Finding Christmas

Christopher Fowler
IMG_2232 Europe does Christmas very well; it's just as cheesy but less corporate and nakedly sales-oriented than the UK or US, and Berlin is better than most, with its plethora of Christmas markets and art and craft fairs. The biggest problem in a weekend jaunt is allowing for travel on a subway system that's (understandably perhaps, given its history) awkward and time-consuming, but if you're prepared to make a long day of it you can cover all the best ones, including the riverside 'Nostalgia' market, filled with big band sounds and traditional stalls. With an astonishing array of museums, from those on 'museum island' like the grandiose Pergamon to the stunningly designed Jewish Museum, it's best to book online to avoid standing over an hour in the sleet. The new visitor centre at Checkpoint Charlie has finally got the balance right, providing history and insight with a powerful timeline, and now the new palace is set to return as they have got rid of the notoriously ugly modern building, which was riddled with asbestos. It's no longer even remotely a city of two halves, with the Eastern side more fashion-conscious and Hoxton-ish than the West, although the huge ugly McDonalds that features on what has been known for years as the 'American' side still threatens to cause an international incident by being so in-your-face offensive, placed so close to the spot where so many lost their lives. I've still never been clubbing in Berlin and now probably never will, so I'll clearly miss out on one of its biggest selling points, but I did get to hang out with Pedro Almodovar and all the other European directors at the European Film Awards. IMG_2235 I'm back in London now after a weekend of sausages and sauerkraut, Christmas trees and - oh yes, a surprise visit from Santa in the snowy night sky, powered by rockets in his sleigh and looking real enough to terrify the children underneath (there was an actual human Santa driving - I hope he had insurance). Normal service will now be resumed, although not for very long - I'll be posting from some surprising places in the coming weeks...  
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Dan Terrell (not verified) Mon, 09/12/2013 - 01:10

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sausages and sauerkraut is good, had some Thursday at the annual German Army, North America, Christmas Market, but before you go again - if you do - give me a heads up and I'll send you a list of other taste foods, for example roulade.

Helen Martin (not verified) Mon, 09/12/2013 - 20:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It appears that the lights in the previous picture are just to the right of the Santa rocket sleigh in this one. It's fun to see the happenings on the other side of the globe.