Is it possible to ‘do’ four Berlin Christmas markets in two hours? Read my lips: Y-e-s. What are we waiting for? Let’s go!
It wasn’t quite enough for the Guinness Book of World Records, but I managed to visit four Berlin Christmas Markets within 120 minutes and spent only 2.20 Euro (2.44 Dollars or 1.86 Pound Sterling). Anyone can waste time. First get dressed and grab your keys, cameras and chewing gum.
Waiting for Godot
I covered getting out of the house and running to the bus stop in about 3 minutes. It took another 60 seconds for the bus to arrive. The driver wasted 20 seconds explaining to me that they do not sell monthly tickets in buses. So I dodged the fare for the first leg of the trip. A newspaper saleslady at the ‘Rathaus Neukölln’ ‘U-Bahn’ stop sold me that ticket, just before the train came.
The trip to ‘Jakob-Kaiser-Platz’ took ages. I could have done my laundry during those 35 minutes. Then the M45 bus did not show and it was rather cold. So I repeated this to myself about ten times: “It is great to wait for Godot and to freeze my butt off.” It worked. Thanks, Samuel Beckett.
Then three of those buses arrived at the same time. Damn. I had to reset the time to zero. So those 120 minutes started the second I entered the first Christmas market. It is one of the prettiest ones in Berlin, at Charlottenburg Castle. As many as 12 tour buses were parked in front of the entrance. One of them transported a bunch of Danes to a number of Christmas markets, the others had German registrations.
At this market in ‘Charlottenburg’, a posh Berlin district, the castle itself and the park it is located in contribute to the warm atmosphere. So does the way they set up the lighting here. And the hot wine punch I skipped. But it looked and smelled great, just like the suckling pig and everything else they offered.
Most visitors were standing at stalls, drinking and eating. Others looked at the whole thing from a sightseeing platform on top of a wooden hut many gallons of beer are being sold in. A young Brazilian couple I met liked this market a lot, and they would have appreciated it a lot more with snow. Tomorrow, they are going back to São Paulo via Milan. Have a good trip, guys!
Once they were on a bus, a German man in his 70s left the Christmas market with a transparent plastic bag full of honey glasses. The dark honey he likes so much is being sold in Charlottenburg only. So he traveled through half the city to get it, but purchased a two-year ration.
Illuminated Ice Rink
Getting from B to C proved to be difficult as well, since the bus to ‘Charlottenburg’ station was delayed too. From there, a regional train to the town of Eisenhüttenstadt located right at the Polish border took me to ‘Alexanderplatz’ station relatively quickly. From there, the walk to the second Christmas market at Neptune Fountain took about 10 minutes.
This one cannot be missed, also because of its giant wheel lit in a million colors. As it turns out, this Christmas market is at least as fascinating as the more quiet one in Charlottenburg. Here, dozens of Berliners and tourists were busy skating on an artificial ice rink while Classical music and Christmas tunes came out of giant loudspeakers.
Also the reddish light the ice rink was illuminated with gave this spot a great look. Hundreds of stalls at this market offered absolutely everything anyone could want under or on his or her Christmas tree, including wollen sweaters, fancy candles, a million kinds of sweets and Christmas decoration balls.
Butter and Chives Pretzel
Then, some 75 minutes after I entered the first Christmas market, I left the second one. In order make sure I would not eat everything they offer, including that melted Raclette cheese, I had purchased a pretzel with butter and chives at an ‘U-Bahn’ station for 1.20 Euro (1.33 Dollar or 1.01 Pound) on the way.
Minutes later I arrived at the third Christmas market located right on ‘Alexanderplatz’ square. This one is easy to reach on foot. It is just a regular market with stalls and a beer tent. It did not have any special features or the kind of atmosphere the first two and the fourth market had.
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That is where I went after a few minutes of talking to a Puerto Rican guy who was selling chocolate disguised as tools, footballs and body parts I did not want to see. In order to get to ‘Gendarmenmarkt’ square, I needed an ‘S-Bahn’ and and ‘U-Bahn’, which took me to ‘Französische Strasse’.
Elegant Bundestag People
Entering the ‘Gendarmenmarkt’ Christmas market costs 1 Euro (1.11 Dollar or 84 Pence). Security officers checked every bag. This place was about as full as ‘H&M’ on Black Friday or John F. Kennedy Airport just before Thanksgiving. But the market itself is nice indeed. The admission people pay is being invested into cultural performances, according to one of the ticket salesmen.
At ‘Gendarmenmarkt’, which is a very nice spot even without the Christmas market, the historic buildings add to the atmosphere. This is where elegantly dressed startup entrepreneurs and Bundestag people in 1000-Dollar suits came on Wednesday to have their share of hot wine punch. All those Teslas and S-Class Mercedes were parked around this market.
Those 120 minutes were over the minute I left this very nice spot. The 40 minutes it took to get back to Neukölln could not be counted. Next time I will do 120 Christmas markets in four minutes.
The video at the top of this page shows the four Christmas markets mentioned here.