Stephen Travels

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Have Yourself a Merry German Christmas: Day 4

Stuttgart, GermanyDuring World War II, the Allies dropped 142,000 bombs on Stuttgart, destroying 39,125 buildings. Needless to say, with some sporadic exceptions here and there, it doesn’t have much of an Old Town anymore. I stepped off the train from Frankfurt and emerged from the very sturdy hauptbahnhof onto a newish and heavily congested pedestrian zone: Saturday Christmas shopping was in full gear. But this was just an ordinary shopping area. Once I arrived at the Christmas market, the number of people seemed to have quadrupled. Welcome to one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. Read more >


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Have Yourself a Merry German Christmas: Day 1

Frankfurt, GermanyEver since I was a child, the Christmas markets in Germany held a special appeal for me. For some inexplicable reason, they seemed to epitomize this most festive holiday, more so than those in any other country. I knew that, someday, I would have to see them. Several decades later, I made the dream a reality. After careful research about the cities with the best markets, I had to select a central location from which I could make easy day trips to other cities over the course of one week, traveling by train and sparing myself the hassle of changing hotels every night. I pinpointed Frankfurt as my home for seven days. But the city was more than just my base. It was my introduction to a centuries-old tradition that exceeded all my expectations and made me conclude that this is how you must spend some time in December. Read more >