Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Markets

This past week I took holiday and made a large loop through central Europe and visited Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Frankfort and Prague, and before I post more about the trip I want to show some Christmas Markets.  Often when you talk about traveling to Germany during this time of year, people say you need visit Munich or Berlin to see the best Christmas market.  But after hitting a few cities at random I don't think it really matters where you go, every market seems awesome.  The first market I visited was in Karlsruhe.
 This is also where I tried Gluhwein or warmed mulled wine in Germany.  It's a popular way to keep warm.  Wine cost about 3 euros for 2cL, but you need to pass 3.50 or 4 euros when you get your cup of wine.  When you finish the wine, you return the cup and get the difference back.
 Karlsruhe also had what I thought was a large copy of those Christmas windmills that is powered by candles... I thought this was large... [update: it turns out I did not take a photo but Stuttgart had a monster one of these things]
 The markets had stands selling all sorts of stuff.
 Karlsruhe also had nice live music during the market.  Someone dressed like an angel came to the edge of the stage during this show and started to hand out bread to kids, the bread was shaped like an owl with raisin eyes.  I managed to get a piece of owl bread after all the kids got some, it was not really great taste but still nice they were passing it out.  I'm assuming there is a story behind why the angel was passing out bread.
The Stuttgart Christmas Market had four blades in the form of ice skates hung from the top of the entrance.  I had to look twice to make sure it was safe to pass under here.
 This is a very large market, the front of the market is at Schlossplatz near the castle and other historic buildings.
 This is the courtyard of the castle.
 The Gluhwine in Karlsruhe was great, it was from a local vineyard.  Stuttgart also had great wine, I meet met a couple of friends from Italy at this market.
 This guy was filling cups of wine for people, he was offering to help us out with that task.
 The largest market I visited was in Frankfurt, I'm guessing they have 100's of shops many sell little buildings.
 Some offer 1000's of Santa's.
 This is the main square of the Frankfurt Christmas Market, the center of the square is one of the original Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen statues or lady justice statue.  But finding the statue is difficult with all these people around.
 This market also has a double decker merry-go-round.
 Crazy hat.
 Got to keep warm, oh wait, here is some Gluhwein.
 Every market has great food stalls, this one serves all sorts of sausage.
This is the tree off to one of the sides of Frankfurt main square.
 One of the beer stands, this guy was keep busy by the crowd of people.
 You can see the crowd below, this was one of the main sidewalks going through the market and on both ends of this sidewalk was trams.  So when a tram had to pass everyone had to stop walking.
 Prague also had a Christmas market, but it did not really compare with Germany.
 But it was still a nice market.
 At the market in Karlsruhe I was enjoying Gluhwein talking to a few old guys who happen to know English.  Tourist are not so normal in Karlsruhe, so they asked me why I was there.  I explained that my grandfather told me that his family was from this city so I thought I would stop by and see if I could find any relatives.  Once they confirmed that they were not of the same last named, they follow up with 'what was their address?'  I thought to myself, 'Shoot!  That is a good question.'