Christmas Markets

This will be my first December in Germany and I'm so excited to go to all of the Christmas Markets.  When I first heard about Christmas Markets, I thought, "I don't really get it." "Who wants to go buy a bunch of Christmas stuff?" But once I started seeing them I realized, it's a great way to see an area, you otherwise wouldn't have gone to and there are a lot of good food and desserts to try.  Also, there is Gluwein and other alcoholic beverages that draw people from all over.  They do have those Christmas knick knacks like ornaments, nutcrackers, cookoo clocks. etc.  Even though I might not have a use for those things, they make good gifts for people back in the States.

The first Christmas Market we went to was Schwarzenfeld.   This was a small local market with few food stands and knick knacks.  The stores in town were also open.  We went during the day.  I was eating bratwurst on a roll and drinking Gluwein which is spiced wine with liquor.  I give it one and a half stars.

That same day we went to Schwandorf for their Christmas Market, only about 10 minutes away from Schwarzenfeld.  It turns out that the market was not open yet and I'm not sure why.  We ended up walking around the town anyways.  This town actually had a lot of stores and restaurants and I'm planning on going back because it was a nice town to do some nearby shopping.  Even though we didn't get to the market I give it three stars. Here are some pics from the town:

Here is a park in Schwandorf.  It had some strange little building overgrown with ivy and trees.  The inside was trashed but I thought it was interesting.

Later in the day, we went to the Christmas Market in Schmidmuhlen.  It was pretty small but very crowded.  They only have about six stalls with food and knick knacks and it was held around the city church.  I didn't care much for this market but I gave it half a star.  They did have yummy Crepes with Nutella on the inside.  You can find Crepes with different fillings like applesauce and jam too at almost any Christmas Market.  I have no pictures of this market.

The next Market we went to was in Parsberg.  This Market was held around the Town Castle up on the hill.  This was a smaller local market but one of my favorites.  The castle was very pretty and the lights made it even more beautiful.  We ate pizza and chocolate covered fruit.  I gave this market two and a half stars.  Small, but has a lot of character, plus it was snowing which made everything even more festive.  Pictures below:


 Next, we went to the Regensburg Christmas Market.  Regensburg is my favorite nearby town for its neat little cobble stone streets and alleys and overall medieval feel.  It sits along the Danube River which you can see in the first picture as we are crossing the bridge.  You can also see St. Peter's Cathedral.  The city was largely untouched during World War II with many of it's architecture still intact.  It actually wasn't that big of a market but crowded.  I gave the market itself two stars.  It was freezing!  They also have another market in the Castle but we didn't go to that one.


At the stalls, I had a potato pancake with an onion and pork sauce called a Reiberdatschi.  Also had some more Gluwein.

Close up of St. Peter's Cathedral.  On this night they were holding mass inside the Cathedral.  They handed out candles for visitors and there was the most beautiful choir singing.  It was really nice.

Schloss Guteneck
This weekend we went to Schloss Guteneck.  This Market was held around the huge castle/mansion.  It is probably my favorite market so far.  It had a Romantic/Medieval feel to it, wasn't crowded, and had a lot of interesting things to look at.  My husband got a few of his Christmas presents here.  They even had some places to go sit inside and drink beer.  There were genuine blacksmiths working on their wares and a small petting zoo.  Lots of hand crafted leather items and woodwork and of course food.  We got fried nuts here and more pizza.  They also had live medieval music playing.  This market is a must see for people seeking a more unique market than just a row of stalls with wares.  There is an admission of 3 or 5 Euro and 2 Euro for parking but totally worth it.  I gave this one three stars.  I didn't get good enough pictures to capture the market but here are some below:

That same weekend we went to a big Christmas Market in Nurnberg.  This is one of the most well-known Christmas Markets in Germany. It was pretty big and there were tons of stalls with knick knacks, but not as many food stands.  There was a lot of candy and pastries, however.  This market was way too crowded though and it's like that for most of the time because of its popularity.  What I like about this market too is that there was another section that showcased Christmas Markets from all around the world.  They had stands from China, Scotland, the Ukraine, and so on.  I gave this three stars because it was definitely worth seeing.

Nurnberg is such a big city and there is so much to see.  We will have to go back to tour the city in the warmer months!

The last market we went to that week was a local one in Velburg.  This market was right in the city center with a decent amount of stalls but still on the smaller side.  They also had a stage and a little petting zoo.  At this market I had a lamb burger and eggnog liquor!  Very good.  I gave this market one and a half stars. No pictures.

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber
The last Christmas Market we went to was in Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber.  This market was closer than we had thought.  This market was definitely my favorite one.  It is a Christmastown all year long and many of the stores are open with Christmas themes.  It was a medieval town left untouched during World War II.  The town is what you think of when you think of Christmas in Germany.  I give it three stars.  If we had more daylight we would have toured the wall.  The town is surrounded by a stone wall and you can walk up stairs and walk the length of the wall.

 We stopped in at the Midieval Crime Museum which was right in the city.  It featured 4 floors of law, crime, and torture devices.

The next two pictures are of an area that is highly photographed.  We stopped in a Doner shop to eat dinner (Doners are basically the German version of Gyros with lamb or turkey meat) and there were paintings on the wall of the same spot.

 They had a decent amount of stalls and with food and wares.  They had these pastries called Schneeballen or snow balls that were made of baked dough with flavors like chocolate, vanilla, powdered sugar, and cinnamon sugar.  They looked tasty, tasted nasty.  I also bought some polish pottery at one of the stalls.  We will definitely be going back again next year.

Louis; My French Bulldog

Breaking up the travel posts a bit by showing off my new pup.  His name is Louis and he is French Bulldog.  All the little noises he makes, the snorts, and snores, and growls are adorable and also happen to be the result of such a short face and nose.  He's such a good guy.  We got him from a German breeder, who also shows French Bulldogs.  He's currently 12 weeks old and here are some pics:


Amsterdam.  One of the most controversial cities to visit.  And on many traveler's lists.  But beyond all of the hype, Amsterdam is a beautiful and interesting place to visit.  A nine hour train ride from where we live.  Everyone knows about Amsterdam's Red Light District and coffee shops.  But, I didn't know that Amsterdam was known for their dairy and cheeses and vast fields of tulips!  Unfortunately, we didn't go during the spring when the tulip fields would be in bloom, but we did pick up several tulip bulbs to plant in our garden.  It's too bad I can't send them to my family back in the States.  Amsterdam is, believe it or not, one of the most culturally diverse cities, if not the most culturally diverse and everyone speaks English!  Everyone.  Amsterdam even has more canals than Venice.  You don't realize how the city is run by canalways until you see Amsterdam.  Not a bad way to get around.

It might be a little hard to see, but the Red Light District was already in full swing in the middle of the day.  For obvious reasons, I didn't take closer pictures but wherever there is a red lamp there were the well-known windows full of half naked women trying to lure men into their buildings.  Later in the night the streets are filled with prettier "mannequins" and young men eager to knock on their windows.  I overheard a couple of the woman stating their prices as 50 Euros.  Exactly what that includes, i'm not sure, but doesn't that sound a bit cheap?

Bikes, bikes, and more bikes.  All of the locals have bikes.  It's not hard to realize why.  The canals make the streets so narrow that driving is almost impossible and riding a bike is the most practical way to get around, though it was very cold in November and these people are troopers.

We went to see the Anne Frank House which wasn't too far from our hotel at the Rembrant Classic Hotel.  I didn't take pictures inside but this one was one of the best museums I've been too and I highly recommend not leaving Amsterdam without visiting.

Everybody who knows me knows that I love cheese, so when I heard about "the cheese museum"I was very excited.  It was right across the way from the Anne Frank House.  They let you sample lots of cheese and we left with some dents in our pockets, though you cannot fly with cheese to the States.  This was nice but it wasn't a real museum.  If you have the time (and we didn't) I'd go to the Clog and Cheese Factory which is about 40 minutes outside of the city.  

A view of one of the many alleys with coffee shops.  Of course marijuanna is not legal in Amsterdam (though some believe it is) but tolerated by the government.

Pretty views at night.  You can see one of the brightly decorated shopping alley's that I frequented almost every day.  Amsterdam had a lot of awesome shoes.  We ended up spending a lot more money than we had intended.

Brandon and I enjoying a dinner canal cruise on Thanksgiving.  There was a four course dinner.  I had the salad with pumpkin, pea cappuccino (soup), lasagna, and chocolate dipped fruit.  We dined as we cruised around the city center.  It was our favorite part of the trip and very relaxing.

There are so many things to do and see in Amsterdam.  We also visited the torture museum, which was pretty disturbing.  If we had more time we would have gone to the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrant House, Heineken Brewerym and the Artis Zoo.  Now ask me in person about all of the fun stuff we did in Amsterdam.