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.

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Christmas Market in Frankfurt
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Market in Prague, Czech Republic
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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.

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Stuffed Animals in Hochheim, Germany
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The Second of Four Christmas Markets in Vienna
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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.

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Nautical Market in Cologne
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Skating at the Market in Vienna, Austria
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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.

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Christmas Tree in Brasov, Romania
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Christmas Tree in the Old Town Square of Prague
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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.

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Christmas Market in Stratford-Upon-Avon
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Christmas Ornaments in Denver, Colorado
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Christmas Market in Würzburg, Germany

Spending Christmas in Prague

As we mentioned, we decided to go to Prague over the Christmas weekend since we didn’t have any family in town. We still have another day before we fly back to Frankfurt, but it has been a wonderful time. Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea and it has been extremely busy, even on Christmas Day itself. Old town was packed with tourists and we were glad that we booked dinner reservations in advance. There is a lot to share, but for the moment we are just soaking it all in and trying to absorb everything that we have seen. This is just a tease of some of the sights that we have seen. Prague has lived up to all expectations, a truly memorable experience.

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Charles Bridge
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Christmas Tree in the Old Town Square
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Prague Castle Complex

 

The Gift of a Christmas Cookie

Being here in Germany, away from family and friends, we are missing the normal exchanging of gifts that would normally occur. We decided to do something personal for the friends that we have made since arriving and chose to bake some chocolate chip cookies in order to share a little of our memories with our new friends. It is a simple recipe and that is fortunate since we couldn’t find some of the same things that we would have normally used, but even so, the cookies turned out just fine. In fact, we would say that they were quite delicious, although we have learned that cookies or biscuits or not quite as common here as they are in the United States. They certainly love their sweets, but it is more about candy, cakes, and pastries than it is about a plate of cookies to be left by the fireplace for Santa to enjoy. What we enjoyed the most was the faces of our friends as they tasted these tempting treats. Sure, the cookies were good, but sharing something personal was even sweeter. We hope that you enjoy!

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Plate Full of Cookies

INGREDIENTS

  •  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
     3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  •  3/4 cup sugar
  •  2 large eggs
  •  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips, or chunks
  •  2 1/4 cups all-purpose-flour
  •  3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1 teaspoon fine salt
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Delicious Cookies

Directions

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a microwave or on the stove. Whisk the eggs, sugars, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then fold into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon. We didn’t have baking soda, so we left that out and brown sugar here is more like a granulated sugar, but it worked equally as well. We also couldn’t find chocolate chips, but we did find chocolate chunks and even chopping up a block of chocolate would have worked. Place heaping spoonful’s of cookie dough onto the baking sheet, leaving about an inch to two inches between each cookie. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center is still soft. This batch makes about 30 to 36 cookies.

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