Travelling by train to Germany couldn’t be easier! I left London in the morning, had an easy connection in Brussels, to the Deutsch Bahn service to Bonn, and arrived in the early evening – just in time to immerse myself in my first Christmas market experience in the charming square of Munsterplatz. I started at the Gluhwein stall, hugging a glass of mulled wine – hmm hmm – the appetising scent of cinnamon, ginger hearts, roasted almonds, chestnuts and sweet candy floss. I was warmly invited to explore the stalls. A bronze statue of Beethoven also stands proud here as this was his native town – you can also see the house where he lived. Bonn is an historical city on the banks of the river Rhine. It has a lovely Minster, the Catedral de Bonn and an interesting building, the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) which was displaying the advent dates in its windows. Outside in the square is the Book Burning Memorial – these are bronze book titles embedded in the paving stones, a reminder of Hitler’s burning of books during World War II.
After Bonn, I went to Frankfurt. The square was turned into a veritable sea of lights that twinkled and shimmered, a magical feast for the eye. I replenished my glass with some ebbelwein (apple wine) and then wandered through the labyrinth of stalls with decorations “ floating” high above my head and Christmas music filling the air. Downtown Frankfurt has a skyline of high rise buildings and modern architecture.
They say all good things come in threes so my third and largest range of Christmas markets were in Cologne. Row upon row of brightly decorated “chalet style” wooden huts selling German handicrafts and traditional sweet treats. Some had more unusual craft stall gifts, made by glass blowers, candle makers and wood turners with beautiful, coloured bird tables – something to tempt everyone! If you tire of shopping there is a carousel and an impressive ice rink. Cologne also has a magnificent gothic Cathedral and a museum where you can view Roman artefacts.
There is something quite magical and romantic in all three cities in addition to their beautiful seasonal settings.
The German trains and transport systems are a brilliant way to combine a few cities efficient, and so convenient too – storage lockers at the stations mean you are free to explore the cobbled streets and shop without any encumbrance!
I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the German Christmas markets to get you ready for the festive season. It will convert even the most hardened of Humbugs!