When I last posted, the Christmas Market trip was hopping merrily along in beautiful Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber. It was with great reluctance the morning after that I left the fairytale atmosphere and the Nightwatchman behind and headed to the train station. I took an easy 1 hr and 12 minute train ride (with connection in Steinach) to Würzburg. I must admit after fulfilling Christmas Market dreams in Dresden, Leipzig, Nuremberg, and Rothenburg in consecutive days, I was finding myself stricken with a case of too much of a good thing. Rather than sound spoiled and unappreciative, I must clarify that I was traveling alone this entire time. There comes a certain point where the need of companionship and sharing starts to outweigh the excitement of traveling. And unfortunately I reached that point in Würzburg and it carried over to Berlin the day (and final stop) after.
This phenomenon for me is always heightened during city trips. Trips into the mountains where one can challenge oneself physically and come in contact with nature don’t generally have this same effect on me. I call it the Lonely Dinner Effect. It happens at the time of day when the sites and museums close and it is time to stop walking around and start making dinner plans. This can be a real drag when I am doing city trips by myself. Especially, as in this case, after the 3rd or 4th day. And it is worse in the winter time when it gets dark early making it more possible to see all the jovial friends, lovers, and families enjoying their cozy dinners thru the restaurant windows from the street. There are only so many times you can convince yourself that you’ll look like a guy on a business trip forced to eat alone. Thank goodness for the concept of eating at the bar or if I can’t find a pub/restaurant then a less conspicuous pizza parlor. Now before anyone breaks out the smallest violin in the world, you just need to search on any psychology website and you will find it. The Lonely Dinner Effect. Look it up.
Ok, you won’t find it, but maybe if I post a lot more than I have recently, Google Analytics will take notice and this post will start coming up in Google searches. Then it will become officially real.
In any case, there I was in Würzburg.
Würzburg has an impressive array of beautiful and historic buildings, most of them meticulously rebuilt by women after severe bombing in World War II leveled the city like Dresden. The one I had set my sights on to visit during the day of arrival was the Festung Marienberg. First I had to take care of a wet shoe problem as the puddles from a morning rainfall took its toll on mine as I walked from the tram stop to my hotel. Believe me folks, I will never believe another Geox shoe salemen who tells me that their shoe soles are both breathable AND waterproof. Fortunately I found a reasonably priced, warm and, still to this day, waterproof pair of Jack Wolfskin hiking shoes rather quickly.
So me and my warm, dry feet headed across the historic 15th century Old Main Bridge and climbed comfortably up to the Festung. Prancing into the courtyard with renewed enthusiasm, I found myself standing before a lonely ticket booth.
What day was it?
This is what I call the Holiday Calendar Vacuum Effect. That trick your holiday plays on your brain by sucking away any concept of what day it is. The Festung was closed. And all I could do was look down at my new shoes and they just looked back at me like Don’t look at us, we just got here.
So I took some nice pictures and spent the rest of the daylight hours going ooh and aah with every step of my warm dry Wolfskins around some other sites, including the vast Würzburger Residenz.
But as darkness swept over the land, it was time to focus on the Christmas Market.
Würzburg’s Christmas Market dates back to the early 19th century. That seems to be about the only historical fact you can find by browsing on Google. I interpret the lack of any real perspective to its history to mean that the Würzburg Christmas Market is not deemed an important figure in the German Christmas Market canon. Nevertheless, this does not take away from the charm that it has. The Christmas Market is situated on the market square around the Chapel of St. Mary. It is a lush and cozy setting and in that respect gives a good counterpoint to the likes of Dresden’s grand Striezelmarkt.
It was during the stroll around the beautiful Christmas Market that the Lonely Dinner Effect kicked in. I don’t remember where I ate, but I was already starting to half-heartedly look forward to leaving for Berlin in the morning. Despite this though, I was quite satisfied with my impression that Würzburg really deserves a more in-depth visit with it’s grand buildings and river setting especially in the spring and summer.
The Würzburg to Berlin connection is easily the worst of the entire route I was taking. It is more or less a 4-hour train ride with a connection in Göttingen. I arrived in Berlin in mid-afternoon, leaving not much time for site-seeing before exploring the Christmas Market.
Berlin is an amazing city with a lot of different layers of historical perspective. Of course for me (and probably most others), it is it’s link to Nazism, World War II, and the Communist era that followed that are the most intriguing aspects of visiting Berlin. However, I engaged in none of that during that brief evening on this trip. I have been to Berlin on a separate visit and I will save that experience for another post.
Berlin’s Christmas Market is situated on the Alexanderplatz which is easy to get to by public transportation as it is a major hub in the city. I am not a huge fan of this part of Berlin, where you are surrounded by modern shopping centers, but it does have the benefit of being a short walk from Berlin’s Altstadt which is nice place to get away from the modern city and have dinner in the evening. For some nice atmosphere the Christmas Market on the Gendarmenmarkt is much better.
But alas at this point, my mood was in need of a recharging and I did not feel connected to my surroundings. In a couple days I would fly back to the USA to spend some time with my daughter and it was during this mood that the plans for our December 2016 Christmas Market driving tour would start to take shape.
As my Christmas Market hopping tour of December 2015 came to an end, I returned to Belgium with a suitcase full of souvenir gluhwein mugs and a heart full of wonderful memories and a satisfaction of seeing my travel dreams from youth and adulthood coming true. As I sit here typing at my PC, I wonder if I would ever do a similar trip as this again and I cannot help feeling like that trip was a once in a lifetime experience. I am not sure it can be matched anywhere else in Germany. In 2016, I would find myself doing something similar with my daughter but by car, enabling us to stretch our range to include Passau, Cesky Krumlov, and Salzburg. Now I wonder what the future will bring in exploring this amazing tradition that exists not just in Germany, but around “Old Europe”. For now, I wish anyone that took the time to read any of my posts, even one sentence, a very Merry Christmas.