Christmas Chillin’ and Chocolate Fillin’ in Berlin (video)


Weihnachtsmarkt, Alexanderplatz, Berlin  Photo Russ Johnson

I am not a feral shopper, a pack rat ripping through the carrion at Best Buy on Black Friday or maniacally pounding a keyboard on Cyber Monday. I like to take the holidays calmly…and slowly. I would gladly become a standard bearer for a Slow Christmas Movement.

I can do this in Europe thanks to a glass of hot mulled wine or chocolate, a juicy sausage, a gingerbread cookie huddled next to a firepit at a Christmas Market.

Weihnachtsmarkts, Christkindlmarkts and Marchés de Noël begin around Thanksgiving and coincide with the Christian celebration of Advent, not retail industry spreadsheets. They go back to the Middle Ages and happen every night through the holidays. Most are free.

In Berlin, I took a walk through the carny atmosphere of the Alexandeplatz Weihnachtsmarkt and, a U-Bahn stop away through the most popular one, at Gendarmenmarkt,  which features a nice selection of crafts along with a parade of carolers.

The best way to come in from the cold is nearby at Charlottenstraße 60 at Fassbender & Rausch, which calls itself the largest chocloaterie in the world. It is a two story immersion into to a chocolaty world minus a tweaky Willie Wonka.

World' Largest Chocolate StoreFassbender & Rausch, Berlin – Photo: Russ Johnson

You enter an elevator from the outside and rise to a second floor restaurant where you can sample not a trifle of truffles and other delights along with, perhaps, a hot dark chocolate laced with Jack Daniels or some other potent chill-killer. The waiters here look happy…very happy. If I would have visited here as a child, I might have hopped, skipped and jumped down an entirely different career path.

Fassbender Restauraunt

The down elevator opens into a chocolate city where you can buy everything from gourmet assortments of solid dark chocolatesmade from beans from around the world – as I did – to bittersweet models of Berlin landmarks. I passed on the opportunity to gobble up the Reichstag or the Brandenberg Gate.

Leaving, I really wanted to go back upstairs and repeat the process.


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