I was going to make my annual trip to the Koln Christmas Markets this weekend: my parents wanted some German stollen, the kids collect the Gluhwein cups, and it was a good excuse to enjoy the city at it’s most festive. But a friend suggested that I could get all of the same benefits closer to home by giving the Aachen Market a try, 20 minutes drive rather than an hour away from Maastricht.
The Market did, indeed, turn out to be wonderful, about twice as large as Maastricht’s and with more of the traditional German booths for crafts, foods, and gifts. The thundering big gingerbread men are a bit intimidating and the crowds are dense in spots, but it is a proper Market with lots to enjoy.
The Market occupies the squares on both sides of the Town Hall, curling around the building right and left. There’s free parking about 10 minutes walk away, and a 2-euro shuttle bus if your feet give out (or you have too much eierpunsch). The nearby streets are festive as well, and offer quieter places sit and talk.
The Market was happily bustling and easy to navigate if I was willing to stroll a bit. Compared to Koln, there were more sausage vendors and stalls for the city’s unique cookies and liqueurs, which gave a nice regional flavor to things. I was especially charmed by a warm goat’s milk (Eifelmilch) with honey liqueur (Bear Fang?) that would be perfect before nodding off to bed on a winter’s night.
I picked up a couple of 2 kg stollen logs, lovely with powdered sugar and fruits, some of the traditional cookies made with anise.