Hochheim, Germany

Located just couple of hours outside of Frankfurt, we visited Hochheim for a quick day trip from the city. It is a small town surrounded by vineyards and still retains its medieval charm. It was early November and the town was holding its annual festival and market, so it was a lot busier than it normally would have been, but that also made it fun for us. It was a quick train ride from Frankfurt and since we had monthly passes for the train, we simply had to pay a little extra to get to the nearby town.

IMGP0373
Quiet Side Street
IMGP0399
Cookies and Sweets
IMGP0397
Decorative Stall
IMGP0369
Church and Vineyard
IMGP0408
Food to Keep You Warm

After walking up the hill from the train station past the vineyard and the church, we entered the town through its main gate. After walking the quiet streets for a few minutes, we found a nice Italian pizzeria called La Botte to grab some lunch and have a glass of beer and wine. After lunch we continued towards the heart of the town and quickly realized that we had come to Hochheim on the right weekend as the market was in full swing. We certainly weren’t the only ones who had decided to come to Hochheim for the day.

IMGP0372
Entrance to Hochheim
IMG_2819
Italian Restaurant
IMGP0375
Medieval Architecture
IMGP0377
Statue in the Town Square
IMGP0400
Nuts, Popcorn, and Candied Apples

The Hochheim Market has been held since 1484 and is actually considered one of the biggest fairs in Germany. A combination of fair, market, and festival, there was plenty of food, gluhwein, crafts, and rides for the children. It is a seven day festival and market, which happened to just be starting. A banner for the local winery welcomed everyone into the market and it got busier and busier as the day went along. This would be the first of the many markets that we enjoyed during our time in Germany, so it has a special place in our hearts.

IMGP0401
Getting Busy
IMGP0406
Fun for All Ages
IMGP0387
Lining Up for Food
IMGP0414
Squeezing Through the Crowds
IMGP0383
Crowds Starting to Gather

As the sun started going down and the crowds became overwhelming, we decided to find ourselves a pub to grab some dinner and a drink before heading back to Frankfurt. It was a quaint little place with signs from the 40’s and 50’s adorning the walls and ceiling. As with most places that we visited, the people were warm and welcoming, even with the language barriers. It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years to the day since we visited Hochheim. You can read about our initial thoughts about the Hochheim Market here.

IMG_2823
Red and White Gluhwein
IMGP0402
Wurst Anyone?
IMG_2843
Signs Everywhere in the Pub
IMGP0390
So Many Choices
IMGP0381
Banner in Town
IMGP0380
Had to Have Some Local Beer

 

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Going to the Christkindlmarket in Chicago was definitely an enjoyable experience. This is the second Christmas market that we have attended here in the States and, although there are some differences compared to those that we experienced in Germany, they have both been very authentic. It was extremely cold during our visit to Chicago with wind chill temperatures well below zero, so having a warm glass of Gluhwein was a definite must. We visited the market on Saturday, two days before Christmas, and to say that it was crowded would be an understatement. It seemed that half of the city had shown up to squeeze their way through the maze of stalls.

IMG_2103
Making Our Way Through the Crowds
IMG_2108
Plenty of Food and Gluhwein
IMG_2113
People Everywhere

There was a wide variety of food available, including traditional German favorites such as Currywurst and Bratwurst, but there were options to fit any desire from sweet to savory. There was a pancake house, candy stalls, roasted nuts, cotton candy, ginger bread, hot chocolate, and hot cider. And for those that craved something different that Gluhwein, there was authentic German beer and Riesling wine. For those that wanted to get out of the cold, there was a beer tent with benches and heat lamps for people to relax while they enjoyed a festive drink. There is definitely no excuse for leaving the market thirsty or hungry.

IMG_7089
Stuffed Pretzels
IMG_2098
Pancake House
IMG_2100
Varieties of Sausage

Obviously, beyond the food, there were stalls selling a variety of goods. Some of them were authentic German items, but there were items from around the world. We even saw a stall selling hats and scarves from Ecuador. The most popular stalls were those that sold Christmas ornaments and decorations. One of the more unique stalls that we came across was one which celebrated Krampus, who is supposed to punish children that have misbehaved.

IMG_2115
Krampus Stall
IMG_7084
Ornaments and Decorations from Bethlehem
IMG_2102
Traditional Christmas Items

It goes to show that you don’t have to fly over to Europe to find a good Christmas Market. Next holiday season, check out the cities near where you live to see if there is one in your area. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit the Christmas markets of Europe, they are truly magical.

IMG_7093
Beer Tent
IMG_2120
Entrance to the Market

 

 

Christmas Markets in Europe

We were told by many people about how wonderful the Christmas markets in Germany and other places would be and they were certainly right. Whether in our home town at the time, Frankfurt, or some of the places we visited during the holiday season like Prague, Vienna, Strasbourg, Cologne, and others, we were fortunate to go to several different Christmas markets. We had made the assumption that each city would have one central market that everyone would visit, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Each city has several different markets, usually one near the main cathedral, but then there are a half dozen or so more markets at different popular areas as well.

IMG_3389
Christmas Market in Frankfurt
IMG_3401
Market in Prague, Czech Republic
DSC_1419
Festive Stall in Strasbourg, France

In today’s world, unfortunately, any event that brings a large number of people together also means that it becomes a target for those who wish to harm people. That means that a common sight at most of the markets that we visited were armed police and plenty of barricades. Fortunately, that doesn’t stop most people from going out and having a good time, shopping, drinking, and eating at the various stalls in the markets. The Christmas markets are truly wonderful and it would be a shame if people didn’t bring their families out to enjoy them. For children, the markets can be a wonderland with all of the decorations, candy, music, and general merriment. They are a playground for adults as well with the gluhwein, sausages, and gift stalls for shopping.

imgp0406
Stuffed Animals in Hochheim, Germany
dsc_1257
The Second of Four Christmas Markets in Vienna
IMGP0558
A Little of Everything in Cologne

You might ask us what our favorite Christmas market was, but we couldn’t choose a favorite as they were all great in their own ways. Perhaps one of the most unique might have been the one in Vienna, Austria, where they turned the sidewalks into skating rinks. Although the market at the harbor in Cologne was also pretty interesting with its nautical theme. Of course Frankfurt has a special place in our heart since it was our home for a time.

IMGP0540
Nautical Market in Cologne
DSC_1358
Skating at the Market in Vienna, Austria
img_3116
Gluhwein in Frankfurt

Obviously there were plenty of beautiful Christmas trees at each of the markets and they are beautiful both during the day when you can see the ornaments as well as at night when the lights shine brightly. One of the biggest trees that we might have seen was actually in Brasov, Romania, which we visited just shortly after Christmas and the markets had just completed. There is nothing like a beautiful Christmas tree to get you in the mood for the holidays.

IMGP1585
Christmas Tree in Brasov, Romania
imgp0861
Christmas Tree in the Old Town Square of Prague
IMG_3390
Christmas Tree Frankfurt, Germany

So, the advice that we would give to anyone traveling in Europe during the holiday season is to get out and enjoy the Christmas markets wherever you can. We have even gone to a wonderful Christmas market here in Denver, Colorado, and intend to visit one in Chicago over this holiday as we visit our youngest daughter. Our very first Christmas market was in Stratford-Upon-Avon in England, but the tented stalls were nothing in comparison to the wooden stalls with their ornate decorations that we saw in Germany. If you do go, have a gluhwein for us, but be careful, sometimes they add rum to them and the alcohol can sneak up on you.

IMGP1314
Christmas Market in Stratford-Upon-Avon
IMG_0129
Christmas Ornaments in Denver, Colorado
imgp0761
Christmas Market in W├╝rzburg, Germany