L.L. Diamond

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One of the most interesting parts of traveling Europe is seeing the actual spellings of some towns. I’ve always heard Cologne and never seen the true spelling until we traveled there for the Christmas market. It’s actually Köln and pronounced kœln

My daughter, who takes German, thinks I’m hopeless when I try to pronounce it so I found a video to help 🙂

The trip between Copenhagen (København) and Cologne was about 9 hours but we didn’t let it stop us from exploring. We had a difficult time finding the parking garage next to where we were staying but it was in a tricky, though convenient, spot since it was right beside part of the Christmas market.


The Cologne Christmas market is spread around the town center and has some of the biggest sections around the amazing Cathedral and was the first that didn’t require admission (Yay!). We also lucked out in that our flat was right across the street from the parking garage as well as the market.

We started with the section closest to us, and let me tell you, it was crowded! We squeezed through revellers and had to push our way through the people standing at the gluhwein stalls for drinks.


Once you get to Germany, they have a great system for the gluhwein cups. Instead of disposable paper, plastic, or styrofoam, they have commemorative cups. You pay 2 euro for a mug. When you finish your drink, you can either trade it in for another full cup, you can keep it, or you can turn it in to get your 2 euros back. The mugs are also collectible and each featured a different carnival character and a description of them.

While we walked around, we looked at all of the crafts and wares spread out around that section before we caved and went to dinner at Hard Rock Cafe up the road. With 3 of us requiring gluten-free, we didn’t see anything at that moment we could eat. Fairs are difficult for us anyway so we went with the safe bet but that always means we spend a fortune on t-shirts, too.


My purchase from Cologne – A lotus flower candle holder

After dinner, we returned to the Christmas market and explored a bit further toward the cathedral until the market closed down. That was when we found skewered meat that was awesome. I’ll be honest that we didn’t take the time to learn what it was really called because it was so nice to be able to eat something at a street vendor. Our favorite was schwein or pork, though little did we know we were supposed to take bread with it.

The next morning, we explored the cathedral, which began construction in 1248 but wasn’t completed until 1880.  The gothic cathedral is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the world’s tallest building until 1884.

After touring the amazing cathedral, we found the Christmas market stalls opening for the day and had more “meat on a stick” and explored until we needed to hit the road for our next town and Christmas market.


Up next . . . Heidelberg!


4 thoughts on “The Expat’s Guide to Christmas Markets – Cologne

  1. Glynis says:

    Love this post Leslie. I must tell you I didn’t need the pronunciation video as I learned German when I was at Grammar School. They always used to teach French but just before I started our town New Mills in Derbyshire had twinned with Alsfeld in Germany so they decided to alternate the languages, hence I did German! I just wish I could remember that and the Spanish I also learnt although I don’t particularly regret forgetting most of the Latin we had to learn 🙂
    I hope you kept at least one of your mugs – such a great idea, and I absolutely love the candle holder.
    Thank you for the lovely photos, I’m totally enjoying my virtual European tour.


    1. I’m terrible at pronouncing it (at least according to my daughter I am 🙂 ) You’re lucky to have had the opportunity to study so much language. I’m jealous! Thanks, Glynis!


  2. Shelley Hoisington says:

    Love the pictures. I hope you kept on of the mugs. What drinks are you offered? Hot/cold?


    1. We did keep several mugs from Cologne and one from Heidelberg (they were all the same but different colours). Thanks!


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