Munich and Christmas (but not Thanksgiving)

Some of our American friends asked us a month ago what our Thanksgiving plans were. They said that they were surprised at how much they missed it their first year. We had a few options for a traditional turkey and trimmings meal last Thursday in Zürich, but we took the opportunity to travel so that we wouldn’t think so much about what we were missing. Instead we could concentrate on the fun we are having.

Munich (München) is not very far away, and although we have both been here before (way back when we were in college), we wanted to at least spend a little more time in Germany than our day in Konstanz a few weeks ago. The first time I was in Munich, I was traveling through in early December from my semester in Graz to the plane in Amsterdam that would take me back to the states. I was with a few friends, and what I remember doing was skating at the Olympic Village, watching the glockenspiel in the main square, going to the Hofbrauhaus, seeing snow on the ground, and taking a trip to Dachau.

H had a slightly different experience here. He had finished up working for the summer at a boy scout camp in Germany, so it was much warmer when he was here. He saw the Deutschesmuseum, Olympic Park and the glockenspiel.

This time there was no snow on the ground, but the sky was completely overcast and very gray the whole four days. The temps hovered around freezing, so we thought about all the indoor activities we could do. Before that, though, we had to see the Christmas Market in Marienplatz, the square with the glockenspiel. We were not at the square at the appointed time, so we did not see the little show. However, we did happen to find ourselves in the square when the mayor gave a speech, the bands played, and the lights on the giant tree were turned on for the first time, officially opening up the Christmas Market. IMG_4156 After visiting the Zürich Christmas Market, I can say that the Munich Market is far superior. There were many more handcrafted items, and it is much, much bigger. IMG_4120 IMG_4128 IMG_4129 IMG_4210 I’m pretty sure that this market was not open this early in the season in 1980. I would definitely have remembered it.

While we were taking the subway to one of our destinations, I noticed an ad for a Christkindl Tram, so after looking it up online, we thought we’d give it a go. After the fun we’d had on the Schoggi Tram, we were up for another joy ride. At two euros a ride, it occurred to me that perhaps the advertised Glühwein and Lebkuchen were not included in that price. Nonetheless, we figured the ride would be at least 30 minutes of warm entertainment. IMG_4212 IMG_4213 IMG_4217 After our Schoggi experience, we knew that we should get to the tram at least ten minutes ahead of time to get a seat together. What I did not fully realize is that they sell more tickets than they have seats, and even though everyone does fit on the tram, some have to stand. We waited along with many others, including a fair number of children. And then. We found ourselves in the middle of a pushing, shoving crowd of people who were happy to knock aside others in order to get a seat. Someone pushed me down on the steps, and no one seemed to notice, or care. I picked myself up and shoved along with everyone else and managed to grab one seat. (I did not push anyone down, let the record show.) Dear, patient and kind H was one of the last ones on, so I graciously gave him my seat, as long as he let me sit on his lap…. Just as I suspected, the treats came at an additional price, complete with a deposit for the cup that held the Glühwein. Part of the entertainment (besides seeing some of Munich that we hadn’t yet seen) was watching the guy make animal balloons for the little kids. So, while the Christmas Market in Munich wins out, the tram ride in Zürich was far better. Guess we’ll just have to keep trying out more markets and trams!

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