Of course the Germans have figured out how to make the cold tolerable.
Right next to our hotel in Cologne is an open plaza, about twice the size of a football field, which is ringed with restaurants and shops. In the summer all the pubs and restaurants have outdoor seating here, and in winter, I see, it becomes home to a huge outdoor holiday market! This plaza connects to a series of others stretched across this section of town, and all have been pressed into service for the purpose.
I got in last night and saw all the lights ablaze, but it was about 8 hours past bedtime and I was just too shot to venture out. But everything was back in full swing by lunchtime today and I wandered around and took in the sights. It's cold here--mid-high 20s, I'd say--but the atmosphere was festive and friendly. Every third vendor was selling hot food or beverages, and cheesy, good-natured holiday music from all around the world was piped through loudspeakers throughout. Susan will hate me; this place would make her very happy.
The whole collection of photos--to which I hope to add after sunset--can be found here.