Tag: Christmas

Passau: Bavaria’s Most Charming Christmas Market And Meeting Adventurous Kate

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Passau Christmas Market

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful time with family, friends, amazing food and presents!

After spending a truly stunning Christmas with my family in the Swiss Alps last year, I enjoyed a much quieter celebration in Hamburg with my Schnucki’s family this time around.

We had a feast on Christmas Eve (this is when Germans celebrate Christmas) and we ate German style Raclette, which is where you prepare ingredients like vegetables and cheese and cook them yourself on tiny pans on a table top grill. The portion sizes are so small that you can potentially eat forever without realising how much you’ve actually eaten! (Our bellies afterwards told us otherwise).

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Handmade candle stalls

To honour my second Christmas in Europe, I wanted to show you my absolute favourite German Christmas market which of course is the one in Passau, where I live at the moment!

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Glühwein stalls with every flavour you can imagine

The Passau Christmas market is held every year for a month from the 24th November to 24th December. The whole city’s streets are decked out with fairy lights leading up to the event and real Christmas trees are put up on every street corner (and I mean literally every corner!)

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Laser cut wood decorations (I snagged a mini version of the Stephansdom one on the left)

Nobody does Christmas like the Germans – they are so good at making a magical atmosphere! Every stall is bursting with handmade wooden crafts, hand knitted scarves, gloves, hats and food…A LOT of food. (Nutella crêpes, German gingerbread and Chinese noodles included!)

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Cute little handmade snowfolk

And of course there is the Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and alcohol free Kinderpunsch (kid’s punch) in every flavour. My favourite was probably the berry Glühwein, but you can also get white Glühwein (which I still haven’t tried). Every stall has their own signature drink with different variations and spices, and it takes a few goes to find the best ones!

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The Simon stall – a famous confectionary shop and cafe in Passau

While the Christmas market was on in December, I also had the opportunity to meet and hang out with Adventurous Kate, who is a famous travel blogger on Instagram. She has been travelling the world as her job for over six years now, and she was one of the first travel bloggers to get really popular online and have a big following.

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Chocolate covered physalis, raspberries and other fruit

Kate was in Munich for a conference and then visiting Bavarian Christmas markets for German Tourism when she posted a photo of herself at the Passau Christmas market.

I was so surprised at seeing her in Passau (a lot of Germans don’t even know where Passau is, let alone American travel bloggers) that I commented on the photo half jokingly that we should have met up for a Glühwein, since I live in Passau right near St. Stephan’s Cathedral. And lo and behold, she commented back saying that she had free time the next day if we wanted to meet up!

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Residenzplatz and St. Stephan’s Cathedral

So I met up with her in front of St. Stephan’s the next day (it’s a strange feeling trying to spot someone that you’ve only ever seen in photos) and I took her to my favourite retro style café close by called Schöffberger. Kate was a super friendly and extroverted person, and we chatted about travels, her life in New York and even some American politics over cake and hot drinks.

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Schokokuss (Chocokiss) sweets with a sweet marshmellow like centre covered in chocolate

After afternoon tea, we perused the Christmas market together and Kate bought some souvenirs and Christmas presents for her family and friends. We walked back along the Ludwigstraße and finally had our promised Glühwein together before saying our good byes.

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Christmas trees in front of Neues Residenz

All in all it was a very spontaneous meeting, but a really fun one! It was great to hear about Kate’s amazing travels and what it’s really like to live a nomadic lifestyle. She also wrote a Bavarian Christmas Market post on her blog about the markets she visited, including the Passau one!

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The half metre Bratwurst – a famous Christmas market delicacy

One of the most famous Christmas market eats might just be the half metre Bratwurst, which is as you guessed, a 50cm long sausage in a bun lathered in mustard or tomato sauce. You may not want to get one of these when it’s really crowded though, because you’ll be prone to hitting someone with it! (Get your mind out of the gutter please).

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My blue Passau Glühwein mug

Another famous treat of the Christmas markets are the unique Glühwein mugs that have different shapes and designs in every town and city. You pay an extra Pfand (bond) whenever you buy a Glühwein or Kinderpunsch (usually 2 Euros) and you get the money back if you return the mug to the stall, or you can keep the mug and forgo the coins.

I’ve collected the different coloured designs of the Passau mugs over the last two years and I have six in total so far!

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The Passau Christmas market crowds at night

I’m always sad to see the Christmas markets go once we hit the new year, but I know that they’ll be back again before we know it!

 


So, did you love the Passau Christmas market as much as I did?

What are the Christmas markets like in your country?


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Les Diablerets: Christmas Winter Wonderland In The Swiss Alps

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Les Diablerets

In December 2015, my family came over to Europe from New Zealand and we had a magical Christmas together in the Swiss Alps. First we went from Munich to Lausanne and met up with our relatives who lived there, and they took us up to their best kept secret: Les Diablerets.

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Les Diablerets township

Les Diablerets was a small alpine village and ski resort in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. We got there by a 40 minute train ride from Lausanne to Aigle, and then we switched to the Chemin de fer Aigle-Sepey-Diablerets; a historic little mountain train that took us up to the altitude of 1,160 metres where the village was located.

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The little devil of Les Diablerets

Les Diablerets means ‘the abode of devils’ in French and the symbol of the village was a little devil playing a flute, which was everywhere. The village legend says that when rocks fell down the sides of the mountains, it was the fault of the little devils that were throwing rocks at the Quille du Diable, or the devil’s skittle on the mountain.

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The little devil motif on houses

Besides the little devil, the real charm of the village were all of the old wooden chalets. Every chalet had different designs in the beams, balcony and woodwork and the result was just beautiful – I’d never seen houses quite like it before.

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A typical Swiss mountain chalet

There was already snow on the ground when we got to Les Diablerets, and we had clear blue skies the whole time we were there with an average temperature of about 12 degrees Celsius! I had been dreading how cold it was going to be up there, but we ended up having the best of both worlds – snow and warm days!

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Kids playing in the snow

The township had everything we needed in walking distance: a supermarket, cafes, souvenirs and ski supply shops. My family had been staying in Munich for the past few days and they said it was a relief to get away from other tourists. And they were right – most chalets belonged to Swiss families so everything felt very local indeed.

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Beautiful timber chalet

 

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Local transport

A lot of people were cross-country skiing across the village as a faster means of transport, which amused me because it wasn’t a sight I was used to. There was also a lot of ice skating and ice hockey games going on within the village.

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Symbol of Switzerland – the Swiss cow bells

A lot of the chalets had the year it was built painted on it and some even had the Swiss cow bells hanging from the banisters.

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Chalets up the hill

Our chalet was down in the valley, so we would only get direct sunlight until about 2pm, after that the sun was hidden behind the mountains and we would be left in shade. The chalets up on the hill were placed better and got a whole lot more hours of sun!

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Snow bunny

My cousin and I spotted this cute rabbit hopping around our chalet more than once and it turned out to be the neighbour’s pet. (I would have been quite happy to adopt it!)

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Our humble abode

The inside of our chalet turned out to be even better than the outside with warm wooden interiors with an authentically rustic feel. There were nine of us together in this chalet but there was plenty of room for all!

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Garden view

We went up to the glacier ski field on the mountain for a day, but the rest of the time was spent opening presents, playing games and eating far too much. We even had a classic Swiss dish for dinner one time – a mouth watering cheese fondue!

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So, did you like Les Diablerets as much as I did?

Stay tuned for the next installment of going up to the Diablerets glacier!


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