was snowing like crazy when I was there, which made it hard to look at much of anything. The snow kept piling up on my arms, head, etc. Best tip? Go inside the beautiful Markt Kirche when they are having a concert. Accustics are wonderful, and I got to hear a unique chamber group practicing. They had some kind of medieval instruments that made the loveliest sounds.

* Büdingen - One of my favorite Medieval towns, and the Christmas Market seemed perfectly matched. The skies were blue and the sun was shining which made walking the walls around the town, looking down on all the sparkling snow, with lazily drifting smoke coming out of the chimneys of the myriad fachwerk houses, feel like a step back in time. The market wanders through the lanes, and many of the stands are run by local organizations to earn money. Enjoyed talking to the Moravians, who began here. Best tip? Book a private tour with the tourist info, so you can go inside the walls and up on the towers. Price is reasonable.

* Bad Homburg - Have been here many times and always enjoy the setting, though this time the snow made it a bit difficult walking. Nestled in the Taunus mountains, with some of the market set up in the palace courtyard and around the medieval tower, it has a family friendly atmosphere. Enjoyed watching the kids ride the miniature steam train that runs around the tower. The snow really started to be a hindrance walking around, but it looked pretty. Best tips? Take a tour though the Kaisers' Palace and visit the Redeemer Church next to the Palace grounds.

* Stuttgart - Headed down here on a Monday morning on the ICE. I wasn't prepared to like this market for some reason, but it has ended up being my favorite big city market. It is spread nicely through the downtown area, with the best decorations around. The stands especially had gone all out with their decorations. The ice skating rink was doing a good business too. Best tip? Go to the Finnish Market and get some planked salmon, take it into the gigantic tipi to eat.

* Esslingen - Had never heard of this market until this year, so what a wonderful surprise. The town is chock full of fachwerk buildings and the place to go here is the huge Medieval Christmas Market. Absolutely loved it. The stands, the outfits, the food, the shows and the people participating with their shows and general good humour made the day here, one to remember. Will go back here again next year. Best tip? Make sure you are there after dark when they light the torches and lanterns. Make sure you go in the main church.

* Strasbourg - Beautiful city and a beautiful market. Easy to get to from the main train station, the market seems to go on forever, and wanders all over the city. Really enjoyed the French feel to the market, which was of course, different from the German ones. Spent quite a bit of time in the cathedral. Best tip? Make sure you get a map that lists all the different markets. The Georgian one was pretty unique.

* Colmar - This was another big favorite of mine, mainly because of all the fachwerk buildings. Gorgeous medieval town and they do a great Christmas Market. Spent all day wandering around, visited the Cathedral, watched the ice skaters, and had a fabulous eclair in their market hall. Best tip? Be there when the children come down the canals with Santa, playing the accordion, and all are singing French Christmas Carols. The mist on the water, the decorations on the houses, and the spectators singing along made this a truly unique experience.

So, hope you like my Christmas Market report and that it wasn't too long. I also visited Munich, but was about marketed out, so just went on a tour instead with "Dark History Tours". This was a perfect ending to my trip and well worth doing.

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