Posted in Travellogue

Winterrailing


Winter is one of my favourite seasons to travel. The festivities , the lights, meandering through Christmas markets aimlessly, wrapped up in warm coats and hats, with smell of melting chocolate and hot cocoa wafting around, fills my heart with warmth and longing. The perfect cure for this is to embark on a journey and if the journey involves a few train travels, it renders the journey magical. I am sharing some of my favourite markets from this years Interrailing trip.

Augsburg, the third largest city in Bavaria, a city of spires and cobbled streets, and also forms part of the Romantic Road trip of Germany. While we were planning for the trip , we were considering of staying in Augsburg, but we digressed to Munich. Munich seemed a better option for us to travel from Cologne. After visiting the city of Augsburg, I realised I would have preferred to stay in Augsburg. Augsburg Christmas market is one of the oldest markets in Germany and is situated near the Rathaus/townhall. We took a train from Munich early evening to Augsburg. It takes around 40 minutes to reach Augsburg, and from there it is a 15 minutes walk to Rathaus. The Rathaus is known for its huge banquet hall with gilded and frescoed ceiling. , known as Goldener Saal. Unfortunately it was closed for public viewing in the evening and also it was getting ready for the Angel show. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6 pm, the townhall is converted in to a big Advent calendar. 24 angels appear on the windows of the darkened townhall, the beautiful façade of the building around the angels is illuminated, some of the angels play music and a chorus of children singing can be heard. The Angel performance and the Christmas Market at Rathaus is worth a visit. There are many other markets in Augsburg, but I found this market effusing a quaint charm and a beautiful vibe. We found a little corner to see the Angel performance and later on ambled around the market, looking at the stalls and shops. I particularly loved the Christmas Tree , with its golden star ornaments ,festooned all over the tree. The tree sparkled with the golden stars gently swaying in the breeze, making it shimmer even more gloriously.

Garmisch Partenkirschen ‘s market is a winter joy, with a beautiful backdrop of snow covered Alps, possessing a quiet and ruminative allure. It is not garish or loud and is not crowded. I always find something dreamy and cosy about a small town Christmas market. GaPa s Christmas market is beautiful, warm and welcoming. Garmisch Partenkirschen is a ski town in Bavaria, bordering with Austria, and is also close to Zugspitze, Germany ‘s tallest mountain peak. GaPa can be reached by train from Munich or Innsbruck. The train journey from Munich to Innsbruck via GaPa is considered a very scenic rail journey, although it is a longer route. We travelled to GaPa from Innsbruck , and I believe it is one of the picturesque railway journeys, I have experienced so far. The train meandering through the snow covered train tracks, passing through snow covered fields and mountains, snow dusted rooftops of houses decorated and gleaming with Christmas decorations render the route a magical touch. The market at GaPa is not very big, but it has plenty to offer from a ice rink, to hand made goodies, music bands spreading festive joy, chocolates and all the usual shenanigans of a Christmas market but with a certain added charm and gaiety. I bought some chocolate cups from the local Chocolate shop at Ludwigstrasse. The chocolate cups available at the shop were for serving their own dessert, but they willingly sold a few out of their collection it to me. I was very delighted with their shop. I was looking for wipes for my glasses and I walked in to a local pharmacy cum optician, where the lady at the counter suggested the wipes cause damage to the lenses and she gave me a bottle of spray to clean the glasses free of charge. I was informed the bottle is usually refilled free for the regular customers who order glasses at their shop, since I was a tourist, if returned to GaPa again and gave her the empty bottle she would refill it with the solution again free of charge. I was so impressed and touched by the kind gesture at both the shops. Such kind gestures, however small, make travelling worthwhile, and these little moments have now become an integral part of my indelible travel memories.

Sankt Gilgen’s Advent Market was one the highlights of this trip. Sankt Gilgen is a picturesque village by the Lake Wolfgangsee, in the Salzburg district of Austria. The village is also known for its connection with Mozart, with his mother being born there it acquired the name of Mozart village. Although Mozart himself has never visited the village. We hired a car from Salzburg and ventured on the Romantic road of Austria to Hallstatt. Hallstatt was a very disappointing experience, with village suffering from an extreme case of mass tourism and overcrowding. I will say no more about Hallstatt. We drove towards St Wolfgang from Hallstatt to a village called Strobl another village on the shores Lake Wolfgangsee. Strobl s Advent market has a beautifully created life size nativity scene. There are boat rides from Strobl to St Gilgen’s giving the opportunity to see the tastefully and traditionally decorated villages from the Lake Wolfgang. The boat from Strobl goes to St Wolfgang, and then to St Gilgen’s. The unique and characteristic symbol of the three village can be seen on the shores of the village. Strobl’s Christmas star ,St. Wolfgang’s lantern of peace. and St Gilgen’s. red candle. On the shores of St Gilgen’s stand the 11 meters tall St Gilgen s red advent candle, welcoming the visitors with a shining glow. The streets and houses in the village are decorated with the many red candles, the warm glow from the candle leading to the historic centre of the village. The traditionally decorated stalls and lights of the Advent Market are a wonderful sight. Sankt Gilgens Advent market with its shining red candles, baroque style painted stalls, and a relaxed atmosphere is perfect for a peaceful festive feeling.

Sankt Gilgen s shining red Advent candle
Peace lantern of St Wolfgang
Nativity scene at Strobl
Souvenir from Sankt Gilgen at home !!!

There were other cities and markets we visited on this Winter-railing trip. These three markets stood out in my memory when I sat down to write about the trip. Each had its own unique charm along with the regular Christmas fair, radiating a peaceful festive cheer with a timeless travel memory on my return home.

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. -Edith Sitwell

Suitcases and Sandcastles
CulturedKids

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Author:

I am originally from India and currently live in London with my husband. I have acquired a taste for travelling and exploring from my husband, I love to read and often wonder and muse about inconsequential things and banalities of life. I have an amazing set of friends who patiently listen to my incessant musings and wondering about life. I thought I should start a blog and send my wonderings and musings, in to ether. All the photographs used on the blog are my experimental photography using I phone and I Pad. Hope you enjoy reading the blog.

21 thoughts on “Winterrailing

  1. Oh Usha, what a marvellous trip! The Christmas markets in Northern Europe are every bit as magical as I’d always imagined and I love how you’ve picked three lesser known markets to write about here. How clever of you to have discovered them. I’ll be saving this post for future wintry adventures. Thanks so much for sharing this on #farawayfiles

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  2. I am so glad Clare, you liked the post. I loved St Gilgens very much. I hope to visit it some day in Spring. I hope you visit it. Thank you so much for stopping by and your lovely comments as always.

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    1. I understand your concern. I am not equally easy, I am a vegetarian and struggle a bit.I think if you base yourself in Munich, you will find choices for vegan and gluten free options in restaurants. GaPa and Mittenwald also had vegan choices but limited. Hope you visit Bavaria with your girls. Thanks Scarlett for your lovely comments.

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  3. Your trip sounds fantastic and the customer service excellent too.
    We visited Hallstatt a couple of years ago. We stayed for two nights and this proved to be a great idea as we had the place to ourselves in the early mornings and evenings, once the daytrippers had disappeared. #farawayfiles

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    1. That’s good to hear Trish. But I believe the situation has deteriorated much since your visit. Hallstatt is crumbling under mass tourism pressure. There are signs for good tourist behaviour, with a reminder it’s not a museum. It’s tourism gone ugly, the place needs a respite from excess footfall. Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  4. Oh..!! Sad to hear about selfie-taking tourists. Maybe I should reconsider visiting Hallstatt. Need to research more in that case..
    Thanks for the warning though.. ☺️

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  5. Hey usha. It’s really great to read your blog and I am glad to know you writing travel blogs. Profoundly overwhelming winterrailies experience that’s fascinating and extravagant. Love to read more dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loving the snowy landscapes Usha and hoping to see some in person soon! Some of the villages look so quaint and how funny to hear about Mozart village where Mozart never visited himself ! Thanks so much for linking in with #Culturedkids!

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    1. I love a snowy Landscape too and hope you have a wonderful time. it was indeed funny to know the village is promoted as Mozart village but he has not visited the village. Thank you so much for the lovely comment and for stopping by.

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    1. I felt very moved by the gesture of the optician. And I absolutely adore these kind of travel memories and the human connection which makes travel worthwhile. I am glad you liked the photos and Thank you so much for stopping by and your lovely comments.

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