GERHARD'S ODYSSEYS

 

Christmas Markets of Germany

Dresden – Seiffen – Annaberg – Coburg – Erfurt – Nürnberg – Regensburg

wiesbaden-Nurnberg
Join us on our 32nd annual Christmas trip as we return to many of our all-time favorite markets. The German Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) dates back hundreds of years and the markets still work their magic today, turning town squares and narrow lanes into a wonderland for all. Brightening the short winter days, the markets are an enchanting blend of the season’s edible and decorative symbols of the season. Join the carolers at the giant lighted tree in front of the town hall. Savor traditional delicacies of Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and fruitcake, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, and grilled sausage. Marvel at the many special Christmas exhibitions and nativity scenes in the museums, galleries, and shops. Take home gifts of beautifully hand-crafted treasures, ornaments, wooden nutcrackers, tinsel angels, and brightly painted boxes.

Our hotels have been chosen for their individual character, central location, ambiance, hospitality, service, and value. We know that the ideal hotel can make you feel comfortable, cheerful, and at home. All hotels will be within short walking distance of the Christmas Markets, shops, museums, and other local attractions. Dinners are assured to be fresh and savory, reflective of the region, and served in a comfortable setting that allows you to share the day's events with your fellow travelers.

I will share with you the places I have been to many times and have grown to love – quaint villages, ancient castles and fortresses, beautiful countryside, and interesting museums. We'll forget the hurried, worried world and set our own easeful pace as we learn the culture and meet the people. The tour's focus will be on quality and service, and I will be there to take care of every detail.

DAILY ITINERARY – December 1st to December 12th, 2019

Sunday, December 1st – Dresden
You will be met at the Dresden Airport for transfer to our luxury hotel in the city center. Option of arriving a day or two early and enjoying more time to explore -- stroll several of the Christmas markets, as well as some of the nearby museums. Dresden’s Striezelmarkt dates back to 1434 and is the oldest Christmas market in Germany. You’ll find a wonderful selection of wood carvings, ceramics, gingerbread, porcelain and unusual flower arrangements. Be sure to taste the Dresdener Christstollen, a rich fruit filled cake. The market is also home to the world’s largest Christmas pyramid and the world’s largest nutcracker statue.
Gewandhaus Hotel Dresden.

Monday, December 2nd – Dresden
Our local guide will show us Dresden’s most famous sights, including the city’s finest jewel, the newly rebuilt Frauenkirche. The Procession of the Dukes is a detailed 300-foot wall made entirely of Meissen tiles. We’ll also visit the extraordinary Semper Opera House and the famous baroque Zwinger with its splendid baroque pavilions and terraces. The Royal Palace Dresden is one of the most important examples of Renaissance architecture in Germany. Afternoon at leisure to continue exploring the Christmas market, or visit department stores and boutiques. Evening reception and get-acquainted dinner party.
Gewandhaus Hotel Dresden.

Tuesday, December 3rd – Annaberg
A short ride on our coach takes us to Freiberg, with its landmark late Gothic Cathedral, featuring a main portal dating from 1225. The market is situated in front of the 15th century town hall and highlights traditional pyramids, Schwibbogen (candle arches), nutcrackers, and hand-blown tree ornaments. Several stalls have mini ceramic houses replicating the medieval half-timber houses in the town center. Our next stop is Chemnitz with a five-story, 40-foot-high Christmas pyramid and a 17-foot-high arch of lights that can be seen from afar. Craftsmen and tradesmen dressed in period costume adorn both the medieval market and the cloister market. Pigs are roasting over open fires in the mystic atmosphere and old-fashioned hanging tree swings and crafts are provided as in times gone by. On display at Lichtenstein Palace are 140 Nativity scenes from 33 countries.
Hotel Wilder Mann.

Wednesday, December 4th – Annaberg
Annaberg has one of the prettiest markets in the region, and is only a few steps from our hotel entrance. Our guided tour includes a visit to St. Annen Church, dating back to 1499. We will be entertained with a short organ concert. Afternoon at leisure to visit the museums and enjoy the large market, making sure to take a time out for coffee and the tasty local Stollen. At dusk, you will marvel at the lights or Schwibbogen in every house window and the exquisitely decorated streets, reveling in the coming of Christmas.
Hotel Wilder Mann.

Thursday, December 5th – Annaberg
This morning we travel through the snow-covered Erzgebirge Mountains, the wooden toy-making center of Germany. Stop in Olbernhau to shop at the KWO factory store. KWO has grown into one of the leading manufactures of traditional handmade wooden art, such as the smoking man and nutcrackers, crafted from clear-grained hardwoods and hand-painted by local artisans. In Seiffen you will find an additional assortment of wooden ornaments; including horsemen, light angels, and elaborate Christmas pyramids. You may also want to take time to visit the Spielzeugmuseum (toy museum) and wander through the 5,000 exhibits.
Hotel Wilder Mann.

Friday, December 6th – Coburg
We travel to Schwarzenberg whose skyline is dominated by the Old-Town church and castle. Whereas the castle was one of the town’s first fortified buildings, the St. Georgen-Kirche (church) is newer, having been built in the late 17th century. We continue to Schneeberg to visit the town’s landmark, the St. Wolfgang church - one of the largest late-gothic style churches in Saxony. No matter the direction one approaches the town, this remarkable building dominates the townscape. At Unger folk art workshop, you will have an opportunity to shop for the local pyramids, candle holders, music boxes and carolers. Before we meet for dinner in Coburg, take time to stroll through the Christmas Market. On a Friday evening, the most popular stalls will be the ones selling drinks. The scent of hot mulled, wine with aromatic spices permeates the market, with people cheering and toasting one another while chasing the cold away.
Romantik Goldene Traube.

Saturday, December 7th – Coburg
Our local guide will introduce us to Coburg with its historic town center and colorful market square. You can admire the Palace, the fine half-timbered houses and the rococo Rathaus. In the afternoon we travel to the Inge Glass Factory and Christmas Museum. Learn about the development and production of the famous glass ornaments. Also, a stop at the Ino Schaller Paper Mache factory which started in 1894 and is still operated by the same family today. We’ll visit the massive Coburg Veste. Overlooking the city, it is one of the largest fortresses in Germany. In 1530, the fortress provided refuge to Martin Luther who, as an outlaw, hid away here for six months.
Romantik Goldene Traube.

Sunday, December 8th – Coburg
A pleasant drive takes us to Erfurt, with one of Germany’s most captivating Christkindlesmarkts. Over 200 decorated wooden huts fill the old quarter, offering Thüringian specialties. Highlights of our walking tour will include the 14th century cathedral and the Kramerbrucke, a unique footbridge with half-timbered houses on both sides. Built in 1325 the bridge and houses are still in use today. After lunch you will have time for museums or continue exploring the Christmas market. Be sure to try the local Thüringian bratwurst with a hot cup of glühwein.
Romantik Goldene Traube.

Monday, December 9th – Regensburg
Only a short trip and we arrive in Nürnberg, to explore the Christkindlesmarkt – the largest and grandest of them all! Join us on a sightseeing tour of the city’s historic old center with innumerable architectural treasures such as the storybook 900-year-old ramparts surrounding the city and the Imperial Castle. In the afternoon you will have time to wander on your own. Be sure to sample the special holiday Lebkuchen (Gingerbread), as this is where it originated. Lebkuchen goes all the way back to 14th century Germany where they were created by Catholic monks in monastery bakeries and prepared with honey, and a variety of spices and nuts.
Sorat Insel Hotel Regensburg.

Tuesday, December 10th – Regensburg
Our local guide will take us on a walking tour. This is Germany’s largest medieval city with more than 1,200 historical buildings. The old stone bridge close to our hotel dates to 1146 and is still used to cross the Danube. At lunch time, we go to the Historische Würstkuche, a longstanding authentic sausage restaurant located by the Stone Bridge. After lunch we’ll walk to the courtyard of Thurn und Taxis Palace for a special market with seasonal Bavarian delicacies, crafts, jewelry, and various cultural events. Remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to explore Regensburg’s other traditional Christmas Markets filled with local artisanal creations.
Sorat Insel Hotel Regensburg.

Wednesday, December 11th – Freising/Munich
A guided walking tour of Augsburg will show us the finest Renaissance street in Germany and the cathedral with the oldest stained glass in the world. It is also home to one of the region’s loveliest Christmas markets right in front of the lovely Renaissance town hall. After lunch we’ll travel to Freising, one of Bavaria's oldest towns, which grew up around a monastery founded in the 8th century. Farewell dinner at Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, the world's oldest brewery. The monks of the Weihenstephan monastery, were granted the privilege of brewing and serving their own beer in 1040, a tradition that still continues today.
Marriott Freising/Munich.

Thursday, December 12th – return to USA
Pack up your happy memories. The journey ends as we regretfully bid farewell to Europe and jet back to North America from Munich International Airport, arriving home the same day. You may wish to stay another day or two in Munich.


PRICE PER PERSON: $3,380 land cost ($490 single room surcharge)
TOUR COST INCLUDES:

❄ 11 nights in outstanding, traditional, and first-class hotels in central locations.
❄ 22 meals – buffet breakfast daily, eight taste-tempting specialty dinners, and three lunches, unique     to the region, including the Welcome and Farewell dinners.
❄ Get acquainted reception at the beginning of the tour.
❄ Transport by private luxury motor coach with Florian, our skilled driver.
❄ Personalized tours of most towns visited with local guide and entrance fees.
❄ After dinner concert at a local venue.
❄ All gratuities, taxes and service charges to restaurants, hotel staff and local guides.
❄ Porterage and handling of luggage at all hotels.
❄ Other additional features mentioned in the itinerary.
❄ A careful balance of free time to pursue your own interests.
❄ Hosted by Gerhard & Darlene.
Special feature: A brisk pre-breakfast or after dinner walk for those
    who would like to start or finish the day with a bit of exercise

GROUP SIZE IS LIMITED TO 30 GUESTS MAXIMUM

RESERVATIONS: Notify us that you wish to join the tour. Your space will be reserved, and a sign-up packet will be forwarded with registration form and an invoice for deposit. Upon receipt of your deposit, an information packet will be forwarded with further confirmation of your reservation and details to help prepare for the tour. Full and final payment is due 95 days prior to departure.

AIR TRANSPORTATION: Airfare is not included in the tour price. We suggest arriving a day or two prior to the tour start to enjoy extra time in Dresden. Contact us for additional information.

SPECIAL NOTE: Some of the sites we visit often require walking some distances on uneven cobblestone streets, and stairs. You should also expect seasonal icy and snow patches. Take care.

EXTRA NIGHTS: Special rates are available at the hotels used at the start and conclusion of the tour – $340 per double room ($260 single) will apply in both Dresden and Munich. Both hotels include buffet breakfast, taxes and service charges, and airport to hotel transfers. All additional nights are confirmed on a space-available basis. If you arrive in Dresden a day early, we will visit nearby Meissen with cobble-stone alleys and nicely reconstructed town houses from the Renaissance. If you stay an extra post-tour night in Freising/Munich, we will travel to Munich for the day. Morning sightseeing with our local guide. Free time in the afternoon for the markets or one of the many museums. In the evening, gather one last time for a complimentary beverage. Transfer to the Munich Airport the next morning.

View the Tourist Office Web sites for some of the destinations we visit. https://www.christmastrips.com/pages/travelresources.php

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Christmas tripsChristmas tripsChristmas trips

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View the Tourist Office Web sites for some of the destinations we visit. https://www.christmastrips.com/pages/travelresources.php

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