The German Market: An English Tale

Well, here I am yet again after another day of struggling through life knocking on death’s proverbial doorstep.

Or not. In fact, I’ve been having quite a nice time. So nice that I thought I ought to regale my English tales of German markets right now.

First thing’s first: background information. It’ll help deal with whatever confusion you may (or may not) have.

Around this time of year in Birmingham (and around the world if I’m right), a German market is set up from early November through to a couple of days before Christmas. It’s a massive thing, and covers a fair bit of ground from New Street to…well…I didn’t actually get to the end of it. Anyway, the point still stands that the thing’s huge, and contains nearly everything you could want originating from Germany or having some festive roots. Gloves, beer, coffee beans, hats, jewellery, reindeer skins (even I had to do a double take at that), you name it. Everything is for sale, even if at debatable prices.

When I went, it was honestly like stepping into one of the ‘Santa’s village’ attractions you see at theme parks, but with a little more authenticity and size. Aside from that, there was a definite change in the atmosphere of the busy walkway of New Street, with more people taking time to slow down and appreciate the goods on offer before moving on.

I began my slow march at a rather large (and intimidating, if the Santa statue was anything to go by) beer stand, which perfectly resembled an open-air pub, with the exception of the words ‘German Beer’ plastered on a sign. It seemed a rather friendly place if I ignored the looks of apprehension towards my camera, and moving past it the smell of the bakery immediately hit me. Now I remember German bread from my younger days, and anyone who’s ever had the chance to taste and smell it will immediately register how good it smells (and tastes). If anyone indeed can relate, then perhaps you’ll also know how it feels on an empty stomach to keep smelling it almost to the point of nausea. Yeah. Not exactly the best feeling. So I moved on, taking photos here and there, and avoiding a few ‘Did you just photograph me?’ looks here and there as well. I even held a few short but sweet conversations with a few of the stall owners, and was sorely tempted to buy a Christmas hat, but I held back. After lurking about for how many hours the sky finally darkened, and that was when all the lights on the hundreds of stalls really shone. It also brought to light though just how…incomplete it seemed with the constant shadow of high-rise buildings looming over the market and the constant rush of the city slightly dampening the festive spirit. After taking a few photos (seriously, it was really pretty! Check it out!) I was sure nothing else spectacular was about to happen (bearing in mind I was ‘milling’ from 11 till 5), I decided to head home. Overall I felt like the market was definitely representing Frankfurt and Germany well, with a little room for improvement of course, but I suppose that’s how it is with most things.

Perhaps it’ll snow this year while the market’s still on. Perhaps New Street won’t be congested with angry commuters for one day before it closes. Perhaps the prices of the goods will drop (£7 for a tiny toy cat?). Perhaps I’ll actually find someone to go with at some point.

This Alex with wishful thinking, telling you to find the nearest German market ASAP, and urging you to follow the earlier link to see more digital offerings.

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