On our last day, we traveled by train from Rothenburg to Frankfurt, [as we flew out the next day.] The journey included taxi to the train station, followed by three plus hours and three train connections. We stayed at the Frankfurt Sheraton, which is actually in the airport complex, which was VERY convenient.
We had big ambitions to visit markets on this last day: either Wurzberg, where we had to change trains, or in the Frankfurt area, after we checked into the hotel. However, the trip took longer than expected, due to significant S-train delays in Frankfurt; once we put our feet up in the hotel, the bodies refused to move. The trip was incredible and glorious, and 12 days on the ground was the right amount of time.
In the winter, it was dark until 8:00am, and was dark again around 4:30 pm.
In Germany, it was easier to buy our DB train tickets via the app; the machines in the stations often wanted a pin # from our credit card.
S-train machines: wouldn't take $20 dollar bills, [only smaller] and wanted a pin # for our credit cards.
TRAIN CONNECTIONS- Most of our connections had 4-9 minutes between trains. It's pertinent to know what track# you're coming in on, and on what track# the next connection departs. Have your luggage ready to jump off as soon as the train stops, & be prepared for lots of stairs. If you sleep on trains, set your phone alarm.
SHOPPING & FOOD AT THE MARKETS
We found the markets to be a total festival-like experience, not just a shopping expedition. The markets were a combination of the decorations, the lights, the people energies, the aromas. For me, I had my xmas shopping completed before the trip, as there wasn't much time afterwards.
Food and alcohol are a big part of all the markets, and the prices very reasonable. Judging by the strollers and/or dogs with the folks present, the markets are a big draw for the locals. Most dishes were about 6 Euros, and the Gluhwein was about 5 Euros, with an additional 2-3 Euros deposit for the mug. If you liked the mug, you kept it, and struggled with the fact you couldn't carry back a mug from every market. [And- we didn't see anyone who had over-imbibed.]
All the markets had their local versions of the Gluhwein, chocolate, breads, pastries, pretzels, gingerbread, cookies, gooey desserts, cheeses, sausages, along with main dishes, so sampling each variety is a must! I don't know why European chocolate tastes so much better than it does here, but I did enough research, so it's a fact!
I'm a vegetarian, but didn't starve, just had to look a little harder, and found some incredible food. To do so required eating before the crowds arrived, so I could see and ask questions regarding ingredients.
There is a lot of standing at the markets; the vendors usually don't have tables for drinking/eating. However, there were no issues with sitting on available steps or walls to eat/rest.
Overall, the markets were cash only.
In all the markets there were original, made-in -the area items, and there were also repetitive items, probably imported. Items in Germany were marked with their origin; items in France were not. I was bored with the candles and soaps, but that's me. Many stalls sold children's items; jewelry, scarfs, hats, gloves, wool slippers were readily available for all. There were hundred of xmas ornaments for sale, between 10-20 Euros, and I avoided the larger, breakable ones. I tried to find the local artists. What I couldn't find were artists with oil or watercolor paintings of the local scenery, which I typically see all over Italy.
All the markets were in, or close to, areas with year-round specialty shops, many brands which aren't available in the U.S.
Hopefully, I've addressed your questions, and I've managed to stay awake until after 7:00pm tonight, so thanks for the help with the jet-lag.
Safe travels to all!