German Christmas markets: The best thing to happen to heart specialists’ incomes since the county fair.
(For any Germans traveling to America, I highly recommend that you visit a county fair so that you can continue to fine tune your loathing for Americans and their culture. What’s that? You mean there’ll be a hog tie, deep-fried Oreoes, AND a competition where two grown men in plaid shirts and overalls attempt to wrestle each other off a floating log? Oh boy! Ma, put the gun rack in the pick up truck, we’re going to the fair.)
And at the Striezelmarkt, Germany’s oldest Christmas market, you’ll find enough deep-fried, sugar-coated, cheese-covered confections to give a funnel cake a heart attack.
There are bratwurst of every size, shape, color, and denomination. There are barrels of candied almonds, rows of chocolate-covered pears, and alp-en heaps of gummy bears. There are snowballs—a sugary confection made of strips of dough woven into a fist-sized ball, plastered together with your choice of filling, and baked until cookie-crisp. There are crepes. And langoes—a deep-fried flat bread served with your choice of cheese, extra cheese, or eminent heart attack. And of course waffles. (I’m sorry, was that whipped cream, Nutella, or diabetic shock?)
Local legend has it that the calories don’t count if you wash them down with a glass of Gluhwein (mulled wine).
You’ll also find Miss Stollen. In the first week of December, the chefs from The Night Kitchen get together and bake a 3,500 kilo stollen. They then parade the cake up to the castle, cut it with a five foot knife, and force the newly crowned Miss Stollen to eat the entire thing as quickly as possible.
Last reported, Miss Stollen was recovering from triple bypass surgery in St. Mary’s Hospital.
This little strip of Christmas market extends into the city’s shopping district and was the result of a top-secret meeting between Gluhwein vendors and several chain stores. The meeting went something like this:
Gluhwein vendor: You know, customers will spend more in your stores if they are drunk. And the rest of the people, well once they’re drunk, they might consider coming into your store in the first place.
Corporate manager duder: Where do I sign?
Weihnachtsmarkt am Frauenkirche
If you have strong elbows and no conscience about pushing gray-haired yuppies out of your way, you’ll love the Frauenkirche Weihnachtsmarkt! (That exclamation point is not sarcastic. I hunt yuppies for sport.)
After browsing through stalls with the same bric-a-brac you saw at the last three Christmas markets you visited, you can duck into the Frauenkirche. For those of you with deteriorating long-term memories, the Frauenkirche is the bombed out church from the pictures in the World War II chapter of your high school history textbook. It has since been restored, and entry is free. So take a seat, oogle some historically significant architecture, and pray that you’re feet will someday thaw.
Once upon a time there was a medeival Christmas market in the courtyard of the Dresden castle. People have claimed that it was both charming and electricity-free. However, early on the morning of our arrival, the market burned down in a tragic and mysterious fire, the cause of which remains unknown until today. Authorities are offering a reward for information on the whereabouts of a small plastic gorilla, last seen dunking bananas into a glass of Gluhwein on Prager Straße. The subject is considered highly dangerous.
The Neustadt Christmas market slumps up Neustadt’s main street with booths offering yet more hand-crafted sausages, hot-spiced ornaments, deep-fried wine, and, ah fuck it, you know damn well by now what’s in those booths.
Walk through the market, making sure not to make eye contact with any of the vendors or you might find yourself buying another little moose ornament, up into the Neustadt, and into the first pub you come across. There you can start drinking off all the Christmas cheer that rubbed off on your during the day.
Königstein Medeival Market
Though located about an hour southwest of Dresden, this Christmas Market is an adequate replacement for the charred remains of the Advents-Spektakel. Though both the Königstein Market and the Weihnachtsmarkt am Frauenkirche offer a similar variety of aggressive, slow-moving tourists, Königstein also offers a dizzyingly long drop, convenient for disposing of the tourists you’ve bludgeoned to death with old sausages.
After disposing of the corpses you can beat your chest and scream “No one has ever taken the Rittermark/Königstein!” with confidence because, indeed, no one ever has. Then freshen yourself up with a hot plastic cup of Gluhwein and an authentic virgin waif.
Unfortunately, getting to the market and then actually getting in will set you back at least 20 euros. The train ride from Dresden with a family ticket that allows up to 5 people costs 14 euros and an hour and a half. The Festung Express round trip bus ticket is 4 euros and is accompanied by ominous urban-bus-driver legends discouraging you from attempting the way through the woods and buying one-way. The Festung entrance fee is 5 euros for adults and 3 euros for students, children, and retirees. Then of course there’s elevator use at 1.50 euro per person, the obligatory glass of Gluhwein at the summit at 2.50 per plastic cup, and a fried something or other for 3.50. But the chance to cop a feel on the busty stable girl behind the crepe stand? That’s priceless.
Marauder’s tip: If you can stomach the food, Christmas markets are a table-diving bazaar. Show up around closing time and ask vendors if they have any leftovers they were going to throw away. Most of them never want to see another sausage or crepe ever again, and will gladly give you the day’s leftovers. Sausages abound, vegetarian choices are mildly limited, and vegan choices are practically nonexistent.