Looking for a taste of Christmas? Hit the road!
World First writer, Martin D, took an unexpected trip to a Christmas Market in Germany last week. He says if you've yet to get into the Christmas spirit, this is the way to do it! And with a Last Minute policy from World First to keep you safe you'll save money getting there. Martin flew with BA from Heathrow to Hamburg then took the airport bus to Keil.
I was in Keil last week. It’s a university town near the sea on Germany’s North Sea coast, about an hour to the north of Hamburg by bus. It’s not a big town by any means and its city centre is compact and pretty with cobbled streets, some sculpture and a lot of bright lights from shops and stores.
It is also home to a traditional Christmas market in the town square. Having never visited one of these famous events I was desperate to have a look around. My German hosts assured me that Keil’s market is far from Germany’s best but agreed to show me the sights anyway. It was, as I’d expected, an open air treat for the senses that began with a shot of vanilla vodka in a mug of glühwein at a cabin deconrated with lights and Christmas trees and ended with wurst, pretzels and beer in a good humoured and very festive setting with lots of smiling and happy people.
Glühwein seemed to be a mandatory at Keil's Christmas market (and I understand it is at every other one too!) so I didn't hesitate to try it out. It's spicy and warming, especially with an extra flavoured shot of vodka to warm the Christmas cockles! And it gave me a lovely souvenir of the night. Each Christmas market has its own commemorative mug that you can walk off with if you like. You’ll pay a deposit and receive a token for it when you order your first. So when you’re done you can either get your deposit back or keep it to add to your collection.
Christmas markets used to be known as winter markets where people living in towns and cities throughout Germany could stock up on winter provisions, but this has since faded into the taste fest that they are today. Almost every German traditional food was available, most of which seemed to be sweet and covered in chocolate. Oh how my kids would have loved it! My favourite stall featured an open fire over which they were hot smoking sides of wild salmon. The smell was divine!!! But whatever the stall, each was constructed like an alpine cabin, with lights and decorations making it feel really very Christmassy indeed.
I can’t think of a better way to get into the spirit of Christmas, especially in some of Germany’s bigger cities, where the markets are enormous, the snow falls and the smell of mulled wine with spices fills the air. My hosts assured me that the market at Lubeck is the one to go for because of its setting in the mediaeval city centre but I was happy all the same in Keil.
So why not? Many markets remain open until the end of December so there’s still plenty of time to book a last minute flight and grab a Last Minute travel insurance policy with World First. You won’t regret it! Especially once you taste your first glug of the glühwein.