Last Sunday was the first Advent, and so the Christmas season has started. So many Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkten) to visit, and not enough weekends! This time of year always flies by very quickly as there is always a lot to finish off at work before the holidays, including planning for the new year so that things run smoothly upon returning to work, as well as presents to find, cookies to bake, Christmas decorations to put up and Christmas markets to visit. There are a large variety of Christmas markets in Berlin, ranging from traditional ones, touristy ones, design, modern or “hipster” ones, to the country specialty markets (Nordic Christmas market, Dutch Christmas market) and the unusual ones (Japanese Christmas market). Some of them are open the whole season, whereas others are only open for one weekend. Here is a map of the markets in Berlin for 2015, here is a description of a few of the traditional ones we visit every year (not all inclusive!), and here is a list of more unusual ones to visit.
So here are some of the good moments from this Christmassy week.
Making pizza at a friend’s place
Although the gas oven didn’t do a great job of cooking the base (half of it was rock hard while half of it was soft), it was fun to prepare it and it still tasted good! Winter is the best time for cooking.
Pepper steak at Oscar Wilde
Sometimes after my German class we pop into this nearby Irish pub (Oscar Wilde on Friedrichstrasse) as they have cider and a really good pepper steak.
On Friday we went to Alt-Rixsdorfer Christmas market in Neukölln. I really like this market as the setting is a beautiful old neighbourhood in Berlin with big buildings and cobblestone streets, and there are lots of stalls selling homemade craft items, different to the usual items available in a lot of the other Christmas markets. A lot of the proceeds go to charity too. It’s a great place to pick up Christmas presents and Christmas decorations, and you might even bump into St. Nicholas. (J had to explain to me that it was St Nicholas and not the mayor of Neukölln! 🙂 )
On Saturday we went to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel to visit the Slavic village winter market. Brandenburg an der Havel is older than Berlin and has a lot of history. The Slavic village is built of wooden houses of the type that used to be built in the swamp area, so that you can see how people used to live, and is open all year around. Wandering around the market at night was a bit like going back in time and very atmospheric. Unfortunately I lost some photos from my camera by accident, but you can try to picture people roasting dough on sticks around roaring bonfires, drinking mead (a honeyed drink) and wandering among the old-style wooden houses looking at the pottery, carved wooden items, knitted socks and hats, decorated candles and other craftwork.
After coming back from Brandenburg we visited the market at Alexanderplatz near the Rote Rathaus (Berliner Weihnachtszeit). We didn’t expect much as Alexanderplatz is a very touristy area, but it was actually an enjoyable market and also a great place to buy gifts.
Today we went ice-skating for the first time this season! As always it was fun, although dodging the out-of-control kids around is quite an art. I was finally able to try out the ice-skates I bought last year at the end of the season 🙂
So that’s it for this week! There’s always lots to enjoy at this time of year. Have a look at Weekly Small Pleasures to see what others were up to! The next week promises to be eventful too as we are heading to Oslo for the weekend to try some sledding, explore the Norwegian Christmas markets and visit some Viking museums!