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Land of the Christmas Markets

Frohe Weihnachten! We’ve spent the last couple of weeks in Austria and Germany, as we joined Max’s sister’s family for the last leg of their incredible around-the-world trip.

We started in Vienna, where we not only got to see Carly, Josh, Luna, Gail and Darryl, but also Max and Carly’s Swedish foreign exchange sister Malin and her family! Pretty incredible to meet up with everyone in a city new to us all. We then went onto Munich and Nürnberg with Carly, Josh, Luna, and Gail.

In these three beautiful cities, the group’s #1 priority was seeing the Christmas markets (in German, Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt). Basically, a Christmas market is a pop-up fair with crafts, food, sweets and snacks, and above all, BOOZE. (Kristan remembers learning about the markets in her high school German class, but strangely the lessons neglected this key fact.) There’s nothing like a cup of hot glühwein for wandering about outside in the cold. Glühwein is hot spiced wine, most often red wine but frequently white wine too.

Many of the places had specialty recipes — here they added rum, there had apple juice, etc. In Munich we started noticing even more hot drinks available – hot “Hugos” (prosecco, elderflower syrup, mint, and lime/lemon), hot caipirinhas, even hot spiced beer! (Somehow we weren’t inclined to try it.) In Nürnberg, most places sold heidelbeer glühwein, which was flavored with a local blueberry, but we also found “the world’s largest punchbowl”, which had a nice fiery punch that was great for sitting next to the river.

Although we spent so much time in markets that we completely lost track of how many different ones we went to (they seemed to dot each city), the two of us also made sure to get in our usual travel necessities: climbing tall things and nearly getting blown off of them, drinking flights at little breweries, and eating snacks on the street!

P.S. KRAMPUS. Krampus is a wonderful, heart-warming figure who makes sure that kids know what’s what about Christmas — namely, that they should be good, otherwise they’ll get chased in the streets and whipped with birch twigs. Seriously, we need to bring Krampus back to the US. Munich had an excellent “Krampus run” in which all the Krampuses paraded through the main market, scared little kids, attacked women, and annoyed policemen. Good times.

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