Sunday, 10 February 2008

Christmas Time in Lübeck

Nitoli and Ole in front of Lübeck's iconic gate "Holstentor".

November ended, and December came and almost ended without much happening. Two days before Christmas I could take my excited wife with me to her first Christmas in Europe and first one outside India. We landed in Hamburg two days before Christmas, which is on the 24th in Denmark. The following days we went with my little brother (who is not so little any more) on a day trip to the town of Lübeck, which I visited and liked last summer with my father.

A big part of the reason for going at this very cold and dark time of year (it was about minus 5 degrees Celsius) was for experiencing Lübeck's typically German Christmas market. We had a really good time eating the different goodies on sale and buying different items to take home with us. The Germans really know how to make an atmospheric - if sometimes slightly cheesy - Christmas market.

Stalls at the Christmas market in Lübeck's charming old City Square.

Germans love their sausages. This is just one of many sausage stands at the Christmas market.

Ole and Nitoli enjoying a cup of "Glühwein", a mulled wine drink with various spices in it. It's similar to Scandinavian gløgg, only without the raisins and almonds that we use.

Ole and Nitoli browsing through cool metal plaques with all sorts of retro motifs. We bought a lot of stuff for our wall here.

Christmas decorations for sale.

After checking out the Christmas market, I took Ole and Nitoli with me for a walk around town to see everything else the city has to offer. First we went to the famous marzipan shop, Niederegger, and after that we went around the old town and out to the Trave river which acted as a moat in old times.

Nitoli inside Niederegger marzipan shop. There's always a new - often seasonal - display on and of course this time it was all about Christmas.

There's a very cool attention to detail in Niederegger's displays. I really liked this little decorative toy train in the right Christmas colours.

Germany's oldest brick-built Gothic church, Marienkirche, has a really cool old Astronomical Clock.

Some detail from the beautiful old clock.

During World War II the city was bombed and the bells of Marienkirche fell to the ground. They were never removed and lie silenced in that exact spot. It is now a place to reflect on war, peace and the condition of the human race.

Outside Marienkirche there is a long stone slab with a devil on it. Legend has it that when the church was being built the devil thought it was a wine bar under construction. The devil had gained many followers in such places, so he happily helped with the building efforts. When he found out the truth he angrily threw the stone slab, which is still lying there today. He was however appeased, when the citizens promised to set up a tavern in the city hall cellar opposite the church.

Salzspeicher - very old salt storage houses by the river.

In the land of King Frost.

Nitoli and Ole sitting in a bench in the frosty surroundings by the Trave river.

Mansion seen in the mist from across the river.

After the long, cold walk all around town we had worked up quite an appetite and decided to splurge a bit on a good and typically German lunch in an atmospheric setting. So went to the Rathauskeller (City hall cellar). It was really nice, and at 15 per person it wasn't outrageously expensive. After lunch we spent a few more hours in the Christmas market before catching a train home. All in all a really nice day, even if it was a bit cold for my subtropical wife and under dressed little brother :)

Enjoying our meal at the Rathauskeller. I made Nitoli taste a Wienerschnitzel, which is something you cannot get in India.

In the restaurant everyone has their own private booth, which is named after some famous cultural personality with some attachment to Lübeck. Ours was named in honour of female author Ida Boy-Ed and the wall decorate with pictures and manuscripts related to her life.

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