Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Markets 2008 - Bruges, Belgium

Oh how I love Europe's Christmas markets!!! I visited two Christmas markets last year in Frankfurt, Germany and Cologne, Germany. It was my first exposure to the Christmas market scene I had heard so much about.

For those unfamiliar with European Christmas markets, here is a little background:

Christmas in Europe is a time for elaborate pastries straight out of a medieval cookbook, for lyrical midnight masses in Gothic churches, and for the upholding of quirky local traditions—in many countries, Christmas just isn’t complete without mischievous pixies, kindly witches (Rome), treacherous demons (Salzburg), or an 8,000-pound fruitcake (Dresden). However else Europeans celebrate the Yuletide season, Christmas still centers around an Advent market that, in most cases, has filled the square before the cathedral each December for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Many markets start on the Friday before Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas Eve; most end on December 24, especially in Germanic countries, where Christmas Eve is set aside for trimming the tree at home. Others keep celebrating until Epiphany on January 6.

These markets are where the romance of the holiday comes alive in grand tradition—smells of gingerbread and roasting sausages waft through the cold air, handmade ornaments adorn ancient fir trees, master glassblowers and other artisans ply their crafts in wooden stalls, shoppers bustle past Gothic church facades and half-timbered houses, pausing to sip their gl├╝hwein, heavily spiced and mulled "glow wine"—the piping-hot beverage of choice at any self-respecting Christmas market.

Entertainment, usually around 5 p.m., can include choral serenades or trombone recitals from a balcony overlooking the scene. Food and drink take account of the fact that these markets, contrary to all logic, are held outdoors in the middle of winter. It leans to roasted chestnuts, hot sausages and hot spiced wine. Bock beer is another specialty of the winter season.

This year, we decided to visit other markets besides the ones in Germany. I heard Germany has the best Christmas markets, but I wanted to draw my own opinion. And what is my opinion, you may ask?? Well, I agree, Germany has the BEST Christmas markets!

So, the first stop on our 2008 Tour of Christmas Markets was Bruges, Belgium. I absolutely love the little quaint town of Bruges. However, this was not a good market. It could have something to do with the fact that we took the dogs (first mistake), it started pouring down rain (so I carried Maxie to keep her from getting soaked and stepped on), and the shopping just plain stunk. I told Pam this day had to go down in history as a day the two of us went shopping and bought absolutely nothing. Not. One. Single. Item.

Anyway, I did snap a few shots...just for a little photo proof that we were there. The sun came out for about 10 minutes so we took these photos and left!
Maxie and I...
Pam and Zsa Zsa...
They did have a really cute ice-skating rink.
Zsa Zsa wishing she could slide around on the ice!
We were outta there!

By the way, Day 2 of our 2008 Tour of Christmas Markets was much better.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:56 AM

    Oh the pups looked so cold...it was pretty anyway!