Friday, January 13, 2012

December Redux - Christmas Markets

I am taking an intensive German class, but it was canceled for December, so I had some extra time on my hands. When Brian headed to the US for work, I went up to Frankfurt and Dresden in Germany with my friend Dana. Germany is famous for their Christmas markets, which fill town squares for a few days or weeks. At the markets, vendors sell Christmas gifts and ornaments, often homemade, as well as steaming mugs of gluhwein and traditional foods. Switzerland and Austria also have Christmas markets, but even they will tell you that Germany's are best.

On Wednesday night, we grabbed the train from Zurich to Frankfurt, about a four hour ride. Frankfurt and its market was fine - not too exciting, but it got our palates ready for the Dresden market. Frankfurt does have the European Central Bank and the giant Euro statue, where the Occupy Frankfurt movement had set up camp.

hOccupy Frankfurt

After Frankfurt, we jumped on a train to Dresden, about a five hour ride away in East Germany. Dresden was destroyed during World War II as a result of Allied fire bombing and it has rebuilt significantly in the last decade. I thought it was an amazing city and look forward to going back with Brian soon! The Dresden Christmas market was actually a series of markets that stretched through the city, and had tons of delicious food and interesting ornaments.


Elbe River

After a day exploring Dresden, Dana and I jumped on a night train back to Zurich. If we had ridden during the day, we could have gotten back to Zurich in 8-9 hours, but the CityNightLine takes about 12 hours as there are more extended stops along the way. Dana and I got a sleeper car - of which I have no pictures. When you walk into the compartment, there are three beds on either side. The middle bed on either side can be lowered to turn the bottom bunk into a seating area, and there is extended storage next to the top bunk. We had signed up for a four person car, meaning that two other women could have been assigned to our compartment, but we ended up with the coach to ourselves, all the better to eat our snacks, watch bad movies, and claim the bottom bunks. We rolled back into Zurich Hauptbahnhof (main station) at 8:30am on Saturday - lots of fun!

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