We’ve settled into December, which means it’s now socially acceptable to be in the Christmas spirit. My tree is decorated, the stockings are hung, and the kids’ presents sit wrapped and ready. The house has been like this for weeks. Don’t judge me.
Never have I been so eager for a Christmas season. Maybe it’s because the kids are getting older, and it seems more fun when they can actively participate in baking cookies and wrapping presents. Perhaps it’s because Christmas is just so much fun in Germany—with new traditions, the markets, and a ridiculous amount of chocolate. With my parents visiting and our trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen having been long planned, there’s also been a lot to look forward to when it comes to the “holidays”. Needless to say, I’ve really got my holly-jolly on this year.
Christmas Markets around Germany have more or less been open for the past week, and I’ve wasted no time getting reacquainted with warm waffles, crepes with Nutella, and kinderpunsch (a children’s alternative to warm Gluhwine but also convenient to those of us who don’t really drink). On Black Friday, as my brothers in the United States waited outside Best Buy at an ungodly hour in the morning to signify the official start of their holiday season, my parents, Emma, Talon and I drove to Luxembourg to kick off ours. We met with friends and enjoyed good food and company while the kids negotiated with us over which rides we’d allow them. Fortunately, we narrowly escaped the Ferris Wheel in exchange for the calmer, lower to the ground Christmas Tree ride.
Luxembourg (and our later trip to Bernkastel) were great ways to pass the time as we anxiously awaited our departure for Garmisch-Partenkirchen. At the last minute, I booked us a single night in Munich to kick off our trip a bit earlier than planned. I realized that spending Sunday night in Munich would provide us with great footing to visit their Christmas Market on Monday, its opening day. It also meant that we could get to Garmisch sooner by getting most the driving out of the way on what was inevitably going to be a boring Sunday at home.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Westpark, walking distance from a subway station and only a ten-minute ride to the Marienplatz. I chose this hotel not wanting to bother with more traffic than I absolutely had to, and because the price was reasonable at roughly €75 per room. Parking was extra, but it was convenient and nearby. To save money, we elected not to eat breakfast at the hotel and instead ate at a bakery down the street. The hotel suited our purpose and fit our budget. I felt a lot of pressure to pick a decent place to stay, so I’m glad it didn’t disappoint. Should I return to Munich, I will likely stay there again.
My mom was tired on the night of our arrival in Munich, so she stayed back at the hotel while the rest of us ventured out for dinner. It was a typical Sunday night in Germany, and by that, I mean that nothing was open. Stores aren’t legally allowed to operate on Sundays. Gas stations, restaurants, and touristy things are often an exception to this rule, but Munich’s Marienplatz (city center) was dark and calm despite being full of storefronts and readily waiting Christmas Market stalls. I welcomed the opportunity to become acquainted with the Marienplatz at its quietest, knowing I would soon see it at perhaps its most hectic. Even in darkness, the Neues Rasthaus (New City Hall) was a sight to see.
For dinner, I thought it would be fun to do the touristy thing and eat at the famous Hofbrauhaus Munich. The brewery is owned by the Bavarian Government and has been around in some form or another since the 1500s. They serve traditional German food and liter-sized beers that only cost €9.00 each. The hall is complete with a traditional German band and about a thousand places to sit, though when we were there, finding an empty table was a struggle! I worried it would be too loud for my dad, who struggles with his hearing, but luckily a good time was had by all—even the kids!
On Monday, we revisited the Marienplatz in all of its festive glory. Talon demanded a “hot dog” which is how I know that he’s got this Christmas Market thing down. He also enjoyed his own Kinderpunsch after it cooled down enough for him to drink it, and Zach tried some of the mulled wine (which he thought was good) and a Jager tea (which was not so good). Emma and I enjoyed crepes, Zach and I each contributed to our respective beverage holding collections (steins for him, Starbucks mugs for me), and the kids sat still for at least twenty minutes, mesmerized by a stuffed animal scene in a store window. Despite the cold, the Munich Christmas Market was rather enjoyable, and though it wasn’t my favorite that we visited on this trip (Innsbruck is arguably a hard one to beat), it’s definitely one I would consider returning to again. Should you ever get the opportunity, you should visit it too!
After our time in Munich came to an end, we hopped back onto the highway and headed down to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a mountain town close to the Austrian-German border for part two of our trip. I’m going to make Garmisch Part Two of my blog too, because there is just too much to cover in one post. I hope to have the rest up soon!
(Note: With extra time on Monday morning and the opportune babysitter, Zach, my Dad, and I also visited the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial just outside of Munich. While the experience was both unfathomable and unforgettable, it doesn’t exactly fit with the tone I’ve set for this post. I’d love to tell you about it, but I’m going to save it for another day. I’m sure you understand.)
Thanks for reading!