Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rüdesheimer Weihnachtsmarkt der Nationen

This past Saturday, C. and I drove a bit more than an hour north to Rüdesheim am Rhein, a wine-growing city on the north bank of the Rhein. Our plan was to visit the Rüdesheimer Weihnachtsmarkt der Nationen, or the Christmas Market of the Nations.

Rüdesheimer Weihnachtsmarkt der Nationen Welcome Sign

Getting There

I had been talking to my dad about the plans for the weekend and he was excited about the trip; he had visited the city in the 70s. He mentioned that he had to take a ferry across the Rhein to get there. I doubted that a ferry would still be necessary; after all, it had been forty-ish years since he had been there and wouldn't a bridge have been built?

Well, I was wrong; indeed, a ferry is still necessary. Mr. GPS directed me to Bingen. We parked in a free lot and walked onto the ferry. During the winter, it doesn't run as often, but we didn't have to wait very long. Just be sure to check for the last boarding time! The trip is about 4 euros round trip, per person.

After the short ride across the river, we followed the crowd to the town of Rüdesheim, a short walk. I was glad that I had left my car across the river in the big lot because parking on the Rüdesheim side didn't seem to be super abundant and people were walking everywhere.

The Market

The international Christmas market lines Rheinstrasse, which faces the river, and continues north along the small side streets until it reaches Oberstasse. As an international market, it has more than 120 booths with specialties from 12 countries, according to the tourist information website.

Most of the offerings were German, which makes sense. There was plenty of wurst, Glühwein, potato pancakes (reibekuchen), lebkuchen, and other typical German things to eat and drink. The international portion of the market was much smaller; it included things such as African masks (perhaps slightly dubious in authenticity), Australian hats, a jaunty British bus with cocktails and snacks, and some others.

There was one booth quite unlike the others: the Hanf-Beckerey, or Hemp Bakery! It was an old-fashioned looking booth filled with cheery workers cooking up sandwiches with hemp seeds. On offer were chicken or vegetarian sandwiches, served on grilled bread. The workers were quite silly; if one ordered a vegetarian sandwich, he had to sing a song! The booth cracked me up because it all looked so traditional, including the cooks wear chef hats. However, the hemp stenciled on their hats and their flag broke that illusion.

Though some of the "international" offerings seemed a bit forced, we were enchanted by the Scandinavian (sub) market located in a courtyard in Drosselgasse, a small passage that's worth visiting on its own. We passed beautiful fachwerk buildings as well as the beautiful stained glass windows on the Rüdesheimer Schloss. Once in the market, we touched the soft elk skins and I very purposefully avoided touching the multitude of wool offerings as I'm allergic. Grilled elk and salmon were available from food vendors.
Entrance to the Drosselgasse; it's even prettier at night!

There is certainly enough within the market itself to make for a pleasant visit in its own right. In addition, the town has some other offerings of interest that make a visit definitely worth it. More information will follow, including details about our trip to the mechanical musical instrument museum and the ride on the cable car.

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