OK, one last Christmas market to report on: the Praterinsel Weihnachtsmarkt. Nestled in a woody spot next to the river, this market is one of the smaller ones in central Munich. The outdoor area consists of only a handful of stands, offering not much more than glühwein and crepes. There are a handful of high and low tables where you can relax with a hot alcoholic (beverage) and enjoy that I’m-in-the-center-of-Munich-but-it-feels-like-I’m-in-the-woods feeling.
I have to confess, the glühwein tasted a bit off to me at this market, but my savory crepe was more than edible.
There’s also a small indoor gift market, with items ranging from hand-painted ceramic mushrooms to exotic spices to adjustable mattresses. Outdoors there’s a specialty Italian food vendor, whose wares are surely overpriced but just as sure to make delicious Christmas gifts. I probably would have snapped up some smoked scamorza and dried porcini if I weren’t heading off to Italy in a few days.
Coming soon: The Best of Munich’s Christmas Markets, in which I tell you where to go to get your glühwein on, and where to find the best hanging decorations with moving Jesus arms and donkey tails.
Since I already posted about most of Munich’s Christmas markets last year, I’ve been skipping the play-by-play this time around. But don’t let that worry you; rest assured I am silently guzzling down the glühwein and feuerzangenbowle all over town.
Munich does have one brand new market this year, so I figured it could have a post all its own. Bogenhausen is Munich’s rich and snooty neighborhood, so naturally we were expecting an expensive and snooty Christmas market.
The arts and handicrafts available for sale were actually quite nice; definitely a cut above the usually Christmas market kitsch. The food was average, as was the live entertainment. The hot beverages are served in an adorable variety of mugs. The feuerzangenbowle comes served with a flaming, rum-soaked sugar cube in a contraption which is definitely the closest thing I’ve ever seen to actual ‘zangen':
The Bogenhausen Christmas market is located at the Arabellapark ubahn stop, so it’s far from the most central of the markets, but if you find yourself in the neighborhood it’s worth checking out.
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.
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!
Christmas markets everywhere! They are all starting to blur together in my memory, to be honest. Must be all those hot alcoholic beverages (like the Heisse Oma – a potent eggnog-like thing – that Em made me drink last night).
The market in the courtyard of the Residenz has a fairytale-like theme going on, complete with singing moose head and scary St. Nick (I’m wondering if the Chinesischer Turm St. Nick used this guy as a model). Not that I can think of a fairy tale that involves a moose head belting out German versions of American Christmas carols, but surely there is one. Right?
The most disturbing part (don’t pretend these things aren’t disturbing) was this little fairy’s repetitive hand gesture. And no, I’m not immature. You are.
The best part of the Residenz Christmas market is the white glühwein served at the stand just outside the creepy fairytale world.
This weekend the long-awaited Pink Christmas market finally opened for business. It wasn’t exactly the best Christmas-market weather out, what with all the cold and rain and wind, but we managed to squeeze in a quickie glühwein there. How can you not love a city with a gay Christmas market?
I’m telling you, the tree was asking for it.
Pink Christmas is a tiny little market, with just a handful of stands, but it is quite close to the somewhat larger and more traditional Sendlinger Tor market. No Christmas market tour of Munich is complete without a visit to both.
Tollwood is more than just a Christmas market. It’s a winter festival! At least that’s what the marketing materials call it. The winter Tollwood (there’s also a summer Tollwood) takes place at the Theresienwiese, and it’s definitely the largest of the markets Munich has to offer this time of year. And probably the wackiest.
In addition to the hot spiced alcohol, carnival food, and kitsch stands typical of a Christmas market, Tollwood has several tents full of fun. There’s a food tent, which offers up delicacies from around the world. Another tent is chock full of stands selling everything from seed jewelry to business hammocks. Still another tent has lots of untalkative white people wearing stylish clothes. One of the good things about all these tents, in addition to the entertainment they provide, is that they are also warm. During a long afternoon of Christmas marketing, it’s nice to be able to go inside to warm up every once in a while.
We also found some lovely feuerzangebowle* at Tollwood, served in cups which involved little shelves for flaming sugar cubes (here spokesmodeled by Heza and AK). How can you not love that?
This guy has a fabulous sales pitch for his finger puppets. I highly recommend checking him out.
I never quite figured out what this sign means. Hunting season open on gay deer?
*a hot drink much like glühwein. To make feuerzangenbowle correctly, one soaks sugar in rum, lights it on fire, and lets it melt into the wine.
I’m beginning to wonder if it really is going to be possible to visit all of Munich’s Christmas markets. I mean, there’s only so much hot spiced booze one can drink, oder? At any rate, I definitely want to make it back to the small market at Rindermarkt again. Technically it’s called the Kripperlmarkt am Rindermarkt, which means it specializes in nativity scene bits, but that’s not why I liked it so much. In fact, I hardly noticed that part.
The main appeal is the feuerzangebowle, which is served up in adorable clay cups. For Christmas market purposes, feuerzangenbowle is a lot like glühwein, except less sweet. Yum. What’s also lovely about this little patch of markt is the giant weihnachtspyramide (literally “Christmas pyramid”, one of those thingies that spin around when you light candles under its sideways windmill).
And as a little gimmick, the weihnachtspyramide place sells currywurst that is sooooooo spicy… that one must be at least 18 years old to purchase it. As if Germans somehow magically produced tolerance for spice when reaching this age. Pbbbbth.
* Yes, I realize how silly the concept of “triangular square” sounds. Tell English to get a better word for Platz.
Next stop on our tour of Munich’s Christmas markets: the Schwabinger Weihnachtsmarkt. As we all know, Schwabing is Munich’s tragically hip neighborhood, and naturally they throw a Christmas market that lives up to the reputation. The lights and other decorations were whimsical and creative. The food on offer was more diverse than that at the Chinesischer Turm; while reiberdatschi still made an appearance, so did falafel and Eritrean food. In addition to glühwein, we found a hot, alcoholic coconut punch to try out (verdict: way too sweet for me!). The mugs had these crazy eyeballs on them. Santa’s eyeballs, perhaps.
Arts and crafts are featured at the stall selling things you can’t eat or drink, most of it produced by locals. There’s even a Kunst Zelt (an ‘art tent’), although after taking a spin through its contents I’m going to have to say that they are using the word ‘Kunst’ rather loosely. Still, the space heaters were nice. In the middle of the markt was another tent featuring a live band playing old Christmas favorites such as Tainted Love and something by Robbie Williams.
The Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) are in full swing, and I have taken on the responsibility of visiting all of the ones in Munich. In the name of scientific research of course. I know, it’s a big challenge, but I think I’m up for it.
First up, the market at Chinesischer Turm, everyone’s favorite biergarten in the middle of the Englischer Garten. It seemed like a strange place for a Christmas market, in the middle of a giant park. I mean, parks and sub-zero temperatures don’t exactly go together in everyone’s mind. Or do they? The markt was hopping when we visited Sunday afternoon, with long lines for some of the food and beverage stands. I enjoyed a mug of Heisser Weisser, hot mulled white wine, which was less sweet than red Glühwein. There was also a hot, alcoholic beverage on offer called Engelstrunk that we didn’t get a chance to try. I guess that means we need to go back. The Pfand (deposit) for the mugs was cheap at 2 euros, probably because the mugs themselves are nothing special.
Em and I also went for the Reiberdatschi – potato pancakes served with apple sauce, crème fraîche, or lox and crème fraîche. Good for when you need something heavy and greasy in your stomach to soak up some of that Glühwein.
Although it bills itself as “romantic”, the Chinesischer Turm Christmas market struck me more as “kid-friendly”. There were specific activities on offer for kids, a model train, and a scruffy-looking St. Nikolaus wandering around (who incidentally took the same bus home as us. Who knew St. Nick used public transport?). The booths were schilling the typical Christmas market crafts. All in all, a respectable Christmas market experience. Open daily through 23 December.