Gluehwein, pretzels, and hand-made ornaments from the German Christmas markets: three things that made our German vacation A++.
There was a 4-day weekend in Romania last week and we took full advantage of it by traveling to Germany for a few days. Carl uses PTO when we travel, so when we saw that we had a 4-day weekend coming up, we booked a quick weekend trip to Bavaria. Our friends Natalie and Bruce lived in Germany for 7 years, and I asked where their favorite Christmas market was. Without any hesitation, Natalie responded that Rothenburg was her favorite market and Nurnberg was a close second. Because they are so close to one another, we decided to go to both. We had a wonderful weekend sipping on gluehwein (hot mulled wine) getting into the holiday spirit!
Rothenburg is absolutely lovely. The city looks like the backdrop for a fairy tale. We stayed at a little Airbnb just outside of the city (about 10 minutes drive) and went to the market two days in a row. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to explore the city. There was a dusting of snow overnight and walking into the city center looked like we were in the middle of a snow globe. It was absolutely gorgeous! All of the buildings in the city center have red tiles- “rot” means red in German. We were in for a treat with the dusting of snow on the red rooftops contrasting with the crisp white snow.
Traveling with a baby during the winter means that we have to take frequent breaks to warm up inside. While that’s all well and good, most of the places to warm up were shops with lots of fragile ornaments. We let Isaac run around as much as we could but for the most part, he’s rather bored by medieval villages, and falls asleep almost immediately. That makes it a lot easier for us to do some sightseeing and to go shopping.
The next day we moved onto Nurnberg to check out their Christmas market. Nurnberg is a lot more famous, easier to get to, and a much bigger city. The Christmas market was a lot bigger and had more merchants selling ornaments and other handicrafts. It was also equally as cold, so we ducked in and out of coffee shops and restaurants during the day to give Isaac a chance to warm up and get out of the carrier. We also broke out our awesome Christmas sweaters that we bought in Bucharest. Some Germans got the joke, others thought we were extra festive.
Afterwards, we drove the 2.5 hours back to Frankfurt. We booked an Airbnb close to the airport because we had an early flight the next morning. We got into the city a little too late to go to the city center so instead we took a walk, got some doner kababs, some beer and called it a night. Our Airbnb host was a Chinese guy who has lived in Germany for 15 years. It was interesting gathering his perspective on being a foreigner in Germany. He said that you’re either a German or a foreigner, there is no in between. It was an interesting perspective and sounds very similar to some of the rural areas of the States. You’re either a local or not, period.
It was nice being back in a place where folks smile at you when you make eye contact, though. I forgot how much I missed that social norm!
We also stopped by the Bucharest Christmas market the next day. Lots of amazing crafts for sale… and of course, more gluehwein!