Now that autumn is on its way, my thoughts have turned to Christmas shopping. I love a good Christmas market! One of the things I love most about Christmas shopping is visiting the Christmas markets that pop up in city centres. Nothing makes me feel more festive than the smell of mulled cider wafting out from pubs that look like garden sheds and the sound of various European accents as people barter with the stall-holders to save a few pence on a tree decoration or something else that was pretty cheap before the bargaining even began.
I tend to stick to local markets. Usually my husband and I have a date night in Glasgow one weeknight in December and we try to spend a whole day in Edinburgh in the run up to Christmas, weather and winter viruses permitting. I say that because one year we waited until the week before Christmas and missed out completely because of inclement weather and the whole family being floored with a cold. This year we learned our lesson and went early.
The Christmas market in Glasgow is just magical. Glasgow is always a friendly city but at Christmas the banter becomes even more jovial than usual. In George Square they have a big wheel, chairoplanes, a carousel and an ice-rink as well as a bar for those aged to drink. One year there was even a little shop dedicated to all things Irn Bru, which was bizarre but very Glaswegian.
Edinburgh had similar rides but on a grander scale. The big wheel has enclosed, air conditioned pods to ride in with commentary about the city sights while the chairoplanes go up higher than any chairoplanes I’ve ever seen before. They are actually higher than The Scott Monument! One of my traditions when I visit Edinburgh at Christmas is to have my palm read by Amalia, the Romany fortune teller who is a regular fixture at the Edinburgh Christmas markets. Last year I decided to give it a miss, since I felt quite happy with the way my life was going and spent the money on new jeans instead but the queue of women waiting to see her was astoundingly long.
My trips got me thinking. A few years ago, before we were married, Alex and I planned a trip to a Christmas market in Cologne. It was to be a bus trip with overnight stays in a three star hotel and a city tour of Cologne. As so often happens, life got in the way but it’s still been a dream of mine to go to a market outside of Scotland in December.
Since my life has changed, I probably wouldn’t take a bus trip to a Christmas market in Cologne but I’ve been daydreaming this week. I went online and started to investigate the markets in England, trying to figure out the best places to visit. I looked at the towns where I have family as they are where I’m most likely to visit (Doncaster, Cambridge and London) and then started looking into whether there are international markets in those places in December. I then started looking at flights and rail timetables and spent ages on the Trainline website planning the trip, knowing that my train obsessed son would be in heaven on a long train ride in another part of the country. In the end I realised it’s probably not realistic for this year but it’s one of the things I’ll work towards.
Do you have Christmas shopping dreams or are you content to stay in your local mall?