Friday, 18 December 2009

Liege and Valkenberg Christmas Markets

Off last week by Eurostar to Liege (Belgium) and Valkenberg (Netherlands). Although we were moving our own bags, it meant there were no weight restrictions (and no 2 hour check in for flights).

Leige Guillemins Station is spectacular. I'm not always a wholehearted enthusiast for modern architecture, but that's usually because it's derivative, pastiche and gimcrack. I can't see most of it lasting for 20 years, never mind 200.

But Liege Guillemins is in a league of its own. The design by Santiago Calatrava is part of a much wider scheme with a lake and avenue of trees in a space presently occupied by the bus station. Both the station and bust station were ony 100 metres from our hotel, so it was easy to get into the centre, Place Sainte Lambert and the Christmas Markets.

All the usual stuff was on show, but I'm a sucker for traditional Christmas decorations etc.,

Even a Belgian elf!

And this is Marea indulging in yet another cup of gluhwein (actually, that's unfair; she drinks about half the quantity I consume).

Lots of Christmas lights - These in the Sainte lambert shopping arcade.

And, of course, the European Circus was in town, though we didn't go to see it.

Back to the station, (next morning) where they were rather precariously cleaning the glass. I'm sure it was safe, even if it didn't look it.

Traditional Wooden toy stall

And, of course, a snow slope.

But what every good Christmas Market town has to have is a ferris wheel!

... And lots of bars!

Next day we went off in a coach across the border to Valkenberg in the Netherlands where the Christmas Markets ar in chalk cave which run for miles under the town. I think that greeting visitors with a rather angry-looking Santa is a bit odd though.

One of the markets is in the 'Velvet' Caves (no, I don't know why). These were loosely themed on 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens.

Inside, they were warm and dry, unlike the market at Liege, which had tended to be very wet and rainy. They were also extremely spacious, so not really claustrophobic at all.

The caves were used during the war to hide British airmen and Jewish refugees. There is some remarkable artwork all through.

... And bars, of course!

This is the entrance to the Town Caves.

And tableaux just inside the entrance.

Lots more stalls with all the tradional Christmas figurines, etc.

And angels on almost every wall.

And here is the life-size nativity just outside the caves.

Then a quick run on to Maastricht where the market is more like a fairground, though it does have proper market stalls as well.

A carousel...

(and the obligatory ferris wheel).

And a rather bizarrely lit skating rink.
All in all, it was a lot of fun. However, nothing really comes close to Nuremberg and Rothenberg. Perhaps next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment