Saturday, December 28, 2013
December's Adventure: Day 1, Part 2; Haus der Nachhaltigkeit Christmas Market
After spending time together in Frankfurt, I drove my cousins back to Kaiserslautern. We took a much-needed short nap at my house before our evening trip to the Haus der Nachhaltigkeit's Christmas market in the woods.
The Haus der Nachhaltigkeit, or House of Sustainability (which I'll refer to for the rest of this as the "Haus"), is a nature center, of sorts, located in Trippstadt, which is twenty minutes south of Kaiserslautern. For the last ten years the Haus has celebrated its "Romantische Waldweihnacht," or "romantic forest Christmas" on its grounds. It is truly a special Christmas market, quite different from most other German markets.
Offerings at this market are most often organic, handmade, and high quality. There are many local specialties, including some that are hyper local and put the focus on the forest: it's possible to eat venison and wild boar products made from animals from the very woods!
I used this market as an opportunity to introduce my cousins to the staple of German Christmas markets: glühwein, which is a hot, spiced wine (which also made many future appearances in our trip). Internally, I was a bit blasé about drinking more glühwein. I had some when I first moved to Germany, and it was overly sweet and tasted like it had cheap fillers in it. I didn't finish that first glass of it.
The glühwein at the Haus's Christmas market restored my faith in mulled wine. It was amazing! I think that the major difference is that this glühwein was a higher quality and was homemade by the winery selling it. Another bonus is that the supplying winery uses ökologisch growing techniques, which means that they are environmentally sound ways of growing the grapes (something along the lines of bio, or organic). It seemed like just wine with spices and no added "junk." My cousins loved it, too.
Warmed up by the glühwein and trying to stay focused (which the drink didn't help), I led us around the grounds where we checked out handcrafted Christmas decorations, handmade soaps, and other quality items. My cousin was hungry so I suggested that he try flammkuchen, which is a common and beloved dish in this region.
It was then that I witnessed some behavior that is somewhat out of character for what I have previously observed in the locals: one woman in line made small talk with us (usually people don't really talk to strangers in line) and another guy let my cousin know he wasn't in line properly but kindly showed him how to find his place. The fact that the line was being respected blew me away. Folks here don't usually queue here in an orderly fashion, if at all!
Really, it was like the whole event was somehow magically blessed with happy, smiling, and friendly people. After we had sat down to eat the flammkuchen, I told my cousins that I thought we might have been transported to another dimension instead of just into the forest. I'm not saying that the locals are mean or anything; it's just that people normally mind their own business and don't make small talk with strangers.
As we finished the flammkuchen, we realized that the market was closing up for the night. We reluctantly made our way back to the bus, which offered us a packed ride home with many enthusiastic older people who were a little silly, probably from drinking too much glühwein.
The Haus's Christmas market is, without a doubt, my favorite Christmas market that I have attended. I can't wait to go again next year. I will definitely go much earlier to give enough time to fully enjoy the market and to see some of the free shows that it hosts (such as fire spinners, brass bands, etc.).