One Market to Rule Them All*

Continuing our German vacation saga from December.  Don’t worry, I think I only have two more posts on this.  Three, tops.

Germany’s best Christmas market is in Nuremberg.  Full stop.  I have not personally visited all the cities in Germany to compare, but that has never stopped me from making sweeping pronouncements before.

I mean, if this not-at-all-doctored photo doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

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But first we had to get to Nuremberg.  For this, we turned to the ICE (fast) train with Deutsche Bahn.  We were originally going to split our time between Nuremberg and Munich, but decided to just do a day trip to Nuremberg when we realized the ICE would be a little over an hour.  (It turned out to be closer to an hour and a half.)

We ended up paying more than I hoped, but this was because we (1) bought the tickets the day of and (2) did not want to commit to a specific return train.  Trains run from Nuremberg to Munich every 30 minutes, and I didn’t want to pin us down.  If we had booked in advance and/or picked specific trains, the ticket would have been much cheaper.  I didn’t want to book in advance because we were playing the weather by ear.  It would have been nicer to get a cheaper ticket, but I figure we paid a premium for the flexibility and for not having to deal with schlepping all of our stuff to a different city for an overnight.  Twice actually because we would have had to return to Munich for the flight.

We opted for reserved seats on the way there, but we would have been OK without it.  We didn’t have any trouble getting seats on the return.

They have ticket kiosks which are very easy to use, but after having some questions, we opted to speak to a real person.  I was excited that I could have conducted the whole thing auf Deutsch!  I eventually asked the guy if we could switch because it was easier consulting with James in English without first having to translate everything.

I hoped Henry would be more jazzed about the train.  I mean, he was excited, but the countryside looked sort of drab and gray on the way there and pitch black on the way back.  He was more into making his dad walk him all over the train.

I will say, preparing to exit the train with the kids and our day trip gear was a little stressful.  The train doesn’t stop for long at each station.  This is great for speeding along on your trip, but less great when you are like CRAP-I-have-to-grab-all-the-bags-and-stuff-kids-in-coats-and-AHHH.  But it all worked out.

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Munich Hauptbahnhof

Nuremberg on its own is an insanely cute German town.  Cobblestones, river running through it, fachwerk, pedestrian zones.  I don’t think I appreciated just how nice of a place it was on its own when I saw it ten years ago.

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The market completely fills the main square.  There are also a few side markets.

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Don’t stare directly into the eyes of the creepy children on top

We enjoyed the heidelbeer gluhwein.  We really enjoyed the nurnberger bratwurst and hazelnut strudel.

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Here’s the famous fountain, the Schöner Brunnen.

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Spin the golden ring for a wish to come true.

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Kaiserburg, the castle, is a hike up the hill.

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After hunting for some kid-friendly tips on the internets, we had an afternoon tea at Cafe Violetta.  (Nuremberg also has a train museum and toy museum that sounded pretty cool for kids, but we didn’t get to those.)  At first, I worried that we made a terrible mistake.  Downstairs is like a cross between an antique store and a fancy coffee shop. The cafe is kind of like being in your cozy Aunt’s house or maybe a common room at Hogwarts.  Plush furniture that doesn’t match, but it goes.  Nooks and alcoves.  It looked great, but not for kids.

Eventually, we found the train table upstairs.  We stalked the squashy couch beside it and eventually had a great time unwinding after being out in the cold drizzle.  Henry was obsessed with the table.  It may have been his favorite thing of the entire trip.  This is why two year olds make crappy tourists.  I could show him the Sistine Chapel and he would probably be like oooo is that a light switch?  (Mac would probably be like LUNCH.  I remember in either first or second grade, the Sistine Chapel National Geographic one was super scandalous.  It was definitely passed around the room and whispered about.)

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And here is the market stretching as far as the eye can see.

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It was a cold and drizzly day, but I’m glad we went.  It’s funny; when I walked around Nuremberg as a student more than ten years ago, I never really thought ahead to what the future might bring.  I didn’t picture some day returning and trying to show my two kids around this market that I loved so much.  Even though I didn’t picture it, I’m glad we were able to make it happen.  Now I’ll just have to bring them back when they can actually appreciate it!

*Only meant to be a silly Lord of the Rings reference.

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