Christmas Markets

Nov 3rd, 2009, 08:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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CarolJean, I chuckled too ;-)

Yes, it is the Miner's church (Bergmannskirche) in Annaberg with the almost life-sized crèche. However, during Christmas season the figures are spread all over the town as a walking route (like Paul mentioned for Bamberg).

These woodcarved figures were made in the past 10 years by local craftsmen. Locals donated money. The special thing is that these figures are modeled after local people. Truly amazing.

Ingo is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 08:46 AM
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I hope I'll get to see them?! ;-)
quokka is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 08:51 AM
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Munich has many that are magical - a very nice small one in the English Garden. My favorite was in Salzburg - go on a weekday if the town square and the items were high quality, unique and reasonably priced. We went to Nurnberg on a weekend and as someone mentioned it was a mistake. It was so incredibly crowded we didn't enjoy it at all.
MunichB is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 10:00 AM
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I will be staying outside of Zurich with my 9 year old daughter 11/30-12/12 and am hoping to be able to take the middle weekend (12/5,6) to rent a car and visit a couple of the Christmas markets in Germany. I know Zurich has a big one but I am more interested in experiencing some of the small town ones that many of you have mentioned on this thread. I am wondering if this hope is doable and if so might anyone have a recommendation for a "base" town for the two nights (or should we plan on staying two places?)I would love to surprise her with a Castle hotel.
travellingmom3 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Oh quokka - You are in for such a treat. When I was there (during Dec. ) they were around the room in the church. I will never forget the young girls - their expressions nearly made me cry. Thanks for the information, Ingo. CJ
CarolJean is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 11:15 AM
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Tell Ingo I am in for treats! ;-)
(Explanation for CarolJean: the plan involves quokka and Ingo going to Annaberg together.)
quokka is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 12:29 PM
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CarolJean is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 02:11 AM
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The best Christmas market I have ever seen is one on the Vorosmarty square in Budapest. Most funny with delicious food and drinks (budget) all over. Gipsies and dancers from this part of Europe played till morning hours. The Austria and Germany markets are closed at 10 p.m. and are much more sterile.
zelka is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 02:56 AM
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Sounds interesting, zelika. I have never been to Budapest, maybe some day...
quokka is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 03:21 AM
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you don't regret if you decide to come in Budapest in Decembar. The town live intensively on the Danube shores. I think abouth two Austroungarian capitals that Vienna have a heart but Budapest have a soul.
zelka is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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There are Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) all over Germany. Würzburg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber are two of our favorites and close together; but, they are about 3 hours drive from Zurich.

Much closer to Zurich is Freiburg im Breisgau, which less than 2 hours drive. I have not visited the Christmas market but it is a very attractive town.

Regards, Gary
Gary_Mc is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 04:32 AM
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Gary, Thank you so much for the information and the links. Freiburg im Breisgau looks like a beautiful town and the description of the Christmas market is lovely with crafters as well as the traditional items for sale.Its closer proximity to Zurich will work well for us and there are still plenty of rooms available.
travellingmom3 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 05:00 AM
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Why do you want to drive at all? Trains are faster and less stressful and you don't have to worry about wintery road conditions, traffic rules, traffic jams, directions, vignettes and parking. Direct trains from Zürich to Freiburg take 2 hours.

Freiburg is beautiful. Basel is along the way and has another nice market. Besides, you are hitting St Nikolaus weekend (Dec 6 being the Saint's holiday) which is special in Basel. Be in Basel in the afternoon of Sat Dec 5, watch the many Santa Clauses around, and see the Harley Niggi-Näggi parade at 4:30/5 p.m. - The what?? A local Harley Davidson club does a Nikolaus parade, the drivers dressed up as Santas and angels and the motorbikes decorated with utmost imagination. This is fun to watch. Last year's photos here:

A German St Nikolaus tradition for your daughter to observe: In the evening of Dec 5 kids polish their shoes and put one up next to the door. During the night St Nikolaus (i.e. the parents, so prepare) hides some goodies inside the shoe. Big joy in the morning of St Nikolaus day...
quokka is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 05:15 AM
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Thanks so much for the train info. I would much rather take a train I just assumed (when will I learn!!) that I would have to drive (my US mentality with trains). Being able to visit two places sounds great! My daughter actually goes to a Waldorf school and they celebrate St. Nicholas day (as do we at home). The teachers put little gold-sprayed walnuts and a clementine in each of their shoes. It will be wonderful to be there that weekend. The Harley parade photos look very fun!
travellingmom3 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 05:40 AM
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You have some fancy train options on that route. There are Swiss trains and there are German ICEs, between Zürich and Basel you can even take the French TGV, although this is no high speed route. Fast trains run at least once per hour, some direct connections between Freiburg and Zürich, others with a change in Basel SBB which is no big deal. Local trains are cheaper but take longer, and on such relatively short distances the fast trains don't cost an arm and a leg. For one weekend you won't have much luggage, so taking the train will be easy.
I'd go to Basel first and move over to Freiburg on Saturday evening (after the Harley parade). Attending mass at Freiburg's Cathedral in the morning will be a festive option. Shops are closed on Sunday, though, so the city will not be as busy as on weekdays, but the market is open and attracts people. See the old town, and take care not to step into the Bächle, the little streams in the streets (which won't have water in December but anyway).
Book seat reservations on the train back to Zürich, Sunday evenings are very busy with weekend commuters.
quokka is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 08:47 AM
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quokka, Thanks again for the information. I have been busy all morning on the computer (should have been working!). I see that there are many trains and I am so glad for this information as I didn't want to drive. I have contacted several places for room availability and the town looks so lovely. We are leaving in just 3 weeks so I am very excited to be adding this to our itinerary.
travellingmom3 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2009, 02:08 AM
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travellingmom3 -

I live in Zurich and am the mother of 2 girls - let me know if you need any more information.

Yes, take the trains. I never use my car here. The trains are fun, you can relax, no traffic and you can get from anywhere to anywhere in Switzerland by public transportation.

The markets in Zurich are actually not very special IMO although perhaps I am spoiled. Schuler (also from Switzerland) mentioned that Rapperswil has a market 11-13 of December - not sure if you are still here but that is right on the lake and a pretty spot to visit even with no market plus a lovely wooden bridge across the lake which is part of the St. Jakobsweg pilgrimage.

Do you want some kid-friendly restaurants in Zurich? My kids love 'Movie' and 'The Spaghetti Factory'. Don't worry, you will still feel like you are in Zurich even if the names don't sound that way!

Regarding Castles - it is not so far from Zurich to Bavaria where you and your daughter can see the Neuschwanstein (The one Disney was modeled after) and another (sorry forgot the name) castle in the same village - plus this is a lovely area with the Romantic Road taking you back to Switzerland. These are both close to Munich which has another lovely Castle just on the edge of the city. Plus, Munich is a wonderful, walkable city that you and your daughter would love - also great museums and such. The train ride is around 4 hours from Zurich but if you go to the other castles take your car or arrange for a bus from Zurich (plenty of tours available).

Not too far from Zurich again by train and boat is the Chateau Chillon and this can be combined with a trip to Glasi Hergiswil where your daughter can blow her own glass ornament and experience a very charming interactive museum about this oldest glass factory in Switzerland. Wonderful gift shop here with discounted "seconds" as well.

Have a wonderful trip - wishing you some sunshine here!!

gruezi is offline  
Nov 7th, 2009, 08:21 PM
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I am so very appreciative of your posting to me! What fabulous information. I did go ahead and make a hotel reservation for Freiburg so if we choose to go we can (I think I booked one of the last in the town!). I also appreciate the restaurant suggestions.

We are actually staying just outside of St. Gallen for the 2 weeks. We will only have the weekend between the weeks for sightseeing although we will have some time to go into Zurich.We are leaving for Paris on the 12th so Rapperswill on the 11th may be a possibility as I am planning to stay that night in Zurich. I would love to go to Neuschwanstein - that was my original hope and to visit along the fairytale road for the weekend. Then, I saw this posting about the markets and thought that might be better for the season and also we most likely wouldn't be able to visit much of the castle gardens.

Your suggestion for Chateau Chillon and Glasi Hergiswil also sounds wonderful. It's so hard to make choices.

Can you tell me what we might expect for weather. I'm expecting it to be cold like here in New England but wil it most likely be snowy as well?

Thanks again!
travellingmom3 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2009, 08:56 PM
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Dear Travellingmom,

First, I don't remember any castle gardens at Neuschwanstein... Perhaps they were there, but certainly not reason to go or not to go. The castle would be great fun - it looks gorgeous in the snow (I know from photos I saw). Also, there are two castles right in the same town - you can get a ticket for both. We went there after Dachau so my little group was drained and not into both castles - plus I had one moody teenager with me who polluted the other one We were there on a cold summer day in the rain which didn't help! Nevertheless the surrounding area and scenery was still beautiful. I would go here before Chateau Chillon if you have to make choices.

Rapperswil is very close to Zurich and very doable if you are staying here that night. You can take the train - it's about a 35 minute train ride and they run very frequently. There is a boat but I don't know how frequently it runs in winter and it takes a few hours. I have taken the boat one way (lovely) and returned by train. Since your time is limited, I suggest the train. You don't need reservations and 2nd class will be fine on this train. The town is small and the train lets you off very close to things so it is a very easy trip and hassle-free. It is right on the water and very pretty plus the train ride takes you all along the Zurich lake. If the weather is nice, it would be great.

Also, the Colmar Christmas market is really, really charming - animals and everything. Perhaps this fits into the trip to Paris? Or it is possible as a day trip from Basel. If you are taking the train to Paris you could possibly do this en route (not sure). I take the train to Paris but always direct so I don't know. (4 hours 15 minutes from Zurich. If you leave at 7ish you are in Paris for lunch.)

I liked this market so much I'm thinking of going back this year. And, I have to say I'm not much of a shopper or Christmas person in general, nor do I like grog but this was really a special little spot. From Zurich, you can get a train that takes about 2.25 hours - google SBB in Switzerland for all the information. Usually, there are local and direct trains so look for the shortest time.

Regarding weather, I'm not sure about St. Gallen but Zurich tends to be a bit gray most of the winter with very little snow. It can be cold because you are outdoors a lot as a tourist, but nothing like winter in CT in terms of low temps or snow. It rarely gets much below freezing. Still, bring a hat and scarf and gloves plus warm comfortable walking boots and maybe a long underwear shirt - you will need them in Paris anyway and of course if you head to Germany. Last year in Colmar I remember being freezing cold at the market.

I check Fodor's every few days (or more) so let me know if you have any more questions.

gruezi is offline  
Nov 8th, 2009, 05:21 AM
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HI I do not think that it is late for booking a cruise.. Have a look at this:
You are very vague, you don't say how much time you have and from where you are planning to start.
Gaia is offline  

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