Last-minute gift ideas from Munich

OK, so you don’t like all the cool gift ideas I gave you earlier? I have a couple more for you, scouted out by me as the best Munich’s shops have to offer. First, for those with big budgets and an appreciation for the absurd, there’s the sacrilicious fine porcelain from Nymphenburg:

This window display alone contains not only a crucifix, but also two (two!) skulls and crossbones, a snail, a deer wearing crosses on his antlers, an owl… and some other stuff, too. In another window we find this heartwarming Christmas scene.

Overpriced china not your style? Here’s another gift for the Bavarian who has everything: doggy tract! Here’s a pair of doggy lederhosen and a doggy dirndl worn by doggy mannequins:

But if you’re still having trouble imagining it on a real dog, check out this coy mädchen:

Munich’s Christmas Markets: the Middle Ages

More markets! I was trying to come up with an angle for the Mittelaltermarkt report, but I can’t think of anything particularly clever to say about it. It’s kind of like a Renaissance fair, but with more hot wine and fewer giant turkey drumsticks. And around the same number of costumed people who are really, really into it.

The highlight of this market is the feuerzangenbowle, which is served in hand-thrown goblets with a special lip to hold a ceremonial flaming sugar cube. There’s some yummy food to be found, too, including the freshly smoked salmon with horseradish sauce.

This market can get crazy crowded in the evenings and on weekends; I find it most pleasant on a weekday afternoon, when one has a bit more elbow room.

Interesting names for convenience foods

Today’s post is a guest post from a friend and former blogger in Switzerland. Enjoy.

I was browsing in the local Coop and came across something which made me do a double take, a drink with the logo “plan b” in large letters on the label. I can see how the name came about, the new line for Coop is packaged foods, the idea being you don’t have time to cook so the backup plan is to grab something that’s pre-made and ready to go.

For those who don’t know, which seems to include the Coop marketing department, “plan b” is also the very-well-known name for emergency contraceptive pills in the US, presumably named with a similar train of thought (as in, the first plan went wrong so now you need another one…) So as far as I, any Americans, and anyone familiar with the abortion debate in the US is concerned, Coop is now selling an emergency contraceptive that comes in the form of milkshakes, juices, or for those who need a few more calories with their birth control, mac and cheese.

A note to marketing departments around the world:
Google is your friend.
Your Swiss correspondent.

Munich’s Christmas Markets: romantic Haidhausen

Alrighty then, back to the Christmas market tour. Next up is the Romantischer Markt am Weißenburger Platz in Haidhausen. It’s a cute little market with a couple of surprises. They definitely win for the best Feuerzangenbowle presentation: not only does the drink come with a burning sugar cube, but also a little shot of rum to pour over it and stoke the flame. Then you shove the flaming sugar into the drink and stir. Makes for one deliciously potent drink.

If feuerzangenbowle isn’t your style, there are plenty of other drinks available, from traditional glühwein to heisse caipi (a hot caipirinha). And since this is Paulaner’s neighborhood, they’ve got a special stand at the market selling specially-brewed Christmator. Good name for a beer, no?

Fabulous gift ideas for your favorite traveler

Strolling through all these Christmas markets, I’m reminded of all the useless crap people tend to give each other around this time of year. Instead, why not give the travel-lovers in your life presents they will actually like and use?

“But Jul,” you’re thinking, “I don’t know what gifts will delight them.” Ah, don’t you worry. I’ve been collecting all my favorite travel items on the Traveler’s Wish List page of my Amazon store. There are things for every budget, from a couple dollars to a couple hundred (such as my favorite new toy, a tiny travel laptop). I own and use most of the things listed, and covet the rest.

Still stuck for a gift idea? You can go for the practical if not romantic gift card.

What is your favorite bit of travel gear?

Regensburg has markets of Christmas, too

And now for something completely different…

Yesterday some friends and I took a Bayern Ticket up to Regensburg to hang out with Sarah, Christina, Tammy, and An and force them to show us around their Christmas markets. It worked.

The offerings at the Regensburg Christmas markets were, shockingly, pretty similar to what you find at Munich’s Christmas markets, with a couple of exceptions. For example, there was an insanely fast merry-go-round. And Santa foosball. And dates in bacon coats. I’m betting these are popular Christmas presents for men – what guy wouldn’t be thrilled to have his date dressed in nothing but a coat made out of bacon? Well, not a vegetarian guy. Or a kosher guy… damn, so much for my brilliant universal Christmas gift idea. I don’t think the coats came in adult sizes, anyway (see Em’s blog for a photo of the elusive bacon coats).

Despite the dreary weather (which later turned into delightful snow), Regensburg managed to look cute in its Christmassy decorations, although the town seems to suffer from the same multiple-Santa-Claus problem that Japan has (see the Santas climbing the building in the photo above). The hot, alcoholic beverages hit the spot (although sadly no one was in the mood to try the one called heisse Liebe).

OK, enough of these distractions. Back to my Munich Christmas market crusade!

Munich’s Christmas Markets: Neuhauser Weihnachtsmarkt

Not wanting to miss a single one of Munich’s Christmas markets, the other day we made the trek out to Rotkreuzplatz for the Neuhauser Weihnachtsmarkt.

We couldn’t believe who was running the Schmuck stand:

Highlights of this little market included yummy crepes, live music (an accordion and guitar duo), and extra-cinnamony glühwein.

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