If you’ve been following me on Instagram you might have realised that I have embarked on a European holiday! A winter getaway involving snow was long overdue as was a Christmas with my parents and German grandmother, so we decided to all meet in my mother’s home town of Essen, Germany to have a European Christmas! The last time I was in Essen for Christmas was in 2005, and it snowed on Christmas day! So needless to say my expectations for this year’s winter Christmas was very high – sadly Germany experienced its hottest winter since 1771 and with that came the realisation that we would not experience a white Christmas!
Nevertheless we got to experience a beautiful time with my family and the magic of German Christmas markets and the intricacies of all the beautiful handmade decorations. Photographs unfortunately do not capture the atmosphere, the delicious smells of roasted almonds and chocolate filled crepes – and yes I ate and drank my heart out – considering it was so cold it was a great excuse to have a gluhwein or two a day! However you will notice that I don’t have many photos of food on this trip, this is predominantly because I ate my food before I photographed it because it was soooo good! Sorry you’ll have to experience it for yourself 🙂
During the industrial revolution Essen was one of Germany’s most important coal and steel centres and is also the town where my mother comes from. So even though it is not a common German tourist destination, having family ties here including my grandmother means that I’ve always had a connection to it and seeing as I am a bit of a Nomad it has become one of my many homes. I hope you enjoy my Essen travel diary and my recommendations below.
Things to do in Essen:
- Kennedy Platz Christmas Markets – If you happen to be in Essen prior to Christmas the Kennedy Platz Christmas Markets are a must.
- The Zollverein – Back in its day The Zollverein was one of the world’s largest and most modern coal-mining facilities, it has now become a museum and gives a great overview of Essen’s history as coal giant.
- Villa Hügel – A beautiful mansion which belonged to the Krupp dynasty – they owned the largest steel and artillery company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. The mansion is now a museum and will take you through the family history and the role they played in the second world war.
- Werden – It is a charming little suburb of Essen, which has a beautiful old town. You can go visit the St Ludgerus Basilika, stroll down the cobbled streets, pop into its many little boutiques or pick up some delicious baked goods and go for a walk along either the Ruhr river all the Baldeneysee.
- Neighbouring Cities – Cologne and Düsseldorf are always worth a visit, there are always interesting events going on, there are a lot more independent boutiques and cafes and they are only hour away by train.
If you are in Cologne make sure you go to the Altstadt – the old city, along the narrow cobbled streets you’ll find antique shops and other treasures and when you get to the water you’ll come across the cutest colourful old buildings. Make sure to grab yourself a Kölsch beer and admire the views of the Rhine.
If you go to Düsseldorf, if the weather permits take a boat cruise along the Rhine river and admire the city from a different perspective. Some of my favourite shops are Vintage and More – great authentic vintage pieces in great condition, Couture 2nd – it is luxury designer heaven and so much Chanel ohlalala. And my new favourite Selekteur their moto is “Life is awesome, don’t buy crap” the store is literally what I want my house and life to look like, Scandinavian inspired style, simple but beautifully made homewares, accessories and clothes that that will live on in your closest and home for years to come!
I will be posting about each of the cities I have visited on my trip, so stay tuned for the rest of my European travel diaries. Xx Nadine