Saturday, December 20, 2008

'Weihnachtsmarkt': German Christmas Markets - Monschau & Aachen (Dec 6)

We decided to hit some German Christmas Markets one weekend since we heard they had some of the best in Europe. German Christmas markets, which are called 'Weihnachtsmarkt' in German, are outdoor markets held all over Germany in the month leading up to Christmas.

First we went just across the Belgium border to Monschau, Germany: a delightful small Bavarian-styled town nestled in a valley in the hilly forests of the High Fens region. There are several half timbered houses lining the streets along with a small river flowing through the village. There is a wonderful walking path around the village with the ruins of a tower on one side, and the ruins of an old castle on the other. In regards to their Christmas Market, it is small, yet one of the most beautiful ones in western Germany. They had a decent selection of booths which included items such as wood carvings, ornaments, toys, crafts, accessories, glass blown items, clothing, to a variety of German foods that could by themselves entice you to come back to this cute village over and over! Like normal, Shannon ate his share of sausages that weekend while we also tried some new foods: 'Apfelpfannkuchen' (similar to apple pancakes), 'Champignon' mixture (sautéed mushrooms with onions, garlic and bacon), 'Reibekuchen' (fried potato cakes served with applesauce) and Glühwein (mulled spiced red wine). Don't they all sound so healthy! It is truly difficult to resist all the wonderful smells one intakes at a German Christmas Market!

Next we went to Aachen, Germany to see what its Christmas Market had to offer. It was much larger than Monschau's and extremely crowded when we were there, probably because it was a Saturday evening. Its Christmas celebrations take part in the historic part of Aachen around the cathedral and the town hall where you can find numerous booths offering crafts, gifts and various tidbits. This beautifully decorated city on the market square has everything your heart could desire. We actually did not make it down all the streets since it was so busy and we had arrived fairly late, but we hope to make it back next year or at least visit the city another time. I've heard that Aachen has great shopping and is relatively inexpensive compared to Brussels, so I will be eager to visit again!

Here is a link to all the Christmas Markets in Germany:

Village of Monschau, nestled in a valley
Former Castle
'Champignons' (aka mushrooms which were being sautéed with garlic, onion and bacon) They were delicious!
Shannon enjoying some 'Champignons' (mushrooms) from a local store in Monschau
Shannon eating some 'Reibekuchen' (fried potato cakes with applesauce)
'Reibekuchen' booth in Monschau
Shannon eating his favorite food, Bratwurst!
Monschau Christmas Market
Monschau Christmas Market
Cute half timbered houses lining the tiny river that goes through Monschau
Monschau Christmas Market
Monschau Christmas Market
Cute decorated homes in Monschau
Monschau Christmas Market

Cute half timbered houses by river flowing through Monschau
Bakery in Aachen
More sweets in windows in Aachen
Aachen Christmas Market
Aachen Christmas Market
Giant Gingerbread at Aachen Christmas Market
Notice the massive crowd at the Aachen Christmas Market
Springerle rolling pins (I only know what these are because my mom and aunt make a ton of springerle cookies every year around the holidays. It's a German tradition in the Schroetlin family) more info on springerles
Of course I had to buy one since someday I'll be making them!
Aachen Christmas Market

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