Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Markets

What's cool about this time of year in Europe are all of the Christmas markets. Most of the big cities have some sort of market that runs from the end of November until December 24th.

There are lots of stalls with vendors selling all kinds of Christmas ornaments, ceramics, candles, toys, jewelry, clothes, & handmade crafts. There are also nativity scenes and normally some kind of train for the kids. This is a great way to do a little bit of shopping without stepping foot in the stores.

There are also lots of food stalls with people selling candy, gingerbread, sausages, bramborák (potato and garlic fried as a flat cake) and trdelník (soft yeast dough which is wrapped around a hot metal pin and fried into a cylinder, then rolled in ground almonds, cinnamon and sugar.)

And believe it or not...Czechs don't drink beer at the market. It's easy to warm up in the cold weather with some vánoční punč (Christmas punch), svařak (hot mulled wine) or medovina (a hot honey wine). The vánoční punč and svařak are my favorites. I'm not a big fan of the medovina. Since the cold will be here until February, I think the punč and svařak should stick around too!
I made it to see the Christmas markets in Brno, Prague, Milan, Vienna and Bratislava. For some reason Berlin is the only place where the market runs until January so I'll get to see that one as well before New Year's. Vienna's was the best. Austria has pumped millions of euros in to the market this year and it was absolutely incredible. Prague's was nice too. Brno's was cool beacause it had things going on in three different squares. Plus it never got so crowded that you couldn't stand it.

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