Boxhagener Platz and the International Beer Festival

The theme for Saturday was “Give and Take.” I got the farmer’s market on Boxhagener Platz, he got the Internationales Bier Festival.
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Boxi also has a great playground, so there was giving and taking all around. Knowing that we had a long day ahead of us – especially in this unusual heat – I didn’t buy anything we would have to schlep home (that would come later). I did, however, buy a very excellent Milchkaffee from the Passenger Espresso cart.
They have a coffee cart at the market every Saturday. Lucky for me, they also have a cafe much, much closer to my home.
Then it was time to wander over to Karl-Marx-Allee for the Beer Festival.
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We bought tiny beer mugs with teddy bears on them and then had to explain why there was a mug for beer, a grown-ups only drink, with a teddy bear on it, because teddy bears are for kids, mama.
The mugs were meant to build your own tasting of sorts among the many, many stalls. Not everyone was participating, but there was more than enough for me. The first beer I tried was something amber-colored. A bee selflessly sacrificed himself by drowning in mine, forcing me to pour him out. S found this very interesting to watch. Next up was a kirsch or cherr-flavored bier It was a pretty ruby-color and tasted less like beer. Win!
J tried more than I did and actually enjoyed them. Give and take.

a little nordic christmas

Things have been busy around here lately, but somehow we have managed to visit two Christmas markets. Christmas markets are completely new to me as an American and as someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I was really excited to go, though, precisely for those reasons. It is a genuinely German experience even though both of the markets I’m about to write about have nordic themes.

Our first trip was to the Finnish Market at the Finnland Zentrum in Kreuzberg. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures, because it was packed. Not just packed, PACKED. We had just enough room to breath, and I had to hold the baby the entire time less she disappear in the sea of people. Like most Weihnachtsmärkte, there were lots of handicrafts and, being a finnish market, a Merrimekko and iitala booth. I was tempted, so tempted,  but I couldn’t risk putting Shoshana down. Even for this. We left when people started shoving each other to get to the elk burgers. I kid you not.

We had another chance at a nordic christmas at the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg. I was surprised at how empty it was, maybe it was just an off day? There were a few generic christmas stalls. The focused seemed to be more on swedish food, which was perfect for us, because we’d really wanted to try elk after seeing the excitement it inspired at the other market. How good it be? and if I eat it can I still make fun of Sarah Palin? It was actually really good, like very-light beef. Shoshana liked it, too.

But the strangest thing at the Lucia market were these warming stations set up to keep people around in the cold.

The radiators keep the coats toasty warm, so if your Glög isn’t doing enough for you, you can try one on for a while before heading back for more. My american need for extreme cleanliness was a little grossed out. I never saw anyone using them, but it was also an unseasonably warm day.

Neither of my first two market experiences felt particularly christmas’y, but it could be my complete unfamiliarity with christmas meant I wasn’t able to recognize the signs. Holiday or not, the Weihnachtsmärkte are a fun, festive way to spend the day.

Now if only I could find some Chanukah wrapping paper…