2016 Christmas Market Tour Part I: Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein

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Photos taken in November 2016

Moin, Moin, Ihr Lieben! Our first Christmas market on a quite adventuresome tour of 2016 takes us far north to Schleswig-Holstein and the city of Kiel. Located along the Baltic Sea coast, the city of 245,000 inhabitants is the largest of the big three ports located on a fjorde, providing shipping from places in the north and east. The other two are Lübeck and Flensburg. Kiel is the state’s capital and has its state parliamentary building located on the western side of the coast. Apart from two universities, the city prides itself on its traditional handball team THW Kiel, whose stadium is directly in the city center. It also has the annual convention of sailboats, clipper ships and yachts in June- the Kieler Woche, where over 100 countries take part in competition and display their best ships.  And while parts of Kiel, especially in the city center, appear quite crowded, there are two bright spots that make the city quite convenient and attractive: everything is centralized- especially the city center, and there are some great natural spots along the Baltic Sea and the Grand Canal (Baltic-North Sea Canal (Ger.: Nord-Ostsee Kanal)), as well as along the Schwentine River, which empties into the fjord near the University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule).

Maybe that Kiel Defense as practiced in a game of chess inspired the architects and city planners to be creative with their city designs…… 😉

As for the Christmas market, it is a whole different story.  The Christmas market is located only 300 meters north of Kiel’s Railway Station, beginning at Holstenplatz, but the market is spread out into three different places, all connected with a main shopping corridor known as the Holstenstrasse. A map at the end of this article shows you where the places are, starting with the train station and working the way up north.

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The Market at St. Nicolas Church- the church is in the background

Looking at the markets themselves, we’ll start off with the one on the northernmost end at St. Nicolas Church at the corner of Schlossstrasse and Schumacherstrasse. If one does some ice skating at the Ostseekai ice skating rink near the cruise liner port, the opportunity for a good Glühwein and something warm can be found at this place, as the huts serve as a compliment to the eateries nearby. This includes soups, fried fish sandwiches and even a Glühbier (mulled beer) or punch. For churchgoers, it is a great place to talk Luther and his Reformation of the Church while keeping warm. Yet apart from the spectacular view of the church at night, as well as at the Schwedenkai with its light-candied yacht overlooking the man-made pond, it’s all eateries with typical German delicacies-

unless you love beer, like this writer does. 😉

If so, just west of the market, there is the Kieler Brewery and Restaurant, located at Dänischstrasse on the north side of the market. Founded in 1988, the brewery has been producing its beer products including pilsners and those using beachwood directly at its original location. One can only purchase the beer there, which serves as another incentive to visit Kiel (apart from Kieler Woche and the handball games with the Zebras). The restaurant, which serves only local and seasonal specialties, has an interior that resembles a restaurant during the age of Luther: walled with stone with cast iron chandeliers and benches made of wood, making it look like knights, monks, reformers and musicians with bagpipes entering the scene, playing music and enjoying a good brew. I tried one of the originals (beechwood aged) and am pleased to say, the product aced the test because of its taste and thickness of the body. A solid 1,0 (A+) 😀

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Kieler Weihnachtsdorf at Rathausplatz

Moving further south along Holstenstrasse, laden with shopping centers and some huts, one needs to turn right at Fleethörn and Hafenstrasse and walk past two streets to find the Kieler Weihnachtsdorf, located at Rathausplatz near the city hall.  Flanked by the city hall to the south and the Opera House to the west, the market is rather traditional of German Christmas markets with its backdrop and settings. Unlike the uniformity in colors and hut design as one sees at a Christmas market in Bavaria and parts of Saxony and Hesse, this one was quite colorful, both figuratively as well as literally. Huts and stands of various sizes and colors blanket the whole market, decorated with white-lit natural green garland. The lining of lighted natural Christmas trees and other pine needle branches outside the market, combined with a unique entrance to the village, resemble a natural palace, made of wood. Since Kiel has a palace north of the Ostseekai in the old town, the theme of the Christmas market fits perfectly to one of the city’s prized historic landmarks.

As far as products being served at this village is concerned, I was somewhat disappointed that the majority of the products came from the western part of Germany, in particular Bavaria. No matter where a person went in this village, one will see one Bavarian site for every four. There were no stands that represented the other regions in Germany, in particular, Saxony, where most of the wooden products, like Räuchermänner, Pyramids and villages originate. There were a couple stands for Thuringian bratwurst and a couple stands providing products from Schleswig-Holstein, including a couple local eateries, but overall, it seemed to be typically Bayrish- too much Bavarian.  From a personal point of view, if you want to have a Christas market in a community, you should try and vary your products from regions, including areas unknown to others, as well as and especially local places. If you focus more on the commercial aspect- streamling certain regions over others, it will be rather monocultural. Having monocultural markets and events loses the appeal from others who can see similar markets and other events in other cities. This was my impression after seeing too much Bavarian at this place. One needs to dig deeper to find diamonds in the rough in terms of local and unusual goods- a very important rule of thumb for visiting a typical Christmas market. If you don’t want to see a Nuremberg Christmas market in a community, look hard for the localities, as they are there. Follow that with unusual places you will never find in a Christmas market elsewhere.

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How to make Flammlachs: Frying them to the fire before the fish is “pulled” and shredded.

There were a few cool places swimming in a pool of Bavarian goods at the Weihnachtsdorf. They included a liquour stand from North Rhine-Westphalia, a tea shop selling exotic teas some cooked in an “oven,”  a lobster stand from the island of Sylt, and a couple stands selling goods handcrafted  in and around Kiel (one of which I will mention in a later article). But have you ever heard of Flammlachs?

You have probably heard of pulled pork, as the recipe comes from America but has become very common here in Europe. Flammlachs goes along the same recipe, except you place your salmon or other fish on an oak board, and after adding the ingredients mentioned in the link above, put it as close to the fire as possible without burning the meat to be eaten. Then strip the meat, just like with pulled pork, leaving the fish bones behind, put them in a bun with lettuce and a twist of lemon and serve. While there is  sweet mustard and other sauces available, I took the advice of a local and ate it without it. All I can say is “Yummy!” 😀  Your trip to the Baltic Sea coast is not complete without trying a Flammlachs with a good local beer. Enough said!

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How to make Flammlachs: Sandwich with lettuce- best served without any sauce, according to locals

But as I made my trip to my last stop on the Kiel Christmas market tour, namely Holstenplatz, I found a few other local delicacies from Kiel and Schleswig-Holstein that are not only highly recommended, but in one case, very addicting.  The market at Holstenplatz is the longest market I had visited up until now, but also the most diverse of Kiel’s Christmas markets. A mixture of local products combined with handcrafted and international products from Estonia, Turkey and France can be found along three rows of huts that feature a various form of brown wood colors from mahogany to oak to even a light brown. The huts are far different in color patterns than the colorful display at the Weihnachtsdorf and the striped huts at St. Nick’s church, which makes them completely different, but attractive to the visitors. The market here is also decorated nicely with natural garland that is also lighted. Despite not having a Christmas tree, the trees lining along Holstenplatz are also lit at night, thus making the market not only colorful, but somewhat homey. 🙂

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Holstenplatz

Despite its very close proximity to the shopping areas and the main highway- Sophienblatt and Andreas Gayk Strasse- the market appears to be rather spacious, thus allowing for space to walk around and find a place to enjoy the specialties offered. The problem with space was one of the problems I’ve seen with many Christmas markets I’ve visited since starting the series in 2011, as many markets try to reduce “excessive” space by adding more stands and booths than necessary and in some cases, herding the people in and out of the markets like a person is in rush-hour traffic in a big city. This makes visiting a Christmas market more of a torture than fun. With the markets Kiel, space doesn’t seem to be the issue as there is enough. Given the proximity of the markets, this means that there is not so much crowding, especially on weeknights and weekends, which given the few people at the market, it was really comfortable to have a conversation with locals about goods worth tasting……

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A highly recommended local delicacy to try: Fliederbeersuppe with Griesklöße

……including this entrée, the Fliederbeersuppe (freely translated as currant soup). 🙂  Consisting of currant juice (highly concentrated), apple slices and Grießklöße (semolina dumpling), this soup is typical of Schleswig-Holstein and one that a person must try. I was skeptical when I first saw it and the response of the person selling this was a classic: “Are you diabetic?” My response was: “I’ve never tried it before, which is why I wanted to know more about it.” I later told her I was a columnist for the Files and talked about the series on German Christmas markets. I tried the soup in exchange for money and the address of this site. 😉 And there was no regret that it tasted really good. So good that it is sometimes addicting. A lady stopping at the stand as I was eating it with a hot cup of Lumumba (hot cocoa with rum) testified its addiction as she was going for her seventh bowl! Seven bowls is a bit over the top, but it shows that one really needs to taste it to believe it. 🙂

Before I got addicted, I left to check out the other goods, which included Kochwurst (cooked sausage) from a local butcher, and local pastry featuring filled donuts and Muzen, a boiling pastry with powdered sugar and also typical of the region. Unlike the donuts, which had apple, marzipan, advocaat, cherry and other fruit filling, this one is not filled and are small. Furthermore they taste best when they are hot- not necessarily from the deep fryer, but sometimes reheating them in the oven at 175°C for about 10 minutes should one decide to take them home to have the family try them, like I did (it was my last stop before moving on).  Given the fact that there was another stand serving Flammlachs, the market at Holstenplatz is your best place to try everything that is local and typical of Schleswig-Holstein, for the Weihnachtsdorf have predominantly Bavarian goods and the stands at St. Nick’s are mostly eateries and beverages- a hub for chatting monks and cheery families after having ice skated with Katarina Witt. 😉

Summing up the trip to Kiel, the Christmas market, featuring three different markets connected by the corridor Holsten Strasse is spacious and diverse. It’s an alternative to shopping at the shopping malls, for the huts and other shops provide some goods, eateries and beverages that are both typical of the region but also from other places in Germany and places in Europe. Given its closeness in the city center, they are easily accessible from the train station and the shipping ports, yet surprisingly, the number of people visiting the market is less than others. Given the fact that it was a weekday that I visited, comparing it to other Christmas markets, it is rather comfortable entertaining strangers and friends over a good local specialty. I bet it applies to weekend visits as well. Despite being surrounded by concrete, the market is easy to find because of the close proximity to the places in the city center, thus making it accessible by all means of transportation. In other words, even if the Christmas market is a diamond in the rough, it is easy to find.

And if found, that diamond is a lifetime’s worth; especially if you are a stranger in a strange land. 😉

More photos of the Christmas Market in Kiel:

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Tips on other Christmas markets the author has visited and written about can be found here. There, you will have some ideas on which places are highly recommended to visit.

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Germany Quiz 1: The Answers to the Questions about Schleswig-Holstein

Sheep grazing along the Eider outside Friedrichstadt with the railroad bridge in the background. Photo taken in 2012
Sheep grazing along the Eider outside Friedrichstadt with the railroad bridge in the background. Photo taken in 2012

And now, the moment you have been waiting for, for two weeks: the answers to the questions about the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Going from north to south the Files is providing readers with a guessing quiz on each of the German states as part of the series on Germany at 25. For the northernmost state in Germany, the area is rich in culture and history, which after looking at the answers to the guessing quiz, you will be motivated enough to spend a few weeks up there.

The answer key is only a complement to the guessing quiz which you can access here and print out for you to try on your own, as well as test your family and friends, especially those originally from the region who might need a refersher. However, you are also free to comment on the answers to the guessing quiz, either in the comment section or directly via e-mail, using the contact info available under About the Flensburg Files header page.

So without further ado, here are the answers to the quiz on Schleswig-Holstein:

ANSWERS FROM THE MÄÄHTRIX EXERCISE:

  1. What’s the capital of the state of Schleswig-Holstein

 Answer: Kiel

 

  1. Which of these communities is NOT a community but an island?

Answer: Sylt

Interesting Fact: The Island of Fehmarn is also considered an island featuring several small villages plus the towns of Burg, Burgstaaken and Puttgarden. Yet since 2003, all the communities consolidated to form an Island-Community or City Island. Sylt still remains an island with many small communities run locally by their own governments.

 

  1. List the communities in order from largest to smallest in terms of population.

Kiel (242,000)

Lübeck (210,000)

Flensburg (89,300)

Neumünster (77,000)

Itzehoe (32,700)

Bad Oldesloe (24,100)

Husum (22,200)

Sylt (21,000)

Heide (20,800)

Quickborn (20,200)

Eutin (17,300)

Bad Seegeberg (15,900)

Fehmarn (13,000)

Plön (12,800)

Friedrichstadt (2,400)

 

  1. Which community has the highest concentration of Danish people in Germany?

Answer: Flensburg. Of the ca. 90,000 inhabitants that live in this city, 30% are of Danish descent. No wonder that the city has several Danish schools and stores, mostly in the north and west of Nordermarkt.

 

  1. Which community was established by the Dutch?

Answer: Friedrichstadt. The town was founded by Dutch Protestants in 1643 and is characterized by its houses, canals and even bridges, including its signature double-bascule draw bridge. More on the city’s bridges can be found here through the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.

 

 

  1. Which community is famous for its chalk hills and is the site of Karl May’s Cowboys and Indians Show (a.k.a. Winnetou)?

 Answer: Bad Seegeberg.  Every summer in July, Winnetou and his Native American friends make a stop here to challenge the likes of Buffalo Bill and Kit Carson, just to name a few.

 

  1. You’ll never be a full-fledged international tourist unless you visit this community with its historic city center (a UNESCO site, BTW) and try the world famous marzipan candy. Name this town in Schleswig-Holstein.

 

Answer: Lübeck. More on why you should visit this city to come in the Files. But if you don’t visit this city, you’re touristic criminal. 😉

 

  1. “Moinson!” German actor Axel Prahl, who plays Thiel in the ARD mystery series “Tatort” (Crime Scene in EN) is originally a Schleswig-Holsteiner, originating from which community? (Note: It has a fine castle).

 

 Answer: Eutin, located between Kiel and Lübeck. If you’re not convinced he uses this greeting profusely or if you want to know what he looks like, enjoy this Tatort film below:

Correction: The greeting is spelled “Moins En,” according to local sources.

 

  1. Which two communities have a premere league handball team and what are their official team names? (Hint: The Files has profiled them in many occasions since its inception in 2010)

 

Answer: Flensburg and Kiel.  The official name for Flensburg’s team is the SG Flensburg-Handewitt, featuring the acing albatrosses from two Flensburg handball teams and one from neighboring Handewitt that merged to be one team in 1990. The zebras of THW Kiel have been in the handball business for over 100 years (since  1904) and have been kings of the German and international leagues for over 50 years.

 

  1. Which community is famous for its “Kornschnapps” (EN: grain schnaps)?

Answer: Bad Oldesloe, located between Hamburg and Lübeck.

 

 ANSWERS TO HYBRID QUESTIONS:

 

  1. Which river in Schleswig-Holstein is the longest?

 a. Trave     b. Treene        c. Träne          d. Tine       e. Schwentine      f. Eider

Answer: The Trave. At 124 km in length, the river flows through the eastern part of the state before emptying in the Baltic Sea at Travemünde near Lübeck.     

Note: The Eider River would have been the right answer had it not been for the construction of the Baltic-North Sea Canal. Originally, the river sliced through the state from Tönning to Kiel, thus creating first the border between the Danish and Prussian Kingdoms then later the kingdoms of Schleswig and Holstein. It was 188 km long, however today’s river starts at Rendsburg and continues its route to Tönning, with the total length being cut down to 100 km.

 

  1. How many castles does Schleswig-Holstein have, and can you name two of them? (Hint: Eutin has one so it does not count)

 

Answer: seven. They include ones at Eutin, Ploehn (Plön), Salzau, Gottdorf (near Schleswig), Husum, Ahrendsburg and Glücksburg.

 

  1. The last of the coal-fired steamboat exists in Germany and is still in operation in Flensburg. What’s the name of the ship?

 a. Alexandra     b. Bertha        c. Clara           d. Dora           e. Euphremia    f. Flora

  g. Greta          h. Helena        i. Illonka         j. Johanna

Answer: a. Alexandra. This ship was built in 1908 and still provides tours in the region between Flensburg, Holnis and Kappeln. Rumor has it though that this ship is expected to retire soon.

 

  1. The Kiel Canal (a.k.a. Grand Canal) is a waterway built in 1895 connecting which two cities and their two seas? Schleswig-Holstein is bordered by these two seas.

 

Answer: The Baltic Sea and the North Sea.  Hence the name Baltic-North Sea Canal or in German: Nordostseekanal (NOK)

 

  1. The Grand Canal replaced the canal that followed the Treene River. True or False?

Answer: False. The Grand Canal replaced the Alte Eider Canal, which ran parallel to today’s canal between Kiel and Rendsburg as a canal and as the river Eider from Rendsburg to the mouth of the North Sea at Tönning

 

 

  1. Name two of ten bridges over the Grand Canal. One of whom has received many accolades for its engineering wonder. (Hint: Sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a report on this theme)

 

Click here to get the answers. The Rendsburg Bridge is one of the bridges that received several accolades on the national and international level because of its unique bridge design. More on that here.

 

17. Uwe Barschel, a Social Democrat, resigned from his post as prime minister amid a scandal on October 2, 1987. Nine days later, his body was found at a luxury hotel in which city?

 a. Munich  b. Berlin          c. Amsterdam             d. Berne          e. Geneva     f. Vienna

g. Budapest    h. Paris      i. Prague         j. New York

Answer:    e. Geneva   Correction: Barschel was a Christian Democrat, not a Social Democrat, according to locals and the history books.

 

  1. The 1972 Summer Olympics took place in Kiel. True, False, or Naja?

Answer: Naja. While the majority of the events took place in Munich, the yachting portion of the events took place in Kiel.

 

 

  1. Which German cartoon character originated from Schleswig-Holstein?
    1. Die Wilde Kerle (The Wild Boys)
    2. Werner
    3. Wallace and Gromit

 

Answer: b. Werner the wild motorbiker. Interestingly enough, Rötger Hoffmann, the creator of this cartoon character, just recently celebrated his 65th birthday. He founded the series in 1982.

 

  1. Which annual festival in Schleswig-Holstein does NOT exist?
    1. Apple Festival in Glücksburg (near Flensburg)
    2. The International Yacht Festival in Kiel
    3. International Kite-flying Festival in Travemünde (near Lübeck)
    4. Crocus Flower Pagent in Husum
    5. Tulip Festival in Friedrichstadt

 

Answer: e. The Tulip Festival does NOT exist in Friedrichstadt, BUT there is a similar festival some 6,000km away in another Dutch city, Pella (Iowa) in the US.

 

  1. You’re not a true Schleswig-Holsteiner unless you try one of the two local specialties (a.) and a good (b.) beer.

Answer:

a. Sauerfleisch with broiled potatoes OR any delicacies with fish

b. Flensburger beer

 

  1. Fehmarn Island is the flattest island in Germany. True or False?

 Answer: False, but the island is the largest in Germany.

 

  1. The Fehmarn Bridge, built in 1963, was the first bridge in the world to use this design?

Answer: The basket handle tied arch bridge. Since then, many engineers have embraced this design, and another bridge in Schleswig-Holstein will be built at the Levansau crossing using this design.

 

  1. St. Peter-Ording is a popular health span resort namely because of of the discovery of which mineral in a geyser discovered in 1953?
    1. Salt Petroleum  c. Sulphur       d. Nitrate        e. Hydrogen

Answer:  c. sulphur

 

  1. How many universities and colleges exist in Schleswig-Holstein? Can you name two of them?

Answer:  12 

They are:        The University of Kiel

                       The University of Applied Sciences of Kiel

                       The Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts in Kiel

                       The Europe University of Flensburg

                       The Flensburg University of Applied Sciences

                       The Lübeck Academy of Music

                       The University of Lübeck

                       The Lübeck University of Applied Sciences

                       The University of Applied Sciences in Wedel

                       The Pinneberg AKAD

                       The Nordakademie of Elmshorn

                       The Westkuste University of Applied Sciences of Heide

And now after getting acquainted with the first of 16 states in Germany, we will now move on to the second state going south. This is one of three city-states and one that was on the news most recently: Hamburg. More in the next article….

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Guessing Quiz: Industrial History and Infrastructure

Rendsburg High Bridge in Rendsburg, Germany. Spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal. Photo taken in April 2011

This is a joint article with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles in connection with the article on Pocket Guide to Industrial History and Infrastructure between 1871 and 1914. For more information on this teaching experience, please click here for details. The Guessing Quiz is in connection with the article.

 

To close off the topic on Industrialization and Infrastructure in Germany and the USA, I decided to provide you with the Files’ Fact-Finder Guessing Quiz Questions for you to research and find answers. The answers will come after May Day in the Files.

 

1.  In the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, structures made of iron melted like lava, which contributed to the destruction of hundreds of buildings made of iron and wood.  True or False?

2. The Chicago School of Architecture was developed shortly after the Great Fire featuring which architects? Name three and how they contributed to architecture.

3. Who created the first automobile in the world: Ransom Olds, Carl Benz or Henry Ford?

4. The Diesel Motor was created in ______ and is named after this German inventor?

5. List the following canals that were built between 1871 and 1915 in chronological order.

Panama Canal      Dortmund-Ems Canal    Danube Canal    Erie Canal   Elbe-Lübeck Canal   Baltic-North Sea Canal                            Berlin-Havelland Canal

 

6. Prairie Homes consisted of 1-2 story homes made of geometric shapes resembling circles and triangles.  True or False? Who invented the Prairie Homes (Hint: he was part of the Chicago School of Architecture).

 

7. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1878, yet Berlin received its first set of electrical lighting in this year?

 

8.  Which of the following bridge engineers did NOT immigrate to the US?

Seth Hewett, Lawrence Johnson, Gustav Lindenthal, John Roebling, Friedrich Voss, Wendel Bollmann

 

9. The Minneapolis School of Bridge Builders emerged in the 1890s and later became a counterpart to the American Bridge Company conglomerate after the consolidation of _____ bridge builders in 1901. This School featured which family of bridge builders?

Hewett, Johnson, Bayne, Jones

Hewett, Fink, King, Bayne

Voss, King, Jones, Humboldt

Hewett, Maillard, Lindenthal, Steinmann

 

10. The Rendsburg High Bridge was the first bridge in the world that used the loop trestly approach. True or False? If false, when and where was the first loop trestle approach used? (See video here)

 

Happy Guessing! 🙂