Advent in Ulm

For us advent time is the time of light-shows around the city, mulled wine and trips to surrounding countries' Christmas markets. This year we decided to go to Ulm, Germany, a city about half way between Munich and Stuttgart, 530km away from Ljubljana. Why did we choose Ulm, you ask?

Typical view of Ulm with its famous cathedral
For us the main interest in Ulm is a dear friend, but for others Ulm might be interesting because of its location - right on the banks of Danube river, where in summer people come to relax, chat, drink and it almost feels like at the seaside. Besides that Ulm can boast with very nice medieval old town, called  Altstadt, with typical German wooden houses, leaning Butcher's tower (Metzgerturm), and leaning house - Hotel Schiefes Haus. Last one being so popular, that it's always fully booked so if you want to get a room there, you should book a year in advance!

Old town in Ulm
Town hall viewed from a typical narrow street
Wooden houses in the old town

Leaning house Schiefes House
Leaning Metzgerturm 

Can you see a key hanging from the roof? Now you can also see, how inclined the house is!
But a visitor in Ulm can't miss one thing: cathedral called Münster, which is with its 161,5m the highest church in the world! The tower of the cathedral really dominates the city, since you can see it from basically everywhere! There is an interesting legend connected to the tower.
When the church was being build in the middle age, workers had quite some problems with bringing beams into the old town, through the city gate. Especially one pile was way too big to fit through. The workers had no idea, what to do, so they almost started demolishing the city wall, when they saw a sparrow, a small bird carrying a big straw in its beak. The straw was also too big to fit through a small hole between the stones in the wall, so the bird turned it from horizontal position to vertical and made its way to the nest on the other side. This gave the idea to the workers, how to fit the big pile through the city gate without tearing the wall down.
Nowdays the sparrow or in German Ulmer Spatz is the sign, mascot of Ulm and just a few years ago there were many sparrow statues around the city. However, most of them have been sold in the past years and money donated for the renovation of the cathedral.

The sparrow of Ulm
Main nave of the cathedral: big angel above the entrance
Side nave with German eagle at the front.

By the way: Ulm is also a place, where famous physicist Albert Einstein was born. However his house has been destroyed, and all you can see now is an insignificant statue.

OK, now a few words about Christmas markets. During our weekend there we visited two markets: one in Neu-Ulm, neighboring city, just across the Danube and the other, bigger one in Ulm.

Christmas market in Neu-Ulm is rather small, but interest of the visitor is guaranteed by medieval theme: all the stalls are decorated in medieval style, with flags and Gothic alphabet and also the employees were all dressed in medieval costumes. Really nice, indeed. There we tried the traditional Swabian dish: spätzle - sort of egg noodles with cheese and fired onions. And Rok tried warthog sausage. To end the evening in style we ordered a mug of red mulled wine.

Sausages! Heaven for Rok :)
Stollen - traditional fruit bread
Christmas market in Ulm is a lot bigger, with many many stalls. And those stalls ... wow, you can buy everything there! From all kinds of nuts in sugar, chocolate, fried ... also there are Stollen, kind of fruit bread, many types of sweets, sausages, sauerkraut, mulled wine, punch and trendy drink called Feuerzangenbowle ... in the middle of the market there are also carousels for the youngest. So, what we tried there: Rok couldn't resist Feuerwurst - very spicy sausage, and I ordered a pumpkin soup in a bread bowl.
Christmas market in Ulm
Fuerzangenbowle: mulled wine in a mug, sugar block on the spoon, rum pured over and then lit, so the whole drink is on fire!

What about the prices?
 Well, it definitely isn't cheap (at least for Slovenians). A few examples: Mulled wine is 2€ + 2€ deposit for a mug, pumpkin soup was 6€ + 2€ deposit for a spoon, and you get one refill for free! Huge portion of Spätzle was 5€ and sausages in bread were between 3,5€ - 7€. So, affordable, but not for everyday visit :)

To sum it up: Ulm is a very nice and interesting city by itself, but visiting it in advent time makes it even nicer with all the decorations and the smell of a mulled wine just about everywhere :) 



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