For those of you that read “The Abyss of Holiday Cheer”, you are aware that our last foray to a Christmas market was not something out of a Bing Crosby movie. Well, we put that experience behind us, jumped in the car, and drove the 2.5-hour journey to Kalmar Castle, which was hosting another traditional Swedish Christmas market.
This time, K was totally into the experience. It might have been due to the fact that since our last market, we have been working on really indoctrinating him into the Christmas lore. He now has a pretty strong grasp that there are flying reindeer that transports a large man dressed in red with a white beard who brings presents to children around the world. K has also been learning a few Christmas carols at school and home, so we listened to Jingle Bells and Santa is Coming to Town over and over and over on the drive. (For those of you without kids, at a certain age they begin to demand to listen to the same song over and over and over again. And if you try to diversify the selection, be prepared to have screaming 3-year-old protests to accompany the music.)
So, while the mood was set by the music and K’s knowledge of the mechanics of Christmas, he might also have been more into the experience cause the market was in a freakin’ castle!!! Kalmar Castle I am sure is a smaller castle in comparison to others in Europe, but it was the first one we had been to, and it was perfect for us. Built in the 1500s, it sits on a small island just a few paces out into the Kalmar Strait of the Baltic Sea. It has a simple rectangle design with an inner courtyard and is surrounded by battlements decked out with cannons. The most magical part of this market was that it was integrated throughout the castle.
At the barbican and drawbridge over the moat, you had to wait in line to buy a ticket. After which you proceeded through the castle’s gatehouse and portcullises and emerged into the inner courtyard where the first Christmas stalls were located. Stepping into the castle, the market flowed throughout and around the stone corridors and grand halls. Parts of the castle were roped off to preserve the museum displays that are always there; but the throngs of people tramping up and down the broad stone staircases and haggling over Tomtems and wool hats brought life to the castle that I am sure is not typically present. In addition, there were also a number of folks decked out in traditional medieval dress going about the market, guarding the banquet table, and hosting a fishing game for the kids. Unfortunately, the guards with their halberds scared K a bit, so we had to very quickly pass through some of the rooms.
To K’s disappointment, this market did not have carolers or Tomtem (Santa Clause) present, but he quickly over looked this when he was able to buy a toy king figurine. After, tromping around the upper corridors, we descend into the castle cellars where the real goodies were waiting. Hot glogg, smoked sausages of all meat varieties, cheese, mustard, jellies and jams. The food vendors were doing brisk business, and was much too crowded for a daddy carrying an 11-month-old baby on this back; but after striking a pretty good deal with some vendors we emerged with some really yummy candied almonds, holiday sausages, and mustards. And before departing the castle, we enjoyed our packed lunch of peanut butter & jelly under the outer battlements looking out into the Baltic Sea.