Here's a photo from our first market of the year, in a village called Dudeldorf, which is just down the road from us, between Bitburg and Spangdahlem. It's always one of our favorite markets, because it has a true small-town feel, with many vendors showcasing their goods insides houses and converted barns. Plus, it's low on junk and high on handmade goods. We bought some glass lanterns there a few years ago. One important note: it's held on only the first weekend of Advent every year. Now, I'm sorry to say that this is the only photo I took there this year--too busy eating, drinking, seeing friends, and wending our way through the crowded main streets. But this is Torschänke, one of our favorite German restaurants anywhere. It's impossibly quaint, and it's built into the old village walls, at the starting point of the market.
Check out this giant Advent calendar--it's a highlight every year of the market in scenic Bernkastel-Kues, 45 minutes away from us. It's pretty neat to be there when one of the windows is opened at 5:30, here in the heart of the market area. Everyone stands around with a bratwurst or a cup of glühwein, waiting for someone to appear in the lighted window. We were there with a group of friends, and the window that was opened that night was the teensy-tiny one at the very top. None of us could actually see what the picture was, but I believe it was an angel!
It's especially fun to visit this market on the evening when St. Nicholas arrives by boat to bring candy to children. He's accompanied by around 100 people in wet suits, swimming down the river from Kues to Bernkastel while holding torches! It's quite the sight to see. We posted ourselves atop the bridge that is just before the point at which the swimmers climb out of the water and add their torches to a bonfire.
The weekend after The Girl arrived in town from college, we all went for the first time to the Dom market in Köln. As the name suggests, and as you can see from the photo, this market is just outside the famous Cathedral. It was absolutely packed when we were there (we took the train right into the station next to the Dom, so we wouldn't have to find parking). It was fun, though, as people were really in the Christmas spirit and didn't seem to mind being jostled too much (I'm talking mostly about us--the Americans, who revere our "personal space"!). We found out later from a friend living in the Netherlands that there is another less-crowded market that she prefers over this one (Köln has a total of six or seven Christmas markets), but this one is still good. Next year we'll have to try the one she recommends.
We ate a lot at this market. One thing we shared was reibekuchen, a fritter that is made of potato, onion, and egg, and often served with applesauce. It's very popular in the Rheinland region, where we live, especially in Köln. It's the perfect street/market food: portable, cheap, and filling.
Just before leaving, we saw (and heard) these guys playing Alphorns. How cute!
I'll be back with a few more Christmas market and other Decemberish photos soon. Tchüss!