3 Ways to Enjoy German Christmas Markets

A couple months ago Trish told me she and her best friend Pat wanted to watch Jamie and could Porter and I go out of town for a week or so? Yes, my mother-in-law is the best person on the planet, and yes I realize how lucky I am.

Throw in the stand-by connection and the world was very seriously our oyster. I went to the Christmas market in Prague like 10 years ago and it was so magical. I has been on my mind lately, so we Googled 'Best Christmas Markets in Germany', picked a couple and hoped there would be space on the plane (there was). 

1. Big town
We chose Cologne for its proximity to Frankfurt (the airport we had to fly into), and that it boasted six different Christmas Markets AND an unreal cathedral. The cathedral was, in fact, unreal. Very Pillars of the Earth and Gothic looking. We stayed in a simple, but very adorable little inn that everyone kept taking pictures of. (Sidenote: They did not have shampoo. I did not pack shampoo, nor did I buy shampoo. My hair did not appreciate any of this.)

The train lets you out right by the cathedral, which is right by the river, and the cutest parts of the town (and most of the Christmas Markets), so we didn't venture far from that area. We arrived on a Thursday morning and thought it was a bit crowded until we saw what Friday and Saturday looked like. Shoulder to shoulder packed, everywhere. It was insane. Sure, vendors came from all over Europe (most notable/delicious, a Nougaterie (fresh nougat maker) from France and sausage maker from southern Italy). There were candles and wood carvings and adorable German things everywhere. Cheap brats and hashbrowns with applesauce and people lingering and being generally festive. Pretzels for days. It was awesome. One market had an ice rink with a portion dedicated to what looked like ice bocce. In another town we barely stopped in (Mainz), there was a nativity pyramid a full story high.

2. Small town

After Cologne we stayed just one night in a town called Cochem, which is in the Mosel Valley (the wine region) and spend an afternoon in Koblenz, where the Mosel and Rhine converge. We took the train along the Rhine while listening to Rick Steve's Best of the Rhine, which was a play by play of cute towns and castle along our way. The Christmas Market in Cochem was much smaller (though I did end up buying most of my stuff there... because choices are too much for me), but the town was adorable and quaint and the perfect opposite to Cologne's busyness. Added bonus, the town had its very own castle, where there was a live nativity.

3 Religious

Porter and I noted that we both had the idea that Germany is very secular, along with much of Europe. Maybe it's just that the Christmas spirit is especially difficult to dampen, but I was surprised at how religious many places felt. Even among the shops, there was a lot of care taken to display religious items well. During the live nativity, there were several times where the group broke out into Christmas hymns. It all felt very much like worship and not just tradition. 

Of course we were total geeks about FaceTiming with Jamie. The connection was awful but it was encouraging to see him having such a good time at Auntie Pat and Unc Floyd's house.

Isn't my Porter handsome?

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