christmas am gendarmenmarkt u. schloss charlottenburg

More Weihnachtsmärkte! Its a compulsion, but one that will soon come to an end. The markets on Gendarmentmarkt and at Schloss Charlottenburg are the two most beautiful (and most expensive) in Berlin.

Gendarmenmarkt at night

The Gendarmenmarkt market costs 1EUR to enter; although, its not always enforced. We went twice, once for free and once for 2EUR. Regardless of the higher prices, this really was my favorite market. The white tents scale down the traditional german christmas kitsch and, as has been said about Gendarmentmarkt many times and will be said many more, the location simply cannot be beat.

Where Gendarmenmarkt is more of an adult’s market, Schloss Charlottenburg has more for kids. To the left of the main market there’s a small children’s area with carnival rides and, although we couldn’t find it, a petting zoo. Where is that petting zoo?! The children’s area is small enough that you can easily see from one end to the other, but try as we might, we couldn’t find animals in need of a pat. S wasn’t too put off by it. Not when she had the palace grounds to run, run, run all over.

The only disappointing thing about the Charlottnburg market (other than the apparently non-existent petting zoo) were the market stalls. This market is known for its covered and glass-walled shopping areas. Unfortunately, what no one tells you until you get there is that these stalls are off limits to strollers. It makes sense, there’s very little room in there with all of the christmas shoppers and goods on display. In fact, it was so full that the shoppers had to shuffle by the displays single-file. I went in by myself, leaving Jon and the baby with something doughy and cinnamon-sugary to keep them busy, but quickly left. It just wasn’t that enjoyable.

So here we are at the end of our first Christmastime in Berlin. I’m glad we went to as many markets as we did – even though I didn’t buy any souvenirs. Somehow I didn’t realize beforehand that all of the crafts und so weise would be Christmas-themed. Ah, well.

a day of cowboys and glühwein

There is no shortage of markets in Berlin: flea markets, farmers markets, newly open Christmas markets, and last weekend there was an Indian Market promising teepees (tipis auf deutsch)activities for kids, and exhibits demonstrating the Iroquois and Dakota way of life. We felt it was our sociological duty as Americans to go and see what the Germans could come up with. Would there be actual informative booths portraying the reality of America’s indigenous people or would it be a Winnetou celebration?

Surprisingly neither.

The first thing we saw was a tent where a man was grilling Bratwürste – not exactly the Three Sisters.   Just beyond that there was a teepee, one teepee, and inside there wasn’t an indian or even a white guy wearing a feather headdress. No, there was a cowboy. One lonely cowboy strumming a guitar and singing country songs.

Seriously Germany? Seriously?

Anyway, after the disappointment of IndianFest 2011 we headed over to Galeria Kaufhof where we bought the baby her first pair of winter shoes. I wasn’t ready to go home yet; I had been looking forward to doing something more fun, something more festive. So I convinced my husband that it would be a great idea to walk from Alexanderplatz to an open Glühwein stand near the Staatoper that I had noticed a few days ago. I had only  tried a sip of Glühwein years before in France and didn’t like it, but I thought maybe it would be different this time.

Do you see that smile on my face? That’s because I haven’t actually tried it yet.

Ugh! How do people drink that? Incidentally, I kept the mug*  to remind me of how very much I do not like mulled wine. At all. No. Yuck.


*For my US readers: While to-go cups are available at most, if not all, coffeeshops these days, food stalls at fairs/festivals/markets usually require that you pay a pfand  or small deposit to insure that they either get their cup back or can replace it. Its usually around 2 euro.