Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Magic of Christmas Markets

We have fallen in love with Christmas markets!!  Supposedly they started as a way for people to stock up on things before winter really sets in (ugh), but evolved into the social and Christmas shopping scene that they are today.  After Amberg, we wanted to go to a few that were a little bit bigger but also interesting for location or theme and not just shopping at the Christmas booths.  We've been listening to the recommendations of people at church and in the military community and went two Saturdays ago to a place about an hour away called Schloss Guteneck.  Turns out it's the next town over from Naaburg, the really neat town on the hill we visited in the summer for the medieval festival!!

So "schloss" means castle, but the castle doesn't have that iconic look.  But it was on the hill outside the town of Guteneck and is set in the woods so that the Christmas market was in the courtyard and trees around.  It has a medieval theme and had some great stuff besides just the shopping -- animals to pet, camels to ride, artisans to watch, a medieval soldiers' camp, and wonderful food.  Oh the food!!
All the shops lined up down the lane

I tried but could not get good pictures -- there was a booth with birds of prey and their handlers and then this guy took a very large falcon out into the crowd

Once you get past the opening part you head into the woods.  We went in the daytime because 1. the sunshine makes it slightly less cold (only slightly) and 2. we heard that it's super busy the later into the day/evening you get (since evening starts at 4:30, blech).  But I can imagine that all the lights at night make this place pretty cool.

Sheep -- there was a whole flock of sheep in a field outside the castle.  We were watching them as we stood in line waiting for the market to open.  No fence, just two shepherds and their sheep dogs controlling the herd.  Is it weird that we all thought it was fascinating to watch?  It's things like that that give Germany (and I'm sure other parts of Europe) it's Old World reputation even when it's thoroughly modern.  Anyway, I digress.

We did not take a ride on the camels because they were just harnessing them up but the kids loved them anyway.

Commercialized?  Sure.  But every market also seems to have a nativity on display.  And no one gets upset!!!  I love that too -- that religion is a part of everyday life without people getting offended. (Or at least I don't think they do!)

Beautiful views and lots of frost!!

The castle in the background.  Its first mentioned in the 1200s but from what I can gather has changed hands and appearance over the years.  The current "look" is from the 1960s.  It's privately owned but used for events -- you can rent it for weddings and things and then they do their Christmas market and a few other big things throughout the year.

Oh the food -- these were Quarkballchen.  Basically donut holes and small pastries.  Delish.

William asks for hotdogs all the time.  And pretty much everywhere we go they have long skinny bratwurst that are pretty much hotdogs.  But watching William with one in each hand, I was reminded that maybe 1/8 of his blood is actually German!

One of the areas was handcrafted items and one woman was selling her bobbin lace -- this is fascinating to me and she offers classes!

We then followed this up with chocolate covered strawberries and some kind of friend potato pancake with herbed sour cream that was soooo good.  The kids were getting cold and Megan particularly was losing it because she said she couldn't feel her toes so we started to leave when I saw a booth advertising Dumpfnudeln.  Since a German friend had just told me two days before that they are one of her favorite things, we had to try it!

Megan was pretty upset about making another stop

Its a very soft baked round roll with something in the middle that I think might have been fig.  Then it's covered in a vanilla sauce although there was so much on it, it was more like soup!  It was very good!

 A beautiful nativity made from olive wood that we bought there -- pretty sure it's hand carved and I love the stripes of the wood.
In addition, we're collecting!  We buy an ornament from each market we go to -- they all have wooden ornaments that depict something from the town and are labeled with the name of the place and then we've also been keeping the mugs that you buy Gluhwein or Kinderpunch in.  They have a design for the year and the place as well.  Although we probably need to be selective about that or we're going to have a ton of mugs by the time we head back to the states!

Lots of firepits to help us keep warm!!

 I bought this dirndle on sale after Oktoberfest and just now gave it to Abby.  It's a little bit big but she loves it and has worn it pretty much every Sunday since and she always wants me to take her picture and make sure to tell her how cute I think she is.  She's pretty stinkin' cute.

No comments: