Frankfurt am Main at Christmas: Beyond business as usual

I believe I wrote in an earlier post that I’d finally covered all the places I’d visited in Germany during Advent, but I just realized I left one out: Frankfurt. It wasn’t an intentional omission, I kind of forgot about it, because, although I did go there and did spend time in the Christmas market, I was really there by default. An early morning flight home more or less required it. I … [Read more...]

Heidelberg: Christmas in Germany’s oldest university town

Thanks to the wonderful resources of the German National Tourist Board, as well as the many local German tourist boards, I’ve always been able to include at least one gorgeous and arresting photograph in all my posts. Today’s is so inspiring, I'll step out of the way briefly and let the picture deliver the message: “You want to know what’s special about Heidelberg? Look at this!” Now the … [Read more...]

Mainz: Christmas in Gutenberg’s City

I’m pretty sure I would never have visited Mainz were it not for my Rhine cruise. I knew the name but, honestly, that was about it. Our visit to the city was really a guided shore excursion. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at what an attractive place it was, with its mixture of half-timbered dwellings and grander baroque edifices—just what an American visitor wants to find in … [Read more...]

Potsdamer Platz: Traditional Christmas pleasures in the heart of new Berlin

I wasn’t sure what to expect of the Potsdamer Platz Christmas market. I wanted to go with an open mind, but couldn’t rid myself of a suspicion I’d formed previously that Potsdamer Platz is geared more to out-of-town visitors than to “real” Berliners. Once upon a time this was certainly not the case, so here’s a bit of history: Back in the days of the freewheeling Weimar Republic, Potsdamer … [Read more...]

Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt: A Swedish Christmas in Berlin

It’s been a snowy winter in Berlin so far this December. Since sidewalks are only minimally shoveled and no salt, only a bit of gravel, is sprinkled on the snow (maybe), getting around can be somewhat challenging. On the plus side, it’s made the whole Christmas market experience that much more magical. The Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt, inspired by the Swedish celebration of St. Lucia, bringer of … [Read more...]

Christmas in Hamburg–at long last!

Hamburg at last! I say that because my journey here was not quite what I predicted. My flight from New York to Frankfurt went well enough. I was happy to see a few Christmas trees in the airport and quite charmed when one of the people who worked there came round passing out samples of chocolate-covered Lebkuchen to passengers waiting for their luggage. … [Read more...]

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Christmas on the Romantic Road

Germany’s Romantic Road is a scenic 220-mile-long touring route that runs from Würzburg in the central wine country to Füssen in the Bavarian Alps—and Rothenburg ob der Tauber is its crown jewel. I first learned about Rothenburg in the pages of popular fiction: Borrower of the Night, by Elizabeth Peters, a cracking good yarn with lots of suspense, romance, and art history—highbrow escapist … [Read more...]

Nuremberg: the Christmas market and the old town

We finally arrived in Nuremberg’s old town in the early afternoon and headed straight for the Christkindlesmarkt in the Hauptmarkt, the main market square, which was filled from one side to the other with rows of wooden stalls with identical red-and-white-striped canvas roofs. Because of the aforementioned throngs, we spent less time in the market than anticipated. After all, we had a week’s … [Read more...]

Passau: the Christmas markets cruise reaches Germany

Halfway through our week of cruising, Viking Pride reached Germany. (All right, after Vienna we'd also stopped in Melk and Salzburg and all three were fabulous.) Our first port of call was Passau, a city I knew nothing about--even its name was unfamiliar. Its main claim to fame seems to be that it lies at the confluence of three rivers, the Danube, Inn, and Ilz. Passau is in Bavaria, … [Read more...]