My final month of 2019 was dedicated to working far too much, and I didn’t go on any trips in December. I did however visit four Bavarian Christmas markets. The magic of German Christmas markets was something I didn’t quite understand until I spent time at these markets. Christmas markets, or Christkindlmärkte (Christkindlmarkt if singular) are festive markets selling handmade crafts, local cuisines, mulled wine, and more. The atmosphere of a Christkindlmarkt brings such joy to my soul.
As I mentioned above, I made it to four markets this year. Below I will list the markets I attended and my experience with each of them.
It only makes sense that my first ever Christkindlmarkt was in my “hometown” of Garmisch. A tiny, yet mighty market with the essentials like Glühwein and chestnuts, two items I grew to enjoy.
I didn’t spend much time at this market, but I did spend enough time to walk through the booths and savor the surrounding mountains. What I loved about this market is what I love about Garmisch in general – the mammoth Alps surrounding the town. It was here I had my first taste of roasted chestnuts, and my life is forever changed.
Nürnberg, or Nuremburg for us English speakers, is said to have the largest Christkindlmarkt in Germany, and is arguably the most famous. I had not been to Nürnberg before going to the market, so this was an extra special adventure. My roommate MaryBeth and I had the same day off and spent a night in Nürnberg before exploring the market the following day.
This market certainly felt larger than the market in Garmisch, but most of the stalls were similar. The town itself is well known for the Nuremberg trials – a series of military tribunals held after WWII by the allied forces over major Nazi criminals. Ironically, Nuremberg is also where the Nazy Party Rally Grounds were.
The Nazi Party Rallies, held in Nuremberg from 1933 to 1938, served primarily as a setting to show off the regime and Adolf Hitler, to orchestrate the concept of a “Volksgemeinschaft,” and to arouse popular enthusiasm for war. Perhaps this is why the trials were also held in Nuremberg…
History aside, this was a lovely city full of beautiful architecture and delicious market food!
We arrived in the city center early, allowing us to wander the market before it got crowded. We also arrived in time for a free walking tour, something I have come to love when visiting a new city! The tour lasted almost two hours, bringing us all around the city. We walked up by the castle, down cobble stone streets, around all of the four Christmas markets, and ended with my first full cup of Glühwein.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not a wine drinker. I don’t like the taste of wine, even when sugar is added. This Glühwein however, was amazing. Once I saw the word “apfel” I was sold. Like an adult apple cider warmed and served in a holiday mug. The perfect beverage to wander the repetitive stalls over and over.
Nürnberg is known for their sausages, and I’d be remiss if I came to Nürnberg without trying Nürnberg Rostbratwurst. These finger like sausages are some of the most popular in all of Germany, and originated right here in Nürnberg. Seasoned with marjoram, salt, pepper, ginger, cardamom and lemon powder, these tubes of pork are a real holiday treat.
Simply served with a roll, and topped with sauerkraut and mustard. Am I a local yet?
After eating and drinking our way through the city, we finally found our way back to the train for our journey home.
Munich has become like Seattle for me, a big city that I live close enough to for a day trip, but far enough that I don’t feel overwhelmed by my living space. I’ve been to Munich more times than I can count now, but regardless of that fact I still wanted to see their Christmas markets. I say markets, because I managed to see three of them in one day.
Similar to Nuremberg, Munich had multiple markets around the city. I started in the Marienplatz, where the largest market was. I watched the glockenspiel in the Rathaus perform for probably the fourth time since living in Germany, but each time is just as enjoyable.
I mostly get a kick out of the tourists reactions.
I bought some chestnuts (duh) und ein apfel mit Dunkle Schokolade to munch on as I wandered the Marienplatz. I admired the endless handmade crafts, and found my way to St. Peter’s Church for a panoramic view of the city from above.
From the Marienplatz I made my way towards the medieval market in Munich. This section was much smaller, similar to the size of Garmisch, but it was so cool! The entire section was medieval themed, complete with the clothing, goblets for Glühwein, and food being cooked in outdoor stoves. I only spent maybe 15 minutes here, just to see it, but had I not been alone at this market I’d have likely drank a Glühwein.
Lastly, I went to one final market between the medieval one and the one in the Marienplatz and this section was my favorite. It was medium sized, had loud Christmas music playing and lots of good food. I ate some pommes and sat listening to music for a while. I bought a beautiful handmade wooden sign for my dear friend Pam here, (HI PAM!) and five minutes later I found 20 euros.
I watched the city fall dark as the evening set in, and made my way back to the train to head home. A perfect solo day trip to the markets in Munich.
The final market I visited in 2019 was similar to Garmisch, which makes sense as it was just a few towns over. Mittenwald is a small town close to home, and I had been once before when I visited last March for their Fasching festivities. A few girls I work with and I went to Mittenwald for one final market of the season.
My roommate MaryBeth and I also work together, and she was in the group of us that went. Somehow she and I branched off and lost the group despite how small this market was. After buying a glass of Weiss Glühwein (new to me) we found ourselves at a stand selling goulash…in a bread bowl.
You can really tell I’ve been going all in with food the last few months. I feel the effects most of the time, but mentally it’s freeing. Sometimes. 🙂 This goulash bowl was delicious and warmed my bones on this chilly December evening. After goulash, we split a bratwurst and soaked in the last bit of the Christmas energy.
Christmas in Europe was a fun experience, but overall nothing beats Christmas with family. I look forward to being home next Christmas. Despite these markets and the decorations, it never quite felt like Christmas for me this year. I’m happy the holidays are over because it was a brutal month at work. Looking forward to more travels in 2020.
Q: Have you been to a Christkindlmarkt?