Monday, November 26, 2012

Five of our favourite Markets

Here are five of our favourite markets from Chile, Spain, Vietnam and Germany, selling a mix of food & handcraft. All which give you a sense of what the countries are about and add to your experience when you visit them and the cities where they are located.

In 1817, Bernado O'Higgins, the then ruler of Chile ordered the building of a purpose built food, fruit and fish marketplace which lead to the construction of the Mercado Central, in Santiago.  A drive to exploit the tourist potential of the Mercado has led to a partial loss of its original use. Today you'll find sevarel restaurants in the Market's main hall offering exactly what visitor's want: simple and authentic Chilean dishes with an emphasis on freshness. The stalls around the central hall offer an unrivalled and impressive selection of fruit, vegetables and fish, making this a true "foodie" heaven. We ate at the Mercado twice during our stay, both times at Augusto's restaurant in the main hall. Without doubt the best known restaurant in the Mercado

Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile

Moving away from food and in particular seafood, another great market to visit whilst in Santiago selling traditional Chilean Handcraft in the Centro Artesanal Los Dominicos. You'll find this wonderful country style market in Las Condes, located next to the San Vincente Ferrer Church. It is well worth a visit, lots to see in a very relaxed atmosphere with a couple of bars/restaurants to take a break,. Below are some more shots which I hope will show you why this lovely location is well worth a visit.

A visit to Valencia is imcomplete without spending some time in the city's Mercado Central, situated in a huge iron, glass and tile Art Nouveau building. It opened in 1928 and is one of the largest and most attractive markets in Europe. Every morning around 350 stalls are filled with an amazing variety of food. We had a great time taking in all that the market had on display and left wishing that we had something similar near to where we live, sadly we don't. The Mercado Central is a great showcase for the very best in Spanish food, here are some images which will hopefully whet your appetites....

Mercado Central, Valencia

Whilst we were in Vietnam, in 2009 we visited the city of Hoi An and spent a couple of days there exploring. Hoi An's market is a blaze of colour and noise with an incredible array of fresh fruit, vegtables, meat and flowers. 

Moving away from food, our list of favourite markets takes a more festive direction as we approach the end of 2012 and the Christmas period. Traditional Christmas Markets have been common on mainland Europe for decades and their success has led to them appearing further afield too. One of the first we visited together was in the city of Aachen, the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, 65 km (40 mi) west of Cologne. Aachen really comes to life at the end of November, when the Christmas Market opens. For me this is the best time to go there, you can visit the Cathedral whilst sampling the unique atmosphere of a German Christmas Market. People travel from far and wide to visit Aachen at this time of year, so it can get very busy as the day progresses.

In December last year, we visited the magnificent city of Vienna and had a great long weekend enjoying the city's historic architecture as well as its impressive Christmas markets. Our next Chistmas Market trip will be to the city of Cologne, so watch out for some images from this trip coming soon.