The time has come around again for another of our ritual trips to Christmas markets.

This time, we finally made it to the market we wanted to go to in 2012. We couldn’t make that one due to issues with the car. We wanted to go to Aachen, but got as far as Brussels before we had to turn around. You can read about that trip here

We were nice to the car the whole year round so that it would be nice to us! And nice to us it was. There there, good car!

Our itinerary this time round went as follows:

Highclere Castle
Cologne (On a whim)

Highclere CastleAachenMaastrichtKöln
Let me preface this by saying that we have never watched Downton Abbey – even though we had good intentions to do so. We decided that it would be a good idea to go to the market there.

For me, I felt a bit disappointed that we paid £20 and all it got us was into the grounds of the castle and the part of the house where the market was. It wasn’t worth the money we paid for what was there and what we saw.

The stalls were full of overpriced, pretentious tat – imho

There is definitely no denying the majesty of the house! The look of it is quite impressive!
When you are driving in the area, you won’t get to see the house as it is quite well hidden. As you are driving down the private driveway you get a glimpse of the top of it. It isn’t until you are right outside that you see the majesty of it




We finally made it! Yeah! After a year of waiting, we decided the car was well enough to take us there. We were right, but we were super nice to it the whole way though!

Aachen was for sure worth the wait. It is such a pretty city. We managed to find a hotel – which I might add only cost €89 for 2 nights. Yup, you read that right! The hotel was a really nice hotel.

We got to Aachen in the mid afternoon and decided it would be a good idea to have a lay around the hotel for an hour or so before braving the new adventure of Aachen. After we got brave, we headed out into the city. Thankfully, the drive was less than 10 minutes and there were plenty of places to park.

Make sure you bring plenty of coins, as parking in the car park is expensive. It cost us €5.60 for 2 hours

We got to the market and weren’t quite sure whether or not to be disappointed as the stalls we saw were few in number. We make did with what we saw and had a look around. We then went into the Cathedral and had a look around there. I asked the chap at the door if there were other stalls. He kindly pointed us in the right direction to the other stalls. Oh my, there were loads more stalls. The disappointment quickly turned to excitement at all the stalls.

Aachener Dom

The Aachener Dom is not as big as other cathedrals we have been to, but it is for sure one of the most ornate. It has been put on the UNESCO world heritage list.
Jamie – the organised and smart woman that she is did some research on the foods of the cities that we visited. This is one of the foods that we found in Aachen (along with lots of gingerbread and mulled wine). It is a potato fritter. It is more like mashed potato that is covered in batter and then deep fried. You only need to know one thing: IT IS DELICIOUS! Another foodstuff that we dared ourselves to eat was Bratwurst. We had never tried this before – and it is safe to say we never will again. It is for sure an acquired taste – one that we don’t ever plan to acquire

Potato Fritter


What was I saying about gingerbread! This is one of two giant gingerbread men that was at the market. Seriously though, gingerbread was all over the market. I tried one piece and it was OK. It’s not my favourite, but this bit was alright
When we last visited The Netherlands, Maastricht was one of the places I wanted to go. One of the reasons I wanted to go there is to do with Andre Rieu. I have seen a couple of his homecoming concerts and they make Maastricht look so good. Well, this time round I finally got to go. A christmas market there helped to convince Jamie. Sadly to say, for Jamie, the christmas market wasn’t all that good.

For me though, it was good to be there and see a city I had only seen in concerts. We kinda stuck around the Vrijthof, since this is where the market was. We also went on the Ferris Wheel. It was good to get a birds eye view of the city.

There is parking underneath Vrijthof. However, you will pay for the privilege. It cost us €0.70 per 20 minutes


This is the Ferris Wheel and Sint Servaas Klooster on Vrijthof. We went inside the cathedral – which was welcome on a cold day, but for sure not worth the €8 we paid for us both.
One of the foodstuffs that Jamie found for us here were Pofferjets – or pancake balls. They were actually quite nice. This is them in progress.



The finished product. Yummy. Look at all that icing sugar hiding the butter!
A view of the city from the top of the wheel with Sint Lambertuskerk in the distance. The church is named after Lambert of Maastricht.


Cologne was a trip that was a spur of the moment. After we had seen all that we wanted to see in Maastricht, we had quite a lot of time to spare. We didn’t want to go back to the hotel, so we checked the map and saw that Cologne wasn’t too far away. We decided that we would head for there.

On our way there, it started to snow. Thankfully not enough for us to turn around and go back to the hotel. When we got to Cologne, we were in the wrong part of town. We didn’t have internet access to get an address for the markets in Cologne. I did what any rational (well, maybe not) person would do. I looked up Markt – German for market – on the sat nav and it guided us there. Turns out, Markt was just a street name and wasn’t actually where the market was.

We drove round some more and Jamie noticed some signs on the bridges pointing the way to the markets. We finally found our way there and found somewhere to park. We got out and went to the market. It was bitterly cold. The rain had started too. Typical! Luckily, where the market was situated was also the Kölner Dom. That was helpful a little towards the end.

You can park underneath the Kölner Dom but, as always, it is expensive. It cost us around €2.30 per hour.
One of the most impressive sites when you come out of the parking in Cologne is the sheer magnitude of the Kölner Dom. It is huge. Not just big, nor massive, but HUGE!

It is another cathedral in Germany that is on the UNESCO heritage list. It is a Gothic architectural cathedral that was opened in 1880. The inside is just as impressive as the outside. It is well worth a visit!



Outside of the cathedral, they have a nativity set up. It is the largest nativity scene that I have come across.
This is the Malakoff Tower. It was used as one of the defense towers of the Prussian rulers.