Sunday, 6 December 2015

2015 Christmas Trip, Day 3

Today is St Nicholas' Day, when children in many countries find little presents in their shoes given by the eponymous saint. We, however, are no longer children and our shoes contained nothing more exciting than our feet. 

We had directions to the Park & Ride, and found it at the second try (we went roaring past it the first time and had to turn round). Then we managed to buy an up-to-five-person day ticket with our hoarded coins once we were on the tram, only as nobody asked to see it, not once, I am not sure why we bothered! Still, we try to be honest.

The tram took us swiftly into Cologne, and we got off at the main station and explored the first of the Christmas Markets. I did buy some honey lip-balm, but that was all, although we enjoyed looking at the various stalls.
We then walked down to the Alter Market, where there was another market with since really quite good craft stalls, including a blacksmith. The Swan Whisperer bought me an olive wood risotto spoon as an oddment fur Christmas (at my request), and then we wandered down to the Heumarkt, and the third market. By this time I badly needed to sit down, so we went into a restaurant for lunch, which was a failure as the food - even the salad - was so salty you couldn't taste anything else. The beer was nice, though. The SW said his currywurst was nice, if salty.

After lunch, we looked at the very long and thin temporary ice rink, and the various stalls attached, and then took the tram up to the St Nicholas market at the Rudolfusplatz, where we has gluhwein, which was lovely. And looked at the "Christmas Avenue" across the road, which was dull.
The local public transport authority had been advertising that St Nicholas would be bringing little gifts to children during the afternoon and to look out for him on the trams and buses, and I am delighted to say we saw him as we waited for the tram to take us back to Neumarkt, although I couldn't get a photo. 

Then the market at the Neuplatz, where the SW bought me a skewer of chocolate-covered grapes, which were lovely. But what he wanted was some apfelstrudel, and the only market that sold that was the first one, by the Cathedral, so we went back there and bought him some.  They had some wonderful-looking cheesecake, too, but I was full.

By then we were Christmas Marketed out, and although there were at least two others in the city, we decided to give them a miss, and instead took a tour bus round the city, enjoying the comments of a farming couple from Derbyshire who sat next to us.  When that was over, it was dark and the shops were shutting. I  remember the days when shops in Germany firmly shut at lunchtime on Saturday and did not open again until Monday morning, but those appear to be long past, and everywhere was open and busy today.  We saw an old-fashioned tram several times, which I think was a Christmas Special, probably a charter or something you booked specially.

We caught a tram back to the P&R, and thence back to the camp site, where we are having a quiet evening after a lovely day.

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