Meine Güte the Germans know how to throw a good Markt. I can’t help but feel that perhaps hundreds of years of practice have resulted in perfecting all elements of a good market. These elements can essentially be broken down into three categories – food, food, more food. An ideal market will feature local produce that you can fill a pretty basket with and feel super European and old-timey simultaneously, loads of cakes and chocolate and bread, cold weather options like hot, crunchy Pommes or even a gourmet Wurst. Depending on the time of year a good market should also offer refreshments like hot drinks to warm the tips of your toes, or some sort of refreshing mixed alcohol like an Erdbeerbowle that has summer mixed in with the fresh chopped strawberries. I know some people go to markets to genuinely do a shop, or for the crafts and knick knacks, but I go for the food and I am never, ever disappointed. (And yet, here I am, still claiming to be mystified as to why I weigh a whole lot more than I did when I first arrived in this country.) Actually, I go to our local Wochenmarkt more for the coffee than anything else, and for the berries in the summertime. And to feel European and old-timey with my twisted paper bags of veggies. Anyway, my point is, I go to eat and drink, anything else is gravy.
One of the city’s most beloved yearly markets is the Herbstmarkt at the Freilichtmuseum and let me tell you, to torture a metaphor, it is smothered in gravy. Particularly for die Lüdde, who had one of the most splendid afternoons a small person could ask for. A word of note, though – go mid-week. We tried it on a Sunday (I know, amateur) and it seemed the entire state had decided to go. We went back one afternoon in the middle of the week and it was perfect.
The Freilichtmuseum itself is a big, open museum set on 40 hectares, that is essentially a north German village from the 1600s, with 60 beautifully maintained historical buildings like thatched barns and stalls, houses and mills. The idea is you step back in time for the hours you spend idling throughout the village, and you can imagine when the leaves are golden and red, and there is a nip in the misty air, those idling hours are quite magical. The gaggles of snow-white geese and paddocks dotted with farm animals just add to the magic, as do the quiet, tree-fringed lake and the apple trees.
The Herbstmarkt happens on these beautiful grounds and takes you inside the old barns and workshops, and outside onto the green fields and down the stony paths. There are arts and crafts, homewares, local produce, and loads and loads of food. We were modest in our consumption and only tried a deer sausage and a big herby, cheesy bread affair. And took home a nice block of pure praline. Very modest.
But die Lüdde found the real jewels in the market’s crown. Forget the hot, fresh food, the crunchy yellow leaves, the big old farm horse with his big old stable that looked like something out of Hobbiton. Die Lüdde found bubbles. Big, soapy bubbles that the big kids were trailing around a meadow. If she was really quick, quicker than the big kids, she could pop some. She was in heaven. It seemed the afternoon had peaked. Then she rode on a carousel, twice, and her little face was just shining. It was a banner afternoon.