We drove north to Dortmund this morning to see one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany and arguably the largest Christmas tree (actually a creation of dozens of trees stacked artfully together) in the world. We parked at the train station and walked into the pedestrian zone where we ordered Turkish Doner kebabs, another German mainstay given the large Turkish population. The pedestrian zone was packed wall to wall with shoppers enjoying the first days of the market. The market was absolutely stunning, a collection of huge Christmas displays and personalized booths that seemed to each be trying to outdo each other with decorations, similar to the personal touches provided on a parade float. Four plazas were filled with wooden booths that were elaborately decorated with Christmas themes including reindeer, Santa, and even a little gondola that actually moved tiny passengers from one end of the booth to the other. We sampled some chocolate dipped fruit (bananas, apples, and strawberries) from one of the Christmas booths and looked for the handmade ornaments that I remembered from Bavarian Christmas markets of past years. The wares themselves, however, were uninteresting (except for the food!) with lots of commercial goods including scarves, purses, jewelry, etc. There were several incredible rides, much more beautiful than the typical fair rides at home. There was a swing ride that had a mix of swings, ships, geese, and other creatures to ride as it lifted kids up in the air and spun them around. All of the brightly colored ride was decorated with twinkling lights and detailed paintings. Another ride allowed kids to board an antique car and drive through a Christmas wonderland with beautiful Christmas lights, a tunnel, snowman, Santa, and much more. I've never seen such a pretty ride. It looked like a kids' dreamland of the North Pole. The kids even got to ride live ponies.
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