Posted December 19th, 2012, 11:28 PM
Tim, you make a great point about the downside of the markets (crowds, selling the same stuff). We want to do, for next year, the definitive guide on what to look for in each market that's special.
One thing I noticed in Nuremberg, where we happened to be on the night the markets opened (both a good thing -- festive -- and bad -- massively crowded) is that markets are pretty much about being part of a crowd. A mostly local crowd. I think in the end that's part of the fun, that it's cold and frosty and everyone's out drinking wine and eating sausages and chocolate covered fruit and trying to stay warm. It's part of the experience and I'm not sure it can be avoided.
I wrote this somewhere the other day but I've actually found the best shopping not to be in the markets but in the shops located on streets leading to the markets. Did anyone else have this experience? What I bought in the markets was food and wine....
Last comment. Was in Frankfurt for an overnight before joining my ship in Nuremberg and had just flown in, and had no euros, and took a cab from my airport hotel to the city (you could use a credit card) thinking I'd find an ATM easily. In what is arguably Germany's financial capital, I wandered around downtown for about an hour and couldn't find any ATMs! Maybe I was unlucky. It was kind of depressing because I wanted to buy things
well, food & drink at the market, wanted to feel a part of it and it wasn't to be. Ultimately, hungry, I found a great local restaurant (that indeed took credit cards) and had a blast. But not the experience I expected.
Which is perhaps what travel is all about?
Hi Cruise Junky,
We were on the 11/25 sailing of the Viking Sun doing the Basel to Amsterdam sailing on the Rhine. The markets were just starting to open on our trip. Of the ones that were open, Cologne was the best, IMO. It was the largest and had the best variety of the markets. But, at night it was so crowded you could barely move, although we were there on a Friday night. The market at the Cathedral was beautiful at night with the huge Christmas tree lit up and the Cathedral in the background; looked just like the pictures in the cruise brochures.
I liked Heidelberg's market too and found the prices to be very reasonable, although it was small. Strasbourg's market was nice, but a little smaller than I expected. The variety there was decent and the town was decorated nicely. Basel's market was nice, but absolutely packed (we were there on a Sat and Sun, so could have been less so on a weekday). Koblenz's wasn't worth the effort and Rudesheim hadn't opened yet, which was a big disappointment.
I wasn't disappointed in the markets, but they weren't exactly what I expected. I expected less food stalls and more stalls sailing handmade crafts from the local region. We saw tons of wallets, scarves, and other items that I would suspect were mass produced and not necessarily locally. I limited my purchases to what I felt were local craftsmen products. I would love to go back and visit the smaller towns/villages and explore their markets and atmosphere at Christmas on an independent land trip.
I think you have the right idea in doing a land trip. I loved our cruise and would do it again in heartbeat, but one of the joys I found of the markets is being there at night to see the lights, which we couldn't always do on the cruise. I'm sure other members will be able to fill you in on the markets along the Main and Danube. Good luck in deciding.