Tag: markets

To market, to market

To market, to market

Peru

We do love a good market. Fruit and veg, craft, exotic food, artisan, we’re not fussy, we’ll visit any or all. The noise and vibrancy of locals and tourists shopping, eating, touting and wandering is often the heart of a city, and is usually our first port of call when we reach a new destination.

The markets in Peru have been amazing. The stalls are so colourful, the sellers so friendly. There’s been music and food and multitudes of alleyways to explore.

Markets used to be my downfall. Over the years I’ve been easily swayed by items such as fabrics, earrings, bags, shoes, tablecloths, wall hangings, paintings, carvings, bowls, blouses, socks, belly dancing outfits, necklaces, rings (finger and toe), tea, stuffed animals, beads, scarves, pants, carpets, hats, hair ties and key rings, just to name a few.

But not anymore, no sir. I have developed a resourceful and effective ‘analyse and discuss’ technique when colourful, glittery objects catch my eye, and I am going to share six real-life examples I have put into practice in Peru so that you too can consider the same strategy whenever you are tempted.

You’re welcome.

1. Alpaca wool blankets (also alpaca wool shawl, socks, poncho, scarf) – OMG this is so soft, Don feel this, how good would this blanket be on the couch at night while we’re watching tv? Might be a bit hot, yes, true, we do live in Queensland, there’s no need for an alpaca wool anything, but for that one week of winter it would be so good. Yes? Sì?

2. Knotted cotton wrist band with a simple but colourful Inca pattern – oh, look, only one sol, I should buy one and have as a laid back decoration knotted around my wrist, where it’ll get wet and dirty and ragged and eventually lose all of its colour, but still, what better way to represent being carefree and on holidays than a knotted cotton wrist band?

3. Oven mitts with ‘Welcome to Machu Picchu’ embroidered on them – OMG these would be great in our kitchen, not only useful but also a reminder of our time in Peru. I can just see myself removing tamales from the oven, plus the orange matches our wall. Ok, so they’re a bit thin, and yeah, perhaps a little tacky. But they’d be so useful. And nothing says Peru like oven mitts!

4. Peruvian women’s hat – oh wow, I look great in this hat, don’t I look great in this hat? I’d definitely wear this hat, might be a bit hot in summer, but would be perfect for winter. I know I already have three winter hats and several beanies, but come on, this one is from Peru! Made from alpaca! And I look great in this hat!

5. Peruvian earrings just like the ones I owned when I was twenty – oh look, Peruvian earrings just like the ones I owned when I was twenty. Why on earth did I ever get rid of them? I should definitely buy some more, although if I really wanted a new pair I could have bought some at any folk festival over the past twenty odd years. Still, I used to love those earrings.

6. Red ankle boots (with Peruvian fabric inserts) – ooh, boots. I love boots! Red boots! I don’t have any red ankle boots with Peruvian fabric inserts. And they’re cheap for boots. And they’re leather, except for the Peruvian fabric inserts. I could wear these at least twice a year, maybe three times. So cost per wear isn’t so good, but look at them! They’re awesome!

See? Just give me a moment and I can completely talk myself out of all manner of purchases.

Employ this simple technique and you too can enjoy a 35% success rate just like me.

The Christmas markets

The Christmas markets

Dresden

We had a moment last night. Standing on the cobblestones of the Neumarkt in Dresden, the majestic Frauenkirche looking down on us and Christmas markets surrounding us. The bells of the church were pealing, our fingers and toes were icy and it was absolutely magical. We stood until the bells were silent, soaking in the atmosphere so as to never forget it.

We are beside ourselves with the pure joy that is the Christmas markets in Germany. They have been a beautiful surprise and a highlight of our time away.

Each market we’ve visited has been in a fairytale setting – huge domed churches, squares that are hundreds of years old and filled with history, cobblestones and gaslights. It’s been freezing cold, but that’s ok, there’s glühwein at every third stall. Enormous copper pots steam invitingly from the front counters. You can add rum, or amaretto, or even alcoholic cherries. There’s eggnog, there are hot toddies, there’s cider, and from 10am onwards everybody has their hands wrapped around a ceramic mug filled with their choice of hot drink.

There are rows and rows of stalls to wander down, all surrounded by decorated pine branches. Exquisite wooden Santas and Christmas figures holding steins, fishing rods or rolling pins. Delicate white ceramic stars and hearts, miniature German buildings to house candles. Ironwork happening as you watch, lacework, felting, glass. One stall filled with brushes of every kind, another with tiny mechanical boats. Wooden candle holders, trees and cutout decorations. Christmas figures made of prunes!

There is so much food – barbecued bratwurst, currywurst, goulash, potatoes. It’s being dished out as fast as the alcohol. Cured meats, the biggest slabs of grilled cheesy bread we’ve ever seen, chestnuts on open fires. Something sweet? Enormous mounds of nougat piled on top of one another, hot sugary nuts being stirred around bowls, gingerbread hearts hanging from the eaves. Dough balls frying in hot oil before being covered in icing sugar or filled with marmalade. Stollen, apple fritters, pancakes, chocolate covered fruits. The food smells mingle with the glühwein – sugary dough, warm alcohol, barbecue smoke.

Everybody is smiling, laughing, talking, having a good time. It’s like a gentle happy murmur across the square. There’s Christmas carols – in Berlin there were choirs all night, in Dresden a small group of trumpeters in the giant German Christmas pyramid. Our room was so close in Dresden that when we got home, frozen but full of food and glühwein, we could keep our window cracked open and listen until late.

We’re in Nuremberg now, our last stop in Germany. I’m sure I’ll add to the many photos I’ve taken and beautiful decorations already bought, but the best souvenir I’ll have is the memory of that moment last night.