Going to the German Christmas Markets is something I've always wanted to do since I was a wee girl and started learning the language at school and 2012 was the year I decided to make it happen and I took my lovely family along for the adventure.
I booked the holiday as a birthday surprise for my other half and as I'd never been to Germany before I thought Hamburg was as good a place to start as any. We decided to travel by Euro Tunnel and it was a 9 hour drive from France to Hamburg. Although the drive was long it was great to tell Holly about all the countries we were driving through. After a long and tiring journey I can safely say that we were all very happy to arrive at the hotel Eleazar Novum in Hamburg City Centre. The hotel itself was great. The room was exactly what I was told it was going to be and it was very spacious with plenty of room for the kids to run riot. The hotel staff were very friendly and patient as we tried out our language skills on them. The only downside to the hotel was the location. Granted, it was located in the centre of Hamburg, however, what I hadn't known at the time is that is was on a street based in the red light district. Not ideal when you are travelling with two very small children!
I was very much relieved when the receptionist advised us that all the Markets and Christmas activity was happening on the other side of the Bahnhof - phew.
It turned out we were a 20 minute walk into the the city Centre and it was well worth it when we got there. The markets were the most amazing thing I've ever seen. A truely magical place that invoked the belief in Christmas in everyone. It was easy for me to get carried away as I could piggy back on the kids excitement, but even my cynical other half started to enjoy the wonderful yuletide feeling ( of course the Glue Wine and Bratwurst helped )
The markets were bustling during the day aswell as in the evening and one of the biggest things that surprised me was how much the Germans love Kids. We were constantly being stopped so people could talk to Holly and Sam and ask them if they had been good for Santa ( at least that's what I think they were asking with my rusty German).
We bought a beautiful hand blown bauble from one stall to take home with us. The stall had amazing decorations and no two baubles were the same which made them extra special. The lady on the stall was so nice that after we bought the bauble she gave Holly and Sam their own wooden bauble ( different designs to avoid the fighting ) and wished them a very Merry Christmas. Holly said "Danke Schon" and was so pleased with her gift.
The Buildings in Hamburg leave you in awe. The beauty of them hits you as soon as you enter the city centre and you can see the most magnificiant buildings, such as the Rathaus, where ever you are in the markets. Impressive during the day and even more so at night when they are completely emersed in the most wonderful lights and colours.
For me though, the highlight of the holiday was seeing Santa fly over the Market. It was brilliantly done with high wires that you just couldn't see because of all the lights. While walking round the market we heard "Ho Ho Ho" and Holly just stopped, looked up at me and the biggest smile crossed her face. "Mummy it's Santa", she says to me. "How exciting" I say to her and it does feel very special. Before I could say anything else to her Santa in his sleigh being pulled by four Reindeer, flew over the market place. Santa was stood up and was waving at everyone below. I actually thought that Holly was going to pop with excitment and she was waving both arms so frantically I thought they would drop off. She kept saying, "Mummy he's waving at me, Santa's waving at me." and it was so awesome that even I believed it was real and joined in with the manic waving of my arms.
Holly spent the rest of the night constantly looking up at the sky to see if he was flying by again and the smile never left her face until she fell into a very well earned sleep.
We spent 4 days in Hamburg and loved every minute of it. Getting around was so easy either by zug or by foot and the people there were so friendly and accommodating. Both Steve and I said that this would become a yearly thing for the family and that was keenly supported by Holly and Sam.
A truely brilliant holiday in a truely brilliant country at a truely brilliant time of year!
Wishing you all a very happy 2013