Christmas in Europe – Amsterdam to Cologne
The drive from Amsterdam to Cologne Cathedral took about 2 hours. Here we hit our first Christmas market, in the courtyard just next to the cathedral. We had two hours to look around the stalls, which were selling traditional Christmas foods, Christmas arts and crafts and toys, etc. My favorite stall was one selling hand-painted Christmas decorations. They were beautiful, but at 20€ a piece, just too delicate to carry around so early in the trip. It was very cold and here I had my first taste of glühwein. You paid 5€ for a mug of glühwein, 2.5€ of which was refunded when you return the mug. Not being a drinker myself, having alcohol in the morning was a heady experience. It might be sacrilege to say this, but I probably appreciated it more for defrosting my hands with the hot mug – although I must admit the drink did provide a little warm glow in my tummy…
As all our previous visits to Cologne had been in summer, it was interesting seeing Cologne Cathedral set against the grey skies. From Cologne we drove for 2 hours to Bopard to board our river cruiser. The cruise went down river to St. Goar and then returned to Bopard. We did a 15-day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest last summer and the warmer weather is certainly the better time for a river cruise.