Monday, December 24, 2012

The Köln Christmas Markets

As we all know, timing is everything!  So, this day before Christmas, here's the Frohe Weihnachten from the Köln, Germany, Christmas markets.  Well, 3 of their 6, that is:

Frohe Weihnachten = Merry Christmas in German.

But first, as we entered Germany from the Netherlands, we made a pit stop at this German windmill:

Surely by now you can tell the difference between a German and a Dutch windmill?
This Geismühle is 700 years old and is one of the oldest preserved windmills from the Lower Rhine region.

As we drove into Köln and parked at our hotel, then took the metro to city center, we started getting impressions:

As so often happens, everything centers around the big church and city hall.
But more on that later....

Snapshots.  Impressions.  Things to put on the back burner....

 ...while looking for a place to eat lunch!
We wanted German bratwurst and sauerkraut, the real thing.
We asked and were directed to the Früh restaurant.
More German you cannot get.

And with our tummies full...we started out for our first of 3 Christmas markets:  The Cathedral Market.
The Dom is Cologne's Cathedral, the backdrop for this first Christmas market.


Did I mention that Köln was the first city to start the Christmas market in Germany?
That's why we wanted to go there this year, to see what all the fuss is about!

And because we were there, we decided to visit inside the cathedral before moving on.

Before going in, these merry gentlemen made us believe in our youth again.

Construction began in 1248 and was completed in 1880.
As cathedrals go, it may be the darkest we've ever seen on the inside,
though you can't totally tell by these inages.

It's a magnificent structure and is visited by many...like a museum.

The operative words...like a museum.  We had no interest in lingering.  In fact, if anything, it was so dark, we needed to leave, and we did.  It's not something we always feel inside Roman Catholic churches, but this time we did.  (If I remember, I'll remind you of that when I show you the church we visited the next day in Nijmegen, NL.  But that's another day, another time.)

Once outside, we refreshed ourselves with hot chestnuts...and some German eggnog!

Time for Christmas market #2:  The Altstadt (Old City) Market.  You actually just walk from one to the other, separated by 2 or 3 or 4 blocks:

At first I was thinking...once you've seen one you've seen them all.  NO!
Each market has it own flavor and art and and theme and shops.

And of course, it was mid-afternoon by now.  It all started looking magical.
By the way, that's the old city hall in the bottom-right image.

Yes, they even had ice skating there!

We especially loved how all the merchants were in costume!

From there, we went to our 3rd market of the day:  The Angel Market:

Don't you just love having separate themes!

Interestingly, this was the one market where all the workers seemd like angels to me.
Seriously.  They looked at me and smiled.

Can you imagine working for 4 weeks at a Christmas market day in and day out 
with millions of visitors from around the world in your face?
You'd have to be an angel, I do believe!

It was a great way to end our day.  It felt like it was late evening but it was only 5:30p.  But we were tired and didn't need to see anything else.  Our appetite was fully whetted.  In fact, we decided we didn't need to return the next day.  Instead, we drove home via Nijmegen, NL.  But as I said, that's another day, another dollar story.

For now, it's time to say Merry Christmas to one and all!  Next week I'll say Happy New Year!

(from Web Images)

26 comments:

  1. I imagine you need some stamina to take in all those sights!

    Wishing you and Astrid a wonderful Christmas and New Year

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    1. Stamina, yes, Anne. The nice thing is we both seem to peeter out at the exact same time, so we always know when to stop. Enough is then enough and we're still happy campers. We never have to see everything! :)

      Holiday greetings to you, too, Anne...and to yours!

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  2. ooooh so many pictures, my eyes are hurting! I've been a very naughty blogger just recently, what with my internet going horribly wrong and then as soon as it was fixed, the Christmas Variety Show kept me busy and now all the Christmas prep.... however I promise to be better in the future. So Have a Happy Christmas and all the best for 2013!

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    1. I'm so glad to know what has kept you off blogland of late, Sham. THANK YOU for resurfacing! Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

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  3. Have a very Merry Christmas, Ginnie. You and Astrid must have the perfect gifts with so much to chosen from.
    Best of the Season,
    C

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    1. Thank you for your sweet greetings, Mary. Astrid and I do indeed have so much from which to choose. And as you know, we do choose each other. :) Have a fabulous holiday with your loved ones.

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  4. Traveling virtually with you two is the next best thing! Love how you two explore what you have at your fingertips!

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    1. You do exactly the same, Ms. Robin, and traveling virtually there with you is the next best thing! Thank you.

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  5. Oh goodness, the Christmas Market(s) is one of the places/things I wanna see/do in my lifetime. You have taken me to a wonderful cyber tour. Thank you.

    I'm obsessing about that bratwurst now!

    Happy New Year. Peace, health and joy to you and Astrid this coming year.

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    1. If you ever have a chance to go, Maria, you will love it! So I will wish it for you. We absolutely knew we would have the bratwurst with sauerkraut, so that was fun. You can get them from the market stalls where you stand up to eat, but we wanted to sit down and relax. HA!

      Happy New Year to you and Hubbie. I'm always eager to see what you're up to next!

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  6. It's snowing here.... Happy New Year to you and Astrid, may 2013 bring you much joy and happiness and good health, and may all your trouble be really tiny ones!

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    1. YAY for snow! Please save some for us, Sham! Thank you so much for your New Year's greetings. The same to you and yours.

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  7. lovely! Glad to be back and blogging.. Had missed my computer.

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    1. It's good to have you back, Jen. I think back to almost 3 years ago, right after I moved here, when my computer died on me. It was my lifeline and I felt so lost. So I understand. Welcome back!

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  8. Once again, so many impressions and so many interesting details, Ginnie! Funnily enough, I like most the "Köln bags" as well as I liked the "Anwerpen bags" in your post from Antwerp. :)

    So what is the main difference between a German and Dutch windmill? I have no idea. But you remembered me of a photo of an old Czech mill I have on my blog, if you want to have a look at it, follow the link:
    http://sharingmyreflections.blogspot.cz/2009/11/open-air-folk-museum-part-3.html

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    1. Everytime I see those bags, Petra, I take a picture of them because they are all variations on the same theme. I bet some people collect them. :)

      So, what's the difference between a Dutch and a German windmill! Good question. This German mill is nothing like the ones you see in this link: http://www.ginniehart.blogspot.nl/search/label/windmills. It's funny but I can "see" it but not explain it very well. It's just something I know. HA! And when I see your Czech mill, I can see the difference there, too! :) It's fun, isn't it!

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    2. Yeah, I see now, it's much easier to have a look at the pictures than to try describing the differences. And along the way I found out that Gouda - which is quite popular cheese in my family - is not only cheese but also a town. Yes, I belonged to the ones thinking Gouda was only cheese. :)

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    3. HA! I love that Dutch town, Petra, as well as its cheese. In fact, I did a post on it awhile back:
      http://ginniehart.blogspot.nl/2011/03/gouda-as-in-cheese.html

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  9. So much to look at – I can see how it would be tiring though. The bratwurst and sauerkraut sounds divine! Just looking at it and my mouth waters… I can also smell the roasted chestnuts! That was a delightful tour you gave us. I hope your New Year will be fun and that 2013 brings everything you both wish.

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    1. Thank you, dear Vagabond. We are always short of eyes at the German Christmas markets, which is why we like going back each year. Thank you for your New Year's wishes. The same to you and yours!

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  10. Ah Ginnie, what a delightful tour! I could use some Koelsch right now! And those roasted almonds - I pass on the chestnuts, but the almonds, yummy! Especially when they're still warm.
    I agree on the darkness within the Koelner Dom, I always thought that as well. It certainly is not my favorite Gothic cathedral.
    Hm, what is German eggnogg?? Is that new?

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    1. I knew you would follow right along on this tour, Carola, of a famous city in your beloved country! We actually will be back there in mid-March while on a river cruise. A gratis tour of the church will be one of the excursions but we have already decided not to take it. Instead, we will try to see other places in the city we missed this time.

      German eggnog is NOT like what we have in the States but that's what it was called. It's hard to even explain what it was...but a bit higher-class than glühwein. HA!.

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  11. Old city hall looks almost as dark, dreary, and imposing as the cathedral, but the markets certainly make up for it! Wow. "Color Splash" is what I kept thinking. I LOVE the look on Astrid's face as she is preparing to eat her brat :) Priceless.

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    1. We'll be back in Köln in March, Margaret, and will try to enter City Hall if it's open, so I'll let you know. And yes, Astrid LOVES to eat and becomes a little kid whenever you put food in front of her. She has been a real joy to cook for! :)

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