Imagine a Visit to Santa’s Workshop


Christmas markets in Nuremberg
Christmas markets in Nuremberg


As a child, I think everyone had images of Santa Claus toiling away on our Christmas toys in his workshop, surrounded by a legion of elves bustling about putting the final details on each masterpiece. Today, the reality is 24-hour blockbuster sales, online shopping and gift cards for the sake of convenience and saving time. Where has all the magic gone? Turn back the hands of time and relive your childhood dreams at the Christmas Markets of Europe.

A-ROSA Cruises offers a perfectly timed sailing to yesteryear departing Frankfurt on December 3, 2013, for eight glorious nights along the Main and Danube rivers between Frankfurt and Vienna. A Christmas market is an outdoor street faire that was started originally at Dresden’s Strietzelmarkt in 1434 but is now held in many other towns & countries. Every stop along the way, the towns and villages are dressed up in their finest holiday decorations complete with traditional sparkling lights in abundance, open-air wooden booths and the scent of local specialties cooking away is an invitation you cannot resist. 

Like no other time of year, this is when you can experience the picturesque settings that appear to be a fantasy of sound, light and aromas. Are you hungry yet? The “foodie” in all of us will enjoy traditional holiday favorites, such as—Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), traditional Christmas cookies such as

Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread), Bratwurst, and for many visitors one of the highlights of the market:Glühwein, hot mulled wine (with or without a shot of brandy). Treasured gifts include Zwetschgenmännle (figures made of decorated dried plums) & Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers).

If that were not enough, each town square and village is filled with historical buildings, castles, churches and museums. In Miltenberg, tour the old Town with many timber-framed houses, the Mildenburg castle, the Wurzburg Gate and Saint Lawrence’s chapel. One of the country’s most beautiful towns is Wertheim, where the Tauber River joins the Main, with the largest castle ruin in southern Germany, the Wertheim Castle. The city of Wurzburg is overlooked by the huge Marienberg Fortress surrounded by vineyards. 

Bamberg is a historic ensemble, comprising the Cathedral, churches and monasteries, bridges, narrow lanes and squares, half-timbered buildings and baroque facades that still exude the magic of centuries past. Nuremberg was founded around the turn of the 11th century, according to the first documented mention of the city in 1050. Imperial Nuremberg is often referred to as having been the ‘unofficial capital’ of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly because Reichstage (Imperial Diets) and courts met at Nuremberg Castle. One of the most spectacular Christmas markets can be found in the old walled city main square. Regensburg is a city of outstanding historic significance. The authentically preserved medieval character of the old town allows Regensburg to hold the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2006. Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, but that’s just for starters. You will see Hohensalzburg Fortress, the Franciscan church, St. Peter’s Monastery, Mozart’s birthplace in Getreidegasse, the Residence and its magnificent State Rooms, and the Mirabel Gardens. Vienna, the capital of Austria, is still one of Europe’s most seductive cities and is worth a visit not just for its incomparable cultural treasures, but also for its traditional coffee houses and pastries.

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