Christmas Markets in Berlin

I was in Berlin this past week, getting a huge dose of art and culture — something I’m starved for on my small Mediterranean island.

I went there to soak up the gritty feel  of the city, and to hang out in museums and small galleries. But I also ended up wandering through a bunch of Christmas markets. They were everywhere. And they had good food.

The Christmas Market tradition goes all the way back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking areas of Europe. It’s normally held during the four weeks of Advent, leading up to December 25th.

I’m an unapologetic Scrooge when it comes to all things Christmas. Especially the overhyped North American consumer craze version. And you won’t catch me putting in a yearly appearance at a church just for the midnight mass atmosphere, either.

But even if you’re a ho-ho-humbug like me, a German Christmas market is still worth checking out. There’s a chill in the air, a scent of woodsmoke hovering around the edges, and enough food and drink to stuff even the hungriest turkey.

Stalls are normally set up in a town square, and they sometimes spill over into neighbouring streets. Stalls sell ornaments, furry hats, food and drink. And most markets have singing and dancing entertainers too.

We bumped into these things — and we usually stumbled out — all over Berlin. From the jam packed gathering at Gendarmenmarkt to a smaller and more pleasant market on the Unter den Linden at Opernpalais, to the glittering lights of Potsdamer Platz. And a bunch more in between.

The highlight was of course Glühwein — hot wine spiced with cinnamon, aniseed, cloves, citrus, sugar, and sometimes with a shot of brandy thrown in for extra warmth.

I also ate delicious bratwurst covered in mustard, roasted chestnuts, bite-sized donuts, pretzels filled with cream cheese and chives, Flammkuchen (thin bread dough baked in a stone oven and topped with creamy white cheese, green onion and chunks of meat), and more.

There were also liquorice stalls, stalls selling candied nuts, crepes, candy apples, baked apples, and nougat… More treats than I could sample in a week in the city.

I’ll have a lot more stuff to say about Berlin in my next blog. It’s an amazing city.

But for now, please enjoy these photos of traditional German Christmas markets, Berlin-style.

Ho ho ho etc.

Stalls sold fuzzy hats, fuzzy stuffed animals, and not so fuzzy wooden ornaments...

Stalls sold fuzzy hats, fuzzy stuffed animals, and not so fuzzy wooden ornaments…

Crunchy orange flavoured cookies...

Crunchy orange flavoured cookies…

Candied nuts to get your crunch fix...

Candied nuts to get your crunch fix…

Buying a cup of Glühwein to warm my frozen bones...

Buying a cup of Glühwein to warm my frozen bones…

Each market had it's own special mug... hot wine spiced with cinnamon, aniseed, cloves, citrus, and sugar...

Each market had it’s own special mug… hot wine spiced with cinnamon, aniseed, cloves, citrus, and sugar…

...delicious bratwurst covered in mustard…

…delicious bratwurst covered in mustard…

That was a sad looking ferris wheel… I think it was cranked by hand… I kept waiting for it to break free and go rolling down the street...

That was a sad looking ferris wheel… I think it was cranked by hand… I kept waiting for it to break free and go bounding down the street…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

Flammkuchen — thin bread dough baked in a stone oven and topped with creamy white cheese, green onion and chunks of meat...

Flammkuchen — thin bread dough baked in a stone oven and topped with creamy white cheese, green onion and chunks of meat…

Attacking a pretzel with crumb-spraying savagery...

Attacking a pretzel with crumb-spraying savagery…

Ho ho holy crap that's a big electrical bill! The lights at Potsdamer Platz...

Ho ho holy crap that’s a big electrical bill! The lights at Potsdamer Platz…

 

Photos ©Tomoko Goto 2013

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Comments

  1. Adam must hate you for being able to consume so many carbs! LOL

    • Ryan Murdock says:

      LOL – isn’t that always the way though? I’m pretty indifferent to carbs, I can take it or leave it. I fully enjoy the special foods in whatever region I’m travelling, and when I go home I just shift back to my usual diet with no difficulty. Whereas a poor guy like Adam dreams about carbs at night, and goes off on a binge after just one taste LOL.

  2. Thx Ryan for that little traveling for Christmas 🙂 Eat for me , with all those carbs I would have finished bloated, depressed, full of pimples , sweating my bed all night and peeing every 10 minutes… my pancreas would have take a ticket back home, and my intestine would have punished me with a fire butt!

    So I leave the dream by your taste buds 🙂

    Keep entertaining us!

    HAve a nice year Ryan!

    HArry 🙂

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