Moin Moin! Visiting the Christmas Markets in Germany

23:00 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

At home I fidget and fiddle. Travel broadens the mind and when I return home, I long for places I've yet to visit. I pestered my girlfriend – “lets go here”, “how does there sound?”, “I want to go somewhere!” After some delicate persuasion nagging, we booked a last minute trip away.

We touched down at the airport, and after 30 minutes of Germanic efficiency, we were exploring the unhurried streets of Bremen.
When you travel around a country, you tend to say the same things again and again. In Italy it might be “What a beautiful building”, in the USA its probably “No, no more cheese on that, thanks”. In Germany, every five minutes I kept catching myself saying “Isn't that a good idea?” Whether its illuminated light switches or post boxes on trams, everything is so well thought out and convenient.

Germans like efficiency. They are also sticklers for rules. If you cross the road before the little green man flashes, expect some dirty looks. It seems that Germans just like to be in control. We went to a great Italian restaurant where my Salmon Carbonara was made from scratch right in-front of me. Unfortunately the customers were expected to micromanage the whole preparation of the meal and veto every single bloody ingredient. There was no room for the chef's artistic flair and in my overly polite British way, I couldn't actually say 'No', so I basically ended up with a plate of Pasta and Everything.

The only good idea they were yet to think of in Bremen is the compulsory smoking ban. You don't quite appreciate breathing fresh air on a night out until you step into a bar with an atmosphere so thick that it makes your eyes sting. That didn't stop our drinking however, and we stumbled back to our cosy little apartment around midnight.

We had a lazy Sunday. Not by choice though, everything was shut. We strolled through the town and the Wallanlagen Park surrounding the town. The suburban streets wind around pleasantly and are decorated with bold colours and confident street art. Couples walk their dogs and kids play in the streets. Cyclists pootle about and the peaceful atmosphere is only disturbed by the amount of times you have to step over a pile of dog poo.
We were staying in the trendy Viertel suburb in Bremen, which to the west gave way to the historic Schnoor quarter. There were a few tourist groups knocking about but the streets were narrow and you quickly lost the crowds amongst the crooked alleyways. We stumbled across a bonbon shop where they made sweets fresh in front of you. It smelt amazing. Inexplicably, Erin left the delightful little sweet shop empty handed. Maybe she didn't know all the ingredients?
We only stopped our wandering when our legs felt tired. It was about 4pm and I was feeling very continental, so we stopped for a coffee. Bad idea. I can't process caffeine at he best of times, never mind this close to the evening. That fidget and fiddling was back and I couldn't shake it off for the rest of the evening.

On a weekend morning, I'll typically wake up hours before Erin. I'll turn over and stare at her sleepy little face and wait for her to wake up. She wont wake, not even with a little nudge. I'll lie in bed, read the whole of the internet on my phone and she'll still be fast asleep. Zzz. This gives me the opportunity to go explore a little of the city on my own and buy some breakfast. Mornings, free from the worries of work, are a pleasure. The prospect of a new day's adventure.

Unfortunately, nothing in Germany is bloody open on a Monday either. After finding nothing in Bremen, our minds wandered further afield to some drunken advice we had received on a previous night out. Once Erin woke up we set off for the train station.

We bought a Niedersachsen ticket, which for 26 Euros, allowed two adults unlimited travel across Lower Saxony. It was a great deal.

After all the excitement of getting to the train station, Erin fell fast asleep again on the train. Unfortunately she couldn't sleep for too long because the trains are all so quick. We got off the train in Hamburg, a big bustling city. The Christmas markets were in full swing.
Everywhere you looked there was mulled wine, sausages and Christmas tat. A moment of indecision wrestled with me just as I went to choose a sausage. Instead of just pointing out the one I wanted, I tried to mutter something in German. I ended up with one of those over-proccessed, boiled turds of meat. I still ate it though, and it was so huge that I didn't have room to make up for my error. Gutted.

The rest of the markets were annoyingly similar to what we have in Manchester. But at practically half the price, I wasn't complaining. As the night fell, the streets were lit up in beautiful illuminations. And after all, I love Germany. It was my fifth time in the country. I appreciate the order and the thoughtfulness. I also like the beer and the food. I'm sure I'll be back again.

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