This year, we made a little plan to drive down to Aachen or Cologne (Koln) for a weekend to visit the Christmas markets in Germany. Well, the plan was to drive... and so I was hoping that there wouldn't be any snow that would make me wish that we had taken the train instead!

We eventually settled on Cologne, as the accommodation in Aachen was booking up faster and was starting to get beyond our budget. Plus, I know Cologne relatively well due to having lots of work trips there! Both towns (cities) are a decent 3 hour drive away from our home, so it was a nice single trip with no stops.

Our Chariot

As my mother was here, out little baby car wasn't up to holding all of us and luggage as well. So, we had to hire a slightly bigger car, which was a dream (in comparison to our motorised shopping cart!) to drive. I've never had such a car with so many buttons and sensors and a screen in the dash before, so it was really nice for me drive it! However, the kids (whilst liking it), really took the side of our little old car. The older one kept pointing out things (like this being bigger, and thus harder to find parking space) to keep reminding me about how much better our old car was!

Cologne Markets

We ended up doing two Christmas markets whilst we were there. The first night, we went to the Markets by the Dom (Cathedral). You can see the massive Cathedral (next to the Hauptbahnhof) in the top photo. It does look quite beautiful when it is lit up at night!

This market was really very packed... and at night, it was bitterly cold as well! The next day, we decided to go to a less packed market by the Lindt Chocolate Museum. Of course, we also took the time to visit the Chocolate Museum (which also has a working Chocolate factory!), but that is a post for a different time!

Delicious Snacks!

What is better than a stick with fried potato spirals?... well, Roasted Chestnuts and Mulled Wine were a decent close second!... but for the kids...

Marinated strawberries covered in chocolate on a Stick! Seriously, everything is better on a stick... if I could have beer on a stick, then I would!

We did also pick up some nice Christmas loot... for me, the big score was a Honey Liquor and a coulpe of bottles of Chocolate (Cocoa) beer.

Christmas Magic!

On the second day, we even got a light dusting of snow! Luckily, it was good for the day, and so the kids got to play in it for a bit... but by the time for the drive back, it was all gone! Miracles all around! Kids happy, Dad happy!

A perfect dinner

To top off a great weekend, Dusseldorf was on the way back home. Dusseldorf is home to a huge population of Japanese, and as such, there is a huge amount of really great Japanese restaurants. So, when we originally planned this trip, I made sure that we would make a stop on the way back.

I had several recommendations from Japanese friends... but they had long queues, which don't sit well with children when the weather is so cold. So, we quickly headed for a nearby Japanese grillhouse instead. I can only say, we were lucky to get the last table before they started turning away people! This place was awesome, and it will be featuring later in a @tasteem post!

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