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billiv

Christmas Market Memories

by billiv »

When I was just entering my teenage years back in 1959-1962, my father was stationed at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany.  Among the many fond memories of those 3 years were the German Christmas markets.  Now back then they were less lavish affairs than they are now, though still very festive and fun.  While there, we visited markets in Bamberg, Coburg, Nurnberg, Munich--and other towns, though the fog of time has erased the memory of exactly which towns.  

So, when we decided to take a trip to Prague and Berlin back in 2006, we timed it for November (basically 8 days including our Thanksgiving holidays) so we could visit the Prague and Berlin Christmas markets.

The Prague markets were OK--though a bit shabby, there were some very nice local hand-crafted items.  We did buy some that we still decorate with at Christmas.  We loved the city of Prague and the sights--we did have 3 full days there and saw a lot, but there was a lot we just didn't have time for as well.

Berlin was also great--we made time for a day trip by train to Potsdam, and also enjoyed that day very much.  Pubs, the Museum Island, various WWII and Cold War sights were among the highlights.  I'd been in Berlin in the early 1960s just a couple of months before the Russians cut off East Berlin from West Berlin with the Berlin Wall.  Berlin had certainly changed in 45 years! Especially the eastern zone which had still pretty much been a mess back then.  You could still see the differences between the easterm and western areas of the city in 2006, but not nearly as pronounced as during my first visit.

Christmas markets were another highlight.  We visited 5 markets.  I don't know whether it is still so, but in 2006 each was different from the other in size, general atmosphere, and approach.  Some aimed at kids with rides and fun stuff for the little ones; another seemed to have a lot more German handicraft items than the others; a third seemed to have more young to middle-age adults who had been more than just nipping at the Gluhwein, etc.  

I also noticed a few cultural change from 1959--some younger Germans putting catsup on their Bratwurst!!! Sacrilege!?!?!? Anyway, it was a fun trip with few glitches--and we still want to go back to both cities someday.  Though we do have about 30 or 40 other destinations we want to see first. I might have to wait until my next incarnation.

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