This photo has become a tradition for this blog on each Christmas Eve since 2010. This ornament is appropriate, as it was spied that year hanging in a vendor’s booth at the Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria.

I do believe I missed last year, but we were busy traveling the world. Goddess and I spent the first half of this year continuing those travels, spending time with friends and family all over the world.  We’ve settled down for a spell to see how that suits us.

Know that our wish for you is to have a peaceful end of the calendar year adhering to whatever practices bring you comfort and joy.

Hopefully you will find a bit of relaxation in there too.

Christmas Eve Globe Lights Ornament by Bill Anders Photography

Markets Galore

‘Sal, we gotta go and never stop going ’till we get there.’
‘Where we going, man?’
‘I don’t know but we gotta go.’

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Since finishing our thru-hike in late October, that has been us.  Other than two specific scheduled events, we have been floating, planning our travels no more than a few days in advance at most.

Since late November we have been mainly in Germany, but also in Belgium visiting friends and seeing the sights.  We are thankful to have such a vast network of friends who are willing to let us couch surf and take time out of their busy schedules to show us around.

We arrived in Germany just in time for our favorite part of the year, Weinachtsmarkt  (Christmas Market) season.  We made sure to attend a few.


Weinachtsmarkt and Castle, Heidelberg, Germany


Pyramid and Heiligeistkirche, Heidelberg, Germany


Pyramid and kirche, Hockenheim, Germany


Weinachtsmarkt and Dom, Speyer, Germany


Saint Nikolas delivery, Speyer Dom, Speyer, Germany


Weinachtsmarkt statement, Detmold, Germany


Weinachtsmarkt madness, Freiburg, Germany


Weinachtsmarkt skating on New Year’s Eve, Köln  (Cologne), Germany


Steampunk carousel, Bruxelles  (Brussels), Belgium


Dancing lights, Bruxelles  (Brussels), Belgium


Market Square, Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

One unfortunate impact on all of these markets was the weather.  It has been unseasonably warm, which really impacts the feel of the market.  It’s a different experience to drink hot glühwein when it’s 12°C (55°F) than it is when it’s -2°C (28°F).  For those markets that had skating rinks, the skaters were moving through puddles and pools more than they were gliding.

But please don’t take any of that as a complaint. We recognized that we were spending our December in Christmas Markets in Europe. It’s very difficult to top that.

After the Glüwein’s gone…

Oh, the humanity!”

OK, maybe not on that scale, but it’s a tragedy when you’re hoping for one last cup before headed home, only to discover that they’ve shut down the Weinachtsmarkt.

But then again, that’s the best time to get some photos, especially when they turn off the glaring lights on the Käthe Wohlfahrt pyramid, which just hours before was lit so bright that it overwhelmed the surroundings and made for horrible photos.

The nice thing about long exposures (20 seconds in this case) is that you really do not get a feel for how hard it was snowing at this time.

And that was before it really started coming down.  We woke up to 4+ inches on the ground the next morning.


Whenever we go to a Weinachtsmarkt, Goddess and I try to look for the unique.

Every market is filled with shops.  Many of them are the same, from market to market to market.  The same suppliers, often the same people.  Selling the same-ol’, same-ol’.

But not always.

In Vienna it was a wonderful handmade, hand-painted globe.  “Made by a young local artist”, said the booth worker, who was completely set aback when I replied “I only purchase work from old, foreign artists”.  Then we had a good laugh as I forked over the Euro.

In Speyer, it was the same-ol’.

In Bad Wimpfen it was a hand-crafted glass hummingbird.

And while waiting for the shop owner to wrap our purchase, this guy kept catching my eye.

Tonight we’ll explore the Heidelberg weinachtsmarkt.  Crazy packed during the weekend, we made a glancing blow last Thursday and decided that we’d visit again on a weeknight.

When there’s still room to move.

I’m sure I’ll make a picture or two there.

Weinachtsmarkt Overview

I’ve been doing a lot of writing about Weinachtsmarkts.

And showing a lot of details from those markets.  But if you haven’t been to one, those details don’t really give you a feel for the market.

So here’s  an overview of one, the Bad Wimpfen Weinachtsmarkt, the oldest Christmas Market in Germany (seit [since] 1487).  And that’s the Blauer Turm (Blue Tower) in the background, dating back from the 13th Century

All of those booths are selling something – ornaments, glüwein, or smoked horse meat (which is amazing, BTW).

The best part is seeing the continuation of history.  History that stretches back further than the discovery of North America by Europeans.


Time for some Weinachtsmarkts!

Our first was two weeks ago in Vienna.  This past week a few local ones have started and they will all be in full swing this weekend, just in time to start the Advent season.

At each market, there’s plenty of shopping to be done.  And since it’s cold, a hot mug of glühwein always hits the spot.

The best part?  No one lets the weather dictate whether or not they get outside.

Goddess and I spent a great Thanksgiving afternoon in the cold, rain mixing with snow, in a small Weinachtsmarkt just down the street from the snow-covered Kiaserdom zu Speyer, which will celebrate its 950th anniversary next year.

And that’s something to hoist the glühwein to.