With everything that happened in Berlin recently I did for a second think about holding off on posting about our weekend there at the beginning of December. But, then in the next breath I thought it was such a great city and we enjoyed our time there so much it would be a shame. So here we go!!
We went primarily to visit the Christmas markets but as ever there were tons of other places we wanted to go as well so we did a bit of culture alongside the markets. As each of the activities were either market or Nazi/soviet related I have decided to split the posts in two, not by day but by theme. Up first is our tour of a very small portion of Berlin’s Christmas markets!
We visited three markets in total, the WeihnachtsZauber at the Gendarmenmarkt, Alexanderplatz market and Winter World on Potsdamer Platz. Each of them were different but our favourite was the market at Alexanderplatz.
Our first stop on the market trail was the market at Gendarmenmarkt which was a very atmospheric market and a great start to the day. There were 50 odd stalls to wander round selling everything from toasted nuts to baubles and Gluhwein – obviously!
One quirky thing I love about German markets is that at each market the Gluhwein sellers have different mugs per market. You pay a deposit per mug and you can either return for the euro’s or keep the mugs! I can see over the years this may end up being another collectable item (to go with the 20 or so shot glasses….). I was disciplined enough to only keep one set of mugs which were super cute and Christmassy!
After a glass of wonderful warm and sweet Gluhwein we wandered round the market, purchased a few items for presents, a couple of wooden ornaments for the Christmas tree and some caramel cashew nuts. They were amazing and a great snack to take with us.
After we stopped at the Berlin Cathedral we decided that the Alexanderplatz Market was to be our final destination of the day, mainly because the morning Gluhwein had worn off and I needed a top up!
Once that had been attended to we wandered round this market which is much bigger than Gendarmenmarkt and has lots of other things to do as well. There was a much wider selection of stalls which had beautiful crafted items, food, drink and gin!
After a couple of Gluhwein’s (I’m sure you have figured the theme out here) and a Bratwurst we thought that ice skating would be a good idea. Now, the last time I went on ice was about 10 years ago on a school trip. My wonderful husband said the same thing. We rented skates and slide out onto the ice, I felt like a newborn deer not able to use its legs yet. In fact – I was a newborn deer that was not able to use their legs! I simply couldn’t stand up and get the hang of it.
Then I fell over. I got up. Then I fell into some poor random man who I clinged onto to stop myself hitting the ice again. I was ready to give up. Stuart on the other hand was like a swan and could glide around without falling over or looking like the hunchback of notre dam. From then on I had to cling to Stuart as he pulled me round the ice. I got the hang of it a bit (although not able to let go of Stu) but it was not my natural environment, after about 45 minutes I was done so I stumbled off the ice and let Stu go whizzing round!
I don’t seem to have any photo’s of myself on the ice as they are all on Stu’s phone – when he sends them over I will update!
To make up for it we had some more Gluhwein and then headed for the giant ferris wheel! After some random queueing we squeezed into one of the pods and were up up and away. The wheel is huge and does go round with some speed but it gave us a great glimpse of the market below, which was now lit up as it had got dark. The tickets weren’t too expensive (especially when you compare it to the pricing of markets in London) and it was a great 10 minutes. I imagine it would be even more magical for children.
Done for the day we headed home.
The next day we visited the market at Potsdamer Platz – which was a bit disappointing to be honest compared to the two awesome markets of yesterday. It is squished in a small square and down the side of a shopping centre. I know they can’t all be super atmospheric and pretty but it seemed a bit of a pointless capitalist exercise. But hey ho we had a Gluhwein and moved on.
We did quite a lot of sightseeing during the day and ended up back at Alexanderplatz in the evening. Most of this evening was spent inside one of the wooden chalets drinking my favourite warm wine (with some added rum!) After a few hours chatting and just generally enjoying each others company we did a last sweep around the stalls buying the last of our souvenirs and edible items (Stollen and Lebkuchen.)
There are loads of markets in Berlin, some are open throughout the christmas period, some are more local and only open for short amounts of time but each have their own feeling. If we had another day I would have gone to Charlottenburg Palace as they have a huge market in the grounds.
It’s so heartbreaking what happened in Berlin just a couple of weeks after we were there. I can only begin to imagine the devastation caused. We found the markets and the whole city had a lovely atmosphere and we never felt unsafe, even walking back to our hotel at night with a phone out for directions. We were in the main centre of the city so it may be different further out but I hope not.
I do wonder what will happen to the world if everything continues as it is. I worry for the people who will now not travel to a new place as they will miss out on so much. Other people, other cultures, other religions – they shouldn’t be something to fear they should be intriguing and inspiring. Maybe we have been lucky, maybe we live in a bubble but I won’t let it stop me. I only have 1 life so I’m trying to live it in the best way I know how and that includes jumping on a plane or a train and seeing the world with my own eyes.
We even saw Santa on a Segway on the way home!!!
My next post will cover the more cultural aspects of our trip!