Virtuoso Life - November/December 2017 - 150
Every market celebrates in its own festive way, which I discovered last year on a
12-day, Bruges-to-Basel Rhine River voyage on Viking River Cruises' 190-passenger
Viking Eir. Despite the markets' differences, one theme prevailed: Europeans take
their Christmas traditions seriously, and
they're happy to share them with visitors. I
explored many markets, and the following
were a few of my favorites. Bring your appetite - and maybe an extra suitcase.
Flammlachs (fresh grilled salmon), but the
highlight is Angel's - the city's oldest holiday market - where artisans sell crafts inside twinkling chalets and "angels" dressed
in white wander through the crowd, tossing
glitter in the air and posing for photos with
BUY THIS: A Weihnachtspyramide, or German Christmas pyramid. The carousel-style
candleholder, found in stalls throughout the
market, is decorated with Nativity scenes
and characters from German folklore.
selgasse, one of Rüdesheim am Rhein's
tavern-lined, cobblestoned lanes, parents
sip glühwein (mulled wine) while kids explore the petting zoo and Europe's largest Nativity scene - the life-size display
covers more than 1,000 square feet. For
aerial views of the winter wonderland, hop
the Rüdesheim cable car for the annual
"silent ride" over the market.
TRY THIS: A mug of Rüdesheimer Kaffee,
topped with whipped cream and spiked with
a splash of flambéed Asbach Uralt brandy.
It's available at stalls across the market.
Cologne lauds the season with an impressive seven Christmas markets. The four
most popular - Cathedral, Angel's, Old, and
Harbour - are centered around downtown.
Hop on the Christmas Market Express, an
old-fashioned trolley that weaves through
the city, stopping at all four. Cathedral is
home to the city's tallest Christmas tree
(82 feet), and Harbour is the place to go for
RÜDESHEIM AM RHEIN, GERMANY
The Rüdesheim Christmas Market brings
international flair to the western German town, with 118 stalls that showcase
holiday crafts and traditions from Germany and 15 other countries. Swing by the
Hungary stall for langos (deep-fried flatbread), or buy handmade clothing from
Mongolia and Australia. Over on Dros-
Strasbourg's Christkindelsmärik (the Market of the Infant Jesus) dates to 1570, when
preacher Johannes Flinner set up stalls in
front of the Strasbourg Cathedral for vendors
to sell saddles, gingerbread, Christmas trees,
and other wares. Now, 447 years later, the
entire city feels like it's in on the tradition,
1. Rüdesheim's record-breaking
Nativity scene. 2. Warming up
with mulled wine. 3. Ice-skating
at Cologne's Old Market.
4. Gingerbread in Rüdesheim.
5. Glass ornaments, a European
Christmas market staple.
V I RT U O S O L I F E