The opportunity to spend Christmas in Berlin arose after our daughter started a six month internship there in September. She could have flown home for the holidays, but never ones to miss a chance to travel, it seemed much more sensible for us to join her and get a glimpse of how another country celebrates the holiday season.
Some stalls offer seasonal goods - knitted goods seem a big draw, maybe not surprisingly if you have forgotten to wrap up warmly before venturing out - while others offer the chance to fill up on bratwurst (sausage), crepes or chocolate, or indulge in Gluwein (mulled wine) with or without a little extra something. Who knew red wine and amaretto would go so well together?
The markets attract thousands of people every day, creating a bustling but pleasant atmosphere despite the cold temperatures. Some have ice-rinks or fairground rides as added attractions. One (Potsdamer Platz) even has a tobogganing hill. Most have music, either piped in or, as in the Gendarmenmarkt which has a full-size stage in front of the Konzerthaus, live. It's amazing how standing under an outdoor heater, Gluwein in hand, listening to seasonal songs can fill you with Christmas spirit.
In the last few years Christmas markets have sprung up in many other cities around the world, including New York. However, having already visited the one in Bryant Park before the Berlin trip, I have to say it doesn't quite capture the spirit of the real Weihnachtsmarkts.