This is it! The last study abroad post. My last weekend of traveling was spent in Germany, visiting the magical Christmas markets in Cologne, or Köln, and a day trip to nearby Dusseldorf.
There are over 7 different themed Christmas markets throughout Cologne, so we decided to start with the classic Cologne Cathedral Market. This was our first taste of what was to come for the rest of the weekend, and it got us so excited.
With the cathedral as the backdrop, we wandered through the hundreds of wooden booths and stalls selling food and artisan crafts. The bottom line was that we had to try it all, and as usual, our eyes had bigger appetites than our stomachs.
We started with a soft pretzel, then moved on to bratwursts. These were SO good. They are traditionally eaten with mustard, known as “senf“ in German. Shoutout to Maddie N., this wiener was for you!
Next, we opted for the first of many piping hot mugs of glögg. What we loved about the Cologne markets was that each one had a collectible mug that you could either keep or return to get your deposit back. They all had different designs based on the theme of the market.
For dessert, we shared some waffles amongst the six of us. It was honestly hard to restrain ourselves not to try everything right there and then. You have the waffle booth, and the apple strudel booth and the latke booth all in a row and you just want to try them all in one go!
After the Cathedral market, we headed back to our apartment for the weekend and cooked dinner while watching a Christmas classic, Home Alone. We were definitely feeling festive!!
The next day we scoped out the Old Christmas market, which is known for all of the little gnomes who protect the many wooden huts. They were precious!
The gnomes also made their way onto the glögg mugs. There were 9 different mugs that you could choose from at this market so you could pick one with your favorite gnome!
Here we did a few laps, deciding what to eat for lunch and hunting for Christmas ornaments. There were some beautiful handmade ornaments and wreaths made of cloves which smelled absolutely incredible.
For lunch, I went with a potato dumpling, layered with arugula, cream, parmesan, and of course, another bratwurst. As we were eating it started to snow! It was super magical but definitely not ideal for a day at an outdoor market. So we jumped into a bar right by the market and had a few German “biers.”
This market was huge. So huge that we didn’t even know that there was an entire other section! We found the rest of it while on our way to the Lindt Chocolate Museum and Factory, so we agreed to come back after the museum.
The Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum (the official name of the museum) is right on the Rhein River, with a very pretty view of the city. It walks you through the entire chocolate making process, the history of the cocoa plant and Lindt’s business history. I especially liked the chocolate fountain and lots of free samples!
There were groups of people learning how to make truffles, and we jealously watched from the windows.
After the museum, we returned to the Old Christmas Market for some ice skating and more glögg! While we skated, it started to snow! Watching the snow through the colored lights from the rink was absolutely magical, something I will never forget.
The next day we took the train to Dusseldorf, where we visited the K21, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen modern art museum.
I came across this museum while researching the city, and I am so glad we went! It definitely ranks top 10 on my list of favorite museums. Each room had an exhibit drastically different from the next and was equally as exciting to explore.
We climbed into the exhibit in orbit by Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno. It mimicked a spider web, and we got to wear some super stylish jumpsuits while we were suspended above the entire museum!
Once we finished with the museum, it was time to eat dinner and take the train back to Cologne. On the way home, we made a stop at the Stadtgarten Christmas Market. This one was inhabited by a much younger crowd and had a great live band.
Stadtgarten Market was the last stop before we took the light rail back to the apartment to pack up our stuff and get ready for our early flight the next morning. Germany, you do Christmas like no other!
This is my last post before the new year, so from me and mine to you and yours, Happy Holidays! May it be full of friends, family, food, and lots of love!
See you in 2018 — Al