Brad had never been to Germany, and really wanted to go. We thought it would be a great opportunity to take advantage of this during his first break from work, which happened to be right before Christmas. I thought it would also be an ideal time for us to enjoy the Christmas markets and wintery weather.
Once we had an idea of where we wanted to go, I began scouting the options for once we arrived. Do we drive or do we fly?
After our first Europe trip, that entailed lots of “travel details” pertaining to flight times, baggage checking, airline terminals… I decided it might be easier and more convenient for us to rent a car and just go when we felt like it. Once we decided that was the best option, it was time to pick our locations. That was the hard part. There are so many amazing cities in the area to visit, and so many nearby countries…. It’s just like, “how do I choose!?!?!”. Here’s how. Google Maps. You put in all the places you want to go, and work your way down to the most plausible route for us.
Our route started in Munich, then on to Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Nuremberg, Rothenburg, to Neuschwanstein, and back around to Munich. It was perfect! A magical and beautiful drive. Little did we know that this would become one of our favorite trips thus far.
We arrived in Munich the morning of December 9th. We found our way to the train station that took us into the center of the city, and directly across from our hotel, the Aloft Munich. Our hotel was in an ideal location. It was literally across the street from the main train station, the Munchen Hauptbahnhof. It was also near the mall and several other shops and restaurants.. And maybe a 10 minute walk to the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz.
We decided to only spend a day and a half in Munich, and I’m glad we did because you really don’t need much more in my opinion. Munich is much more modernized with historical touches through out. There was a lot of action at the Marienplatz (the main square) because that is where the main Christmas market was. It was fun to walk through and see all the souvenirs and gifts, as well as snacks! We did continue wandering through Marienplatz to the east, and found a fun day market that had a lot of handicrafts, flowers, and again some food. It was fun! There are several Biergartens throughout the area as well where you can get a tasty hot meal, and nice cold brew.
Shall we get on with the story?
Once we arrived at Aloft, we checked in, dropped off our bags & then decided to go grab some lunch. We were both exhausted and knew that laying down would be disastrous. Thankfully, I truly enjoy my travel buddy, so that makes it a lot easier to want to stay up and enjoy whatever comes our way.
We mapped our way to the Marienplatz & found a yummy and hopping restaurant to stop for our first real German meal. Because it was briskly cold (without snow), I got a tasty soup. It was fun to be among the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers and tourists. But I hated having to take my big coat on and off. I was afraid of accidentally smacking an innocent passerby. (As an Arizonan, heavy coats aren’t a part of our usual winter wardrobe and it was tricky to adapt to.)
Once we were through with a our quick meal, we were back on our feet, and found ourselves among the Marienplatz crowds. They were shopping, eating, and waiting in hopes that the Glockenspiel would give them a small show. Considering our sleep deprivation, we found the crowds to be a little overwhelming & the decided to keep cutting through. This is how we stumbled upon the day market. They had some truly fun decorations. Little woodland creatures made of naturally materials, hanging decor for walls or door knobs, exquisite wreaths… A girl could go nuts, and it was difficult to practice self-control among the company of my “thrifty” husband. I did try to remain practical in terms of what would match the decor of our home (that we currently don’t possess).
We also, found the Starbucks.. We are always looking for Starbucks for a little familiarity and a pickup! Once you are on the east end entry/exit of Marienplatz & the across from the park/day market, go right. We spent the early evening enjoying the Marienplatz night life. We enjoyed some amazing Nutella crepes from the crepe stand in the center of the square.
We really did not last long. We were exhausted. We headed back to the hotel & passed out. The next day we ended up sleeping until two in the afternoon. Thankfully we didn’t panic. We got dressed in our toasty coats and headed for the door. We knew exactly where we were going. The Hofbrauhaus!
It was there hat we had our His & Her beer (I made that up because mine was small and his was big). I ordered a scrummy noodle dish. Brad ordered a pork schnitzel type of meal, and we shared a pretzel… because it would be wrong not too. (There is a gift shop, where you can purchase some souvenir HB mugs to take home with you… I opted for coasters & a couple of the cute menus, free & not as heavy to tote around.)
Once we paid for our meal, we headed back to the streets of Munich and wandered without aim. We just wanted to see what we could find, and we found a small treasure. A wonderfully scented Christmas tree lot on a beautiful cobble stone street outside a historical building. It appeared to be a Pantheon, but I’m not 100% sure. I have no idea were we were.
Evenings start very early there. It’s dark by 17:30, which is something that I struggled with. I had the tendency to lay down & not want to get back up. It made Brad crazy. It was just so dark and so cold. I don’t like the cold. haha. That evening we did the usual, we wandered the city, and we discovered various other markets which was exciting. One of which was more of a rennasaince style market. They offered slow cooked meats, mulled wines (Brad tried it & regretted it), and fun toys for the kids. …or my case, my husband to jab me with.
We eventually headed back to the familiar territory of the Marienpltaz browsed through some of the shops as, I was looking for a great German souvenir to take home. You can find some really interesting things, and some not-so-surprising things. Beersteins are there in masses, same with incense smokers (which is what I ended up purchasing on our last day). We ate more Nutella crepes, wandered through the holiday pop-up shops of the Christmas-Market and discovered a Jewish memorial just north of the Marienplatz.
We were not out late, as we were leaving the next morning to head to Salzburg. Once we were ready we headed back to the hotel, started watching The Sound of Music & and fell asleep.
Once we were all packed up the next morning, we headed back to the Marienplatz because we saw there was a bank on one of the corners. We wanted to get Euros for the rest our travels. It was great to be in the area before the crowds. The crisp morning air was very refreshing & a great start to our day. On our way there we stopped by the windows of the Galeria Mall because they had these festive window displays for the holiday season. Each little animatronic animal performed a task (see pic below) before your very eyes. it was very magical. We also were able to get a great view of the Glockenspiel.
Once we had our cash-money, we went back to our area. We stopped by the train station for a quick breakfast at one of the small cafes. We grabbed a couple sandwiches, and, yes, a pretzel. We walked back across the street, to the hotel & went up to the room to eat & grab our bags. Before we knew it, we were checked out & at the Budget location nearby to grab our rental car. The fun part, though, was finding our way out of the city with nothing but our Apple maps on our iPhones. & just like that we were Salzburg bound.
1) I am not cut out for cold weather
2) Brad’s presence encourages less shopping
3) 2 days in Munich is plenty