Wednesday night Tess appeared at the foot of our bed.  It was late, we were half asleep, I assumed she was sick. But no. The opposite. She was super excited! Her friends were all home from college & Thomas was having a get-together. A mini high school reunion. Could she go?

Of course she can go. That wasn’t really the question, the question was how would she get there? While we live on the outer-ranges of Stuttgart, so does Thomas. But we live on the west side, in the black forest, Thomas lives on the opposite side of Stuttgart, almost directly due east. It’s a haul by car, it’s a day trip by train(s). What Tess meant was, can you drive me?

Because. Even though Tess drives, she’s not good with stick and all we have are manual cars. Dave & I groaned. It’s Christmas. She’s missed her friends. We want her to have fun. But man, is that a drive. And then? Then I remembered that Thomas lives next door to Esslingen. Esslingen, home of my favorite Christmas market. Not only would I score excellent mom points driving Tess, I’d also get some alone time (with my camera!) at the Esslingen Christmas market! I’m not sure who was happier, me or Tess.

I drove Tess all the way to Thomas’, practically kicking her out of a moving vehicle, and high-tailed it to Esslingen. I quickly & easily found a parking spot, it was still early enough that the market wasn’t flooded with the after-school or evening crowds. I spent the next hour and half taking pictures of my favorite booths, the market, Christmas decorations, and treating myself to a warm Glühbier and meat-on-a-stick.

Esslingen has both a traditional Christmas market, in the bigger marktplatz, and the smaller middle-ages/renaissance market in the rathausplatz (government square). I have to admit, it was very, very difficult to walk through the main square to the second square, without stopping for traditional Glühwein (mulled wine) or chocolate-covered fruit or anything-cheese covered. I did stop to take pictures. So many pictures! I had such a hard time picking just a few.

I wandered through both market squares, taking pictures, talking to random people (I had no family with me to stop me), and thoroughly enjoying a little me-time. After only an hour I caved. People kept walking by with savory, delicious, meat-on-a-stick. I’d heard about this meat-on-a-stick from Thomas’ mom, she’d yelled the recommendation at me as I was pushing Tess out of my moving vehicle. Once I saw it, once I smelled it, I had to have it.

That meat-on-a-stick lived up to its name. Tender, juicy, with crispy bits and seasoned so heavenly. Oh man, I’m drooling now just thinking of it. I also choose to get my first ever Glühbier. I wasn’t sure about that. Glühwein is mulled wine. Spiced wine. Like Christmas spices. I was worried that those same spices in a warm(!) bier would be… not tasty. I was wrong!

Glühbier is delicious! Especially with meat-on-a-stick. It was warm, and fizzy, a little sweet, a little light, a little yeast-y. Just delicious and perfect on a cold day (with meat-on-a-stick). I stood at a tall wooden table, in the middle of a Christmas market, in a fairytale-esque town in Germany, with people from Germany, France & Croatia and just grinned ear-to-ear. I’d found my Christmas spirit.

Umbrella ceiling! My first.

Everyone who goes to Esslingen takes this picture. How could you not?

First booth! Candy & Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts)

It’s remarkably uncrowded this afternoon. Score!

First booth on the right. Lots & lots & lots of drink choices.

I am so tempted to get a drink-drink. But I have to drive.

I am also tempted to buy all the things! But I forgot my wallet.

I have a hundred pictures of just this booth & how incredibly cute it is!

I love these ornaments and how they “self hang”

The traditional Lichtergestelle or Weihnachtspyramiden, Christmas Pyramid. The heat from the candles make these carousels spin.

There is both a traditional Christmas market, and a Middle-ages market, including a special kids section “Zwergenland” or dwarf country.

I love the cups in the middle-ages market the best. Glühbier and meat on a stick!

This is my favorite booth. The best food in the entire market!

Then sun is going down, it’s time to head out & get Dane to breakdance

I’m super tempted to eat more & get another drink, another cup!

It’s like walking through a fairytale

The wooden ornaments are some of my favorites. I need more than one tree.

I also need more than one stomach. I love all the “wild” choices!

I want another star. I have two stars. But how gorgeous would a wall full of stars be?

Santa is waving goodbye. Goodbye! Til next year.