Once the colorful leaves have fallen off the trees, Fall and winter can be really dreary. I often look out the window of my apartment and sigh. It looks cold outside, the sky is so gray that it’s just one big cloud, people move sluggishly up and down the streets – everyone’s summer sparkle has gone into hibernation. A true winter will not hit us for another few months – just in time for Valentine’s day and Mardis Gras. By then, Christmas will be long gone and we will all be eagerly awaiting Spring. It’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit under these conditions.
A few weeks ago, a colleague mentioned “the most amazing” Christmas market he’s ever seen. He drives quite a ways with his family there once a year – he’s a pretty skeptical guy – so this really means it must be awesome. Now, I’m not really into the whole Christmas-kitsch that you can find at your typical Christmas markets, so usually I have to be dragged to go to one. But, with such a great recommendation and desperately needing something to do to lighten up the it’s-not-even-winter-yet blues, we took a trip out to Franconia’s magical Wolfgangshof.
I stepped out of the car and was hit by a whiff of sweet sugar and roasting wood. We made our way in through a decent crowd of people waiting to pay the €5 entrance fee, and we were welcomed by a true romantic rustic Christmas wonderland. This place is just awesome. I am already ready to pack my bags and move it – this is better than Christmas in the city!
There are clusters of tiny wooden sheds laden with beautiful handmade items nestled in between large red brick farm houses dating back 150 years. Walking past the first set of artisans, we come upon a little wooden bakery house selling raw bread dough wrapped on tree branches. A few steps away is a large open fire pit where you can roast your dough and eat it fresh off the stick…the smell of fire roasted bread is intoxicating.
A few steps further, next to a rustic, yet very noble house, we are greeted by a band of men playing wonderful Bavarian Christmas music on large Alpine wooden horns. I close my eyes, and it feels like I am listening to a full ensemble orchestra – it’s amazing the sounds they can make.
The smell of cinnamon and sugar hits my nose while enjoying the Alpine band, and I make my way (like a zombie) to a little house making Baumstrietzel…thin strips of dough wrapped on a wooden rolling pin, baked, and then coating in your favorite topping. After securing my sweet treat (yes – vegan!), we made our way in between two large brick houses, and found even more tiny little wooden houses rustically decorated in evergreens. Inside each house is an oven and a rustic seating arrangement where guests can huddle in away from the cold.
It is just so beautiful here that I am starting to cheer up and really get into the Christmas spirit! Everywhere you walk, there is a large open fire and some tree stumps to sit on and enjoy the heat. Now, the only thing missing is snow…