München at Christmastime

Trip Start Dec 17, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It was Christmastime again and this year Mike and I knew long ahead of time that we would not be spending Christmas in Bristol again. Granted, last year was an odd bit of circumstances since we just arrived in England, but it was just too depressing without family and friends to celebrate.  So, this year we headed to Germany and Austria to quell our homesick pangs.  I am happy to say it worked very well.

I honestly cannot think of a more festive place to go for Christmas.  Everywhere we went, Christmas decorations donned the shops, restaurants, and streets.  Lights were strewn across building to building, shops displayed the best of their Christmas décor in the windows, and tantalizing smells of cinnamon, ginger, and clove wafted in and out of our nostrils.   It was just lovely.  It immediately made us feel warm and cozy inside and when we needed a little extra help doing so; there was always a glühwein stand to help out.  Glühwein, German for mulled wine, is a plentiful staple of the Christmas season in Germany and there was no shortage this year.  One thing I liked most about the experience was that the little huts sold the tasty hot beverage in real mugs.  We paid a small deposit, usually a Euro or two, milled around the neighboring huts while and drank our wine. We received our deposit back upon returning the mugs. It was a brilliant system and we got to enjoy glühwein the way it was meant to be served. 

The Christmas markets are the big draw for visitors during the season and were certainly a major reason for our trip.  Local craft and food stalls at the Christkindlmarkt, the largest Munich Christmas market, filled up the main square, Marienplatz, and spilled into neighboring streets.   I have to say, Mike was a good sport.  Even he found himself doing a little browsing, albeit because he likely had no choice.  It was a positively fun and festive scene though:  Happy people, yummy smells, and beautiful scenery.  I am certain I saw every single hut selling ornaments, nutcrackers, and pyramids that there was to see.  We decided to take home a few small treasures for future Christmas trees but it was hard to stop at a few.

One of our favorite things to do is sample the street food in foreign places and the Christmas markets were the perfect opportunity.   Street food is where you get into the nitty gritty no nonsense good stuff.  There were no shortages of wieners, kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), sauerkraut, and brezels (giant yummy pretzels) stands and we made sure to try every unfamiliar item we could.  "Good beer drinking food," you say?  But, of course!  We started our traditional beer hall experience at the famous Hofbräuhaus.  It was there that we were introduced to the liter-sized beer mug… and proceeded to drink it.  The place was a loud crowded mass of tourists and locals alike, all there to experience the rowdy festive atmosphere that naturally occurs when hundreds of people get together and alcohol is involved.  An oompah band completed the atmosphere as we tucked in to our giant sized beer and equally giant sized pretzel.  The bar maids whisked by carrying up to four of the huge liter sized mugs in each hand, all filled to the brim with beer.  They must have some amazing biceps…. 

Munich had a great vibe, particularly with the festivities surrounding Christmas.  However, more Christmas markets, beer halls, churches, and good cheer was waiting for us in Salzburg.  On the morning of Christmas Eve we hopped a train and were Austria bound.

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