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Strøget: Copenhagen’s Shopper’s Paradise!

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Strøget. Taken by Dan Lundberg via Flickr.

Did you ever think of Copenhagen as a shopper’s paradise?

Well, add it to the list… Milan, Paris, and you guessed it, Copenhagen! In the heart of the old city you will find one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets known as Strøget. Beginning from the City Hall Square to Kongense Nytorv Square, you almost can’t miss stumbling onto to Strøget at some point during your trip, even by accident! (Which happened in my case).

Strøget. Taken by Dan Lundberg via Flickr.
Strøget. Taken by Dan Lundberg via Flickr.

A Success Story

In actuality, Strøget is the name of a collection of streets that have always been located in the heart of this city. The layout dates back to 1728 when the area known as Frederiksberggade was designed following a fire. Most buildings on this street date to the late 19th, early 20th century, though the oldest dates back to 1616.

For much of its history, these streets have always been known as some of the most fashionable of the city, so its no wonder why they would be considered the perfect candidate for conversion to fully pedestrianized once it became apparent that cars were beginning to dominate the old city.

The new pedestrian streets in Germany following the war inspired City officials, and during the 1950s they would close them temporarily during the Christmas time. In 1962, however, the change was made permanent and first section of Strøget was turned into a total pedestrian area. Initially, this decision faced harsh criticism, but after time the project quickly proved successful and the area welcomed more shoppers, cafes and a renewed street life. The network continued to expand to what it is today.

Shops on Strøget

This 1.1 km stretch of car free heaven is line with more shops that one could even imagine! From the typical budget brands and chains such as H&M or Zara to the international luxury brands like Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, Strøget has literally any shop for any budget. There are also a lot of local shops featuring Danish brands.

Strøget shopping street. Taken by Dan via Flickr.
Strøget shopping street. Taken by Dan via Flickr.

Eating on Strøget

Naturally, shopping is an exhausting activity. Refueling is a requirement and luckily that is no problem on Strøget. For a sweet tooth, you can find a wide variety of options from delicious cafes to famous patisseries such as Conditori La Glace (home of delicious cakes and baked goods) to perhaps Europe’s best cheesecake from DAILY.

Cheesecake
Black raspberry and key lime cheesecakes from DAILY.

If you’re feeling like you need a little more sustenance, check out some of the many restaurants with a variety of international options or perhaps one of Copenhagen’s most traditional options: the hot dog. Get fancy at the award winning DØP, where they serve only organic meat, with whole grain breads.

Hot dog from . Taken by Heather Sperling via Flickr.
Hot dog from DØP. Taken by Heather Sperling via Flickr.

If you’re on a budget (as in can spend less than 5 euros per meal) then check out many of the Kebab shops on the street or, probably an even better idea, head off the main drag to a smaller side street which is less populated.

What Else to See on Strøget?

Especially during the summertime, Strøget is bustling with people going for a stroll, busy shoppers and many street performers. As well, going down the many little side streets will bring some more interesting, unique shops and most likely a path to some of Copenhagen’s other attractive and popular sites.

Carnival on Strøget. Taken by Stig Nygaard via Flickr.
Carnival on Strøget. Taken by Stig Nygaard via Flickr.

[Visit Copenhagen]

4 Reasons To Buy Local On Your Next Trip

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Local farmer's market. Via Flickr.
Local produce and foods. Taken by Edsel Little via Flickr.
Local produce and foods. Taken by Edsel Little via Flickr.

The “buy local” movement is on the rise. In many cities you can find initiative organizations popping up bringing together local farmers and consumers. In the grocery store there are products marked as “from the region”. The demand for farmer’s markets is increasing at a steady rate.

This is a great idea! There are so many reasons to buy local (which I’ll get into a little further down). When you are in your own city it’s relatively easy to figure out where and how to get the local products. When you’re traveling, however, it may not be quite so simple. There are a few reasons that it can be difficult to buy local (especially including food) when traveling. Maybe…

You simply don’t know what are the local products.

You don’t know where to find local products.

You don’t speak the language and therefore even if a product were marked as local you wouldn’t know.

You’re on a budget and familiar chains like McDonald’s or Burger King fit into your price range.

Etc., etc…

While all of these points may be valid, there are so many reasons to buy local products, not only for residents but also for travelers!

1. Local food teaches you about the culture and traditions.

Jamon! Taken by Cristina Valencia via Flickr.
Jamon! Taken by Cristina Valencia via Flickr.

Buying and eating local produce, meats, cheeses, etc. is the absolute perfect way to learn about the place you are visiting. In many cultures, there are few things more indicative to their traditions than cuisine, which are deeply rooted in the experiences of generations past.

When I first learned that Jamon in Spain was a salted leg of pork mounted in the kitchen for weeks at a time I was quite concerned… Was I really going to eat this piece of meat that my Spanish friend just shaved off an unrefrigerated hunk of meat? But I’m so glad I did! Jamon is delicious and absolutely at the heart of the Spanish culture.

2. Local food is fresher!

Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts.

Eating what has been recently pulled from the ground or plucked from a tree pretty much ensures you’re going to get a fresh, nutritious, delicious experience. I’ll never forget how much flavor was in tomatoes and cucumbers bought at the Serbian market in the summertime.

3. Local (and seasonal) food can be less expensive.

Local farmer's market. Via Flickr.
Local farmer’s market. Via Flickr.

Buying products that are in season and locally grown cuts a lot of costs: transportation, storage, preservation, etc. If you head to a local market in the summertime, look for salad vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, peppers and tomatoes. In the fall, more hearty options such as cabbage, beets, Brussels sprouts and squashes will be in season.

4. Local food supports the local economy.

Local strawberry stand in Zagreb, Croatia. Taken by Kirstie.
Local strawberry stand in Zagreb, Croatia. Taken by Kirstie.

Buying local gives security to farmers that they can continue producing local. By supporting the local economy, you can ensure that these cultural traditions won’t be substituted by a big company who imports their products from the developing countries (in which many times the labor force there is exploited).

Curry & Chili is Berlin’s Hottest Takeout

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Currywurst at Curry & Chili costs 1,60 Euro.

Guest article: this article is adapted from the Berlin Journal.

Germans know very well the taste of a Berliner Currywurst, but what if you are faced epic spice experience that is Curry & Chili?

For ten years, Frank spit operates on the corner of Prinzenallee in Wedding-Berlin. Photo: Curry-Chili.de
For ten years, Frank spit operates on the corner of Prinzenallee in Wedding-Berlin. Photo: Curry-Chili.de

Ever wonder why you could find men weeping on the streets of Berlin, each with a paper plate in hand? It may be possible that “Curry & Chili” takeout by Frank Spieß on the Osloer Straße corner on Prinzenallee in Berlin-Wedding is to blame.

Ten years ago, Frank Spieß founded his famous hotspot and in Magdeburg in 2012, Curry & Chilli won the title of “Germany’s Spiciest Takeout”. Today, Curry & Chili continues to bring hellishly hot curry sausages for those who have the courage to test their taste tolerance.

Spieß’s spot features 10 levels of spice severity. The first is described as „fruchtig“ (“fruity”), but you can also find ones on the menu with the level of zero. Spiciness is measured on the Scoville scale, which refers to the level in which the sauce must be diluted to be neutralized to humans and not cause any pain due to the heat. A Spiciness Level 1 in Curry & Chili has a 10,000 rating on the Scoville scale. For comparison, Tabasco has up to 5,000 heat units and commercially available pepper spray up to 2 million.

But the difference between Tabasco and sauces a la Spieß, (a sauce for sausage costs 30 cents) is worlds apart. At the top of Spieß’s spicy throne is a pitch-black bottle filled with the maximum Spiciness Level 10. It has a maximum 7.7 million Scoville and is known to bring grown men to tears.

The famous sauces of Curry & Chili. Photo: curry-chili.de
The famous sauces of Curry & Chili. Photo: Curry-Chili.de

“However, one should be cautious with these levels. Shortness of breath, nausea and sweating are part of my everyday guest’s experiences. If it doesn’t go away, then the finger goes in the throat and out with it!” says Spieß. His guests describe the intense pain on their tongue like being stuck with a staple, accompanied by an eerie burning in the stomach.

His visitors don’t only come from Wedding, either. Courageous foodies come from other districts or even countries such as Poland and Austria to have a chance to taste some of Spieß’s hottest sauces. And his club, The Curry & Chili Club, “the hottest club in the world” already boasts an impressive 245 members.

Want to test your spice tolerance at Chili & Curry?

Opening times:

Monday-Friday: 9:30 to 21:00

Saturday: 11:00 to 19:00

Sunday: 13:00 to 18:00

Closed on holidays.

Click here to visit the Chili & Curry Homepage.

For a little background information, the German Currywurst is one of the most popular fast food dishes. More than 2,000 locations nationwide focus on the delicious delicacy.

Currywurst at Curry & Chili costs 1,60 Euro.
Currywurst at Curry & Chili costs 1,60 Euro.

But who invented the currywurst?

This argument continues today between the Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the German capital of Berlin.

In Berlin, credit is given to Herta Heuwer, who is even known as the “Mother of Currywurst” on a Google search!

The Hamburg write Uwe Timm claims in his 1993 novel “The Discovery of Curried Sausage” that the acknowledgement clearly lies with the Hanseatic city.

Regardless of origin, the spiciest currywurst definitely comes from Frank Spieß in Wedding. His motto? “Here, men weep”.

Portugiesenviertel: A Taste Of Portugal In Hamburg

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People hanging out outside restaurants in the Portuguese Quarter. Taken by Alexander Krumeich via Flickr.

Ryanair offers flights from 18,00 Euros from the Northern German city of Hamburg to the Portuguese cities of Porto and Lisbon. That’s a pretty good deal…

Want to know something else pretty cool? You don’t even have to leave Hamburg to experience a little bit of authentic Portugal. That’s right. Hamburg has it’s own Portugiesenviertel (Portuguese neighborhood) right in the heart of the city.

Development Of The Portugiesenviertel

Bird's Eye View Portuguese Quarter, Hamburg. Taken by Glyn Lowe via Flickr.
Bird’s Eye View Portuguese Quarter, Hamburg. Taken by Glyn Lowe via Flickr.

Just next to the famous Landungsbrücken harbor area you will find the Portuguese Quarter, a small collection of streets around the Ditmar-Koel-Straße where Portuguese and Spanish immigrants have settled since the 1960s and 70s. As the neighborhood grew, the new residents brought some of (in my opinion) the best parts of their culture with them in the form of cafes, bars, restaurants and pastelerias.

Today, you will find a mix of southern European restaurants with the majority being Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

How Authentic Is The Cuisine?

Some say that this neighborhood is the best place to get traditional dishes- tapas, fresh seafood and delicious wines from these countries in all of northern Europe!

I’ve visited Italy a few times, Portugal once and lived in Spain for a little over a year. With the experience I’ve gained into the traditional dishes of these cultures, I could confidently say that the food is very authentic, but with a little German influence (like that time I was served boiled potatoes with Calamari at one of the Spanish restaurants there).

People hanging out outside restaurants in the Portuguese Quarter. Taken by Alexander Krumeich via Flickr.
People hanging out outside restaurants in the Portuguese Quarter. Taken by Alexander Krumeich via Flickr.

More than the food, you could just get the vibe of the Mediterranean by walking through the neighborhood. Portuguese, Spanish and Italian are spoken in all of the restaurants (typically as the predominent language), people greet each other with kisses on the cheek and on warm days you can find guests lounging outside in chairs sipping on coffee (no filter coffee here) and chatting the afternoon away.

Restaurants of the Portugiesenviertel

Hamburg is famous for delicious and fresh seafood and the Portuguese Quarter is no exception- of course, with a little bit of a Mediterranean twist! The majority of the restaurants there specialize in seafood and you can find big, delicious plates to share at almost all of them. One of my favorite places for this is O Pescador, which has a special plate full of shrimp, lobster, fish, calamari and other delicious seafood!

O Pescador Restaurant.
O Pescador Restaurant. Taken by IK’s World Trip via Flickr.

My favorite of all the restaurants, not only in the Portuguese Quarter but in all of Hamburg is Luigi’s, a lively Italian place where you feel like you’ve just entered an exciting private party right as you enter the door.

Pizza from Luigi's, Hamburg
Pizza from Luigi’s. Taken by Stephan Mosel via Flickr.

The pizza is inexpensive, huge and super good. The salads are fresh and at the end of the meal they give you a bottle of digestif to make sure you’re visit ends on a great note. Just be wary that this place is packed almost every night so expect to wait a while- not to fear, you get a free glass of Prosecco to hold you over while you wait!

[In Your Pocket]

Visiting Local Farms: Getting to the Root of the Culture

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Harvesting celery root!

The common destinations when traveling through Europe usually consist of the big cities- London, Paris, Madrid, etc. But what happens outside of the city walls can actually give you a much closer look of the real backbone of the cultures.

And what could be more basic than food? Because of my thesis topic, I’ve had the chance to visit some of the farms surrounding Hamburg- essentially the roots from which the local, traditional foods has grown.

Harvesting celery root at the Kattendorfer Hof.
Harvesting celery root at the Kattendorfer Hof.

What’s the best part?

You don’t have to be a local to visit some of these farms. Especially one, the Kattendorfer Hof in Kattendorf (just 40 or so kilometers north of the Hamburg city center), lets you visit for the day, work on the farm and even spend the night if you wish.

At this farm, they work with the Demeter certification, which is essentially a more ambitious production technique than organic, known as biodynamic agriculture. Essentially, the Demeter certification requires that the biodiversity and ecosystem preservation is a focus, soil husbandry, livestock integration, prohibition of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) and viewing the farm as a living “holistic organism” with a closed circle approach.

Along with the physical techniques of farm production, Demeter also works with a philosophical holistic approach– to recognize, restore and support natural cycles and interrelationships.

So what is interesting for a visitor or traveler on a farm?

Most interesting for me, especially as someone who lives in a city, is the potential to get your hands dirty and some fresh air. I had the chance to help harvest some celery root, but also to meet with some of the locals and gain a deeper insight into what foods are local and fresh here in northern Germany.

Cabbage.
Cabbage.
Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts.
Rhubarb plants.
Rhubarb plants.
Harvesting celery root!
Harvesting celery root!
Fields at the Kattendorfer Hof.
Fields at the Kattendorfer Hof.

Plus, I got to meet some pretty friendly farm animals too!

Mother cow with a 1 day old calf!
Mother cow with a 1 day old calf!
The HUGE bull.
The HUGE bull.
Friendly cows!
Friendly cows!
An overly friendly pig...
An overly friendly pig…

This can also be helpful for your eating experience when you trek back inside the city walls. You can learn how the restaurants use the local, seasonal ingredients and get a taste (no pun intended) of what the traditional roots of the culture are.

Looking to save some money? Find ingredients using the local ingredients and make dinner yourself at your hostel, Airbnb or hotel. One of my favorites using the seasonal pumpkin or squash found in Germany in the fall is a curried butternut squash soup.

How else do farms connect with traveling Europe?

Have you ever heard of WWOOFING? This is an international organization that connects hosts to volunteers. In exchange for your work, you can get food, accommodation and even gain valuable skills in the organic farming sector. This is a great idea for young people or people traveling on a budget! I haven’t yet tried WOOFING, but definitely will in the future, so stay tuned for more information…

Churros, Chocolate and Sangria at Café Fútbol

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It’s no secret that I absolutely love Granada.

The Alhambra, Albayzin, delicious tapas, beautiful architecture, great university life and its general all-around coolness make it my favorite city on earth. And what is my all-time favorite hangout there? Why Café Fútbol of course!

Who would have thought that three American girls starting a four month journey studying abroad in Granada would be placed just a few blocks from one of the most iconic cafes in the entire city?

Well we were just that lucky, I suppose!

Where is Café Fútbol?

Located at the Plaza Mariana just a block from the Correos (post office) in the city center is Café Fútbol, a three-story restaurant, with a vintage interior that makes you feel like you stepped back into 1970. The waiters (generally older Spanish men) all wear white button downs and don’t think it’s out of the ordinary for one to be smoking a cigarette while they take your order. All part of the charm I suppose.

My First Café Fútbol Experience

My first experience with Café Fútbol was meeting friends for sangria before we had our tour of the Alhambra, the massive Moorish palace Granada is famous for. That may have been a bit of a mistake…

Things are getting rough...
Things are getting rough…

As this was my first extended time period in Europe, I still wasn’t accustomed to living life outside the American norms. In the U.S. sangria is typically really sweet, made with wine, fruit and some juices and it is never very strong. What we didn’t know was that in many places in Spain and definitely at Café Fútbol they also add some sort of liquor, in this case I think it was a brandy.

Mmm, Spanish Sangria! Taken by L. Balois via Flickr.
Mmm, Spanish Sangria! Taken by L. Balois via Flickr.

At only 2 euro-something each, it’s hard to drink just one of their delicious sangrias.

So, naturally, we had two.

And then we were drunk.

The sangrias at Café Fútbol are very strong.

That would have been okay if were just going back to the apartment or out for the night. But instead we were about to begin a multiple hour tour around one of the largest palaces I’ve ever seen, in temperature that was over 30 degrees Celsius! It was rough. But naturally, we now knew where to go for sangria!

Oh, And The Churros Con Chocolate Are Delicious!

I didn’t get to know the real specialty of Café Fútbol until a few weeks later, when our study abroad program invited us all for churros con chocolate (churros with chocolate) at an iconic Granada restaurant. You guessed it- Café Fútbol!

Some delicious churros con chocolate. Taken by Tim Lucas via Flickr.
Some delicious churros con chocolate. Taken by Tim Lucas via Flickr.

Words cannot express how delicious they were. I am dying to go back for more.

It turns out there is a reason the churros and chocolate at Café Fútbol are superb. It began in 1903 as a milk selling business, they moved to the current location in 1910, and over time began to specialize in ice cream and chocolate, thus churros and chocolate seemed to be the obvious next step.

Hanging with friends at Cafe Futbol, Granada.
Hanging with friends at Cafe Futbol, Granada.

Today, you can still choose from a wide selection of tasty looking ice cream dishes as well as typical Spanish meals.

For me, however, nothing will beat sitting out on their outdoor tables in the middle of the plaza on a warm fall day and drinking the best sangria I’ve had in my life with some great friends.

 

Featured image from fraboof via Flickr.

Lecker! German Christmas Market Food and Drinks

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Glühwein. Taken by Jana Reifegerste via Flickr.

If you’re in Germany during the holiday season, you can be sure to find these German Christmas market food and drink staples!

Festive Drinks

Nothing quite signals the start of the German wintertime like the smell of the simmering spices of the traditional hot mulled wine known as Glühwein. Though popular in many other European countries as well, the popularity of the German Christmas Market brings the Glühwein consumption to a whole new level!

Glühwein stand. Taken by Mauricio Apablaza via Flickr.
Glühwein stand. Taken by Mauricio Apablaza via Flickr.

The word “Glühwein” itself roughly translates to “glow-wine”, which comes from the hot irons that were once used for mulling. Essentially Glühwein is a mulled wine beverage made from red wine that has been heated with spices such as cinnamon and cloves as well as citrus and sugar flavors added. You can also choose to add a schuss (shot) of Rum or Amaretto for an extra kick, or there are also other varieties such as made from white wine, or other fruits such as apples or pears.

Also- check out Feuerzangenbowle, which shares the same recipe to Glühwein, except that a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and dripped into the mulled wine (really!). Usually, hot drinks are served in a festive mug too!

Feuerzangenbowle. Taken by Markus Andernach via Flickr.
Feuerzangenbowle. Taken by Markus Andernach via Flickr.
Glühwein. Taken by Jana Reifegerste via Flickr.
Glühwein. Taken by Jana Reifegerste via Flickr.

Savory Foods

Throughout the year grilled sausages such as bratwurst (traditional white German pork sausages), Krakauer (lightly spiced red version of bratwurst) or Currywurst (a sliced bratwurst with a side of curry ketchup) are popular and definitely a staple of any German Christmas market food list. You can typically find them cooking over a schwenkgrill, a tripod in which a large hanging circular grill suspended by chains to give the meat a more intense, smoky flavor.

Sausages cooking on schwenkgrill. Taken by Jennicatpink via Flickr.
Sausages cooking on schwenkgrill. Taken by Jennicatpink via Flickr.

Another popular option I see at a lot of the markets is Grünkohl und Pinkel (cooked kale and sausage). It is thought of as a winter comfort food and super delicious!

Grünkohl und Pinkel. Taken by Oliver Hallmann via Flickr.
Grünkohl und Pinkel. Taken by Oliver Hallmann via Flickr.

Also- Flammlachs (smoked salmon) is another popular savory food. Typically these are stuck to some sort of board and placed right next to an open flame, ensuring that you can smell the smoky flavor from far, far away!

Flammlachs. By Frank Vincentz (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Flammlachs. By Frank Vincentz (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
You can also usually find stands pan-frying various vegetables such as mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc. As well, a favorite of many is Flammkuchen, a pizza-like dish that consists of a very thin bread dough, rolled out and topped with crème fraiche, white grated cheese, bacon and spring onions. There are various alternatives of ingredients also.

Flammkuchen. Taken by Stefan Muth via Flickr.
Flammkuchen. Taken by Stefan Muth via Flickr.

Sweet Foods

My favorite of all the sweets is Schmalzkuchen, small dough pastries that are deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar or paired with Nutella, apple sauce or some other topping. Think of them like a little bite sized donut!

Schmalzkuchen. Taken by Manolo Gómez via Flickr.
Schmalzkuchen. Taken by Manolo Gómez via Flickr.

Lebkuchen is another sweet you can be sure to find at all the markets. It is a traditional baked treat, similar to gingerbread. You can find them in many shapes such as hearts with piped icing words (also popular at Oktoberfest) saying things such as “Merry Christmas”.

Lebkuchen. Taken by James via Flickr.
Lebkuchen. Taken by James via Flickr.

As well, there are many other bite-sized sweets such as candies, dipped fruits, nuts, etc. that are part of the Christmas market food and drink staples.

What is your favorite German Christmas market food and drink? And if you’re in Hamburg, Germany don’t forget to check out the Rathaus Christmas Market and the St. Pauli Christmas Market!

Hamburg Town Hall Christmas Market

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Rathaus at Hamburg Christmas Market. Taken by Jan Kraus via Flickr.

The Hamburg Rathaus Weihnachtsmarkt (Hamburg Town Hall Christmas Market) is full of history, tradition and Hanseatic heritage. Plus, it has maybe one of the most beautiful backdrops you’ll ever see- the Hamburg Rathaus (Town Hall)!

By day…

Hamburg Rathaus by day
Hamburg Rathaus by day

…and night!

Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market from afar. Taken by Marc Wellekötter via Flickr.
Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market from afar. Taken by Marc Wellekötter via Flickr.

I recently wrote about my visit to the slightly alternative St. Pauli Christmas Market in Hamburg. After visiting the historical and authentic one in the city center just a few days ago, that got me to thinking…

Where Does the Christmas Market Come From?

The idea of an open-air street market has been around in Europe long before anyone even celebrated Christmas. During the Late Middle Ages, there were special winter markets that would open for a day or two, allowing townspeople to stock up on food and supplies they would need during the upcoming cold months. There were many examples of this, but they were never officially considered “Christmas Markets”.

Over time, these markets evolved to sell other craft items such as baskets, toys or woodcarvings as well as specialty foods such as almonds nuts, gingerbread and other baked goods. Many times, these items were given as gifts for Christmas or New Year’s Day.

The first claims of documentation of a “Christmas Market” come from Munich (1310), Bautzen (1384) and Frankfurt am Main (1393), though their authenticity as official markets has been called into question. The Striezelmarkt in Dresden perhaps has the most official claim of being the first Christmas Market, dating back to 1434.

The Hamburg (Rathaus) Town Hall Christmas Market

Entrance to the Hamburg Town Hall Christmas Market. Taken by Jan Kraus via Flickr.
Entrance to the Hamburg Town Hall Christmas Market. Taken by Jan Kraus via Flickr.
Rathaus at Hamburg Christmas Market. Taken by Jan Kraus via Flickr.
Rathaus at Hamburg Christmas Market. Taken by Jan Kraus via Flickr.

This Christmas Market is located directly in the large square (Rathausmarktplatz) in front of the Town Hall. Each year, nearly three million visitors come to see and feel the magical spirit of Christmas time at the market- which includes a Santa Claus flying his reindeer sled above the roofs of the market, telling the story of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer (at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm each day).

Carousel at Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.
Carousel at Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.

Traditional Items and Foods for Sale

Like many other Christmas markets, craft items are the majority of things for sale. The Hamburg Town Hall Christmas Market takes this to another level with the Spielzeuggasse (Toy Street), where rows merchants from around the world sell different gadgets and play things for children.

Walking through the pathways made from the various wooden vender booths, you can see tons of other craft items as well. Decorations from the Erzgebirge region and looked after by woodcarvers from Tyrol, bakers from Aachen, gingerbread makers from Nuremberg and pottery made from artists from the Lausitz region.

Shop at Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.
Shop at Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.
Beeswax candles at Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.
Beeswax candles at Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.

As well, there are many other traditional artisan crafts for sale such as beeswax candles or the shop with endless handmade Christmas decorations by Käthe Wohlfahrt.

Käthe Wohlfahrt crafts. Taken by Alan Samuel via Flickr.
Käthe Wohlfahrt crafts. Taken by Alan Samuel via Flickr.

When you’re done shopping, head to one of the many food and drink booths to enjoy some traditional German Christmas Market gastronomy- sausages straight from the grill, meat from the rotisserie, a hot cup of Glühwein (mulled wine) and a delicious baked good.

People having drinks at Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.
People having drinks at Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.

 

[Germany Christmas Market], [Hamburg Tourism]

Glühwein at the Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.
Glühwein at the Hamburg Rathaus Christmas Market.

Get More Than You Bargain For At The Mauerpark Flea Market

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Mauerpark Flea Market. Taken by MrT HK via Flickr.

It’s no surprise that the Mauerpark Flea Market in Berlin is beloved by visitors and locals alike.

Where is the Mauerpark Flea Market?

You can find the market itself each every Sunday, located next to the Mauerpark on Bernauer Staße. If you’re not sure where exactly to find it, just head in that direction and follow the masses of people. And believe me, you will encounter a very eclectic mix. From students to families to hippies to clubbers (who haven’t quite made it home after Saturday night out), there is something for everyone at this market, which has earned absolute cult status in Berlin.

Mauerpark Flea market. Taken by Mika Stetsovski via Flickr.
Mauerpark Flea market. Taken by Mika Stetsovski via Flickr.

What can you buy there?

There are the usual antique, vintage, second hand and handmade items typical at most flea markets. While some of the stuff could definitely go be considered a bit on the junkier side, a lot of the things for sale were actually super cool.

There were venders selling clothes, household items, vinyl records, furniture, antique and vintage items, bicycles, shoes- basically anything you could imagine.

Comics for sale, Mauerpark. Taken by Karen Mardahl via Flickr.
Comics for sale, Mauerpark. Taken by Karen Mardahl via Flickr.
Instruments for sale, Mauerpark
Bongos and balalaikas at Mauepark Flea market. Taken by Karen Mardahl via Flickr.
Vintage boxes at Mauerpark Flea Market. Taken by Su--May via Flickr.
Vintage boxes at Mauerpark Flea Market. Taken by Su–May via Flickr.

I ended up buying some handmade jewelry from one table. The guy was a geologist who made it all himself out of rocks and household items such as spoons and forks. It wasn’t too expensive and really good quality- I wear the necklace all the time and there is no hint of wear. Plus, a girl that was with me also made her own jewelry and was really knowledgeable about the different stones and she verified they were in fact authentic.

It’s Not Just for Shopping Either…

What I loved most about this flea market was the atmosphere. Apart from the typical vender stalls, there were also tons of food trucks selling anything from Turkish to African to Italian style foods. Even if I had no interest in buying anything I would make a trip to the market for the food alone. It was delicious and super cheap.

Cafe at Mauerpark Flea market. Taken by Oh-Berlin.de via Flickr.
Cafe at Mauerpark Flea market. Taken by Oh-Berlin.de via Flickr.

In the backdrop of all of this commotion is the different reggae or techno beats, coming from stalls, food trucks or the open air Schönwetter Club situated in the center of the market. Inside their fences you can find a live DJ, beers and cocktails, food like organic sausages and a cool, laid-back beach atmosphere (equipped with sand and beach chairs) that seems to be the norm here in Germany during the warm weather.

When you’re done with the market and the weather’s warm, head over to the amphitheater section of the Mauerpark where you can find live karaoke, which starts at 3pm from spring till autumn. There were at least a few hundred people there when I visited, which means to get a good spot you have to get there early!

Karaoke at Mauerpark Flea Market. Taken by Magic Madzik via Flickr.
Karaoke at Mauerpark Flea Market. Taken by Magic Madzik via Flickr.

[Berlin.de], [Slow Travel Berlin]

Featured image from MrT HK via Flickr.

A Little Added “Spice” at the St. Pauli Christmas Market

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Winterdeck at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.

The Santa Pauli Weihnachtsmarkt (St. Pauli Christmas market), in the infamous Reeperbahn district of Hamburg, Germany, is anything but ordinary…

Entrance to the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Entrance to the St. Pauli Christmas Market.

Tradition With A Little Added “Spice”

When you think of German Christmas Markets, ideas of classical music, Glühwein (hot mulled wine), perhaps some sausages from the grill and sweet schmalzkuchen may pop into your mind. Add to that a strip show, “porn karaoke”, a fortuneteller, and lines of wooden booths selling erotic toys and you’ve got yourself the St. Pauli Christmas Market.

The strange part? It doesn’t feel strange at all! Somehow, it manages to be the perfect blend of the traditional Christmas Market mixed with the alternative culture of St. Pauli and the Reeperbahn. Hoards of people gather under the wooden-roofed tables that accompany each of the bar and food stands, chatting, laughing and the “cheersing” the holidays with the traditional “Prost!” (German for “cheers”).

Drink stand at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Drink stand at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Lights at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Lights at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.

Of the many Christmas markets I’ve visited in Hamburg, I also think the one at St. Pauli is among the most beautiful. Located in the center strip on the main drag of the Reeperbahn the market glows, even in comparison to the bright lights coming from the buildings that surround it on both sides.

Winterdeck at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Winterdeck at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Lights at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Lights at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Lights at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Lights at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.

There is also live music each night, and when I visited the artist, Prita Grealy (from Australia) was really great.

Live Music at St. Pauli Christmas Market
Live Music at St. Pauli Christmas Market

What makes the St. Pauli Christmas Market special, you ask?

Of course, the strip show, “porn karaoke”, a fortune teller, and lines of wooden booths selling erotic toys…

Check out this trailer for a basic idea:

Each night starting at 6pm there is a line-up of burlesque, female and male strips shows in the tent located at the end of the market, next to the “Winterdeck”. You must be 18 to enter and the show is definitely quite interesting and something you may want to see just once in a lifetime.

There is also a “naughty” theme to the whole market, which you can see by the decorations of scantily clad Santa figures or the shot on many menus called “Ficken” (if you’re not sure what that means just trade the “i” for a “u” and there you go!).

Photo Booth at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.
Photo Booth at the St. Pauli Christmas Market.

What I especially love about the St. Pauli market (because, of course, I’m obsessed with food) is the variety of food choices available there. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good grilled Bratwurst, but at the St. Pauli market they have also Mexican food, the best burger I’ve ever had in Europe, vegetarian stands, rotisserie meats and naturally, the traditional Grühnkohl and sausages.

Because of the location of the Christmas market in Reeperbahn, it’s also a great place to meet with friends before heading out to the strips of bars and clubs just a few streets down.

So what are you waiting for? The market runs only until the 23rd of December!

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