Buried within the seemingly endless streams of, “Christmas Markets You MUST Visit” and practical? advice such as, “Tips for Navigating Christmas Markets” running across my news feeds last week was a quiet little notice for something called, Bratislava Good Market.

But first, time had to be spent replacing the tinder-ed Tannenbaum. To quote the wise Captain Murphy and his law, “If you’re expecting guests for Christmas, the tree will dry out and become a fire hazard one week before their arrival.” Or something like that.  It’s all on the Waldviertler Christbaum from Herr Hackl’s tree stand near the house that our holiday will be merry and bright now!

Back to the story. Apparently, twice each year Bratislava hosts a “Good Market” (Dobra trh) at its Old Market Hall with over 150 vendors featuring the best of both Slovakia’s past and its modern future. As the picture may suggest, we and just a few other people thought it might be a market worth investigating.

Outside the market, Babičkas serving up their specialties, whatever they may be. Queues extending from inside the market for the essential side dish of Christmas dinner, pickled vegetables.

Pickles and scented candles. Staples and luxuries.

Locally made products for every taste; though, hot honey wine is not much to ours, and sausages sparkling like ornaments. What would any Central European meal be without them?

Though we are adventurous eaters, there are lines we will not cross. Raw Vegan Klobáska is one of them.

Outside in the market square, an exciting food truck scene! A poutinerie! More queues, too, for the „NYC Hot Dog.” The „Texas-Style Pulled Pork“ stand was busy as well, its vendors swaying to The Clash’s, „Rock the Casbah.”

We could not resist the call of the „New York Pastrami,“ a sandwich which just about made me teary for the NYC classic.

And who doesn’t love a trendy Babička enjoying her street food?

On Sunday, a return to the artisanal one-weekend-only market tucked into the rooms and around the grounds of Renaissance Schloss Schallaburg. The market is so popular that we were guided to parking a full kilometer away from the castle only 15 minutes after the market had opened.

In the village approaching the castle, a most unexpected sight.

Schallaburg really is a pretty castle. This was our sixth visit; for much of the year the castle hosts spectacularly-curated exhibits that we make time to visit. This year the exhibit focused on Islam; for 2018 the exhibit will feature Byzantium, and our calendar is already marked.

Smoked meat. Carols being performed in the courtyard while we enjoyed Hirschburgers (deer burgers) and Zwetchken (plum) Glühwein for lunch.

Rooms filled with all things exquisite, from handmade albums to home decor. And of course, what holiday market would be complete with a crypt?