The Perfect Home Base – Bad Windsheim, Germany

The type of houses that can be found in Bad Windsheim

When we were looking at visiting this part of Germany, we originally thought of staying in Rothenburg because it was the inspiration for coming out here in the first place. The last time we stayed there twelve years ago, the prices were reasonable, and we expected them to be the same this time around, but Christmas happens to be the big time of the year for Rothenburg and the prices jumped up quite considerably. So we started to look for other towns in the area that would be more affordable and came across the sleepy little town of Bad Windsheim. It is on the rail line, and only a forty minute train ride to Rothenburg, and an hour train ride to Nuremberg, so as long as the place was comfortable, it seemed like the perfect place to stay.

An impressive statue outside of a church on the main street through town

What we found was a hidden gem that many people outside of Germany do not know about. It has the same quaint houses that Rothenburg has, and the same cobblestone streets. It even has a Christmas market, just not as big as the other places, but they still sell mulled wine, and have people come to sing and play songs for the people who attend. It even has its own sites with some pretty impressive statues, fountains, and a living museum.

A depiction of the Rapunzel story

They even have a sense of humor that goes along with the traditions and heritage that comes from this part of the world. There were many references to Grimm’s Fairy Tales popping up all over the place, but my favorite had to be the Rapunzel hanging out the window of one of the stores on the main street. They even used Christmas lights to make her hair be seen for miles around at night.

The tree lines walking paths through the park on the northern end of town

On the northern part of town there was a huge walking park with a beautiful green landscape. It was the perfect place to take a walk with huge old trees that were kind of sad to look at in the winter, but I could imagine that it would be a spectacular display of color during the fall. It was even close to some natural baths that were encased in dome, but I never made it all the way over to that place.

A random statue made of wood found in one of the parks in the older part of town

There were a lot of hidden corners in this idyllic small town, and even though it did not boast a medieval well like Rothenburg or the huge Christmas market that Numerberg has, it was still a pleasant place to stay with enough to see to keep us entertained during our time there. Because it was a sleepy little town, most of the sights are restaurants had closed down on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but I think that would be found no matter where you went in Europe on these days. The place we stayed had a nice small kitchen, so were still able to have a nice Christmas dinner even though we were still on the road.

I found it to be the perfect home base for this area. It was close to everything that I wanted to see, and it was not overrun with tourists. Granted, I was there in the winter which was probably a downtime for them, and they could easily see more people during the summer months. Still, it was great for the holiday season, and I am glad that we landed here at the start of our bigger vacation through this part of the world.

One More Christmas Market – Nuremberg, Germany

As the holiday approaches, the markets in Germany get more packed as people go out to get that cheer that can only be found with mulled wine and sausage sandwiches. The sellers try to make their last sales, and the bigger acts are brought out to entertain the crowds. Last night was the last night for Germany’s biggest Christmas market, and I saved this one for last because all others would look tiny in comparison.

The city of Nuremberg seems to be designed to this specific event. Right across the street from the train station is a long walking mall that leads directly to the heart of the city, their city square. It is here where the city sets up rows of booths during the month of December, and sellers come from all over to sell ornaments, food, and of course, the biggest seller, mulled wine.

It is hard not to be distracted by all of the stalls and the wonderful smells that are coming from them, but looking beyond that, there is some of the best architecture ever collected in a European city. The cathedrals are sometimes overshadowed by the art nouveau facades that overlook the modern shops and restaurants. The place would be great if Christmas had not exploded all over the place.

Nuremberg also wants to hold on to the feeling of the original markets by making sure that the stuff that is offered is of traditional design. This includes the food and decorations even though I did see a couple of incense burners that were heavy metal in design. This only applies to the stalls that are in the main square too. There is a smaller part of the market that has stalls from all over the world that sells their favorite foods along with the traditional mulled wine, but they make sure to regulate this to another side of the cathedrals. My favorite was the stall from Atlanta that sold the traditional Christmas Pop Tarts. There were other stalls that lined the walking mall to the market, and they were not part of the same regulations and could sell whatever they wished. Either that or gimbap, the traditional Korean snack, has always been a part of the German holiday season.

It has been fun to put all of the regular tourist stuff behind to enjoy the sights, smells and feeling of the holiday season in Germany, and the Christmas markets have been a great part of this. The Nuremberg one was probably my favorite because it was the best organized and had some of the best food offered at any of them. And this was followed by the one in Rothenberg because of the feeling of the medieval city, but I am sure that there is no way for me to know what all of the markets in this country would be like. It seems like every city, and small little town puts on their own market, and it would take a month to be able to understand and judged them all, and I don’t know if I could drink that much mulled wine.

It has been a fun way to build up to the final big day on Thursday, and I am glad that I have been able to experience Christmas in this way. I wish all of you the same type of joy that I have been able to experience during your holidays, and that it holds surprises and new experience just as mine has.

Happy Holidays!