Living abroad away from friends and family for the past two years has been depressing at Christmastime. We thought it would be fun and exciting, but really, it was lonely. Our first Christmas here we thought it would be very romantic. We had ideas of waking up on Christmas morning, renting Barclays Bikes and riding the streets of London on the one day a year when there is no traffic. We even went to a church service at St. Martin’s in the Field in an attempt to participate in the festivities. We posted pictures of our fun times, which was deceiving, because we just wanted to be with our friends and family playing music, having Christmas Eve snacks and drinks, and the traditional Christmas night mini-party at our house. As we celebrated our first London Christmas by making a traditional dinner, we vowed not to stay in London the following year. However, when year 2 rolled around, it didn’t make sense once again to buy expensive tickets home. So instead, we embarked on a two-week long train journey for less than half the price of flying home. Our first stop was Cologne, Germany.
We expected just to find a nice place to eat dinner and then to sleep for the night, but what we found was a spectacular display of the world’s best Christmas Markets! Each one was magical. Even though there were thousands of people around, it felt like we had made a special discovery. The joy and friendliness at all of the markets was inspiring. We went to three different markets, each with a different theme. One was bright and bustling with lights (upper right), one was cosy and green (bottom left), and one was nautical with white sails and was located on the river (not pictured. I think there were at least five more that we didn’t go to.
The moral of the story is: If you can’t be at home, be at a German Christmas Market.