Yesterday I had an appointment at the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum (or German-American Center) here in Stuttgart. (More on that meeting later — exciting things to come, I think!) Anyway, the DAZ is located at the Charlottenplatz and I had some time to kill before my meeting so I stopped at the Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt) for the obligatory rote wurst (or red sausage, a favorite in Swabia) and then, completely by accident, stumbled upon the Finnish Christmas Market.
We walked through the Finnish market while in Hannover, but I had no idea that something similar was here in Stuttgart. It’s a really special area of the market, located just across the way from the ice skating rink. There’s a really nice gift shop with Finnish specialty foods and handmade winter clothes — very nice things, but also very expensive. There are also several outdoor fire pits where fresh salmon (flammlachs) is being grilled to perfection to be served alone or on a sandwich and their famous mulled wine, Glögi, is served. If you find yourself in Stuttgart during the holiday season, I highly recommend adding the Finnish section of the Christmas market to your bucket list.
After enjoying flammlachs and Glögi, head over to the Grand Cafe Planie on the Karlsplatz for coffee and dessert. Or flammkuchen. They have really good flammkuchen too. 🙂 They have a huge dessert counter in front with all kinds of house-made cakes, pies, and baked goods. It’s such a warm, cozy spot perfect for this time of year — and it’s really nicely decorated for the holidays. I opted for the blueberry cheesecake, which did not disappoint!
Last week Robert had a conference in Hannover, Germany and I tagged along for the chance to spend a few days in another German city. Hannover is in the north so the weather wasn’t so great — very windy and rainy this time of year. We stayed right near the conference center at the Congress Hotel am Stadtpark, which is also very close to the Erlebnis Zoo and the Stadtpark (city park). Here’s a photo of the view from our room:
We were three train stops (10 minutes) from downtown and the old part of the city, which is home to the annual Hannover Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market. I thought the Christmas market here in Stuttgart was big, but it’s nothing compared to Hannover! In fact, they have three different holiday markets throughout the city — one in the old historic district, one in the pedestrianized area downtown, and one near the main train station. We walked through the first two of three. There are over 150 stalls selling just about everything under the sun. And the lights and decorations are just spectacular!
The market in the historic old section of the city is like nothing I’ve seen before. It felt like we were in the Game of Thrones, no joke. It was very dark and medieval. There were no bright holiday lights or music. Instead there were fire throwers, ax throwers, fortune tellers, and all kinds of vendors selling mysterious potions and artifacts. Although a little spooky, this section of the market is not to be missed as it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Also, right next to the medieval market is the Finnish Christmas market where you can enjoy flammlachs or slow-grilled salmon cooked over an open fire.
Finally, I can’t talk about our short trip without mentioning an unforgettable dinner. Thanks to Trip Advisor we found an amazing little family-run restaurant within walking distance of our hotel called Hindenburg Klassik. Highly recommend! We started with an amuse-bouche, compliments of the chef, a crab and herb roll filled with cucumber, tomato, and prosciutto. Next came a poached egg topped with fresh black truffle, three types of duck liver with poached pear, and for the main entree we shared a European sea bass (branzino) that was deboned and prepared tableside. I’m still thinking about that egg… 🙂