Coming from near Manchester and its rustic Christmas markets and ending up in London with the (dare I say it) garish Winter wonderland makes you hanker for authenticity. Where better to go for a great Christmas market than Germany itself?
Tqo years ago I headed to Dortmund, this year to Cologne. Both very different but ideal getaways to indulge in the predictable gluhwein, bratwurst and beer overload.
Cologne (Koln) is often rated highly for the markets, and now I see why. In the shadow of the cathedral there are six markets, each with a different themes; nautical, Angels, Rudolph and Gnomes made up four as well as a cathedral market and one around the old town. Easily depictable statues and most importantly gluhwein mugs and beer glasses (0.2 litre glasses, restraint clearly encouraged – never adhered to) showcase the theme of each, as do the stall holders goods.
Market stall currywursts and pork knuckle were both particular food highlights, albeit predictable. My knuckle recommendation is Peters beer haus, the knuckle is the size of the haus itself – and a crackling fanatics dream. The beer haus itself is almost like a more boozy Hogwarts, easy to get lost in the many wood clad floors and beer halls with the waiters dressed up and gliding around with large ‘wheels’ of beers, alcoholic, not butter beer. It’s pretty great. The other food highlight was Plomari, booked as it was rated number 1 on trip advisor you’d think it was a well known haunt in the centre of town – not the case but well worth the wait. I’ve been on an octopus hunt since eating an incredible dish in NYC a few years ago, I found a rival in Plomari’s. This Greek restaurant was tiny, but both the atmosphere, chef and owner made us come out with massive smiles. So good!
Dortmund is smaller and easily doable in a weekend. It offers the biggest Christmas tree in the world, my over sized inner child got very excited by this – spoiler alert, it’s actually 1,700 trees formed to make one tree. Still, massive tree. Given that Dortmund mainly attracts visitors for the football it all seems rather novel for the locals who are incredibly friendly, especially when you find them in a beer house. Whilst lots of people seem to rate Wenkers pub we got rather stuck in Zum Allen Markt. Nestled in the centre it’s got great old school Christmas decorations, great gluhwein and beer tankards and in my case, locals very ready to try their latest tricks on you – increasingly difficult with every sup of beer!
In summary, great times in Germany. especially when food and a warm tipple are on your wish list (on mine, always.)