Written by LenR on 16 Mar, 2007
One of the big problems when arriving at a new airport is finding a convenient and well-priced connection to the central city, or wherever you are staying. I had this dilemma when arriving in Munich but found that the airport train worked really well and…Read More
One of the big problems when arriving at a new airport is finding a convenient and well-priced connection to the central city, or wherever you are staying. I had this dilemma when arriving in Munich but found that the airport train worked really well and took me within a few hundred metres of my hotel. I recommend it to anyone.Commuter trains S1 and S8 both depart from the Munich International Airport every 10-20 minutes each day from around 4.30am to midnight or after. These trains travel to various stations in and around Munich including Munich Hauptbahnhof and Ostbahnhof, where connections are available to major German cities and destinations in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. At Marienplatz you can change to the underground train (U3 and U6) and at Hauptbahnhof to U1, U2, U4, U5, U7, and U8. Single tickets are around 9 euros.
To reach central Munich, follow the S-Bahn signs to the commuter rail station in Munchen Airport Center. There, you can buy tickets from vending machines or a ticket counter. The journey takes about 40 minutes, depending on the train and where you plan to get off.Two lines - S1 and S8 - run from the airport to downtown Munich. Their routes are different, but both will get you to the city center. The inexpensive Munich Welcome Card includes a round trip S-Bahn ticket to the city center, free public transportation in Munich, and discounts on museums and tourist attractions. The card is issued by the Munich Tourist Office, and you can buy it at the Service Center in Munchen Airport Center near the S-Bahn entrance.If you're keen, you can pick up a tiny pocket-size schedule for the S1 and S8 lines from brochure racks in the airport. You'll also find schedules, ticket prices, and other S-Bahn information at the multilingual MVV Website.If you have luggage, grab one of the free baggage carts in the airport. You can use it all the way from the baggage-claim area to the S-Bahn platform. On the train, stow baggage by the flip-up jump seats near the doors.Lufthansa buses connect the airport with Munich's main railroad station (Hauptbahnhof) every 20 minutes during the day. However, they cost more and are less convenient than the train. A cab ride into central Munich takes about 40 minutes (or longer in rush hour) and can easily cost 60 euros, depending on your destination.
Written by su-lin on 25 Jan, 2005
The village of Hohenschwangau may not mean much to you, but it is the location of Schloss Neuschwanstein, Ludwig II's terrific creation and on which the Sleeping Beauty castle is based. Close by is Schloss Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig II grew up. There are two options…Read More
The village of Hohenschwangau may not mean much to you, but it is the location of Schloss Neuschwanstein, Ludwig II's terrific creation and on which the Sleeping Beauty castle is based. Close by is Schloss Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig II grew up. There are two options for the tourist without a car in Munich - join a tour group (and pay through your nose) or take a train there (the budget option and, obviously, the one I took!).
There's a terrific bargain in the Bayern Ticket - a train ticket that allows travel on any train in Bavaria (and even to some stations outside Bavaria) for up to five people travelling together for 1 day. On weekdays, it is valid after 9:30am and until 3am the following day. On weekends, it is valid from midnight until 3am. And all this for the bargain price of €24 (at the time of travel)! This makes it an ideal choice for me and my brother travelling to Hohenschwangau. Compare this to a minimum €30 per person fee for a tour... and that rate does not include entrance to the castles.
Warned by our guidebook about the popularity of the castles, we chose to go on a Saturday, allowing us to leave for Hohenschwangau very early in the morning. The season was on our side - there are fewer tourists in winter than in the summer, when it is likely that you won't be able to get a ticket when you reach the castle. We departed from the Munich Hauptbahnhof on a 7:51am train and changed at Buchloe for a train to Fussen. At Fussen, you catch a bus to Hohenschwangau - the Bayern Ticket is valid for the bus ride; don't pay yet another fee!
We were dropped off at the bus stand in Hohenschwangau, and we hiked up the hill to the ticket office - it's all very clearly labelled. Even though we reached there at 10am, the earliest ticket we could get for Schloss Neuschwanstein was at 1:05pm. We could easily get tickets for Schloss Hohenschwangau... it's usually skipped by many tour groups! Entry to one castle is €9 for adults and €8 for concessions. Entry to both is €17 for adults and €15 for concessions. There are English- and German-language tours - other languages are catered for by a recorded tour. Photos are not allowed inside the castles.
Schloss Hohenschwangau was a short climb up a hill behind the ticket centre, and we easily made it to the entrance for our 10:45am entry. Entry to the castles is timed. You place your ticket through the gates when your entry number shows up and the turnstile will then let you through. We waited inside the foyer of Hohenschwangau for the rest of our group - a total of 14 people. This made for an intimate tour of the rooms open to visitors, with plenty of time to ask our charming tour guide about the castle's history and furnishings. We saw Ludwig II's bedroom, where he had place pinpricks in the ceiling so that light could shine through, mimicking starlight. We saw correspondence between Ludwig II and Richard Wagner and the piano on which Wagner played. We saw 100-year-old bread! There were plenty of stories about the murals throughout the castle by our very informed tour guide.
Coming out of the castle, we realised we still had over an hour to kill before heading to Schloss Neuschwanstein. The guidebook had warned us of a steep climb to the castle and to give ourselves at least 40 minutes. We hoped to grab a bite to eat and then climb up - alas, there is a snack shop next to the ticket centre but with nothing particularly lunch-like. We scoffed down the biscuits we had brought with us and planned to head back to Fussen for a meal. The walk is quite steep and quite treacherous when snow is coming down – it’s easier to climb than to walk down! Yes, I forgot to mention that it was snowing the entire time we were there. If you'd rather not walk, there are horse-drawn carriages to take you up all year-round - I believe they are £5 to go up the hill and much less to go down. When the weather is good, there is a bus to take you up. My brother and I took significantly shorter than the estimated 40 minutes to walk up... something along the lines of 10 to 15 minutes. Oh well.
Near the top of the hill, where the castle is located, is a restaurant/snack shop, Munchen Hofbrauhaus to be precise. There's also a souvenir stand up there. At the top, we then had to wait a further 40 minutes or so to get inside. This time, though, we waited with a large crowd of people - this castle is significantly more popular. There were entrances every 5 minutes, and our group had approximately 30 to 40 people in it - quite large for some of the smaller rooms. The tour guide was again very informed but the size of the group and the way in which we were rushed from room to room led to a much less intimate gathering. Nevertheless, of the 200 rooms in the castle, only 18 were completed when Ludwig II died in mysterious circumstances. Murals on the walls were based on the legends from Wagner's operas. A grotto (fake cave full of stalactites and stalagmites!) adjoined the master bedroom. To me, the most impressive site was the mosaic floor in the throne room - although the floor was completed, the throne itself was not!
From Schloss Neuschwanstein, there is a path leading to Marienbruecke (Mary's bridge), from where the picture-postcard views of Neuschwanstein are taken. Unfortunately, due to the snow, the route was closed off. Perhaps another time!
With a bratwurst from the restaurant to keep us going, we trekked back down (slippery with the snow) and took a bus back to Fussen. There we had coffee and cake at a lovely cafe and walked to Fussen's own castle. Should you be in the area, this is a must-see. Walk into the courtyard and you will see that all the windows and decorations on the walls are just paintings!
We easily caught a train back to Munich and reflected on the money we saved by travelling by ourselves. What a terrific day trip! I highly recommend it!
Written by SaraP on 30 Aug, 2003
The Marienplatz is the heart and centre of the city -- tourists wander or collect to see the glockenspiel on the Neues Rathaus, locals eat their lunch or read the paper. The square started out as a corn market, later became an execution site…Read More
The Marienplatz is the heart and centre of the city -- tourists wander or collect to see the glockenspiel on the Neues Rathaus, locals eat their lunch or read the paper. The square started out as a corn market, later became an execution site and jousting arena, and then, in 1315, Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian decreed that the square should never be built on. That seems to have been honoured (save for a statue in the centre outside the Rathaus -- see picture below) and it's a pedestrianised, fairly leisurely spot with some very interesting buildings and sights.
The Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) fills the whole of the northern edge of the platz. Though it looks for all the world like a true Gothic, it dates from only 1867-1909. Its tower is 80m tall and can be accessed via a lift just inside and to the left as you pass from the platz into a mini-beer garden. Tickets are sold on the 4th floor (€2pp) and then you head up to the 9th floor for a pretty good view of the centre of town. The famed glockenspiel is however a big disappointment -- it's way, way up (if you're into that sort of thing, bring binoculars!) and very little happens when, at 11am, noon, 5pm and 9pm, the chimes ring out and two-tiered figures "burst" into life. Most striking on the town hall is the intricacy of the many, many figures which line the walls and roof (see photo below). Also look out above the arched stone entrances for the plaques featuring the monk who remains the symbol of Munchen.
To the right of the new pretender is the Altes Rathaus, a far more elegant (though confusingly younger-looking) whitewashed building dating from 1475. Its beautiful square tower apparently houses a toy museum ("Spiegelzeugmuseum") but it's otherwise inaccessible. Musicians often busk underneath its white right-hand arch. In the centre of the platz outside the Neues Rathaus is a statue of the Madonna with, on each of the four corners of the plinth, mini-cherubic warriors doing battle with representations of heresy, famine, war and plague.
To the far right, just beyond the square, though its spire is visible, is St Peter's, the oldest church in the city (records date from 1169), beloved by locals. Also, on the way into the platz from the south, you'll pass a wooden door into the Burgersaal, a former meeting place-cum-church. Downstairs is a low-ceilinged chapel, dedicated to Father Rupert Mayer (whose lies entombed there) who was taken away by the Nazis as a vocal troublemaker but reinstated after vociferous complaints by his flock (sadly he died in 1945); upstairs is a magnificent, high-ceilinged auditorium with frescoed ceiling and beautiful organ and altarpiece.
Last but by no means least, on Frauenplatz is the Frauenkirche, fast becoming the symbol of the city -- as well as going up the south of the two oxidised copper onion-domed towers (€3pp, every day save short closure between 3 and 3:15pm on Saturdays for bell ringing), by climbing a spiral staircase and then ascending in the lift, do go inside. It's a fairly minimalist interior, badly damaged in WWII (there are some photos to show how the walls were blown in and you can see from the stained glass windows the level of necessary reconstruction), though it trades in part off the "Devil's footprint." There are various stories for tourists -- my favourite one goes that the church's architect contracted to sell his soul if he failed to build a church in which no windows could be seen -- on delivery day, Satan came to collect, only to be frustrated when the architect demonstrated that, from a certain angle, no window could be seen -- in fury, the devil combusted, leaving a black footprint in the marble floor... -- these days, there are of course many and varied attractive windows.
More striking than any of this is the width of the church and the straight, gleaming white columns -- most of Munich's churches have a pleasing plainness to them (see in particular the Theaterkirche and Ludwig's kirche, both on Ludwidstrasse); there is magnificence and intricacy in design but it's not overwhelmingly gilded and ornate (though sights like Nymphenburg Palace more than make up for that!)
There are lots of sandwich shops round the platz, selling great bread/rolls or open sandwiches for an in situ lunch or which make it a good place to stock up before heading out for the rest of the day, if you're in the market for a picnic and haven't tracked down the Victualenmarkt. For dessert, there are unexpectedly good-value sorbets or ice creams to enjoy in warm weather. There's also a tourist information office.
Written by zabelle on 10 Mar, 2004
The easiest way to reach the palace is to take the S-Bahn 16 from the Haupbahnhof toward Amelianburgstrasse. Get off at the Schloss Nymphenburg stop not the Romanplatz as the tourist brochure directs. It is an east walk from the stop to the Palace. The…Read More
The easiest way to reach the palace is to take the S-Bahn 16 from the Haupbahnhof toward Amelianburgstrasse. Get off at the Schloss Nymphenburg stop not the Romanplatz as the tourist brochure directs.
It is an east walk from the stop to the Palace. The combination ticket is eight euros and will get you into the Palace, the Amalienberg and the Stable Museum. You have to pay cash; they don’t take credit cards for the entrance or for purchases from the store. For an additional 2.5 euros you can take an audio tour of the Palace. This gives you a lot of history and some interesting anecdotes. The rooms have a plaque telling you which number to push. Allow yourself a whole day for this excursion especially in the good weather when there are additional buildings, which can be visited.
The land on which the palace was built was given to Henrietta Adelaide the wife of Elector Ferdinand Marie as a thank-you gift from her husband on the birth of an heir after 10 years of marriage and several daughters. I really need to talk to Al about what I got for giving him an heir and a spare!
The Festival Hall,
the first room you visit was the scene of Ludwig the second’s baptism. The ceiling is worthy of notice as it is decorated with frescos done by Johann Baptiste Zimmermann. The rooms to the right side of the Hall are the Electors set up in the typical baroque fashion and to the left the Electress. In the hallway on both sides are studies of different of the Wittelsbach castles. In the Elector's wing is the famous Gallery of Beauties.
This collection of 36 portraits was the brainchild of Ludwig I who had all the most beautiful women of his time painted and hung in his gallery. These are not all women of the court; one is the daughter of a Greek freedom fighter, one a cobbler’s daughter. Among the court ladies is his daughter-in-law and his mistress, Lola Montez.
The Amilienberg is a little jewel box of a hunting lodge. It was the retreat of the Electress Amalia. She was known to have hunted from the roof and the kennel room
has beautiful tiles and cages for lots of dogs. It is only about six rooms but every one of them is a gem.
The Stable Museum has a collection of carriages and sleighs.
You can see two carriages that belonged to Eugene Beauharnais (Josephine’s son) as well as Ludwig II’s beautiful carriage that turned into a sleigh. Upstairs there is a fine collection of Nymphenburg porcelain.
If you want to purchase some modern Nymphenburg porcelain, there is a store right alongside the front park. You had better have a huge credit line though the prices are quite shocking. I didn’t see any pieces under 100 euros, but I did see a 700-euro teapot.
Written by Chrystyna on 25 Oct, 2000
I was finally heading to the Hauptbahnhof with only about ten minutes to spare. I had no ticket. I just boarded the train, assured by the two students in leather that riding for free is a frequent mode of transportation and should be permanently adopted…Read More
I was finally heading to the Hauptbahnhof with only about ten minutes to spare. I had no ticket. I just boarded the train, assured by the two students in leather that riding for free is a frequent mode of transportation and should be permanently adopted into the Socialist government. I felt the eyes of fellow passengers boring through me; were they criminals like I or had they paid for their tickets? Did train conductors go undercover? I relaxed as best I could, leaving my backpacks on, perched like a turtle about to tip over from the edge of a seat, and ready to make a break for it if I saw anyone suspicious. Even in three-inch heels.
It would take me a half hour to get to my destination point. I didn’t think that was too bad. If Oliver was still waiting, thirty minutes wasn’t an unreasonable delay. But, he wasn’t. And when I arrived safely but soaked from sweat, I discovered that the Hauptbahnhof is an extremely large train station. Huge. Enormous. Gigantic. Like the Mall of America.
I wandered around, 180 pounds laden on my shoulders and back and getting heavier by the minute. I finally found an information booth two miles and three roundabouts from where I’d started and -- by this time I was yelling -- asked the woman to call the station where I had been dropped off and have Oliver Wehinger paged, please. After consulting with her fellow Aryans for forty minutes, she returned to tell me there was nothing they could do for people who ride the trains for free.
But there were bank machines. I had German marks and I bought a phone card, complimented by a gallon of water for my dehydrated self. Back at the fuschia phone booths, I dialed every possible combination of Oliver’s number. I still had no knowledge that I was missing two digits. I reached a local number. I reached another local number. I reached a disconnected New Zealand number (I’m not kidding). I then, and this is also serious, called someone Asian. I called Oliver’s home number (no answer of course because he was in Germany) and then made one last-ditch effort: It was going on nine o’clock; certainly nobody would be at his office at that hour on a Saturday but, perhaps, the phone automatically forwarded to his cell. I was relieved and surprised when Margit, his co-worker, picked up. I had spoken to her before as a nervous wreck from Amsterdam, and in that same hysterical pitch of voice I explained the current situation.
As it turned out, Oliver was at the station where I had been dropped off. He had asked numerous times, annoyed by misinformation, whether the people at the Hauptbahnhof were positive that Eurolines did not drop off its passengers to Munich there. Repeatedly, he was told no, they would be located at Square One.
When Oliver got to the bus drop-off, he was certain -- by the number of buses parked in the complex -- that I was there. He left the cell phone in the car and never heard it ringing when both Margit and I tried to call. When he did not find me, he returned to the car to find the cell phone blinking, announcing that it had messages. Unfortunately for him, there was also a notice that the battery was going dead. Of course it was!
Happy as heck about having heard his voice on the messaging system, I crossed the street to the hotel which had been determined as the pick-up point. A waiter stood outside smoking a cigarette, watching me park my gear on the corner. My German came out fluently as I asked for a smoke; the words must have been divined by God. He smiled in that pitying sort of way, but relaxed as I inhaled that first drag.
I laughed, “Everything is going to be okay.” I said it in English. He pretended to understand. And that was good enough for me, because I was certain Oliver was on his way. I could taste my first beer, feel our first reunion hug, and I swore I would never let go. This was, of course, the case.
I was NOWHERE that Oliver could possibly find me and I realized that perhaps I should have stayed where I’d been dropped off -- the appropriate name of the place still alludes me, but I’m certain the German name would translate, “Der Middle auf Nowhere.”…Read More
I was NOWHERE that Oliver could possibly find me and I realized that perhaps I should have stayed where I’d been dropped off -- the appropriate name of the place still alludes me, but I’m certain the German name would translate, “Der Middle auf Nowhere.” Oliver, I was certain, was cool and resourceful and would have figured out where I was by asking around at the Hauptbahnhof.
This was, of course, the case.
But, back to me, because it was all about me right then. I was at Studentplatz and desperate. I had to either get a hold of Oliver or I had to get a train ticket. Then I remembered “collect” calling, so I found a phone booth and started to dial. There was a list of numbers for assistance on the phone booth wall. I dialed one which looked like Operator assistance. It was the police department. I had, in fact, dialed the equivalent of 9-1-1. Out of nowhere, my language rolodex popped up with “Entschuldigung, sorry!” I explained in flustered English that I was looking for help from an operator. The woman on the other end was extremely understanding and, thankfully, bilingual.
I dialed the number she gave me. Dead Air. Absolute silence. I slammed the phone down and couldn’t stop the tears from coming that time. I was just ripping out a new chunk of hair when I spotted a young couple walking past me.
“Excuse me,” I cried out, “Do you speak English?”
Have you ever had one of those moments when you think you’ve just run into real-life angels? I loved that couple immediately. They were dressed in leather, but they were angels nonetheless. I explained my situation and the woman informed me that the phones needed a card in order to work, which of course had to be purchased (and the nearest place to purchase said card was at the Hauptbahnhof).
“But I have no Marks,” I said, exasperated.
She, too, dug in her wallet and I was about to resist, but really, what choice did I have at that point? She handed me a hot pink credit-card which matched the color of the phone. “You can use this. Hopefully there is enough credit on there to make your call.”
I picked up the phone, dialed the number I had written in my phone book for Oliver’s cell phone and ...nada. Silence. Dead Air. Get the point? Something was wrong with the number.
Time was ticking away. The couple knew that I was getting desperate and they stepped a little closer to me, looking nervously over their shoulders first. “Look,” they whispered, “and listen. Would you be willing to do something illegal?” So this is how good people become criminals! My angels directed me to the train platform and gave me directions on how to get to the Central Station (the Hauptbahnhof).
Before we parted, I clasped each of their hands in one of mine and asked, “And if I get caught?”
The woman smiled at me kindly, “German prisons aren’t that bad. Don’t believe everything you read about in history books.”
I walked downstairs and met two men on their way up. “Which direction to Munich,” I asked. I didn’t ask it because I didn’t know; I asked it because I was hoping they’d offer me a lift. But thankfully they didn’t offer, because after looking…Read More
I walked downstairs and met two men on their way up. “Which direction to Munich,” I asked. I didn’t ask it because I didn’t know; I asked it because I was hoping they’d offer me a lift. But thankfully they didn’t offer, because after looking around, they pointed me in the wrong direction.
Dropping my backpack on a bench, surrounded by Croats and Czechs waiting for their buses, I pulled out a pad of paper, ripped off the cardboard, and found a tube of dark, red lipstick. I wrote, “Hauptbahn - Hof” on two lines, loaded myself with the backpacks, refused to change my shoes (thinking if I wore the three-inch platforms, someone would take pity on me more quickly), and headed toward the highway. Every time I heard a car behind me, I swung around and held up my sign. People slowed down to read it. That was nice. But I needed a ride. Little did I know that in the process of walking and flashing the sign, the cardboard folded in half and the lipstick smears created my sign into an inkblot test.
Nevertheless, a half kilometer later, a beat up, white car pulled up. I suddenly got scared. After all, I never hitchhiked before and I really had no idea where I was going. But, there were no worries with Michael and Christine, who had to move everything and their kitchen sink around the Russian hatchback to squeeze me in.
So, now you’re thinking, “Cool, she gets to the Hauptbahnhof...” Uh...not so fast. Christine needed to get to _A_ train station which is why I got the ride. I explained my whole story to them on the way there, and they were sympathetic and kind. Michael then turned toward me (while he was driving) and said, “We’re dropping you off at the Studentplatz station” The where? But that’s not the Hauptbahnhof! Who was I to argue? Especially in English?
When Michael pulled away from the curb of the Studentplatz drop-off, Christine watched me look around, anticipating my next question. It was Saturday evening and there were no banks open. “Any bank machine,” I asked anyway. She shook her head, then opened her wallet and started to fish around. I immediately protested, “Nein! Kein problem!” She was going to buy my ticket for the train. As it happened, the ticket machine was broken. OF COURSE it was. I thanked her, happy to get away from the embarrassing kindness.
After a 15-hour ride, my bus pulled into a...well, it was some sort of complex. I didn’t know what it was, but I did know the words for “Last Stop.” In the distance, I could see the haze of a huge city. Excuse me, last…Read More
After a 15-hour ride, my bus pulled into a...well, it was some sort of complex. I didn’t know what it was, but I did know the words for “Last Stop.” In the distance, I could see the haze of a huge city. Excuse me, last stop? How could it have been the last stop? If that was Munich up there, it was at least another three or four miles up the highway. “No, this is last stop, Madame,” I was told by the once-friendly, once-helpful bus driver who had taken me all the way from Antwerp, Belgium, to that lonely outpost OUT-side of Munich. “You take train into Hauptbahnhof.”
I started to sweat immediately. I had arranged to meet my friend Oliver at Munich’s central station, known in German as the Hauptbahnhof. Knowing that Oliver was reliable and would pick me up on time, and believing that the woman back at the Eurolines office in Belgium had been confident and knowledgeable, I did not exchange any francs into Deutsche marks. I mean, why would I if I was going straight to Austria from Munich?
Because, sheiss happens, that’s why...
So, there I was. Stranded. But we had arrived an hour early. I, therefore, logically believed I had one hour to figure out my situation without sending Oliver into a panic, or -- worst case scenario -- sending him back to Dornbirn without me. I looked for a bank machine. Nada. I looked for an exchange office. Nada. All I found was a lone woman in the second-floor information booth. And she spoke no English whatsoever. Frau Hogan -- from high school -- wasn’t there either, so I had to rack my Rolodex of limited Deutsch knowledge (interspersed with Ukrainian, Spanish, Dutch, and of course, every version of English accent used in Great Britain). It came out, “Bitteschon, Ich habe kein Deutsch marks y mein Freund ist in Munich, love, at the Hauptbahnhof.”
She told me, I guessed, that I had to take the train to the city. The first part of the sentence had been completely lost on her. OK, phone?
“Senora, bitteschon,” I tried again. “Kann Sie hilfen me? Telefonieren mein Freund on der Cellular, bitte und sagt Ich bin here? Denn gibt Ihm mine Addresse fur this plaza, por favor.”
I gave her the number. She pointed to the phone booth, not unkindly, only as if to say, “Sure, there’s a phone right there. Why have me do it if you can?” So I said again, “Ich habe kein Deutsch marks. No pesos. Nada money.”
It dawned on her that I needed help. She dialed the number I gave her and handed me the phone. There was nothing. Dead air. Silence. No Oliver. No ringing. No voice message. It was 7:15; Oliver expected me at 8. “Scheiss”, or to you, “Merde” is one word I knew for sure.
Written by flyingscot4 on 12 Jan, 2009
Anytime is a good time to visit Germany, including winter, and especially Southern (aka Upper) Bavaria. Northern Bavaria is Lower Bavaria because it is lower in altitude. Got that? The mountains are in the south.Anyway, winter in Germany is a wonderful time…Read More
Anytime is a good time to visit Germany, including winter, and especially Southern (aka Upper) Bavaria. Northern Bavaria is Lower Bavaria because it is lower in altitude. Got that? The mountains are in the south.Anyway, winter in Germany is a wonderful time to visit and not just for the winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, skating, etc.. The cities are colorful and festive, and everyone is in a festive mood. This is especially true of the Christmas Markets.Christmas Markets in Germany have many names, Weinachtsmarkt and Christkindlmarkt or Christkindlesmarkt are the most common. One of the Christmas Markets in Munich is Kripperlmarkt or Manger Market. This journal is intended to be a visual celebration of a wonderful German tradition, documenting the Christmas markets I visited in Bavaria in Nov/Dec, 2008. Other than small lights in windows, most families in Germany do not decorate their homes and yards with Christmas lights, Nativity scenes, or Santa Clauses and sleighs. They decorate their communities and cities instead. Christmas, in most parts of Europe, is a family and community oriented celebration. In much of Germany, winter is usually cold and dreary. Temperatures during the day generally hover just above or below the freezing mark. Consequently, rain, drizzle, and stinging sleet are common. Cold, dampness, rain, sleet, or snow, or a combination of the five never dampen the spirits of the German folk and keep them from the Christmas Markets. They are well-layered with warm clothing including scarves and heavy soled shoes. And, most everyone carries an umbrella. The markets are most visually stimulating at night when the lights from the individual stalls provide the main source illumination. Besides, there are always pastry shops with dining room facilities never very far from the market. Make the best of it.Each year in all parts of Germany, Christmas markets appear in almost every village, town, and city throughout the country. These markets celebrate not only Christian heritage, but the spirit of the season. In the cities the result is a giant month long party that draws visitors from across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. One Christmas market in particular, Nürnberg's Christkindlesmarkt, draws over two million visitors each year. German Christmas markets have been recorded as far back as the 11th century. The most famous market is in Nürnberg and while it is by no means the largest, it is reputed to be the best, according to German experts. I concur that it is the best, but I am prejudiced since I lived in that city for three years.My familiarity with the wonderful Christmas markets goes back over 45 years to when I was stationed in Nürnberg, Germany. I was very much affected by the Christmas season and how it was celebrated in that country. World War II was only seventeen years in the past, and while rubble was still visible in many areas, the young and old, rich and poor commingled with each other at the Christmas Markets. The mood was always festive. It was much different from anything that I had ever experienced, and I was captivated. I visited some of the markets in and around Nürnberg in that first year of 1962, including the Christkindlesmarkt in that city. The following two years, 1963 and 1964, I branched out each Christmas season and visited many German and Bavarian cities and towns. My favorite Christmas Market was and remains Nürnberg's Christkindlesmarkt. While I have been fortunate to have returned to Germany many times since 1965, this year was the first time I visited during the Christmas season. In spite of lousy weather (lots of cold, biting rain), it was wonderful to see that the changes are not as great as I expected. There are still many kiosks selling locally made and German made Christmas ornaments and decorations, plus all kinds of winter articles. I expected to see kiosks filled with merchandise from third world countries, and there was some, but not as much as I expected. The prices are certainly different than in 1962 though. Anyway, in spite of the weather, it was just as wonderful as I remembered. Christmas markets are found in most Bavarian cities and towns. Indeed, they are found throughout all of Europe. The small markets are very community oriented and the kiosk sponsors are frequently from schools, local merchants, and community organizations. They usually are open on one or two weekends during the season. In the cities it's a different story. Most markets are open for the entire month and are the main Christmas markets for the folks in outlying areas. Many of these markets are very traditional and many centuries old. The most traditional "opening" day for the larger city Christmas Markets is normally the last Friday of November. The exact day is the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent. The last day is December 24th for most markets although some remain open until January 1st. Frequently a city has a main Christmas market located in the main city square, and other neighborhood markets as well. For example, Munich has 85 recognized Christmas markets. The same is true of community markets, which are usually held near the city hall. These smaller markets are usually open for a shorter period of time, but the point is that there is always a market for everyone. And then there is the food...Since the Christmas markets are usually held in the city hall square, one will always find many restaurants, gasthauses, and small cafes right in the area. These are especially welcome in the winter. There are many glühwein (mulled wine) kiosks and local sausage kiosks. There are kiosks selling pretzels, baked apples, roasted almonds and other nuts, beer, wine, as well as the absolutely wonderful Lebkuchen or German gingerbread which is generally available only at Christmas time. Needless to say, the sights are wonderfully colorful and the market aromas are mouth watering; no one leaves hungry. I hope that my images will convey something of these sights and sounds of a very important side of Germany that most people never experience.I hope that you will come along on this journey. I'll begin with Munich. Note: The markets have different spellings. For example, in Munich it is Christkindlmarkt, while in Nürnberg it is Christkindlesmarkt. I will try to get the spellings right. Close
Written by Finu on 11 Feb, 2007
Having been presented with a day off in Munich, I seized the opportunity to explore the food scene, outside of the café’s, restaurants, and imbisstube. My first stop was Dallmayr, just off Marienplatz. This is the Harrod’s Food Hall equivalent in Munich. The shop is…Read More
Having been presented with a day off in Munich, I seized the opportunity to explore the food scene, outside of the café’s, restaurants, and imbisstube. My first stop was Dallmayr, just off Marienplatz. This is the Harrod’s Food Hall equivalent in Munich. The shop is well laid out with separated sections for tea, coffee, chocolates, cakes, bread, fruit and vegetables, cheese, fish, and meat. There is even a cigar room, although well sealed to prevent tainting the food, and a wine, Champagne, and schnapps department.
I found the emporium, for that is what it really is, absolutely crammed with people – a mixture of tourists and locals. Bavarians buying their bread and meat; tourists admiring the exquisite display of petit four and hors d’ouevre, handmade chocolates and marzipan creations and breathing deeply the aroma of the freshly ground coffee being packaged behind the counter. With all these people the store had a cluttered feel, although not at all stuffy or overcrowded. The staff are friendly and the prices reasonable, given that Munich lies in the most expensive part of Bavaria and probably the whole of Germany.
In the centre of the main grocery thoroughfare sits a fountain and a pool where fresh lobsters live. The sound of trickling water has the welcome effect of relaxing the shoppers somewhat. After dragging myself away from the delights of Dallmayr and, surprisingly, with some cash left in my wallet, I set out to find a tiny shop I had come across one Sunday. Of course, it had been closed then, but the window display was so tempting that I had to visit again during opening hours. My memory served me well and I found the little shop just as I had remembered it, and thankfully with it’s door open. The window of Spanisches Fruchthaus was crammed with every kind of dried and candied fruit imaginable, various sorts of nuts, Greek Lokuum and fresh fruit arranged in baskets, boxes and jars providing a fantastic array of colour. Here you could feast your eyes on the brilliant pinks and yellow of dried papaya and mango, the deep gold of dates in oblong white boxes or filled with marzipan and stored in large jars, baskets of shining, glazed apricots, cherries, and plums.
Inside the tiny, little shop at Rindermarkt 16 was a high glass counter on one side, within which were stored dried apple rings dipped in white chocolate, whole black cherries in bitter plain chocolate, real fruit jellies in tiny paper cases, orange and lemon slices caramelized or half-coated in chocolate. Behind the counter on ceiling-high white shelves stood more jars filled with an assortment of nougat, lokkum and jellies. The opposing wall held pre-wrapped boxes of chocolates, pralines, nougat, candied fruit and baskets of Spanish wine and liquors along with a small selection of fresh fruit. While this shop is of the type where you’d love to browse for hours, its size just doesn’t allow. A few moments to gaze in wonder before deciding on a purchase is all that the space constraints and busy staff will permit. On the positive side, on each visit there’s always something new to discover.
For purposes of lengthy browsing, the Viktualienmarkt on Saturdays is the place to be. Here you can happily wander around the market stalls for as long as you please before settling on what purchases to make, be it for immediate consumption or to take home for later. The stalls sell the market usuals like fruit and vegetables, as well as olives and olive oil and wines. Adjacent to the trading area are numerous stehcafes (standing cafes) where Leberkase Semmeln, various Wurst and Breze’n are sold. To try the authentic Bavarian fare, go for a Weisswurst breakfast - white sausage with sweet, wholegran mustard, and a Weissbier.
One famous brewery in the Munich area is Andechs. Here the beer is brewed by the Andechser monks. The monastry also owns a restaurant behind the Cathedral of Our Lady (between Stachus and Marienplatz U-Bahn stops). Andechs am Dom is situated in a pretty little corner with a cosy wooden interior. Outdoor seating also available under large, white, canvass parasols. Unfortunately I have not yet had the pleasure of dining here but I have heard that the food is excellent. If it is anything like the food at the restaurant adjacent to the monastery, it is not to be missed.