We celebrated this festive season with friends in Berlin, Germany, and hope yours was just as joyful.
Alight with Christmas decorations, and especially under a dusting of post-Christmas snow, Berlin was a winter wonderland – and with sunset around 4pm there was plenty of time to enjoy the Christmas lights.
The Christmas markets were magical – cute wood-hut stalls packed with Christmas novelties and street-food, where we enjoyed many German treats, such as:
- Gluhwein (pronounced glue-vine) – hot spiced red wine with an optional kick of rum or Amaretto, perfect to warm up with on a cold winter’s night
- Gulaschsuppe – flavoursome goulash soup, hearty and warming
- Currywurst – German sausage doused in tomato sauce and topped with curry powder
Our favourite Christmas markets were:
- Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (we went inside to see the amazing mosaics),
where we went multiple times, conveniently located just around the corner from where we were staying at the funky “art’hotel berlin kudamm”,
- Gendarmenmarkt where it costs 1 euro to enter but offers entertainment and unique stalls, nestled in between the gorgeous architecture of the German cathedral (Deutscher Dom), the French cathedral (Französischer Dom) and Concert House (Konzerthaus), we were sorry we only managed to visit once.
By the time we got to Schloss Charlottenburg the Christmas market held there was just a memory and in fact the castle itself was closed, being a Monday.
Never mind, we enjoyed the quiet and found we could still access the gardens at the back by walking around the block. Not even the increasing drizzle could dampen my delight in walking around the impeccable palace gardens.
There are 3 large Christmas markets in Alexanderplatz and this is the place to go if you want rides, ice-skating or tobogganing – although we could never find a time when all 3 were open simultaneously.
Something which surprised us (being from Melbourne where the only day shops are shut is Christmas Day) was the prolonged closure of most stores, beginning at 2pm on Christmas Eve – signalled by the church bells ringing wildly and people pouring out of shop fronts – and not opening again until the morning of the 27th December. (A scenario repeated over the New Year period).
It left us arriving almost empty-handed at our friend’s apartment where we enjoyed a traditional European Christmas Eve dinner and were showered with gifts, lots of food, a little too much wine and plenty of laughter.
A very merry Christmas indeed.