It seemed like a great idea to take advantage of living in Europe and visit one of Germany’s famed Christmas markets. Our Whole Village’s Patricia Monahan had been to the Christmas market in Cologne and loved it. We settled on Dusseldorf’s Christmas market because we could get inexpensive, direct flights; a good price on a nice, centrally located hotel; and the market is a bit smaller than some others so more manageable with a 3 year old.
We arrived early and tired. It was cold. It rained. And our daughter complained pretty much the entire time. You’ve heard it before: “I’m cold.” “I’m hungry.” “Why do we have to walk so much?” “My legs are tired.” “Why are we just looking at all this stuff?” On and on. To make it worse, I was pregnant and couldn’t even drink the famous hot, spiced wine to drown out the complaining, um… I mean… warm myself up.
Well, sometimes not-so-fun situations can result in great finds and new opportunities. Plus, it all makes for great memories and, thankfully, the human mind has an amazing capacity to forget pain. Would I do it again? Yep! Would I set expectations lower? Yep! Would I go while pregnant? Nope! Next time, I’m drinking the wine.
Shop Till You Drop (or Until Your Kid Has Had Enough)
The Christmas markets are a feast for the eyes. There are tons of great gift ideas for the holiday season and a lot of local and handmade products, which we love. Of course, if your kids are like mine, your allotted shopping window will be limited.
Fortunately, the markets have ice rinks, rides, kids activities, shops where even the littlest ones can find something to get excited about, and, of course, great food. Shop, play, eat. Shop, play, eat. Repeat.
Sausage & Sushi!
The food at the Christmas markets is delicious and varied. A lot of what is on offer is traditional German fare – sausage, potato pancakes, funnel cake, soft pretzels with mustard, chocolate, etc. Being pregnant gave me a good excuse to sample quite a lot of what was on offer. And, I did!
As good as the market food was, the rain and cold had us seeking out warm indoor cafes and restaurants. Noodle soup is the way to go in weather like this and the Japanese make some of the best.
Wait! What? Yep, we went to Germany and ate Japanese food. Three times. Little known fact: Dusseldorf is home to one of the largest Japanese populations outside of Japan. And, that means great Japanese food.
For noodles and soup on our first cold day and then sushi that night, we ate in sister restaurants Na Ni Wa Noodle & Soup and Na Ni Wa Sushi & More. Great soup, great noodles, great sushi. A must if you go to Dusseldorf.
Those Boots May Be Made For Walking but Those Little Legs Are Not!
As I mentioned, the child did an awful lot of complaining – more than usual for some reason. As a result, we tried to go from one thing to the next with little distance in between and to mix up outdoor and indoor activities.
We love visiting bookstores when we travel and Dusseldorf has one of the best kid sections we have ever seen. Mayersche Droste has the usual range of books, great quality toys; and a nice kid play area.
What had us visiting the store four times in a 3-day weekend (and using as bribery along the way), though, was the metal, circular slide from the first level to the lower level. Amazing! That and the hot chocolate, coffee and sweet treats on the top floor were a perfect combination.
Cold, Wet Walking Make for Sound Sleeping
On the bright side, cold, wet walking make for sound sleeping. Our big, comfortable room at the Steigenberger Hotel. was just what we needed at the end of the day. Our daughter passed out in seconds and we were able to kick back and relax.
Despite the cold, wet weather and the incessant whining, we really did have a good time. The Christmas markets are definitely worth a trip. And, for all of her whining and complaining, our daughter enjoyed herself too – that is, when we weren’t making her walk.