Sunday, 28 December 2014

Berlin Christmas markets

Berlin's Christmas markets were so festive, cultural and lively, They put the English versions to shame. My two favourites were, firstly 'Gendarmenmarkt' just off Friedrichstrasse (the main shopping street). It was 1Euro to get in but very worth it. It filled the area that is usually a main square surrounding by some of Berlin's finest architecture. At night, it was magical. The stalls were twinkling and the buildings were illuminated by lights, even with a tasteful mirrorball. There was a great selection of handcrafted gifts, hot food, traditional entertainment on the stage and a vibrant atmosphere at all times of the day. We liked this market so much that we went back a second time, this time for dinner. We both had a not so traditional pizza which seemed to have every vegetable they could find in the kitchen on top but it was good all the same. For pudding, we had some delicious samples of various ginger biscuits. 

The other favourite market was north of town on Stredzkistrasse called 'Kulturbrauerei'. This had more of a local feel but had the size an charm to rival any market I have visited. The hand crafts felt well made and tasteful, the clothing and accessories were unique, there was a cork firing range for children and all the food you could hope for, including cheese fondue and every kind of wurst (German sausage). It was in an area usually supported by a cinema, interior design shop and offices but the giant Christmas tree and festive crowd was the crowd pleaser. (my camera decided not to work at this point so sadly no photos.)

Other markets included the Potsdamer Platz market whoch lined the street with it's Christmas crafts and biscuits. This still had the usual wursts and wooden tree decorations but also had a sledging slope - very popular with the children. Also conveniently located by a shopping mall for a break form the cold. 

The market at Alexanderplatz had a large ice skating rink in the middle of the market stalls. They had very strong but delicious mulled wine. They serve it in a mug but if you return the mug then you get some of your money back. They had the usual stalls but a bigger market than most. A short walk down the road was another market, slightly tackier but they had performers doing a dance on the skate rink. 

Another market called 'Weihnachtsmarkt' was next to a very busy shopping area (the equivalent of Oxford Street in London). It didn't have as good a vibe but still plentiful with stalls. 

Our dinner choices were not very cultural (after trying wursts, stollen and mulled wine of course). We had the best burgers I have had at 'Hans im gluck'. I was surprised at 10 vegetarian options for burgers but that worked out well for me. The interior felt like you were in the middle f the woods but when yiou worked you way to the centre, there was a bar. It seemed very popular with the Germans. 

We also had a very filling lunch at 'Kaffeehaus Sowohialsauch' near the Kulturbrauerei market. T had meatballs which, to his shock, were not served in a tomato sauce. instead they were massive plain meatballs. I had eggs cooked with spring onion, peppers and goats cheese, both served with a selection of fresh baked bread. A great stock up for busy walking days in the cold. 

As our hotel didn't include breakfast, we frequented 'Coffee and Cookies' on 'Stressemannstrasse'. They offered a traditional German breakfast (bread, meats, cheese, fresh fruit) with extra treats. I had some lovely muesli with yoghurt and fruit. A good start to the day. The interior was modern with wood cuttings and a minimal but cosy feel and friendly staff. All in all Berlin is a great city to walk around. Good atmosphere, great shopping, fine architecture, plentiful museums, a vast selection of restaurants and importantly for the trip, some festive and joyful Christmas markets. Happy holidays everyone. 

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