Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas in Köln Kommt (You like that alliteration?)

Christmas in Köln (and the rest of the world) is fast approaching. One difference, however, is that Christmas goods have been available here to buy since about mid-October. At home, we have Halloween and Thanksgiving to keep the Christmas stuff off shelves a little longer, though not by much. The one thing, however, that makes Christmas here way better is the traditional Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets), which are getting built up in almost every free space around the city. I've already been snacking on Spekulatius (ginger bread cookies), but soon I'll be able to enjoy Glühwein, the smell of baked goods, and Christmas lights everywhere in the markets. Here are some pictures of the Christmas markets being built around the city:

This will be the Christmas market in Heumarkt. Only on Sunday was it full of people celebrating the beginning of Karneval season (which I didn't go to because of the pouring rain), and soon it will be full of people looking for Christmas gifts, drinking Glühwein, and snacking on warm baked goodies.

Here is the Kölner Dom (Cathedral) with the Christmas market being built up. I wonder if it will beat the Berliner Christmas market around the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche for being pretty. The markets open up in about two weeks.

On a different note, the locomotive drivers (uh, conductors? Lokführer in German) have been striking on and off here since we've gotten here. The reason is that they want to get paid more, which I don't blame them before. Without going through a long explanation, it's been a little inconvenient for people who take trains everywhere, especially if they are living in the eastern part of the country. Today I went to the main train station here in Köln and it was a lot emptier than normal. For one, the platforms were almost completely empty, even though about 70% of the trains were running here in Nordrhein-Westphalia. For another, I only saw one train on the tracks. And lastly, the Service Point's line was a little longer than usual. I can only imagine what it's like in the east. And some pictures from the train station today:

This is the train station from the outside. Usually people are rushing in and out and the plaza in front of it is full of people. I went at around 2 pm, which is obviously not rush hour, but at the same time, is a pretty busy hour for the train station.

All of the trains that say "Zug fällt aus" means it was canceled. Luckily a lot of the trains in Nordrhein-Westphalia were still running. In the east, it's probably just lines of "Zug fällt aus."

Here you can see how empty the train station is. The platforms are usually full with people waiting and the tracks usually have a train approaching, leaving, or standing. It's almost like 28 Days Later, but just not so extreme.


Anonymous said...

same here.. they've had christmas music playing since the 1st of november.

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