Last Stop in Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden, Germany. January 2020.

With our final holiday stop and a two and a half-hour drive each way, Ryan made a new rule: you must stay wherever you are going for at least as long as it takes you to get there. Normally, I would push for the roundtrip timing, but sometimes this is unreasonable for where you are going and Baden-Baden when you aren’t here for a spa day, was that for us. With probably our shortest one-market stop, we spent about 3 hours here which included two runs around the market and a 20-minute excursion around the nearby park.

Baden-Baden is a UNESCO world heritage spot as one of Europe’s top Spa locations which means over the course of the summer it becomes impacted with all of the tourists and locals flooding in. In contrast, the holiday season – at least in the post-New Year’s stages – is apparently a low season.

This market is small with only around 100 booths but it is strangely misleadingly large and small at the same time. When you first step out into the market – if you manage the parking maze beneath it but more on that later – the whole thing seems huge! You look right and left and the market looks like it goes forever in either direction and then you spot some cabins across the way with some lights and the potential for more grows.

If you go left, you hit a dozen or so booths with gluhwein and some traditional food as well as the regular festive wares; when you hit the merry-go-round you also hit the shopping district so you can choose to get lost in there or turn back. When you cross back to the right, you find the truely deceptive block. The way in is three long lines and alleyways of back to back booths with the biggest clusters of food and drinks booths that I have seen, especially for a market this size. Even though it doesn’t look like it, this is actually the majority of the market booths. At the point where this labyrinth of booths looks like it swings left into more maze-ways, it actually simplifies into a small circular ring surrounding a closed off and empty square of lawn.

There is a singular, straight path that crossed the lawn and this is one of the market’s most interesting features. this path is adorned on both sides by false-stain glass windows all drawn and painted by local school children with the sponsorship of local companies, both big and small.  These depict all sorts of pastoral and religious imagery mostly focusing on Christmas.

Beyond this path and separated by a small strip of lawn you will find the second really interesting feature: The Trinkhalle. This is a beautiful brick building with an open collum lined hall that displays around 20 different nativity designs. This looks somewhere between a competition and an exhibition but most of the pieces (at least the ones I was drawn towards) were completed by a single artist: Sonia Demetz.

The third special element is this town is so proud of its history. There are signs throughout the market giving details about the local site and monuments you shouldn’t miss while visiting. Even knowing that most visitors to the markets are really there for one reason – we’ve had enough hotels and locals direct us to them without us asking – yet, they want you to leave knowing more than the 100 booths. To get more information without having to wander too far, you can go through the doors in the middle of the Trinkhalle venue and read all about why the city has UNESCO status. Most people only wander in because it looks like it has a toilet (it’s why we did and it’s a private toilet) but once inside, you should give yourself the time to stop and delve into the history this town is so proud of.

Like I have said in the past, each town we visit has something special – it’s own charm, a market theme, an atmosphere, or a tradition that makes them stand (at least a little) apart from the rest. These elements were so understated – displayed and yet set back – but they really made the impression that this celebration was about being here, being local, and how proud the community is to celebrate in this way.

We took a quick walk to see what the cabins across the way were and ended up taking a small excursion through the first bit of Lichtenraler Allee Park. When researching, I found two addresses for the market and the park was one of them so we didn’t know if there was an extension or a second market here. There is (what we decided to call) a quarter market. Really it is one booth selling drinks and food, an icerink (with real ice this time), and portable toilets. My advice: unless you are desperate to ice skate, stick to the actual market.

The last thing I have to say is don’t get lost! The neighborhoods are very windy and locals drive through them like bats flying out of hell which is concerning if you aren’t used to hairpin turns. If you find yourself in one of these neighborhoods, they do seem to loop around but take your time and get out safe even if not quickly. The parking beneath the market is convenient for your visit but not for parking so again, in Baden-Baden, it’s all about taking your time. This is the strangest parking lot I have ever seen because all of the spots and lanes go in the same direction. If you turn down one of the 8 different lanes thinking there is a spot but you don’t fit, you have too loop around the whole lot and start again. As always, the earlier you get here the better your options!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Last Stop in Baden-Baden

Post-New Year’s Speyer

Speyer Christmas and New Year’s Market. Speyer, Germany. January 2020.

Speyer, like a few other towns across Germany and its surroundings, stretches their Advent and Christmas Markets through the Epiphany – this year January 6th or 7th – which means a few extra days of revelry for Ryan and I. In this time, we opted for two markets, spacing them a day apart. Speyer – and Baden-Baden (our other New Year’s Market) for that matter – was probably one of our shortest trips. And after the craziness of Glosar, we definitely watched how much we ate and drink. What has endeared Speyer to me in that respect is as a cute town, we didn’t feel like we missed out by not celebrating as hard as we have in the past.

If you do visit Speyer during your German holiday, remember it does seem slightly touristed. Ryan thinks he saw one tour bus pull in during our time here and some of the sizable groups support that notion. There are also clues within the market that may help all season long – large Christmas ornament vendors such as Käthe Wohlfahrt supporting a booth or pop-up cabin like the one set up in the middle of the larger half of the market lets you assume that you are in 0ne of the touristy spots.

Walking onto the street along which the market is held, we had the distinct impression that we were seeing it in its much smaller form. As it was, you had two sides: the Icerink and the Main.

The first was the Icerink side which was located between two clocktower passages. By the day we were here, there were a dozen or so booths – mostly food and drink – and an ‘ice’ rink. The ice is actually plastic which brings about the sound and impression of a game of table hockey but with small children moving independently of one another rather than – but also ricocheting off the walls as much as – a disk in the aforementioned game. After watching it, I can see the weather advantages of this style of the rink, but it does seem so hinder some of the ease of skating while also exaggerating all the hardest part of it.

At the other end of the market street, sits the main market which is 3 to 4 times as big ending at Spier Cathedral. Between the two is the space that we think had a few stands when the markets were at full capacity based on the number of trashcans and decorations still lining the otherwise barren street.

If you like interesting pictures walking down the center aisle of this market and you will find a statue of a pilgrim (the religious kind, not American) and if you are standing in front of it you can get a shot consisting of the statue, the cathedral, and cute Christmas decor from the surrounding booths. Once you have a drink in hand, however, and you are looking to get out of the crowd or just to get some breathing room, the main market bisects the street. On one side you have the front of the booths in the walkway that gets extremely congested, especially as night settles in but the other side is nearly empty of anyone which makes it slightly safer to drink and enjoy your gluhwein or coffee in peace!

We did take an extra amount of time to take a wander around the cathedral and to look at the Garden of Gethsemane statue in its courtyard. Whether you are religious or not, this is an interesting pair to look at and you will have time to do so – again the market is small! Also, they are free and get you out of the weather, so if it starts disagreeing with you, as long as you are respectful, it’s a perfect choice.

If you are driving and need an extra pick me up before heading home, they do have coffee in many of the booths and a lot of non-alcoholic choices for you to choose from. Given its size, this is probably the biggest concentration of french fry choices we’ve seen – or it’s possible that we just paid more attention to them today.

Also be aware of the mug situation. On the icerink side there is an icerink specific mug in two or three different designs – they didn’t seem to be giving out the third Stein-styled mug which was sad.

On the other side, however, pay close attention. Once again we found ourselves surrounded by wine glasses, tall thin mugs, medium-sized glass mugs, and then a mix of cartoony, generic, or plain mugs. There are also a few that looked distinctly branded for the type of alcohol or the specific vendor rather than the city itself, so if you are collecting, keep your eyes out for what fits the bill. The designs also had multiple color options. The market was small enough for you to take a run around the whole, checking things out before you spend too much money on any specific mug so take your time and enjoy the views!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Post-New Year’s Speyer

Goslar: Why we needed to sleep it off (part 2)

Goslar, Germany. December 2019.

If you didn’t read the last post, the part 2 in the heading isn’t a joke. We had a huge overnight adventure in Goslar where we drank and partied a little too hard as we saw the end of the Christmas season coming to a close, but as I wrap u[ the stories from last time, I am becoming more and more sure that this was one of my favorite markets.

Last week I ran us through all our back and forth around Goslar’s main market, but that leaves the too micro-market, that again, we couldn’t seem to settle between. I learned this very drunk weekend that when Ryan and I drink we just like to run around rather than our normal specific and organized path that makes sure we see everything.

That point in the evening was well past by the time we popped into the Party Christmas market. To keep things simple, I’m just going to talk about each of these markets and what they have to offer rather than a timeline – we ping-ponged between the two, bouncing their distinct atmospheres off of each other and reveling in it.

We are also keeping Goslar’s official count at thee markets, despite the advertising only specifying two, because all three sections were so completely distinct that honestly, to discount any of them wouldn’t do this trip justice.

The Party X-mas Market

You enter through a hallway of twinkle lights and mistletoe and are immediately met with a combination of remixed pop and R&B music thumping through this small square. There wasn’t much here in the way of Christmas wares but with a few booths (like 5) and a lit-up Christmas tree, it is still a celebration.

Most of the drinks on offer here are the same as you will find everywhere else with the exception of Amaretto punch. I honestly can’t tell you what else could have been in this beyond the Amaretto but based on the taste and other punches, I would guess a light, hot apple juice to cut down on some of the alcohol but it didn’t dent the flavor. In other words, if you like amaretto, get this!

Most of this market is up on a raised square platform which was always packed with people every time we entered but only a few were dancing despite calling it a party. I don’t know if that’s because there wasn’t a lot of room or if it was the classic ‘can’t dance until everyone is dancing’ trope come to life, but as if gets later I promise things do liven up.

We had so much fun here: drinking, dancing, and enjoying ourselves. We had never come across a market like this. With the music and the strobe lights, it was like falling through a portal into a Christmas rave. The downside, however, is it is so small – you are somewhat forced to go out and enjoy the other markets as a breather because the music did get loud and repetitive (there was quite a bit of Beiber).

Again, we loved the dancing and how different it was from everything else, but this micro-market is definitely not for everyone!

In contrast, you can’t miss the cluster of trees that make up the forest setting of the aptly named Forest Christmas Market.

Unlike what I expected based on my research, you don’t have to go anywhere to find this forest – you pass it was you walk down one of the lanes of the main market. Goslar is near the mountain forest and based on the vitality of the trees, I wouldn’t be surprised if the spruces were brought in from the surrounding flora. Just like the Party Market, you find yourself in another micro-market with a dozen or so booths, but nestled in the cluster of giant Christmas trees, you feel a world away!

As I mentioned last week, Goslar’s markets are a little backward in regards to schedule because while the large main market closes early at 8pm, the small forest is open until 10! But with that late hour comes a batch of truly dangerous after-hour drinks.

First up: After-Eight punch. This can only be described as an extra-liquored Bailey’s punch with cinnamon. It has a similar color, consistency, and taste as the regular Bailey’s punch – which I also had! – but with an extra kick.

But the true killers were our last drinks of the market: Marzipan Gluhwine Punch and a hot Absinth drink. The first is like dessert – lovely, sweet, Christmasy, and gentle. This is not, however, what the absinth was like. Before I get ahead of myself, this is absinth sans wormwood, so don’t get too excited, but like Jager, if you aren’t a fan to start with, you will not like it hot!

I loved feeling lost in this tiny market. Right in the middle of the cluster is a clearing with benches and you can sit back and look up at the sky through the tree branches. So lovely.

Even if I never said it out loud, I have made a promise never to lie to you all, so beware that this next section gets messy. We were drunk but not to the point that we didn’t know how to conduct ourselves. I say this so you understand why I say what I say next:

Do not go to restaurants near the market when it is after 9:00 – yes, we only made it that lone, though I am proud I made it that far! There was a small Japanese and sushi restaurant and with only an hour until the buffet at the hotel closed we just wanted to sit, get a quick bit and move along. 30 minutes later, we hadn’t seen a single server, had any water – probably;y our main goal – and had enough.

But the misadventures don’t end there.

We made it to the buffet with about 15 minutes or so to spare and immediately filled our plates. Well, friends, I am what I call a slow setter. When I drink, I feel tipsy for a long time and then I feel sober – like the tide pulling back – and then (with no extra alcohol) it can all hit me like a tsunami. Not the best body alert system when you have been partying for 5 hours. Brain function slows, I walk a little less steadily, and, in this particular case, I set my flannel shirt sleeve on fire. Yep. And put it out with my other hand – I told you I have scars! THree small burn-blister scars across three fingers. I was mortified.

To my benefit, this is the first time in the season – in fact, in my life – that I have drunk myself sick! Though I don’t discount that stuffing myself full at dinner helped that case one bit.

Sorry. That was rough.

The next morning, only a little hungover we decided to do one last non-alcoholic round at the market. We had two matching drinks each: honey apple cider and a special non-alcoholic cherry glog with floating berries in it ( I do not recommend this hungover – it was yummy but the floating globs were not fun to look at!).

Durning our drinks, we managed to catch the noon showing of the Goslar glockenspiel. As the clock chimes, you have multiple rounds of city and mining animations circle around the clock. Remember this is a mining town with a mine you can visit if you have the time and desire!

We ended our trip by buying one of the things we avoided for most of our travels: the powdered donut pillows. This is not their official name, but it is what they look and taste like. Warm, fried, lighter-than-air pillows of dough topped with powdered sugar and served with skewer sticks to stab and eat your delicious prizes.

And that is Goslar. Thank you for sticking with my voyage – even writing it out was a saga! I will always recommend this set of markets and the town is adorable. I will also recommend, however, pacing yourself more than we managed and have fun!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Goslar: Why we needed to sleep it off (part 2)

One Crazy Night in Goslar (part 1)

Dear Goslar,

You were lovely but I enjoyed you and your libations too much. Good job.

Sincerely, LotW

Goslar, Germany. December 2019.

Yes, that note is 100 percent necessary as is understanding before you dive into this tale that I am making none of this up and while I am, in fact, slightly embarrassed by our shenanigans, I proudly wear every scar – and yes, I mean literal scars, friends – and somehow remember every detail of this grand adventure. You’ve been warned – try not to judge.

Goslar is a smallish mining city in the Saxony region of Germany and it is a town that loves it’s Christmas markets and seasons. This season lasts until the 30th of December and squishes three small markets in and around its market square and Glockenspiel. If you have time, you should definitely take a wander through the surrounding neighborhoods because while everyone talks about how picturesque and quaint towns like Rothenburg is, Goslar brings this to a whole new level.

From our house, Goslar is approximately 4 hours away by car which meant this was a one town, one night, two days trip which made us happy because it broke up the regular pattern of rushed overnight trips with a lot to do or single day trips where one of us (Ryan) couldn’t try beyond one glass of Gluhwein early on in the night.

We were very happy to do this in Goslar from the get-go, but upon seeing all the new food and drinks that surrounded us we were doubly excited. But I will get to all of that in a second.

We scheduled this trip last minute, so a lot of the online reservation sites that were in our price range were booked solid. This leads us to Hotel Harzlodge – a cute (or as Ryan originally said, slightly creepy – he came around after a single stroll through the grounds!) mock-saloon town hotel in the forested hills just outside Goslar. This makes it seem farther out than we were, but honestly, we were a quick 20 to 30-minute walk from the main part of town and the markets. The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast as well as a buffet dinner option from 6 until 10 every evening – this will be important for later.

If you don’t mind some travel risk, there were cheaper accommodations still advertising rooms in town that looked cute and cozy. With more diligent research, you may be able to find these deals and book before coming, however, if you want to chance it, you may be without luck. Also, they did not look like they had free parking or really any available parking beyond the metered street choices, so if you are driving, be ready for a free spot hunt.

But onto the markets and all of the food:

Goslar’s markets are all saddled side-by-side, so close that we were tempted to clump them all into one. In fact, according to my research, the main market is supposed to boast around 300 booths – apparently, a magic number for markets since I have seen a fair share of the ‘biggest’ options boat the same! – but it didn’t seem large enough for this, even if you add the booths from the micro markets. We did, however, visit after Christmas, so there could have been sections of the main thoroughfare that closed up early – there are enough sidestreets that looked right for it.

Strangely, in Goslar, the main market closes earlier than the other two, vendors closing shop at 8pm sharp and two hours before the latest alternate. We wandered and indulged all three markets in about 5 hours and it was a whirlwind.

The main market has three signed entrances but two of them are bisected by the church – remember, when wandering to a market, you always look for a town hall or a church (usually the biggest) – so your best bet is to pick one of these lanes which will lead you to the main square and the heart of the market and then you can take your last wander back up the other lane before reversing and retracing your steps looking for the details you might have missed. And there is so much you will not want to miss.

If you told me in November that we would be visiting Christmas markets into the 20-somethings and still finding new things to try I think I would have squealed and fainted. Somehow, Goslar did that and more:

First up: the honey drink booth. Yes, honey. Everything from the gluhwein to the hot chocolate to simple milk drink had honey in it. And booze (unless specifically asked for and that list could always have some added!), usually honey-infused booze. Over our two wanderings here, we tried the hot-boozy chocolate with honey, hot milk with honey-schnapps, and alcohol-free honey apple cider. Friends, when I tell you hot boozy honey milk is fantastic, you are going to have to believe me or find your way to Goslar to taste it for yourselves!

Skipping ahead a few drinks, we sampled the most delicious duck sandwich from a specialty booth (all they served is this sandwich) with red cabbage. Ryan does not like duck – he thinks it is too oily – and he ate half of my sandwich. The only reason we didn’t get a second one was that we saw there was much more to try.

Hence our next buy, after our surprizing Gluhwein with vanilla-infused rum, we dove into Champignon Onion and Mushrooms with cream sauce which was served from the more deliciously aromatic booths we passed. Again, Ryan is picky with mushrooms and he devoured this as well. This mushroom and onion mix is marinated and cooked in giant vats for hours and then served with either a white or yellow-curry cream sauce and it could easily be considered its own meal even though it looks like a side-dish. Yes, it is that good and not because we were both feeling our multiple cups by this point.

Then we found the Glog. This was a word we had never come across and yet they have easily a dozen variations if you count boozy and alcohol-free variations. A third contained cream both mixed in and on top, so beware if this is an issue for your dietary needs! In the end, we picked two variations of the Swedishcider glog – Hexxen (apple pie) and Special (fresh cherry) Glogs. We returned on our hangover day (yes, I’ll get there! but not until my next post, sorry!). The Hexxen tasted exactly like a warm cinnamon apple pie and the Special literally has infused real (not sweet maraschino) cherries bobbing around in the mixture.

After the glogs we meandered back to an interesting, tiny booth at the beginning of one of the main entrance lanes which sold Nonnchen mit haube (hot zimtliquor), aka
Nun with a bonnet or hot cinnamon liquor. Yes, you read that right. This is a small schnapps glass filled with 50/50 hot cinnamon liquor and whipped cream. If you decide to dive into this crazy concoction, be ready and be Ryan, not me. When someone gives me a drink with a straw, I drink some first and then mix in the cream but this is not how you drink this! Ever! It was hot and strong and burned the whole way down. Mixed together, the flavor is more delicate and palatable. Seriously, mix it!

To say that everything was going to our head by this point is an understatement and I would say we were about 3 hours into our 5-hour jaunt. And remember I am only telling you about the many new things we sampled (not the other gluhwein and Feuerzangenbowlen) and this is only the main market of the three available.

Which leads me to our last drinks before hitting the second and third markets: a regular Gluhwein and Eierpunch and the brand new Jägerpunch. Ryan had a feeling this one would not be on our list of favorites (Jäger is neither of our things) but since we had tried virtually everything else, we dove in. I was not prepared for three drinks between us, but I was glad for my punch after the overwhelming taste of the Jäger. If you aren’t a fan normally, you will not be a fan of it scalding hot!

Thankfully, you can cover up the taste of anything with a fresh-smoked lox sandwich which also gives you a little fortification as we venture through the rest of the night. But that’s for next week because this post is long. Thank you, friends, who have made it this far but come back next time because this isn’t the end of our adventure or the list of new foods we found.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

One Crazy Night in Goslar (part 1)

Four for Regensburg

Thurn & Taxi Palace Market. Stuttgart, Germany. December 2019.

As I have said, we have visited somewhere between 24 and 26 markets this year (between 14 to16 of them in the span of 4 days!) and for those following along, it may surprise you to know that this was definitely more than any plan I could have conceived. Well, let me rephrase that: I had planned on us going to many. many markets; possibly more than what we have. What I did not plan was doing them in the number of days we did – yes, I wanted to spread them out! Instead, what I lucked out with was finding amazing spots like Regensburg where we could happily hit two to five markets on a good day, or towns close enough to do the same.

When I started my research, I had Regensburg down for two markets – the Neupfarrplatz and the Thurn & Taxi Palace Markets – but as it turns out there were four markets!

We had always planned to drive so Ryan made the choice to invite to recent transfers who hadn’t been exposed to (at most) more than our tiny local market. I will never get sick of going to Christmas Markets, but let me tell you, bringing people who had never been to a market like this is a fresh of breath air back into the season! The girl who experienced her first four markets with us was transfixed and I had to keep telling her to slow down – but it brought me right back to my first outing.

But back to the markets:

We cut a clean line across the city in a path that took about 21 minutes at an easy walking pace end to end. It runs through the Thurn & Taxi Palace Market, to the Neupfarrplatz Market, to the Lucrezia Market, and finally across the Danube to the Advent Market in the Spitalgarten.

The Thurn & Taxi Palace Market

This was the first Market we have ever had to pay for and one of our friends was very taken aback. You have to pay a two Euro entrance fee and aren’t allowed to bring any kind of water bottle in with you – you leave them at the desk which means making sure you exit the way you entered. But the two euro was well worth getting into this cute Castle market and if it helps keep a castle running, well, I’ll pay for that too!

The market is very cute and wraps around the castle, the castle square, and the garden area. I love sitting around one of the small fire circles and eating some kasespatzle – our newbies loved this! – and drinking some blueberry gluhwein.

Neupfarrplatz Market

This is exactly what I expected Stuttgart’s main market to be, except I really thought it would be bigger. I was finally served Gluhwein in a wineglass, but, no, we did not keep it. Apparently, you have to have a champagne base to get one here – just a tip of the trade apparently!

Rather than a regular meandering market, this main Neupfarrplatz Market is fairly contained, surrounding the squared area between the church and town hall.

If these two markets were all we visited in Regensburg I would have enjoyed the trip, however, the real surprise came with our last two visits!

The Lucrezia Market

The Lucrezia Market is a tricky little place, but wonderful. It is seated at the heart of old town Stuttgart and across two small squares about a block from each other – which we only discovered when walking back through on the way to the car!

This market is less a Christmas Market – although it is also that – but a true artisans market. You have small homespun industries all clustered together to seel you real handmade wares, food, and drink. I fell in love with the booth ‘Homemade by Uli’ and ended up getting a triangle scarf which I have wore out a lot in the week since getting it.

When people talk about shopping local for the holidays, my mind now goes almost exclusively to this market and how happy Uli was when we complimented her work and then bought the scarf.

The Advent Market in the Spitalgarten

The Spitalgarten is a beer garden that is transformed into a Christmas haven. I would put this near the level of artisanship with the Lucrezia market and we could have died happy living in the wool scarf and jumper stall! With both of these, be prepared to spend money like you are paying for quality artisan goods – which cost a lot – because you are! If you take care of the things you buy here – unlike a lot of the things you buy in a general store – these will last you.

The only thing that will not last but we couldn’t leave the market without were the artisan beverages. We ended up leaving with mugs – yes each market has their own – and two bottles of fortified wine; one cherry and one ginger. They were absolutely amazing.

And then we closed out the night with a final kasespatzle – Stuttgart sure knows how to load up a bowl by the way! – and we drove the quick hour and a half home.

I feel like I am keeping it light on the details today, but I think that, while I loved the true artisan markets here in Stuttgart – what I really learned from this trip is that it is important to mix things up. Ryan and I were moving from market to market with either each other or the same people and we were loving it, but that was nothing compared to walking other people through how markets work and experiencing it all with them.

Most of the time we were also either keeping things to day trips or rushing our overnights to hit a million things in two days. Next time, I’ll be talking about us slowing down and the strangely unusual party we happened upon in Goslar!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Four for Regensburg

Krampus takes over Munich and more!

Munich, Germany. December 2019.

First and Foremost, I feel like I need to apologize to Munich. Last time I wrote about the cities markets I mentioned that I loved the food and that the Marienplatz market is huge but fairly generic for a big city, and that I hated the Medieval-styled market there. Well, this hasn’t changed. Marienplatz was as it ever was and the tiny medieval courtyard is still overly-crowded and unhospitable. But I must apologize because Munich at Christmas is so much more than that!

Two weeks after our initial plunge into Munich, we were back for our last chance at the Krampus run and – I try not to curse here but – holy shit! There is so much more here than I had ever thought. I know that I did minimal research since Munich was the last of our stops on a long whirlwind tour, but I don’t know how I missed too many interesting choices!

If you are going to be in the area, My new advice is to visit the main thoroughfare early and get an all-day subway pass. You can easily jump from small and micro or niche markets throughout the day and never get bored with your surroundings!

If you don’t know what the Krampus run is, let me first say, there is no description I can give that will ever live up to the reality. Krampus is a very Austrian-Germanic tradition and if you want to be traditional about it, you should look up the official run that takes place one day, and one day only in Austria. Apparently, that run is much more aggressive involving much more caroling of children and harder hits from the Kramuses, who are apparently much scarier than the ones we came in contact with.

Here, you have a small parade of adults and children in all forms of Krampus costumes. These range from whimsical fuzzy and oversized (almost cuddly-looking) creatures who like to shake their butt-bells to the crowds; to witchy-ladies who sweep at you with brooms; wooden masked creatures that look like trees come to life; and everything in between! I can’t even remember one of the masks because of the clawed hand that reached out and caressed my face and ran those sharp-looking claws along the back of my head – again I say holy shit!

There will be some pictures below and there are millions more online, but I have a few suggestions to stick to if you want to really see the run:

  1. This is a parade in a small section of a big market – it gets crowded! If you want to get close and personal with the action or get pictures, you have to line up early and be aggressive about not letting people stop in front of you. We got to our stop half an hour before it started and had to shoo off a handful of people.
  2. With that, expect people to be up against you completely – no breathing room! If one of your party leaves, make sure you all stand bigger so they won’t lose the space and have to slide back in with you like a sardine.
  3. Also, if you don’t want to be smacked by sticks and soft whips around the ankles, do not stand in front. This is the space you are most likely to be interacted with physically and you can bet if one gets you, many wills! I am small and blonde and we didn’t have kids around us and therefore, I was said target. I hat my hat danced away with (and returned) my face and hair fondled, my space invaded, and many a whip smack my feet, legs, and ankles.
  4. If it’s cold, grab a gluhwein but again be careful! you will be bumped and jostled and could lose your space. Your best bet is to get it close and early, and then nurse it over the course of the parade!

After fighting out of the crowds of the Krampus run, we made our way back to the Medieval Market. On second meeting, I am afraid to report that my feelings haven’t changed. It’s underwhelming, except for the crowd which is overwhelming. Even with the lighter crowds of the mid-afternoon, I didn’t venture too far in or for too long.

In fact, after watching for a while from the outside of the market, I decided that this isn’t even really medieval with possibly the exception of the food. Rather, this is a fairytale-styled renaissance market – like the renaissance faires you’ll find stateside. Because this is done in microcosm (it’s seriously a single market square), unlike said faires that are expansive, this tiny market feels lacking.

As I’ve said before, go to Esslingen instead!

We only went to two other markets this time around, but then again, that’s two more than last time. Thank goodness we went because they were night and day of everything else we have been to (and as of now we have between24 and 26 markets under our belt this year alone!).

The Pink Market.

The Pink Market is an LGBQ+ micro-market in Munich that is even smaller than the medieval one. I think there was a total of ten booths and four of them were your average food and drink ones. The others offered some charity options as well as wine and spirits. There was very little of your normal fare.

There is, however, a mug! The design is your basic frosted mug which named the specific market and below (in German) it reads “Munich is colorful.” In terms of colorful, we missed out on the entertainment when we went, but based on the schedules we saw, there are tons of fun options. Beyond that, there is apparently one day of the year where this is the craziest party you will find.

The Marchenbazar Market.

The Marchenbazar Market is called the Fairytale market (but, as I have said, I give that title to the Medieval market) but in truth, this is a strange combination of a circus and exotic wares market. And it was fantastic!

You walk through the gate and the whole space feels fantastical – and yes, I had had a lot of gluhwein, but I promise it wasn’t just that! Faced with large carnival tents, paintings, and lights, we felt transported. Made up of multiple circus tents that provide warmth, shelter, and a variety of entertainment, each tent is like stepping into a new world.

Walking into the tents, you are met with crowds but the outside between them isn’t too bad.  We were told to find the Indian food and the butter chicken when here and we were not disappointed in the slightest. If you are in that particular tent, you also have the choice of skewers, ramen, and a few other delicious smelling choices. As I said, not the usual fare! Outside the tents, the stalls also serve traditional and non-traditional wares, so when the inside gets hot and stuffy, take a turn in the crisp winter air and then dive into a new tent and a new world.

What I loved about this market – and really about large European cities like Munich – is that you can easily get to them by tram and subway, and therefore, there is no reason not to put them on your list!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Krampus takes over Munich and more!

Stuttgart: How many markets?

The lights in Stuttgart. Stuttgart, Germany. December 2019.

If you have been keeping up, yesterday I talked about loving Esslingen and Ludwigsburg’s undeniably unique markets and smack-dab in the middle of these towns is Stuttgart. In order to move between then, as well as to either of them from where we live, you have to cross through the city, so by the end of the day, I recognized it’s streets without a second thought.

We decided to make Stuttgart our final market of the day because, first and foremost, it was opened an hour later than Ludwigsburg, but secondly, because it was the closest to home. If we would have to drive through it anyway as we left, we may as well end here in the biggest city of our stay!

If you are going to stay around here next year for the Christmas market season, which we heartily suggest, this is where it should be. You can easily stay two nights and hit Esslingen, Ludwigsburg, and Stuttgart’s many Christmas festivities and then head up to Heidelburg (and maybe even Heilbronn) before swinging back toward home.

If you do, check out the ticketed Christmas Garden. From outside, this looks like a “Candy Cane Lane” but as a giant garden. If we are around it is definitely on our list but make sure you get in line early and buy your tickets ahead of time as the line gets crazy!

When we finally made it into Stuttgart between 6:30 and 7:00 in the evening, we once again found ourselves in luck parking beneath the long stretch of Christmas markets – seriously, we walked up two flights of stairs and were face to face with the entrance!

The craziest part of the Stuttgart Markets is that it’s almost like a maze of markets including one nestled snuggly in the center of another. Maybe as I describe our experiences, you can decide for yourself exactly how many Christmas markets exist inside this maze!

The first thing we walk toward was the main tower – these are the things that look like a windmill whose face has turned up to the sky, its layers depicting different nativity or folk scenes. At its base you get the first opportunity for some Gluhwein and to it’s right is a booth that looks to sell official Stuttgart market-branded merchandise – something we had never seen before. If you are looking for a quick mug to grab, the Gluhwein booth will happily supply you with one!

Past this point, there is a long lane of the market road that has all your normal booths and wares like homemade hats and mittens, as well as some fun carnival aspects such as a Ferris wheel. Off to the lane’s right, you will also see a small grassy park filled with figures lit up with Christmas lights; an elephant, a few cars, a magic lamp, and ornament with a space to sit and get a selfie inside! Just beware: the markets close up shop at 10pm, but the lights in the park are out at 9:30 – a rule I found out the hard way midway through snapping pictures.

What I consider ‘the second market’ is the one nestled kitty-corner to the long lane market and its adjacent Christmas light park, called “The Wintertraum.” This section is on a raised platform with its own entrance sign, its own mug design, a booth selling food in branded to-go containers (such as veggie pasta and french fries), and an icerink.

We didn’t go ice skating – my balance is lacking even without the drinks and balancing on two small blades! – but love the difference in the atmosphere waking from a street market to this winter wonderland. I especially loved the large center pole and canopy of lights that marked this platform as a world unto itself!

After walking out the other end of the Wintertraum, you reach the entrance to the winding “Weihnachtamarkt” located just across the street. This market is both the most conventional and the most enthusiastically ‘Christmas’ Christmas market in Stuttgart. Every booth brags an either whimsical or over the top decor as it winds its way around the church nestled at its center.

Again, here you will find another set of mugs but rather than whimsical, these mugs are sleekly designed and so well made, from afar Ryan swore they were made of metal. As it is, they are glass but striking enough that we ended up keeping both colors. Just look for the Moosehead singing Christmas carols in English and there you are!

Now, you find yourself in the one market that is the most dismissed: Stuttgart’s Antique market. If you follow Weihnachtamarkt past the bathrooms, you will see the entrance to this single long-house market.

Inside you won’t find your normal food and drink but there is a small cafe serving sausages or spaghetti as well as tea and coffee, but you will find a fairly good mix of normal antique market treasures and specialized Christmas booths. There were belt booths and jewelry booths, booths of odds and ends and one who had a huge display of carved stone and sculls.

We spent most of our time in the antique Christmas ornament booth. Here we found every example of ornament we had read about in the Rothenburg Christmas museum and seeing them all together, I was suddenly transported to my Great-grandma Lee’s house – I don’t think there was a single ornament on display that she hadn’t inherited and hung on her tree year after year.

Of course, if you are looking for quirky ware, you can find them here as well. The booths at the end had a wild assortment of dolls, trunks, and glittery beach-themed torso ornaments all side by side, ready to purchase.

If you are looking to visit, however, be quick! While the rest of the markets close down at 10, the Antique market shuts down promptly at 9.

As you step out of the antique market and head back to the rest of the festivities, you have to cross a tiny square surrounding the statue of “Kaiser Wilhelm Denkmal” which is in full is not miniature Christmas swing. The teepee square market. This single square market that sits flush against the enclosed antique one, is one of the smallest markets I have seen – so small, Ryan thinks it probably counts as an extension of the former because it is so small.

With the exception of its size, the thing that sets this small festival apart from the others I have described is in line with its tininess it had an almost unperturbed atmosphere. Unlike the extremely crowded and enthusiastic market across the street, and the family wonderland beyond that, neither the patrons nor the vendors here seemed in any rush or fuss to be made.

It was simply relaxed – an odd change to the usual hustle and bustle of the season.

But my favorite part? They had a teepee like structure in facing into the market with a fire burning inside. Just another relaxed place where people can sit and relax.

Honestly, all written out, I see five distinct markets market by their own terrain, mugs, and atmosphere, but thus far I am only counting this stop as two additional markets. What do you think? Let me know below!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Stuttgart: How many markets?