For the past couple of years I have had the good fortune to spend my time either working from my home office (involving a hefty 10 second commute from my bed to my desk) or from Berlin. Pretty nice, eh.
Strangely enough, I always found it necessary to fly over to Berlin and meet my colleagues for some very urgent face-to-face meetings in early December.
And the fact that the hotel where I always stay is situated immediately opposite the prettiest Christmas market in Berlin? Completely unconnected, of course:-)
Welcome to Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt...
Viewed from above, it's a sea of pristine tents, each decorated with a single warmly glowing star, and presided over by a huge Christmas tree.
The shops (you can't really call them stalls) are immaculately edged with twinkling fairy lights, and draped with red and green fabrics.
Hungry? How about a sit-down meal in a heated restaurant, with fine china and waiter service...
Thirsty? How about a glass of bubbles (yes, that's a bottle of Veuve on the counter) or a warming mug of Gluhwein...
You can buy wooden toys:
As much cheese as you can stagger home with:
Fairy lights made from flowers and shells:
And beautiful wooden boards:
Yes, the Berlin Christmas markets are a thoroughly classy affair. Having said that, being a northener born and bred, I will always retain a soft spot for the Manchester Christmas markets, where if you don't come home soaked in beer, with a sore stomach from attempting to eat something from every single food stall, and an empty wallet from having paid £5 for a small bratwurst, then you're just Not Doing It Properly.