Having visited Christmas markets in a number of European countries, there really is nowhere that does it quite like Germany. In the past we have visited Düsseldorf, Cologne and Berlin Christmas markets are loved them all. From the smell of the sizzling bratwurst to the lashings of steaming glühwein German Christmas markets are, for me, the epitome of Christmas and if I get the chance to visit one, I jump at the chance. Therefore when our friend asked if we would like to join him on a surprise trip for his wife and 14-month old daughter to Frankfurt, the week before Christmas, there was no way we could say no.As I had to scrape the remainder of my annual leave together, our visit had to be a quickie. Therefore, we flew in on Tuesday and home again on Thursday. Unfortunately, our flight out was delayed by an hour making our visit even shorter than planned. If you have ever flown Ryanair to Frankfurt you will know the bus ride from the plane to the terminal is almost as long as the actual flight – seriously. I just wanted to get to the hotel, dump our bags, freshen up and head straight to the Christmas market for a sausage and a Stein. Because we were travelling with the baby we decided a taxi was the easiest way of getting from the airport to the city centre. Luckily, there were plenty waiting outside the terminal. 25 minutes later and €40 lighter we arrived at our hotel.
By the time we found our room unpacked our winter woollies and walked the 20 minutes from our hotel to the Christmas Market located in the Altstadt (Old Town), which is one of the oldest in Germany, dating back to 1393 and is now one of, if not, the biggest and busiest in Germany, it was almost 8.00pm and knowing the market shut daily at 9.00pm we didn’t have much time to waste. We hit one of the numerous sausage stalls straight away.
I must admit I only like certain sausages, surprisingly, usually cheap ones. However, Bratwurst holds a very special place in my heart – a long fat juicy coal cooked sausage served in a little bun with lashings of ketchup for only €3 – delicious. In reality, I would have been happy to eat only sausages for the duration of my visit in Frankfurt, even our littlest travel companion loved them.
Sausages ate; we resisted the urge to buy more, for now, and instead decided we would grab a couple of drinks before the stalls started shutting down for the evening. The market was packed and for our friends, manoeuvring the pram through the crowds proved quite tricky, but they persevered and we found a nice quiet spot at the end of the market next to a beer stall.
If you have never been to a German Christmas Market you may be shocked at how much you are charged for a drink but that’s because you pay a deposit for your glass, that’s to ensure you take it back once you have finished your drink. You can, of course, keep your glass especially if it is a cute little boot or branded with the market’s information but then you forfeit your deposit, but what a great souvenir you have to take home with you. We were paying between €1 and €3 at different stalls depending on if we were drinking from a bottle, glass or Stein.
Bang on 9.00pm the stalls closed for the evening leaving us wished we had crammed in one more sausage and one more beer. Oh well, we had the whole next day to explore the Christmas Market as we had only seen a little of it and even though it looked beautiful at night all lit up with thousands of twinkly lights, we were eager to see it in daylight.
Therefore, the next day we spent the whole day there, from 11.00am until around 8.00pm. 9 hours may sound like a long time to spend at a Christmas market but it whizzed by in a flash. We sampled nearly every item of food on offer including kartoffelpuffers (like big greasy hash browns), flammkuchen (like a thin crispy pizza), Lebkuchen (gingerbread), pretzels and of course more sausages.
We also indulged in ALL the booze on offer -glühwein, which was super strong but absolutely delicious and perfect for keeping us warm as it was really cold, more steins of beer and my personal favourite Lumumba – hot chocolate, with a big shot of Baileys (traditionally rum is used) topped with whipped cream. Calorific but oh my god….soooo good!
We also learnt quickly that you literally spend a penny here (well 50c but you get my point). We worked out that between the four of us we spent around €20, possibly more, on toilet breaks throughout the day. We can’t complain though as there were so many cubicles, we never had to queue and they were always clean and well stocked and even though change was often available from the attendant we learnt quickly to always have a pocket of change in case we got caught short.
Visiting a Christmas market a week before Christmas meant that I could pick up a few last minutes Christmas presents. In between eating and drinking everything in sight, we wandered around the stalls eyeing up all of the delights on offer, of which there were loads! We picked up gingerbread for both my cousin and her partner, a ceramic Stein for Chris’ dad and chocolates for my nana together with the obligatory fridge market, something we get her from every destination we ever visit.
As we were only travelling with hand luggage we couldn’t buy as much as wanted to due to lack of space. Also, because the majority of what we wanted to buy was liquid, ok it was booze, we knew we wouldn’t be allowed to take it home because of the volume, which was a shame as there was a lovely wine stall, selling lovely looking bottles of Riesling. They would have been perfect as Christmas presents for friends and to enjoy ourselves, of course, over the festive period. Oh well.
I love German Christmas markets for Christmas ornaments and decorations and I hoped Frankfurt would deliver and I can confirm it certainly did. There were so many stalls it was hard to decide which one to visit first. I’ll be honest a lot of the stalls were selling the same stuff so it was nice to find ones that had different and unique things to choose from. I’d made the decision early in the day that I would pick one Christmas memento and one only, but of course the more I drank the more I bought and the tackier the things got.
I started off with a personalised bauble which I hung proudly on our tree, I basically chose the colour bauble I wanted and then wrote down what I wanted inscribing on it, I opted for the very original ‘Frankfurt 2017’. I also chose a beautiful handmade pine cone dangly decoration which the lady on the stall sprayed with amazing smelling stuff, which left my hall, where the decoration hung, smelling Christmassy well into the new year. I also picked up a couple of candle holders and wooden decorations. I was panicking all the way home as I had rammed them all in my hand luggage tightly but lucky for me, they all made it home in one piece.
We loved our time at Frankfurt, it was very short but very sweet. Because we didn’t have long in Frankfurt we did not explore at all, although from what we did see, it looked very industrial and nowhere near as pretty as other German cities such as Nuremberg, maybe one day we will get the opportunity to return and see if it can prove us wrong. Frankfurt Christmas Market is probably the best one I have visited…so far and I cannot recommend it enough, I mean who doesn’t love great food and day drinking?