Over the weekend Sydney & I visited the Christmas Village in Baltimore with my parents. The Village is in its second year and I believe someone from my Mom’s work had mentioned it and after looking at the website we decided it would be worth going.
I’ve read on some expat blogs (like Casey over at We Took The Road Less Traveled) all about the magic that is the European Christmas Market and I was excited. I guess my hopes were set a bit too high because I was let down big time. We were very excited to spend some time doing some specialty Christmas shopping and eating some delicious treats but we were let down in a huge way. AND we paid $5 PER PERSON to get in just to be let down.
First, it is really small. It advertised 60 vendors, which is a lot, but the space was very small for the market to be set up in. Also, I guess I was expecting some larger “stalls” than what was set up. The small stalls made it VERY crowded and if there were two people at some stalls it was too crowded to go in or see what was being offered. We probably ended up missing a lot because we simply could not see what was being offered by each vendor. Some vendors had stuff set up both inside and outside of their stalls and those were the ones that seemed to be getting the most business because they were the easiest to access.
Secondly, the items for sale were – in my opinion – extremely overpriced. Some of the wares were handmade, which is fine but those handmade wares were definitely priced higher than necessary. I ended up spending next to nothing because I knew I could purchase similar quality handmade goods at one of the local shops near my home. We purchased a few, reasonably priced items from a couple vendors but most of the stuff we saw didn’t seem to be worth the price tag. It was kind of disappointed because we were really excited to shop and we were extremely let down by the shopping experience we were greeted with. They did have this special shop in the back of the tented area that sold items “straight from Germany.” You had to wait in a separate line to get in to that shop – which was, you guessed it, super cramped. It was also REALLY expensive. I saw a relatively small, wooden nativity scene that I was interested in until I saw the nearly $300 price tag attached to it. It was plain wood. Plain. No paint, nothing fancy, plain. Needless to say I did not leave with that or anything else from the special market.
Thirdly, the food. Another let down. It seemed, on the website, that there was much food to be eaten and my mom and I were so excited to eat and shop our way through this market. At least there was mulled wine because I would have been seriously disappointed if there wasn’t.
Then, there was supposed to be a Kids Corner and a Kids Train but we didn’t see any of that set up. There is a chance we missed it, but really the set up was pretty close quarters so I don’t think we did. And – there was a train, presumably we would have heard that. I’m not sure if we went too early for that to be set up (it opens at 11 and we were there around 2), but we didn’t even see anyone that you could really ask about it except for two girls that were manning the ticket booth and swamped with a huge line so we didn’t ask because by that point we were too disappointed and way too over the whole thing to try to salvage anything of it.
Additionally, there was an inside tent with some vendors set up. That was a nice break from the cold but it was really crowded. The tent definitely needed more space because it was hard to maneuver around other shoppers with kids and/or strollers. The “beer garden” and entertainment section was right smack in the middle. They had some tables set up so you could enjoy the music/entertainment but the little section certainly didn’t accommodate a lot of people. We couldn’t find a table so we ended up standing to eat the food we bought. It didn’t make for an enjoyable meal and it made us glad we had stopped for a bite to eat before we got there since we had gotten a late start.
We definitely left the Christmas Village disappointed but we managed to salvage our day by wandering around the Inner Harbor and letting Sydney run off some energy since she had been stuck in her carseat for almost 2 hours and then in a stroller because it was too cramped for her to walk on her own (since she is a terrible listener sometimes and she would have likely just run off or broken something).
We also visited the Carousel they have set up at one end of the Inner Harbor. I wasn’t sure how Sydney would react to it but she LOVED it. She was excited about the horse (!!) and once it started going boy was she full of giggles and laughter. Her excitement about the quick ride around the Carousel definitely was the bright spot in the day.
After a slow walk back we headed home. Thankfully we weren’t sitting in any game day traffic (thanks to the Army Navy game that day) on the way home because we left during the game so our ride home was much quicker than the ride there. All in all I enjoyed spending the day with my parents and I’m glad we were able to do that but I don’t think I’ll we’ll stick to doing stuff that would be way less disappointing than the Christmas Village in Baltimore.