We are in Germany for the Christmas Markets. It has been cold. We are using all our layers. The snow has been exciting, especially in Rothenburg. Two new places for us have been Veitshoechheim and Karlstadt. Both had small markets on a Saturday. If you are visiting the Christmas markets, check the weather.
Not much warmer in SLC right now. Current temp is 35 in both SLC and Karlstadt.
Over here, it warmed up... a bit. Today it was just over freezing for the first time in several days. I checked out two local Weihnachtsmärkte today, for anyone who will be in my neck of the woods over the next few weeks. Lampertheim? Skip it. Bensheim? Loved it, and would have stayed longer had my puppy not been over-stimulated by the whole thing. I'm going to check out the markets in Mannheim and Heidelberg next week. BTW, I found this website for the complete list of all Christmas markets in Germany. It's in German only, but shouldn't be too hard to figure out the dates and times: http://www.weihnachtsmarkt-deutschland.de/
It is -11 Celsius here in Winnipeg right now. That is the "high" temperature too! Jealous of your warm weather in Germany!
Went to the Idstein Christmas Market today and thought it was the best one I had ever been to. The market winds through the streets of the Alt Stadt, and Idstein has some of the best looking Fachwerk buildings I have ever seen. Just gorgeous, as well as unusual. Weather was decent with snow falling as we made our way to the train. The Taunus mountains were so pretty on the way up there from Frankfurt. If you ever make it to Idstein, make sure you go into the Union Church. You won't believe the ceiling, it is so amazing. Friday, went to Büdingen, which is a perfect, walled Medieval town. Christmas market here also wound through the streets, and even had a Medieval section along one of the city walls. Lots of stands just using candles and lanterns, which made it look pretty. Freezing cold though. Wed. I went to Aschaffenburg. Nice little market, lots of pedestrian side streets for shopping. Didn't make it in time to go in the Schloss, but will go back later this year. The Basilica is very impressive, and very old. Freezing cold! Decided I need furry mittens. What is interesting is that in Idstein and in Büdingen, I didn't hear a single word of English, everyone there was German. I didn't really hear any other languages either, other than a bit of Spanish. Both are gorgeous, historic, well preserved towns that rate being outstanding tourist attractions, but are completely off the guidebook radar. So, shhhhhhh. Tomorrow am off to the Rüdesheim Market. Trip report will follow.
Thank you so much for the wonderful descriptions of the Christmas markets. Enjoy the mulled wine!
Jo, I thank you too for your great descriptions. This is a vacation goal of mine as soon as college tuition is finished, December 2011; it may be a graduation present to me!
I'm sitting here in little old Adelaide having just come off two days of temps in the mid to high 30's celsius. Reading Jo's wonderful account of the Christmas markets and little towns, with the snow falling, makes me want to get on a plane and head back to Germany again. The Christmas scene in the southern hemisphere couldn't be in more stark contrast.
I was 40 years old before I saw snow for the first time. I have only seen it falling on two occcasions.
Gary Mc, Thanks for the note on the Christmas markets. I don't usually travel at this time of year, so that's something I haven't done yet. The only Christmas market I'll be able to get to this year is the "authentic" German/Austrian Christmas market that's taking place in Vancouver (B.C.) at the moment. The opening was marred by an unfortunate propane explosion, however everything seems to be running smoothly now. Some major retailers from Germany have set up shop there, including Kathie Wolfhart (same firm as the Christmas museum in Rothenburg). I believe they have all the "authentic" specialties, such as mulled wine, Bratwurst, etc. Cheers!
Jo We started in aschaffenburg. It has been a nice stop for us acouple times. The nicest new stop for us has been Karlstadt, many of it's old houses and wall towers Are intact. The Christmas market was going as it was a Saturday. Snow was falling and the had a choir. Wife's iTouch is driving me crazy.
Also have plans to visit a few other Christmas Markets. Bad Homburg, held in the courtyard of the Schloss. Kronberg, held inside the Staufen castle itself. Seligenstadt, 2 different ones, one in the market square and one in the Abbey, which dates from the Charlemagne era. Wiesbaden and Mainz are also on the list to visit this week and next.
Ok, here is the scoop on Ruedsheim. This is a town I pretty much detest visiting, as it is the mega-ultra tourist town. In the summer, literally swarming with buses and not a word of German to be heard. So, wasn't sure if I would like going there for the Christmas Market, especially after being so enchanted with Idstein and Buedingen. Ruedesheim is very lovely in the winter. No crowds until you get onto the market streets, though this was a Monday and the stand owners said the weekend is a mad house there. It is an international market, that sort of winds its way around the town, with stands from Finnland, Sweden, Poland, Mongolia, etc. The Yurts looked interesting set up in the middle of a German Christmas Market. Good market to get reindeer skins, as the Scandinavians had plenty to sell. There did seem to be busloads of folks from the UK there and they were having a swell time, drinking Gluehwine and shopping. My favorite part was taking the chairlift at dusk up over the snow-covered frozen vinyards to the Germania monument, and then coming back down when it was almost dark. It was soooo quiet up there as I was pretty much alone. Just listening to the birds, watching the boats on the Rhein with all the lights twinkling in the distance, made the cold trip in the chairlift worth it. (they do give you a blanket) Cost is 6.50 euro round-trip. My recommendation? A fun, interesting market with a fantastic location, plus lots of cafes to pop into if it gets too cold. Today, I am off to the market in Mainz.
Hmm, thanks Jo. Maybe I'll give it a look this weekend. I was planning on checking out the Mannheim Weihnachtsmarkt yesterday evening, but the weather sucked. There's nothing worse than heavy sleet just above the freezing point...
I would give Seligenstadt a try this weekend, rather than Rüdesheim. The church and abbey there are very old and very pretty. Lots of Fachwerk houses and a large town square for the market. The abbey is also having an extra market (3 euro)which would be indoors, so if the weather is funky, this makes a nice option. Rüdesheim will be packed to the rafters on the weekend. I will be in Seligenstadt on Sat. myself. Seligenstadt was founded by Einhardt, one of Charlemagnes right hand guys, and Emma, the daughter of Charlemagne.
Tom and Jo, anyone doing German Christmas markets right now... How are you guys getting around from place to place? I've been watching transportation conditions the best I can from here and I'll be in Munich on Sunday. Thanks
It has been my experience that the primary roads have been well kept, but the secondary roads are variable. Some of the small roads between and within villages are not good at all.
Trains, only trains. Haven't owned a car in 24 years over here. Since I live in Frankfurt, I use the RMV website to find out the best transportation links to towns with-in an hour of Frankfurt. If I wanted to go to Heidelberg or Wuerzburg, I would use a combination of RMV tickets and then a Laender ticket. Oh, and I have a 50% Bahn card too, for longer trips or if I want to use the ICE for a quicker or last minute trip. http://rmv.de/
The way I get to the Christmas markets is the same way I get to work everyday- driving (with all apologies to Lee). The roads have mostly been OK, just a little bit of slush this morning. If you're headed to Munich, though, realize that I live several hours away. Conditions could be different there.
Oh yeah, started snowing early this evening and it is still coming down like crazy. Have about 6" on the ground now I think. Looks beautiful and sounds great when you walk through it, all kind of squeaky. I love it!
I got roped into a drive from Freising to Neuschwanstein this coming Monday and I am the only person hoping it can't be done because of weather...it will get canceled if the weather gets out of hand and I'd rather spend the whole day just roaming around Munich if I had my way. Thanks for the info. Christmas Market!
Most of the route from Freising to Neuschwanstain is autobahn and main secondary roads. Unless you're driving in the middle of a heavy snow storm, the roads should be fine. At least in my area, the snow has all melted from the rain we've had over the past two days. EDIT: OK, no sooner had I written that last line when I looked outside and... the rain has turned to snow, and it's sticking. To be continued...
We're on a heat wave here now. +2 at the moment, looking at about 4 or 5 tomorrow. Does get down to -5 at night but that sure beats -12 last week...
I'm loving reading all of these posts. You all are so, so lucky to be living in Europe!!
I too have been enjoying these posts too! I remember a number of years ago when Orkney Blogger complained bitterly about 5 inches of snow February that melted two days later. We'd had snow since early December and didn't expect a thaw until late March. This year I'm getting pictures of sheep in the snow on the Black isle north of Inverness. We're getting more snow here in Madison again tonight. Pam
We are back now and had a great time, weather and all. Lows in the teens in Würzburg. The Romantische Markt in Regensburg was a nice addition. They had fire pots for lighting (kept the mosquitoes away too) and fire pits to keep warm. Goods were a little upscale in some cases. We traveled by train. We got bogged down a little between Nürnberg and Regensburg. I am not sure if snow was the reason, though there was plenty of it. Later that night, the weather warmed a bit for a couple days and we had rain. Treacherous walking. We departed from Freising and it had a nice market as well. This was our best Christmas Market trip of the last 3 years and before when we were assigned in Germany.
I really enjoyed the market in Seligenstadt yesterday. Both the outdoor one and the one in the Abbey. Very high quality hand-made items and the town was prettily decorated. Today am going up to Bad Homburg, so will report back tomorrow how that is, but the weather is warmer now, so should be fun. Location is beautiful for the Rüdesheim market, but the gifts on offer in the other markets seem to be better, more unusual, higher quality. Rüdesheim has lots of cheap junk for sale, if I might be blunt. There are several towns I would love to go back to and stay for a weekend or at least an overnight. Büdingen tops the list, followed by Idstein and now Seligenstadt.
82 degrees here in Southern Cal---brrr when will this winter be over?
I have uploaded our pictures from our Christmas Markets trip. http://mcchelsea.smugmug.com/Advent-2010 Snowy weather made for some minor discomfort but also for some beautiful scenes. You can view our pictures by town. I would recommend Veitshöchheim for the Rococo Gardens, Rothenburg for the snow and Thurn & Taxis Romantische Markt for something a little different.
Nice photos Gary! Thanks for sharing. Was that a joke that the torches were to light the way and help with the bugs???? Also, was it cold in the cathedrals? Pam
Jo and I managed to not find each other in Seligenstadt, but I agree. Beautiful little town. I didn't make it to the market in the abbey, but I enjoyed the main one. My dog enjoyed begging for food, a skill she has apparently mastered. Driving home from Seligenstadt through Darmstadt, I could see part of the market there. Darmstadt's a pretty ugly city, but the market looked huge. I checked out the Weihnachtmarkt in Mannheim today. Like Darmstadt, I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see Mannheim, but the market was great, probably the best I've been to this year so far. I have a new Kryptonite- schneeballen! Back to the weather- it warmed up over the past few days, and almost all the snow has melted. But we're dropping below freezing again tonight, and it's going to mostly stay there for a while. More snow predicted this week.
Today I went to the market in Bad Homburg. Have always liked this town, nestled into the foothills of the Taunus Mountains, with pretty architecture, a wonderful Alt Stadt and beautiful parks. Have to say, this Christmas Market was a surprisingly good one. A portion of the stands were set up in the courtyard of Kaiser Wilhelm's Schloss, the old white tower of the previous castle sticking up in the middle. The market then wandered out through the gates and down in to the town. It was nice having it so spread out. You could look down into the Schloss park and the lake, then up into the mountains. Lots of families at this one, I think mainly due to the minature steam train running around the old castle tower. The Redeemer Church that the Kaiser had constructed next to the Schloss is a thing of beauty. So amazing to see the entire ceiling covered in gold mosaic, it pretty much takes your breath away when you walk in. Very Byzantine. Wanted to tour the Schloss itself, but ran out of time. Will be back there next weekend and tour it then. Also wanted to go see the Russian Chapel and the Siamese Temple donated by the King of Thailand, but they can wait til springtime. As an extra bit of news, have just read that the Rhine is really high due to all the melting snow. The locks on the Main are impassable due to the high water.
"As an extra bit of news, have just read that the Rhine is really high due to all the melting snow." I also saw on the news that long stretches of the roads along the Mosel are submerged. When I crossed over the Neckar as it goes through Mannheim today, the flood plain was... well, flooded.
Pam: "Was that a joke that the torches were to light the way and help with the bugs???? Also, was it cold in the cathedrals?" Well, we did not see any mosquitoes. We only visited one heated church on this trip. I do not remember which. The rest were cold, sometimes very cold. I would take off my hat in the churches and then leave quickly as my head got cold. If you are going to attend services, I would plan on long underwear or something. Years ago I attended a service at the church (or replacement church) were "Silent Night" was written. I froze. Gary