CCC Coffee Pot and Christmas Markets
Whilst a number of us expected the Christmas Cracker joke morning, it was not to be. Instead Richard entertained and regaled us with the visit he made with his U£A* group to Christmas Markets on the Continent. (The mainland of Europe, not including the British Isles.) So at the end of November last, a coach load of good and well behaved people from the local area departed, by coach, to Dover, heading via Seasick Alley, to the Netherlands. Valkenburg was the first stop for a few days, and the party stayed at the Grand Metropol Hotel. Richard and Di have been married over …….. a lot of years, so, surprise-surprise, they were in the honeymoon sweet!** The Christmas decorations in the hotel were stunning. There was even a Christmas tree that circulated and recirculated its own snow.
The next morning they visited the renown Valkenburg caves, or at least two of them.
These extraordinary caves are turned into underground Christmas Markets, with numerous shops and even a restaurant, serving a local hot spiced mulled wine. From some of Richard’s photographs it appeared that Santa gave practical demonstrations of the wines long term effect. (I understand Santa did recover by Christmas Eve.)
They also have a Christmas parade with decorated floats and dancing groups in great costumes, with the final float being the one that conveyed Santa, who appeared much recovered from the days excesses.
After a magical experience the party visited Aachen, on the German border. The market is located near the Rat House. (I have been told that this is the town hall and should be spelt Rathaus!) The coach park was some distance from the town centre but right next to the Lindt Chocolate factory, which was fortuitous. Chocolate lovers found this factory shop glorious, especially if you had a sweet tooth.
Again, the Christmas decorated town was a delight, with stalls of every design, from selling gloves, hats, bags, Faulty Towers moose hats, sausages and even a stall devoted to selling plastic ducks. Yes, plastic ducks!
A visit to the beautiful Aachen Cathedral, traditionally known in English as the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle, with its beautiful stained glass windows and fantastic mosaics’ concluded the visit. So ended the visit of Richard and Diane to the Christmas markets of Valkenburg and Aachen, so, now to Thame Market!
In the epilogue we were reminded to ‘Look upon Zion, the city of our festivals;
your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved;
its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken.’ A city of our God.
*U£A should read U3A. The moral of this story is-don’t forget the shift key.
** ‘sweet’ should read ‘suite’, or should it?