Although Travis is the unofficial (self-appointed) expert on all things edible here at Have Blog Will Travel, he is currently in fermentation heaven at the Pilsner Urquell Brewery just outside of Prague. Too impatient to wait for him to get home, today I’ll be stepping in to relay all the delicious foods we saw, smelled, and ate at the Bavaria Christmas Markets this year!
It’s no secret that we thoroughly enjoyed our inauguration to the European Christmas Market scene last year during our visit to Vienna. In fact we enjoyed ourselves so much, we made a point to visit as many Christmas Markets as possible before flying home for Christmas 2012. Therefore, when we decided to celebrate the holidays in Europe this year, instead of flying home, it wasn’t a hard decision to return to central Europe and celebrate the holidays in Bavaria, deep in the heart of Christkindlmarkt country.
In addition to hosting some of Europe’s oldest Christmas Markets, Bavaria is also home to many of the world’s most popular markets; the Nuremberg Christmas Market is visited by about two million people each year. In addition to the wonderful holiday atmosphere and unique handmade products for sale at the Christmas markets, part of the draw of German Christmas Markets over others in Europe has to be the food. In a country full of mouthwatering grub, the majority of which centres around bread, pork, and dessert (also referred to as the trifecta of perfection), the Christmas Markets offer hungry visitors an abundance of choice. In fact there are so many different types of foods available we often can’t choose just one to have as a “meal” and often prefer to sample as we wander.
Germany’s food culture appears to be unconditionally linked to its favorite pastimes. Taking in a football game is incomplete without a pint and a pretzel, while the endless flights of beer at Oktoberfest wouldn’t be the same without a greasy bratwurst and some sauerkraut alongside. However the Christkindlmarkts step things up a notch – or four – with the best of German cuisine culminating in a full-on assault to your waistline. Because, let’s be honest, you can only say no to homemade gingerbread, cheesy spaetzle, or fresh from the fryer frites so many times before your willpower completely abandons you.
This year the “sampling” did not disappoint. In addition to the classics – bratwurst, currywurst, all kinds of delectable treats featuring the potato, gingerbread, and Schneeballen (Travis’ favorite, of which he had not one but three this year. Ok I helped a little) – we also found some unique new items to try, the most odd of which was a sandwich stuffed with raw salmon. Being the giving person I am, I let Travis have that one all to himself.
After a month in Turkey, we had a hankering for some deliciously succulent pork that needed to be addressed immediately. Lucky for us, this is an area in which the Germans excel. We opted for Schnitzel, of the pork variety, to curb our cravings. Packed into a crusty roll (any excuse to add bread) with savory bar-b-que sauce, fried onions, crunchy lettuce, and juicy tomato, this schnitzel sandwich (the Schnit-wich) was easily one of the best things we ate during our stay in Nuremberg and it only cost 2.60 Euro!
With more cities introducing their own Christmas Markets each year, and the creation of Christmas Market themed River Cruises, central Europe’s Christmas Markets are likely to only continue to increase in popularity. Only time will tell how much tourism these markets can handle before their quaint charm and whimsical atmosphere begin to rub off. However until then, we can’t think of a better way to simultaneously get into the holiday spirit and fill your bellies with mouthwatering snacks!
Logistics: Although Germany isn’t the most affordable travel destination in Europe – our time in Nuremberg was actually the most expensive thus far after Iceland – we found the Christkindlmarts to be reasonably priced, especially considering their popularity. Having now visited Christmas Markets in Vienna, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, London, Salisbury (UK), Nuremberg, Regensberg, Munich, and Prague, the Bavarian Christkindlmarkts appear to be priced in the middle (Munich was a bit pricier); most edible treats ranged from 1 to 2 Euro for cookies and pastries up to 3 or 4 Euro for a Bratwurst in a bun.
Fun fact: Christkindlmarkts in Berlin are some of the cheapest we’ve visited, with those in Paris and London being more expensive.