Not long after we parked our car at Heumarkt and walked over to Cologne’s main Christmas market next to the gothic cathedral, a mass of humanity from loads of buses, which took up so much parking space they had to close off streets, as well as foot traffic from the always-busy central train station next door descended on our location and it was, no kidding, this close to a madhouse. We were there around 10 this morning, just a few minutes after opening, when we found the area was already tight for space that in no time got even crazier. Everyone in town had the same bright idea as we did and as a result navigating the stalls became a turtle-paced challenge – it didn’t help that people in their own little worlds would stop in their tracks to chat, laugh, or chug gluhwein slowing the pace for everyone else. Santa would have had a fit.
As lovely as the market was, we just about had enough of the crowds and luckily found a less-crowded, more beautiful Alter Markt nearby. It was a relief for me but Teko could only take so much Yuletide merriment he had to take a break while I wandered the market solo.
Our visit to four different Cologne markets – there were even more actually – confirmed once again the superiority of German Christmas markets compared to the others, certainly far above what’s available here in the Netherlands, it’s no surprise at all why so many people come from all over to visit. While the Cathedral market lost a good part of its atmosphere from the huge crowds, the Alter Markt was straight out of a fairytale – with elaborate stalls manned by staff in costumes, it was all very well put together even newlyweds fresh from their ceremonies in nearby city hall came out to celebrate. The sun shone for several minutes while we were there, a miracle as the forecast today was cloudy with a bit of rain, and on this first day of December the Yuletide season is now in full swing.