Monday, November 25, 2019

Ring those Christmas Bells for Europe's Markets ~

 Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling.
                    -- Edna Ferber

Au contraire, Edna! In Europe Christmas IS a season. 

A season of festive markets and merriment as we learned on our recent trip north to Budapest and Vienna.

Far too many from which to choose! Vienna Christmas Market stall

I've always been a fan of Christmas although I admit the years have worn down my enthusiasm for decorating the house, buying and gaily wrapping gifts.  Now that we live in a rural part of Greece -- with a couple of hardware stores and grocery stores as our year-round retail outlets -- we have far less commercial hoopla. The holiday continues to be largely celebrated as it should be, as a family event. 

Dried oranges and cinnamon stick decorations tempted in Budapest

So the celebration for this family of two aging expats and two cats, might best be described as minimalist: enough that the holiday doesn't pass by completely but certainly not a Hallmark Christmas movie in the making. 

Nighttime magic in Budapest

BUT that doesn't mean I didn't jump for joy when I realized that some Christmas Markets would be open in the two cities we were visiting. . .a per-chance occurrence, not pre-planned.

This one a few blocks from the Danube was our first Christmas Market 

Once that fact was determined I began researching European Christmas markets. The articles are endless as are the recommendations, btw:  'most charming' the ones 'not to miss', 'the 10 best. . .', the 10 least. . .' 

The Scout against a Market backdrop - Budaest
And you know what? Now that I've experienced them, I've decided you don't need recommendations or lists from any travel guru - you simply need to experience a Christmas market, any market, to bring out the Christmas spirit. . . especially if your enthusiasm for Christmas is waning and a bit of a re-charge is in order. 

A bit of magic in Budapest at the market

For a week we visited big markets and small markets; some large and touted and others very tiny, appearing on street corners without fanfare. So many markets that I simply mainlined holiday joy!  (Helped a bit by a little mulled wine!)

My first European Christmas Market - but not my last!
The food booths were all absolutely tantalizing, with the exception of Rooster Testicle Stew, to our way of thinking.  

No thanks! We passed on this one in Budapest
One evening we dined on market fare. The truth be told, our choices were heavily salted and only warm (it was cold outside) and the wine just okay. But the setting and the experience made up for all that and it will be a long remembered meal.  

Hearty fare for shoppers in Budapest
So many choices of food that had it not been as rainy as it was often times during our visit (tables and benches weren't covered) we would have tried a second night's fare as well just for the ambiance of dining at the Market.

This fellow was BBQing some tasty looking salmon

Another evening I warmed myself drinking mulled wine, spicy and warm. A drink I normally wouldn't have consumed but there, nothing else seemed better.

Christmas was in the Air in Budapest

The variety of items for sale surprised me.  I had thought everything would be Christmas themed, but many practical items tempted as well:

Too many choices from which to choose

Leather bags in a rainbow of colors

Colorful ceramic ware from cooking pots to flower pots

We learned that opening dates are as varied as the Christmas markets themselves. We lucked out to have as many open as we had during our third week of November trip. Some stay open through the first week of January. 

Budapest after dark

A trip to Budapest is far more than its Markets though and next week we'll take you on a sightseeing trip which made for a time travel trip of sorts through its history.  Hope to have you back with us then and until then, safe travels to you and yours. Thanks for your time today!

Linking soon with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday


  1. I've been lucky enough to visit many Christmas markets over the years and Budapest and Vienna have some of my favorites. Visiting the markets is a very special way to kick off the holidays and get in the Christmas spirit.

    1. Your posts were among those writings that had me wanting to visit the markets. Thanks for helping to inspire me!!

  2. Visiting a Christmas market or two has long been on my bucket list. Meanwhile, I did enjoy visiting the Budapest market through your post and images. And now I know what to avoid when it is my turn to attend--the rooster testicles stew.

    1. Now I had one reader insist that it is quite tasty - especially if you don't know what you are eating. I will take her word for it and live quite happily ever after! Thanks for stopping by Carole.

  3. Love those European Christmas markets. You demonstrated perfectly why travelers should try to visit at least one when possible. Super!

    1. Some of my favorites were those we just happened upon - the small ones on street corners. Loved it!! And so glad you do too!

  4. The Christmas market in Budapest is beautiful. I'm looking forward to visiting one in London soon.

    1. Hope you write about your visit - I would love to see and read about the London markets! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. wow, your corner of the world is getting right into Christmas. I feel like we are a little subdued here this year. It has been an unseasonably hot start to summer. Who can think of roast dinner and pudding? Your pics take me back to when I was a kid and we went into the city to see the displays in the windows of the big stores and to see the light. I hope you have a gentle lead up to Christmas, and I wish you and yours all the best. Happy travels. xx

  6. Thanks so much Jill. It has been a bit of a shock to return to Greece where the sun is shining and temperatures are hovering at 70F -- summerlike from our old lives in the Pacific Northwest. The Christmas Markets up north did the trick for Christmas spirit though! Happy holidays to you and yours ~ xxx

  7. Aren't Christmas markets fun? In Spain, people rarely decorate their homes, and instead the cities do the big tree and decorations so people celebrate outside together and small pop up markets happen here and there. I much prefer that. I haven't experienced a Budapest one, but have enjoyed London, Marseille and a few others.


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