Monday, 5 December 2011

Berlin's best Christmas markets

As we are coming up to our third Christmas in Berlin, we have had tens of cups of glühwein at different Christmas markets around Berlin and can with some expertise present our favourites:

Weihnachtsmarkt an Gendarmenmarkt – Perfect for tourists and parents! Entry costs one euro, but the market is surrounded by beautiful buildings and has the most magical, Christmassy atmosphere of all the markets. There's constant musical numbers being performed on the little stage, and the food and drink stands are all tempting. You can also purchase jewellery, crystal vases and fancy wines.

Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt – A great location in Prenzlauer Berg, near the U2 line. The market is in a courtyard sheltered from the wind and to warm up you can pop into the Rewe supermarket or you can sneak in to use the toilets in the cinema. The theme at the Lucia market is Nordic and you can buy Finnish, Swedish or even Austrian glühweins rather than the German kind that I don't like so much. Besides food items, glühwein and absinth you can buy Finnish honey, Swedish candy, hippie jewellery or Christmas lights.

Adventsmarkt auf der Domäne Dahlem  – A bit outside central Berlin, but easily reached with the U3 train, this cute little market is less commercial and mass produced than most. Along with the necessary glühwein and roasted chestnuts stands, you can also buy horse meat salami or deer sausages, home-made spirits flavoured with blackberry or herbs, mustard seasoned with beer or whiskey and fresh organic vegetables. The Herrenhaus, the oldest residential building in Berlin, from 1560 and in the former stables you find little exhibitions like an old-fashioned shop that now sells hand-made hard candy or cute little pottery and knit shops.

Berlin with dad - Tadjiki tea and Tintin in 3D

My dad was in Berlin for a visit over the weekend. He and his wife have been to Berlin only once before, precisely two years ago. For the life of me I can't understand why they keep coming to Berlin when it's cold and dark here! Despite some light rain and a few gusts of Siberian wind, we had a wonderful weekend and manage to do things that were new to A and me, as well.

On Saturday afternoon, after a cosy cup of tea and coffee in our kitchen, we took of to Dahlem to visit the Christmas market at Domäne Dahlem. It was rainy and cold, so the market wasn't crowded and we didn't have to queue for marzipans, glühwein, roasted chestnuts or mustard. For a meat-eater there were interesting things on offer, like horse and deer meat, or organic boar sausages. The museum and the little atelier shops around the market were open, so we could get warmth and shelter when we needed it. All in all, it was my favourite Berlin Christmas market and we had a lovely time.

On Sunday we visited the Tadschikische Teestube – a place we wanted to see already on dad's last visit. The little tearoom is hidden in plain sight on the second floor of the Palais am Festungsgraben, next to the Deutsches Historisches Museum. Since it appears in many guide books it's well known and very popular, so a reservation is advisable. We managed to get a table with cushioned floor seating by being there exactly when the Teestube opened, which is at 3pm on the weekends. Most of the tables were reserved but we could sit down at one that was reserved for 5pm. Almost immidiately a queue started forming at the doors. The tea selection at the the Tajik tearoom is extensive and ranges from smoky Russian tea to iced Japanese cherry tea. The kitchen prepares a few Russian dishes like pelmeni and blinis, both sweet and savory. Dad and M were really impressed and we realised that we now have to bring all our guests to the Tadschikische Teestube for a pot of tea.

Through work I tried to get us tickets to see Rigoletto at the Komische Oper, but had no luck. Instead we went to see The Adventures of Tintin in 3D at Cinestar Original im Sony Centre. My dad hadn't seen any modern 3D film before, so even if we ended up at the dubbed-into-German film version, we all enjoyed the experience and the film a lot. And we all understood almost all the German!

It was a fun weekend and now I feel geared up for shopping for Christmas presents, for the office Christmas party on Thursday and for the last deadline of the year at work.
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