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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Art of the Weihnachtsmarkt

This seems like the type of post that would be fairly picture-heavy. But it's not. Sorry. I didn't have my camera with me yesterday, since I typically don't take my camera with me to doctor's appointments ( apologies there as well).

I wanted to take some time out to talk about German Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt, Pl. Weihnachtsmärkte). No, nothing about the history or cultural significance or stupid crap like that. Instead, I want to talk about German Christmas Markets and how they impact my life (which you may or may not agree is more fascinating than like 600 years of Christmas tradition).

Like I said, yesterday I was at the doctor's office and afterwards I went to a pharmacy to fill my prescription only to find out that the particular drug that I needed was out of stock and that a delivery would take about 3 hours. After checking at two other nearby pharmacies (who didn't have the medication either), I went back to the first and decided to kill some time walking through the Christmas Market outside.

In Hamburg, the bigger Christmas Markets opened basically like on Thanksgiving, but almost no one cares about Thanksgiving in Germany, unless you're an American (or a person who bones an American on the reg). Or Canadian...but their Thanksgiving is in October and I'd rather have my eyes clawed out by Wolverine than live through 3 months of Christmas Markets in Germany.

There are a lot of Christmas Markets in the city (15 according to this link that Buche sent me that I said I'd never look at, but it turns out came in handy) and I don't think this even counts the smaller ones (for instance, I don't see Gänsemarkt or Fühlsbüttler Strasse).

It's not that I don't like Christmas Markets. I'm actually quite fond of them. In fact, I'd recommend that if you came to visit me that it be around Christmastime. Why? Well, first of all...the rest of the year, I have a hard time thinking up tourist activities that don't include walking around outside with alcohol in an open container and showing my guests where the hookers hang out. And secondly...wait...that's exactly what we'd do at a Christmas Market, only with considerably less gawking at hookers.

The best part about them (Christmas Markets, not hookers) is the food. It's probably not a "scientific fact", but nothing smells better than a real live Deutscher Weihnachtsmarkt. It's just a bunch of great smells that smell great together. You'll walk past one booth and it smells almost sickeningly sweet, but then the aroma of some savory-type foods mesh with that...and it's kind of too awesome to describe. So I'd just have to show you first hand one day. Oh...and Glühwein (aka mulled wine) which is warm and spicy (like cinnamon spicy, not hot chilli spicy) and a thousand times better than egg nog.

The worst part about the Christmas Market is that there are too many other damn people. I feel like many Germans don't do well in lines (or queues, if you want to get fancy about it) unless you have some sort of system of ropes or ribbons and stands to guide them, like at a bank or something. That's why there's all the chaos at the supermarket and entering/exiting public transportation. Some of them have absolutely zero awareness of their surroundings (like who is walking behind them, what they are walking into). So you have hundreds of people who act as though they're the only ones at the market, except...there are hundreds of other people there. And...there are just so many freaking markets that it's basically like the whole city has become the mall during Christmas shopping season (take your pic which one) -- except the mall crowd is outdoors and everywhere you go until the day before New Year's Eve.

The only other things that the Christmas Markets have to offer are fine handcrafted... crafts? wares? I have nothing against these things.

To sum it all up...Christmas Markets are a delicious month-long inconvenience and I could really go for a mug of Glühwein right about now.


EEJ said...

Hear hear. Hate the crowds, but have a passionate, aching, undying love of the Glühwein. Drink one (or a dozen) for me!

Pickles said...

Your idea of tourist activities sounds like my kind of fun... simple and easy to remember. One of these days I hope to have funds for a visit or 2 or 3.