So our trip to Berlin wasn’t quite as planned, but we managed to fit a lot into the few days that we ended up with. We flew out on Sunday in the end, and as we landed at lunch time we had time to check in to our hotel and then wander around a couple of Christmas markets close to our hotel.
On the Monday (Christmas Eve) shops were open first thing, so we got a few picnic foods, but then everything seemed to close down (apart from the markets thankfully). We had popped into a shopping centre to warm up (it was snowing at one point and so so cold) and Andy spotted a Mozart cake (Mozart seemed to love marzipan because all of the things named after him seem to have marzipan in them)- so we bought it to share later in the hotel. We also bought a stollen (with a gold seal on it) for my parents and some marzipan chocolates. There was a bit of a theme!
Everywhere was beautifully decorated, and felt very festive. We walked a lot as although the trains and trams were running, it was nice to take our time and see the sights again.
We walked to the Brandenburg gate (via a few markets), through the park to a couple more markets. To continue the marzipan theme I found that a few of the markets did marzipan crepes- I’d had one in Cologne once and it was pretty amazing, so I may have had one one 3 out of the 4 days! All the markets had the gingerbread stall, gluhwien stalls, bratwurst and so on, as well as some local things that we’d not seen anywhere else. Lots of places did these quarkballchen things which seemed to be a bit like doughnuts but I assume with quark in the dough (one place had a clear window so you could see the baker rolling the dough).
After walking around all day on Christmas Eve and taking in several markets, we headed back to an evening of Christmas movies in the hotel room.
To make up for not going to a German parkrun, I did my own run on Christmas day. I could run from our hotel to the Brandenburg Gate and back again (out and back minimises the chance of me getting lost)- it was around 2 miles each way so a good start to the morning. Our hotel had breakfast which is always a nice treat- they even had little slices of stollen out with the ham (as you do).
We did more walking on Christmas day (ending up at Checkpoint Charlie which was a bit surreal with the Christmas tree marking the spot where lots of people would have been shot for trying to cross the wall) and then got the train out to Charlottenburg Palace for the Christmas market there. It was so pretty and very busy, with lots of locals eating and drinking together.
Andy was enjoying the Gluhwein, and lots of the places did variations on hot apple juice with spices, so I had one to warm up (I think it had bits of orange peel and ginger in it too). I bought a new decoration for our tree (a little moose one) so at least we didn’t spend all of our money on food!
Side note- I have emailed both Bath and St Albans Christmas markets asking if they could consider using the cup deposit scheme that every single European market seems to have- you pay a few Euros for your cup, and then when you are finished you get the money back. I was shocked at Bath this year how overflowing the bins were, but it is no surprise when the stalls are not giving anyone the option of washable ones.
After heading back to the hotel to warm up for a bit, we headed out as we were off to a concert at the concert hall. The Philharmonic Orchestra were playing music from movies, and it was just brilliant. I love seeing orchestras play as I just find it fascinating, and it was great to hear classics like Indiana Jones, Star Wars (they did a good few songs from Star Wars), ET, the music from the Great Movie Ride (Gone with the Wind), Game of Thrones (not strictly a movie but an impressive piece of music) and finishing with Soul Bossa Nova from Austin Powers.
On Boxing Day we had the morning and early afternoon before we needed to get to the airport. It was drizzling so we got the train instead of walking, and ended up at another market. This one was by a huge church that had been badly damaged in the war, but they had decided to not repair it (but with a lot of preservation work). I think the last time we were in Berlin it must have been undergoing the renovations because the building was surrounded in perspex so it looked like a normal office building (there were photos of the work inside). It was an interesting place to visit.
We also spotted a few of the brass plaques (stumbling stones) which show the last address of each victim of the holocaust- there is a little article here which explains them. My cousin had mentioned them to me before we went, and I think if I hadn’t looked out for them I would have seem them out of the corner of my eye and assumed they were the normal street furniture of water main hatches and so on.
The rain got heavier so after a final market treat (marzipan crepe) we got our bags and headed to the bus for the airport.
Time to put the new decorations on the tree and the treats in the cupboard!
Do you like visiting Christmas market? Do you know of any in the UK that have the cup deposit scheme?
Did you have a good Christmas?