Our flight was in the evening, an unusual time for my family to fly. Normally when we travel, we aim to leave as early as possible. I assume an evening flight was chosen because of the time difference; Germany is about eight hours ahead of us, so our flight would arrive in the afternoon.
The flight was roughly 10 hours. From Edmonton to the stop over in Reykjavik, Iceland, was six hours, and from there it was another three and a half to Frankfurt. I mostly entertained myself by reading, watching movies, and failing to nap.
Once we arrived at the airport, we found a cab that took into the city and to our hotel. After getting settled in, my youngest sister, Vic, and I ended up taking an extended nap. While my parents and my other sister, Steph, went to explore the city.
I would just like to say that it was not my intention to sleep, but at this point, I’d been up for nearly 24 hours and my brain just decided not to function. I wish I had been able to sleep on the plane, but I’m just not capable of sleeping in moving vehicles. When I woke up at around 7 pm (Germany time, of course), the remainder of my family had returned, bearing the best sandwich I had ever had for supper. We would continue our exploration of Frankfurt and its Christmas Market the next day.
It took a few nights for my sleep cycle to adjust. Time changes can really cause a girl to wake up several times during the night. But the next day I was more or less rested, impatient, and ready to explore.
Our hotel, the City Hotel, was right next to a place called the Erotik Supermarket. Back home, this would have signaled an unsavory neighbourhood, but no one paid any attention to us as we walked in the area. In fact, the hotel was in a pretty good place. We were a block away from the nearest underground station, giving us easy access to the main train station (though we were only a half-hour or so walk from that destination). Once you got down the street and turned the corner, you’d find yourself in Frankfurt’s big shopping complex, filled with modern architecture (very noticeable, considering all the beautiful old buildings in Germany). Going down into the complex for several blocks revealed Frankfurt’s Christmas Market.
I cannot tell you what I expected of the Christmas Markets outside of a lot of booths, a lot of pretty lights, and a lot of people. At the very basic level, the market met those expectations. The market then proceeded to take my expectations into a dark alley, beat them senseless, and steal their wallet.
Imagine first the set-up of your typical Farmer’s Market, and expand it to encompass several city blocks. Large booths selling everything from Christmas decorations to glass art, Nuremberg gingerbread to succulent bratwursts, hot mulled wine to skewers of chocolate covered fruit. And this was only the start! Fill the air with mouth-watering scents of meat and sweets and roasted nuts and a cacophony of voices from all parts of the world. Watch as the surrounding buildings morph from the modern to the preserved. See Weihnachtspyramides (Christmas Pyramids) expanded to match the equally giant Christmas trees, strung with lights and—in the pyramid’s case—with a base acting as a booth for mulled wine.
The markets are truly beautiful at night, when all the lights are on. There’s a magical, festive feeling in the air. I had seen pictures when my mom first suggested the trip, and many more since then as we planned it, but being there, seeing it all for myself, was a totally different experience.
We explored the Christmas Market for a long time, eventually reaching the point where it ended, by the river. From there, we decided to get lunch, and I got my second real taste of German food. We found a small restaurant near the market.
The Germans know how to eat. The “Strammar Max” I had—eggs and ham on toasted bread—was amazingly delicious. And filling. The coffee was different, darker, and you got heavier cream when you ordered some. There were also no free refills, which was something we all had to get used to during the course of our trip.
My dad tried sauerkraut for the first time. He didn’t like it. I wish I had gotten a picture of his reaction to it.
After lunch, we decided to find something else to do. There was a boat tour going on, which would take us along the river for a bit before returning to the market. The tour dealt largely with Christmas during the life of the poet Goethe. There wasn’t a whole lot to see on the tour itself, but the audio portion was interesting.
My dad fell asleep a few times, so I have pictures of him napping on the boat.
Now, going in a straight line will get you from one part of the Christmas Market to the other, but it won’t let you see everything. The markets extend every which way, so we backtracked through the streets to see what we may have missed.
Food Item I was Told to Try and Tried: The Hot Eggnog (with whip). Recommended by my Godmother—well, the Nuremberg one was, but they had them in Frankfurt. I didn’t particularly like it that much. I found it too rich.
It’s easy to spend hours just wandering through the Christmas Markets, taking in all the sites, buying gifts, and stuffing your face. Once it started to get late, we headed back to the hotel. From that point, we would plan day-trips to other cities to occupy our time for the next few days, when we would back our bags and move on to Nuremberg.
We took three trips from Frankfurt: one to Fulda, one to Heidelberg, and one to Rüdesheim. Coming up are stories of more food, visits to massively ornate churches, a castle viewing (aka we got to see one room because it was a ruin), wine country, and a spider that I’d never have expected to see in Europe.
Next week: Day Trips: Fulda, Heidelberg, and Rüdesheim.