For busy people, one-day getaways can be a nice option if there’s no time for thorough planning and travelling itself.
This year we had neither time nor energy for planning Christmas holidays away. But our feet got too itchy after a long period of no travelling, and we decided to undertake a short unplanned trip to a nice Christmas market.
What countries can boast with great Christmas markets? Germany is surely one of the first among them (and the Netherlands definitely isn’t). Having done quick research, we found that there were only a few of them open on 26 December, most had closed on 23 December. The city which was close to us and we hadn’t visited before, turned to be Dortmund, with an added bonus of the biggest Christmas tree in Germany.
So, after breakfast, we loaded in the car and went on our 2,5-hour journey to Dortmund. We expected our toddler to sleep at least half of the way but she decided otherwise: her nap lasted only 15 minutes. She was fine for the first hour in the car, singing, looking out the window, eating, playing, but then she got bored and upset. We decided not to stop and drive on. Music calmed her a bit and when we finally reached the city, things got much better – it was not the boring motorway anymore but lots of interesting sights around. Yes, we know about the existence of tablets and smartphones with kids’ cartoons and programs in them but we prefer to avoid, or at least postpone, the digital addiction for our daughter as long as possible.
The parking under the Dortmund Theater, the one we chose, turned to be very close to the beginning of the Christmas market. But other underground parking garages in the centre are all fine and not expensive.
The market itself didn’t disappoint: stalls with all kinds of tasty and crafty goods spread throughout the whole city centre. Half meter bratwurst, gingerbread in various shapes and forms, honey of all kinds (finally we found our favourite Rapshonig, yum-yum!) and honey products, smoked salmon, potatoes cooked in many different ways (fries, wholly baked, potato pancakes), fruit glazed in chocolate, and many more delicacies could satisfy any gourmet.
Jewellery, purses and wallets, wool products and kitchen utensils – you could find anything there.
To keep yourself warm, there were various hot drinks on offer, among them hot chocolate, punch, and of course, tasty mulled wine (Glühwein). Big respect to this part of the market – all the drinks were served in mugs, no plastic/paper cups. A deposit of 2,5 Euro was to be paid for the mug which you could get back when bringing it back.
The organizers thought of entertainment for the littlest as well – here and there you could spot merry-go-rounds with jolly kids. That was when our almost 2,5-year-old daughter tried it for the first time. After 2 round she was still in a mood to enjoy it more but a promise to find hot chocolate helped to persuade her to move on.
As the market spread through the old city centre, it was a nice opportunity to see the architecture and other sights as well, though, frankly speaking, most of the attention was definitely going to the market stalls.
A few hours of a relaxed walk with frequent stops to admire or acquire, and it was getting dark already, oh these short winter days. The market started getting busier with more crowd and we, especially our toddler, were getting tired. Having seen the most, if not all, of the market, it was a good time to head back home.
The kid wanted to go home but was adamant in her protest against the car seat. We don’t usually bribe but this time a sugar cane, bought at the market, made the deal. When the candy and banana were over, she got bored again and demanded to move to mother’s lap. Again, as on our way there, I explained that it was impossible, with us being in the moving car, and she seemed to understand. Soon she fell asleep. At 18:20. Surprisingly (in our case), she didn’t wake up when we arrived and transferred her to bed, and so we were sitting in the living room and wondering how early our morning would start. Amazingly, though with a few interruptions, she slept till 7:30. She was probably so tired.
Not all the trips turn to be easy and enjoyable but this one was definitely a nice little adventure, short but memorable. We have been lucky with winter holidays trips so far – our vacation in Italy last year was also a success.
And what Christmas Markets are your favourite? Share in the comments!