The Germans know how to do Christmas. Perhaps because the temperature is colder and the nights are darker, German cities really epitomise Christmas at this time of year. Snow carpets the ground, bright lights hang in the streets and in every city and town there are Christmas markets selling roasted almonds, sizzling wurst and mugs of steaming hot gluhwein. When I discovered my friend Clare was going to be in Berlin last weekend just in time for the Christmas markets I could not resist joining her despite my misgivings about the temperature which turned out to be minus nine degrees celsius – freezing!
There are over 60 Christmas markets in Berlin itself and there literally seems to be a different market on every street corner however we had heard the Gendarmenmarket was the cream of the crop. The market is held in the picturesque Gendermen square nestled between Berlin’s French and German cathedrals, the Franzosicher Dom and the Deutscher Dom. Entry is €1 in comparison to most Christmas markets which are free to enter but your contribution pays for perfectly presented stalls and an outdoor stage complete with carollers and dancers.
The Christmas market
The smell of roasting nuts filled the air and paper cones filled with candied almonds (€3) proved to be the perfect snack for strolling around the market.
For something more substantial the raclette stall beckoned and for €6.50 you could get a tray of hot baby potatoes slightly crushed and coated in lashings of butter, melted cheese and pieces of bacon.
There were great presents to take home in the form of backs of boiled sweets and gingerbread decorations. When the cold conditions got too much, comfort was to be found in a mug of gluhwein complete with spices and a slice of orange the steaming hot wine really did warm us up from the inside leaving us with a warm glow.
Christmas market fashion. The funniest thing about this was the fox had fake googly eyes sewn on. Brilliant.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- We flew with Easyjet from London and our tickets were about £250 return. You can get much cheaper flights if you are more organised than we were and book more in advance.
- We stayed at Lux 11 hotel, a brilliant boutique hotel right in the heart of Mitte. Rooms from €150 a night. Complimentary canned gherkins (yes really), wine and hot dogs included.
- It was so cold that our sight seeing in Berlin was a bit limited on this trip but last time I enjoyed the Fat Tyres bike tour, Jewish museum, the Reichstag and the East Side Gallery along the Berlin wall.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in posts on my last trip to Berlin where I ate giant schnitzels
and feasted on curry-wurst