Last weekend, we were transported into a Christmas fairy-tale while visiting Germany. It was a weekend filled with good company, beautiful Christmas lights, live music, food & laughter.
To begin, we were lucky enough to meet up with one of our friends from college (Chris) who flew from Malta to meet us for a short 36 hours. We all stayed in a hostel in Düsseldorf and were able to take a day trip to Cologne together.
After a short train ride on Saturday morning, we were face to face with Cologne’s massive cathedral. The work for this Cathedral began in 1238 and did not finish until 1880. This cathedral was hit 14 times with bombs during the WWII but has since been restored. (The tall towers made for a good target for Allied bombers).
While the inside of the Cathedral is stunning, the best view is from the top of the towers! It costs 4 euros to go to the top of the towers (2 euros for students). It’s worth the view if you’re willing to climb 553 steps to the top!!
If you are afraid of heights (like myself) this might be a difficult trek. Thanks to the help of Mark and Chris I was able to (miraculously) make it to the top. I’m glad I did, because the view was stunning!
After our adventure in the Cathedral, we thought it was finally time to visit the beautiful Christmas market that we spotted from the top of the tower. Personally, I think this was one of the most beautiful markets we visited. It also happens to be where we tried our first glühwein!
Glühwein is hot wine made with mulling spices. Sometimes, rum is added as well. It is very common for Christmas markets to serve their glühwein or hot chocolate out of real mugs (which say the year and name of the market). You put a 2 euro deposit on the mug and when you are finished, you can either return the mug for your money back or keep it! Guess who started a Christmas mug collection…. (:
After drinking a few too many glühweins, we decided to visit a different market. Luckily for us, there was a small-train that brought us through the city to the four main markets. Our next stop was a market in Altstadt (the Old Town) which had a very quaint elf theme.
After finding some glühwein first (…priorities) we were able to explore and discover that this market had an ice skating rink! Unfortunately we did not have the time (or energy) to ice skate, but it was nice to watch everyone go around! Mark and I were able to do some shopping at the markets as well, but I can’t exactly say what we bought! (; Everything there was incredibly beautiful and most of it was hand-made or artisan goods! Even though we would have loved to buy more, it was fun to simply walk around and see all the interesting things!
After spending some time exploring the second market, we hopped back on the train and headed towards the river. The food at this market was very oriented towards fish, since it was right along the Rhine River. They were cooking it over an open fire.
After scouting out some new mugs, we were able to try Feuerzangenbowle (try saying that 3 times fast). This drink is basically a rum soaked sugar loaf that is set on fire and drips into mulled wine. Obviously when we saw people with this cool flaming drink we all wanted to try it (And it was really good!!)
After a short amount of time by the river (it was cold because of the wind), we headed to the Angel Market. Since it was dark, all the lights in the trees were on, making this market glow!!
Finally, at the end of the evening, we headed back to the main market by the Cathedral to see it lit up at night. It did not disappoint!!!
Since we were cold, we decided to stop in to Früh (a local brewery by the Cathedral) to warm up with a few beers! Although it was very crowded, we were able to share a table with a nice group of Germans. The waiter greeted us by saying, “There is only one beer and there is only one size.” So that’s what we got. It was a Kölsch beer, which is famous in Cologne. (And very good!)
The cool thing about this place was that the waiter continued to bring us new beers every time our glass was empty. When we decided we were finished, we all placed our coasters on top of our beers (the signal we were ready for our check).
Finally, we headed back out into the cold to enjoy a final glühwein together and listen to the live music. The large Cathedral in the background and all the Christmas lights made for the most beautiful view!!!
I hope you enjoyed our tour of the Cologne Christmas markets! Stay tuned for a post about our day in Düsseldorf and all the delicious Christmas market food we tried over the weekend! (And an extra special video blog too!)
Much love, Amanda
PS- Less than 2 weeks until we are back in the States for Christmas!!!