Saturday, November 26, 2011

. . . bratwursts and glühwein and latkes, oh my!

For the second weekend in a row we headed out of town to explore the cities around us. Last weekend, it was my birthday in Bruges, and this weekend we headed to the Christmas markets in Dusseldorf, Germany. Germany is well known for their Christmas markets, which are located in every major city and begin mid-November. Apparently they're of all sizes, indoor and outdoor, so you can go to one that suits your liking. We had heard the one in Dusseldorf was pretty big, and all outdoor, which can be good or bad depending on the weather. We really lucked out because the weather both days we were there was exactly what I wanted -- the perfect wintry day with clear blue skies, cold enough to wear a coat and scarf, but not the kind of cold where you have to wipe your runny nose with your gloves a tissue. You know what I'm saying'.

We took Murphy with us this time, as most hotels in Europe are pet-friendly, and boy was he excited to go for a car-ride! We got to the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat downstairs, and walked a few blocks down to where the markets were. We had decided we would explore a little on Friday night to see what it was like and scope out some of the stores and booths, then do some shopping on Saturday.

I was completely amazed at what we encountered.

We walked to a huge outdoor shopping area that spanned several blocks and immediately ran into a Christmas market. To give you an idea of what it looks like, there are dozens of temporary stores or booths that are set up right in the middle of the streets or shopping aisles. Each one is wooden with an angled rooftop and decorated with lights and Christmas colors -- they look like life-size gingerbread houses! 

They sell anything and everything . . . the speciality shopping ones have things like ornaments, nutcrackers, children's toys, jewelry, glass works, woodwork, lace, scarves, gloves, shoestrings (yes, shoestrings), and more trinkets than you can imagine. The food booths have bratwursts, pomme frites (french fries), latkes and applesauce, chocolates, giant cookies on a string that children wear around their neck while eating, waffles, crepes, poffertjes (little Dutch pancakes), truffles, beer, hot chocolate, glühwein . . . I could go on and on. There was also a carousel that dozens of children were riding every time we walked by, street performers and musicians . . . it was overload on my senses in a wonderful way. 

On Friday night, we decided to partake in the German tradition of glühwein. It is a heated red wine that is mulled with cinnamon sticks and other citruses and spices. Everyone stands around, drinks hot wine, and chats in the cool winter air. Glühwein is served in mugs or glasses, for which they charge you a euro, but you get back upon your return of the glass. So we walked around, shared a glass of glühwein, and returned it on our way back out of the market. We found a few things that we wanted to go back to on Saturday, including lots of yummy foods! I love that Liam sleeps so great in his sling because we were able to walk around for hours while he napped away. 

Saturday the market opened at 11 am and we were there shortly after. The first thing we did was buy a bratwurst and pomme frites -- YUM. There's nothing like a 10 inch bratwurst sticking out of a small round roll slathered with mustard. Seriously, it was delish. We walked around some more, bought a few things (that I won't mention here because they're Christmas gifts!), and ended our walk back with latkes and applesauce. There was another name for it, but I can't remember what it was and know them simply as latkes -- basically like potato hash brown patties that you eat with your hands and dip in applesauce. I thought it was weird at first, but then found it profoundly amazing! I'm still craving it! 

Keith, Liam, and Santa

We even found Wallstraße (Wallstreet)
I also had the special treat of my favorite Starbucks latte while we walked around -- to most this may not seem like a big deal, but I haven't had Starbucks in almost six months so it felt like heaven! Plus the fact that the cups are red . . . Christmas heaven!

Me, Liam, and Starbucks : )

Keith and I are already talking about going to more markets and saying how much fun it would be to take family or friends next year. As much as Bruges was decorated for Christmas, Dusseldorf made me even more ready for my favorite of holidays! You can ask Keith . . . I was practically jumping up and down with every wreath and lit up tree I saw as we walked down the streets. 

We obviously had a fantastic time this weekend, but the very best thing that happened occurred Friday night back at the hotel room. I had just finished changing Liam's diaper and was just talking to him while he lay on the bed, and he let out the biggest, longest belly laugh he's ever done. Keith and I locked eyes and cracked up because Liam laughed so hard! He laughed for the next few minutes every time we talked and cooed at him. We had to video it because it was the sweetest sound we'd ever heard. These are just a few of his laughs that night, and I can't wait to hear that beautiful sound again. : )

Stateside in less than two weeks -- bring on Christmas!


  1. Kevin just said to me last night while we were decorating the tree, "we need some Gluwein!" My first time at the Chriskindle Mart, I thought it was funny that EVERYONE was drinking coffee! It took me a while to realize that Europeans don't do an event without a drink! It's bringing back so many fun, fun memories for me! If you see a Currywurst Pretty much a wurst served with curry ketchup) you must try it! SO, SO, SO good!

  2. I'm so glad I can share with someone who's been there--and glad it brought back happy memories for you! :) I do have to tell you though, I laughed out loud when you mentioned curry wurst -- that is what gave Keith and I food poisoning this summer when we went to Koln for our 5th anniversary! We couldn't even look at it when we walked around this weekend! We loved it when we ate it, but now it'll be a few years before we can have it again :)