Right Down Santa Claus Lane

gingerbread hearts (Eat Me. Drink Me)

In Berlin, there’s a Christmas market on every corner.  Really.  Every corner. There’s Gendarmenmarkt and Opernpalais – classy affairs – while the market at Alexanderplatz is a sprawling menagerie of fun houses, fair rides, and staggering, drunken teenagers.  But even besides these large Christmas markets (and those aren’t nearly all of them), there are tiny markets tucked into strange corners, scant strips of wooden houses lined up along the street, as if wherever you go, you absolutely, positively, need to be within arm’s length of Glühwein, gingerbread hearts, and 3-foot long sausages.

Of course.

But there is a certain amount of charm to these closely clustered cottages, though the markets are all relatively alike. Wandering through some of the larger, maze-like getups, you almost forget, for a moment, that you’re actually in the middle of a city. As if you’ve been stuck into a blown up fairy tale land, powdered sugar snow and gingerbread houses.

Bundled-up bands of people huddle around warm places – in Potsdamer Platz, there are tall fire pits, at Alexanderplatz, cylindrical heat lamps – and depending on where you are, these groups of people are students joking about their classmates, or whispering, huddled couples, or Prolls in pink velvet sweatpants and slick and shiny, black down-filled jackets. Conspicuously absent are young children, at least during the evenings, which is when I manage to make it to the Christmas markets. These gaudy shacks, stacks of candy, and carousel rides are for grownups? Na, cool, as the Germans say.

bratwurst at the Christmas market (Eat Me. Drink Me)

Last week, we walked around the Alexanderplatz market, and when it started to rain, we posted ourselves under the corner of a cottage and sipped Glühwein out of mugs shaped like little blue boots. We people-watched and gossiped, huddling closer together as the rain shifted from a fine mist to an insistent, thick-dropped drizzle. On the way out, we passed the flying swings, circling high in the air at a dizzying clip, almost twice as high as any flying swings I’d seen before. We’d hurried past the swings quickly on the way in, saying, never, no, absolutely never could we be induced to sit in one of those chairs. “Let’s do it,” I said, and impulsively, Elisabeth agreed. As the chairs began to swing and lift up into the air, we were amazed at how easily we’d convinced ourselves to ride. High over the fair, the wind was icy and pellets of rain stung our faces as we whipped around. But the pinpricks of light below were beautiful and in the cold there was a calm silence. Back on the ground again, surrounded by the chatter of the emptying fair, last calls for toasted nuts and bratwursts, we looked up at the swings starting to rise again, amazed at what a little Glühwein made us do.

swinging chairs; photo courtesy Elisabeth

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4 Responses

  1. elisabeth says:

    that was a crazy ride.
    (love this post.)

  2. fearsomebits says:

    Hello Lyz,
    hope you remember me. I’m Fabio, the son of your mom’s German friend from her student- times. We met in Berlin in a cafe some weeks ago, when you were just moving there. I know I had promised you to post some comments on here earlier and to get in touch with you, and read the blog itself, I have. Signed in to wordpress in order to post comments on here, I have not. Not until now. And I must say, I absolutely love your blog! I happened to have stumbled upon several blogs or blog- like webpages already, and none of them was remotely close to yours in quality. This blog is just so well- written and often very funny to read, while at the same time informative, honest, and also providing interesting insight into your personal life. But not the spam- kind of insight that you get on facebook, like: today I was here! Today I bought this! I think this sucks:…! etc. Instead you take one or several experiences that you have had in the last days and you successfully manage to relate to some kind of a general statement or conclusion that you’re trying to make, sometimes even philosophically.
    Great work!

  3. fearsomebits says:

    Despite the compliments, I also wanted to raise your awareness of this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhwuXNv8fJM&list=UUy1Ms_5qBTawC-k7PVjHXKQ&feature=plcp

    (I know this is a channel normallly dedicated to gaming commentary, but the subject is affecting you, and all other people in the world- wide- web! Nonetheless!)

    have a great weekend, hope to hear from you soon! =D

    • lyzpfister says:

      Hi Fabio! Glad you enjoy the blog. And thanks for the link – very interesting – I’d heard rumors about that, but didn’t know it was being pushed at the moment.

      Haven’t forgotten about the slam poetry – would definitely love to see some (hear some?) of your work!

      Take care!
      lyz

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