|The spectacular living Poinsettia Tree in the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden|
In fact I have a slight Scrooge-like attitude to all the spending and nonsense that's associated with the so-called festive period. This is probably due to spending too long in retail, purchasing and then selling all the shiny Christmas tat that people feel obliged to cover every surface of their house in at that time of year.
But if I'm being honest then I must admit that there are parts I enjoy too, such as seeing how much kids enjoy Christmas, the chance to unashamedly cook goose, wear loud jumpers and play with lasers, LEDs, fibre optics and other ways of lighting up the house and causing my hair to stand on end.
The other big Christmassy thing I do is visiting European Christmas markets, and it's something I really look forward to every year. It's probably because of my deep seated wanderlust, combined with all of the new sights and sounds of course but it's also because a good market waylays your other senses too. The taste of new food, the smell of various roasting meats, or spiced aromas of Christmas tipples ... and the feeling of being wrapped up snuggly in folds of cotton and wool, mingling with my own layer of bacon-laden fat.
But I tend to shy away from the more traditional Christmas market destinations in Germany such as Cologne, Berlin, Stuttgart and Munich and instead try to seek out places off the beaten track, as I hope that these will be slightly less commercial(!), cheaper and most importantly more interesting than the larger ones. I prefer markets that are more local than touristy, which I know is tinged with irony given I am a tourist..
This means that I've seen Düsseldorf, Augsburg, Hamburg - which was a big one admittedly - amongst others, and now Wiesbaden - pronounced 'veece-bah-den'. I visited Vienna too but it was too large for a short trip and although I enjoyed it immensely, I regretted too much the things I had missed ... but vowed to get back there again.
Wiesbaden wouldn't be first on many people's list of Christmas market destinations but that was one of the appealing things of course. It also helped that it is easily and quickly accessible from Frankfurt airport, as a key part of these trips is finding somewhere with early flights in and late flights out to make the most of my precious few days. It's not full of the traditional wood framed house one expects from certain parts of Germany and instead is a pleasant and striking mish-mash of neo-gothic, baroque and other classically flouncy styles.
Okay, I won't bore you with too much detail but here are a few photo highlights from the trip with a few notes...
|Marktkirche - An imposing and dramatic brownstone edifice in the centre of the city.|
|A beautiful art nouveau mural on Bahnhofstraße close to our hotel. It's great to see this type of accessible art sneak into Irish cities too like Limerick and Waterford.|
|A fantastic food market with a great range of unusual and colourful produce. I'd love it on my doorstep!|
|Nice brunch in the trendy Du & Ich - Focaccia with a bottle of Hamburg's finest Astra Urtyp with its mild but bitterly acrid taste.|
|The remains of some Roman - and not-so-Roman - ruins tucked up a side street, interesting viewing tower too.|
|One of the many gorgeous buildings dotted around the city.|
|Neues Rathaus and Marktkirche looking elegant on a winter day, viewed from Warmer Damm.|
|Church doors with the now familiar brownstone of this area of germany.|
|The fantastic thermal spring on Kochbrunnen Platz. This also explains why we spotted steam escaping from manhole covers around the city, and the rotten egg smell that lingers in this spot!|
|Bäckerbrunnen - A nice old fashioned bar where I had a very drinkable Diebels Altbier with its very mild ginger and digestive biscuit flavour.|
|Extremely well merchandised christmas shops with an obvious slant towards European tastes.|
|Sternschnuppenmarkt - The Twinkling Star Christmas Market was packed every evening and full of the usual foods, novelties and decorations. It sprawls in a good way along a number of streets but is easy to get around and well laid out.|
|My final morning breakfast of bacon and eggs - naturally - in La Maison du Pain.|
|The fantastic walk way under Gustav-Stresemann-Ring near Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof - This reminded me so much of the Chagall stained glass windows in Mainz that I posted about here.|
So that's a quick photo reel of some of my highlights of Wiesbaden. It's certainly an excellent city to visit for its Christmas market and makes a change from the timbered old-style german towns we normally frequent. It's easy to get to and you'll have plenty to do, we missed out on a couple of places such as Baron von Richthofen's grave and the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Elizabeth to mention just two! Don't forget Mainz and Frankfurt are close too...
You'll find more information on the city here.