It was late into December by the time the girls and I wrapped up our final school commitments. I was spending very late nights writing my 20+ page contribution to a 90 page document. All-the-while, waking up early to attend the girls’ school Christmas parties and trying to make December feel festive and eventful for our family.
When the paper was handed in and that final elementary school bell rang, Christmas was in full swing – and although I have expressed how magical Christmas in Copenhagen is, we had heard rumors of the intensity for which Christmas is celebrated in Germany. So there seemed like no better way to make the most of the holiday, than by hopping on a train and heading to Germany.
Lübeck, Germany is about 4 hours from Copenhagen. The journey is split up by the Baltic Sea, at which point, the train rolls directly onto a ferry for a 45 minute crossing. It is mandatory that train passengers disembark, which allows for some fresh air and the ability to stretch your legs. The ferry had a kids play area, where the girls ran around and got all of their wiggles out.
The charming, old part of Lübeck (and we’re talking miedevil-12th century-charm) is on an island enclosed by the rive Trave. Its historic, Gothic architecture contributes to its position as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When we arrived, everything was dusted in white and a light snow was falling.
We headed directly to the Christmas market and took cover in a packed food stall to refuel on some traditional German specialties.
Our hotel was within walking distance but our numbing toes and freezing fingers overcame us and we hopped into a cab. Although the Scandic Hotel (a chain, similar to Holiday Inn) was rather basic and unadorned, the location – just outside the walled old town – was good and the price was right for a one-night sleep.
Dropping our bags off the hotel was a good idea. Turning on the TV and finding a Christmas special for the girls was probably not our best move. As they watched the end of the movie “Blizzard” (imagine a German-talking reindeer) their eyes began to look heavy. It was approaching 5pm and we had a difficult time persuading them to head out into the cold again.
However, it was nothing a bit of sugary persuasion and some kid-friendly activities couldn’t fix. We found the Fairytale Village – a Christmas market especially designed for children.
The Christmas markets at night were spectacular and so cozy.
I think only in Germany can you order a plate of food that looks like it was cooked by Grandma. Perhaps the game of “Connect Four” that they brought to our table also contributed to the nostalgia factor.
The following day, we watched a blizzard (not the movie…but a snow storm) as we ate a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. By the time we headed out, the snow had turned to rain and it didn’t take long for us to be wet and cold. Being Sunday, most of the shops were closed, but we fortunately came upon a puppet theater museum which served hot cocoa (I know…random), but this became a perfect diversion from the soggy weather.
We took one more stroll through the Christmas market before heading to the train station for the trip back to Copenhagen.
We arrived home on the 23rd…known as ‘Little Christmas Eve’ in Denmark.
Cheers to a New Year on the horizon!