Christmas Travels – Part 1: Munich

Nothing beats Germany in pre-Christmas mode. I have never enjoyed being back home for the holidays more as this year we arrived just in time to check out all the Advent excitement. Christmas markets and seasonal events in and around the city are amazing venues to check out with a glass of Glühwein (“mulled wine”) in your hand. Here are 5 of my favourites, in and around Munich.

1. Milchhäusl at the English Garden

Take a stroll through the English Garden and watch the Eisbach Surfers withstand snow and cold water. After this favourite spectator sport it’s just a short walk to the Königinstraße entrance of the park. This is where the little gem “Milchhäusl” is located. Enjoy a cup of Glühwein or Lumumba (hot chocolate with rum) in one of their Winter Gondolas – Original ski-lift gondolas that are repurposed as private, heated seating areas. You can choose between the “Kuschel-Gondola” (snuggle gondola) with curtains or the “Disco-Gondola” decorated with colourful lights. Afterwards check out the christmas market around the “Chinesischer Turm” – a beautiful location to do some christmas shopping or sample some more Glühwein.

2. The Medieval Christmasmarkt

The market is conveniently located at Wittelsbacher Platz, close to Odeonsplatz station and the famous Theatinerkirche.The food options are amazing: Schupfnudeln with speck and cabbage, ox meat or walnut pesto, various dumplings and venison goulash. Next to Glühwein and Feuerzangenbowle (a hot specialty with burnt sugar and rum) you can order a Met honey wine which is served in a big clay jar. The craft huts sell unique gifts such as medieval jewlery, swords and drink horns. Everyone working at the market is in character and dressed in medieval outfits. A truly special market that is great for a lunch break visit or a drink after sightseeing.

3. Bad Tölz Weihnachtsmarkt

The BOB train connects Munich to the southern mountain and lakeside in under an hour. There are many picturesque towns to discover and mountains to climb. A favourite of mine is the romantic town of Bad Tölz which is located right on the river Isar and offers a view of the alps. The colourful old town is the prefect setting for it’s traditional Weihnachtsmarkt. Arts and crafts and delicious cheese and meats of local artisans make the market a favourite amongst locals and tourists. And the food options are amazing: Fresh bread and Alsatian flans right from the woodburning fire, Käsekrainer sausage (cheese filled) and Nürnberger in a bun (3 small bratwurst sausages) are crucial after trying the white and red Glühwein varieties and the local Hirschkuss Schnaps (a herb liquour).

4. Tollwood

This event has a Winter and Summer edition and twice every year transforms the famous Theresienwiese into a funky festival with food carts and big tents that host concerts, comedy events, parties, bars, local arts, fashion and craft vendors and ethnic eateries. The food and drinks served here are all organic. My favourite: The Mini- Cheese fondue at the foodcart “Fondue Baron”.The cause behind the winter festival 2014 was to promote the end of mass husbandry systems and humane treatment of animals.

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5. Pink Xmas

My favourite quarter in Munich is the Glockenbachviertel. It’s party central and home to many great restaurants and bars (My Top 3: The Bavarian-Vietnamese Fusion at Fei scho, a cocktail at Zephyr and the legendary Pimpernel Club). This quarter has lots to offer. Not surprisingly, the Christmas market here is amazing! Pink Xmas is a favourite neighbourhood event and an initiative by the gay and lesbian community in Munich. The cute little market is complete with neon-pink lights, hot Caipirinha and fun little shops offering quirky accessoires like topless male “mermaid”- tree ornaments. A fun spot to start the night out on town!

Stay tuned for my favourite winter activities in Vienna and Budapest…

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