And now for something completely different.
Tiring of our glamorous European lifestyle, we decided to hop across the pond for Christmas in the Deep South. It’s possible that our decision was swayed by the generous invitation of my parents to join them there, but in the end we found Charleston to be a most pleasant place to spend a few days (lack of appropriate Christmas weather notwithstanding). Continue reading
When in doubt, go to Italy for the weekend. The Dolomites are just a few hours away from Munich by car, so you really have no excuse not to. Last weekend we set out for Brunico (Bruneck in German), a small town in the Puster Valley. Normally the drive should have taken less than three hours, but thanks to the weather it was closer to four. I didn’t mind at all, given the snowy paradise that presented itself upon our arrival. Continue reading
It’s time for my annual I-love-Christmas-in-Germany post. The Christmas markets opened last week, looking much as they do every year. I’ve noticed a couple new stands here and there, but for the most part everything is in its place. Now if we could just have some snow to make them even cuter, I’d be in heaven.
I’ve written several posts about the markets over the years, such as this one about the best Munich Christmas markets for pretty much everything (or you could just view all my posts about Christmas markets). One stop I haven’t talked about yet (but is worth a mention) is the Alpen Wahn, a cozy little stand outside Der Pschorr serving red and white glühwein until 11pm each night (which is later than most of the other markets are open). Look for it at the north end of the Schrannenhalle, just off the Viktualienmarkt. Continue reading
Greetings from Prague! Continue reading
There are basically three things I’d like to communicate with this post.
1. Munich is cold and snowy. Continue reading
I’m a bit behind on my travel blogging. I’ll skip over a couple trips all together, but our winter adventures in Italy deserve a little more attention than they have received so far.
We arrived in Rome on Christmas Day to find the metro closed. No signs, no information, just a big metal gate closing off the entrance. Luckily our hotel was within easy walking distance of the train station.
Speaking of our accommodations, Albergo Ottocento is a nice, well-located boutique hotel within walking distance of many places of interest in Rome. And walk we did. The Christmas tree on the Spanish steps was a bit of a disappointment, but the sunset view from the top wasn’t.
The next day we headed over to the Vatican to see their tree and giant nativity scene*, and happened to catch a glimpse of the pope speaking to the crowd from a comically far-off window. I think he was discussing his new plan to get child molestation down to acceptable levels.
We saw a lovely art exhibit at the Chiostro del Bramante and then did some more wandering, including through the Christmas market at Piazza Navona. It was giant and loud and bright and tacky; nothing at all like a German Christmas market but fun anyway. A passing tourist’s remark about the “Panthanon” sent me into a giggling fit that could only be cured by a Campari-laden cocktail at the oh-so-charming Caffè della Pace.
More art at the Villa Borghese, which is a nightmare of rules (reservations required, you get kicked out after two hours, the required bag check refuses to take coats) but they get away with it since their art collection is so wonderful. Bernini statues, I will never get tired of looking at you. There was a special Carravagio Bacon exhibit going on; while I enjoyed the paintings I came out still having no clue what the justification was for putting those two artists together.
I get to the important stuff in part 2 of this post – coming soon.
* My husband was surprised to see that one of the wise men was black. Guess it’s not like that in Montana.
It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of Christmas market season already. Time flies when you’re chugging glühwein. I have been hard at work sampling the city’s seasonal markets in order to bring you this post, my awards for the best bits that Munich’s Christmas markets have to offer.
Best Glühwein – Schwabing
Glühwein (hot mulled wine) taste and quality varies greatly from markt to markt and vendor to vendor, but the only glühwein I had this year which made me jump up and say “whoa, that’s tasty!’ was the ginger glühwein we had that the uppermost food stall at the Schwabing market. The white glühwein from the same stand (billed as a ‘Schwabinger’, I believe) is also decent.
Best Feuerzangenbowle – Mittelaltermarkt
Probably the most expensive feuerzangenbowle (another hot wine beverage) out there, but also the most delicious. Rummy and not too sweet, it’s served in a fancy goblet with a sugar cube lit on fire.
Runner up: Rindermarkt. Served in cute clay cups, the Rindermarkt version is yummy but sadly lacking flames of any sort.
Best Live Entertainment – Schwabing
Country line-dancing Germans. Enough said.
Best Setting – Chinesischer Turm
This market in the middle of the English Garden is even more adorable when covered in snow.
Runner up: Marienplatz. I usually avoid this one because of the overwhelming crowds, but I have to admit there’s something gorgeous about a Christmas market nestled into Munich’s picturesque main square.
Best Food – Schwabing
Schwabing is running away with a lot of these awards, isn’t it? The variety and deliciousness of Schwabing’s Christmas market food is hard to argue, though. I had a delicious plate of Eritrean veggies there this year.
Runner up: Tollwood. There’s a tent full of international delights, plus plenty of stalls offering staples such as falafel and crepes.
Best Shopping – um, uh, Tollwood?
I confess I hate shopping, so I rarely if ever do it. The only things I buy at Christmas markets are consumables. Anyone have a recommendation for the best Munich Christmas market to shop at? I named Tollwood because it definitely has the most shopping, but we all know quantity does not necessarily equal quality. I actually wanted to declare Schwabing as the best place to shop, in part because we found this great hanging Jesus (his arms and the donkey’s tail move when the string is pulled) there, but in the end the tent full of terrible, horrible, very bad paintings absolutely cancels out the awesomeness of whatever else you can find at this markt. I believe one of the paintings was entitled ‘Don’t Drop the Soap’. It was a couple paintings away from the giant three-dimensional resin vagina.
And on that note, I think I’ll wrap it up! (But remind me to tell you a funny vagina story from my trip to London sometime.) Alas, you’ll probably have to wait until next year to actually try out any of my fabulous recommendations, since today was the last day of all of the markets except for Tollwood, part of which is open for another week. Not sure whether the Baboks will still have their igloo parked there.
Happy holidays to all my readers! (Well, except for the angry Swiss dude who reads this just so he can find things wrong with my opinions. Bah humbug to you.) I’m off to pack for my next adventure.