All good things come to an end but we managed to make it a soft landing. The drive from the far reaches of the country’s Alpine border to downtown Munich was only a couple of hours long. Because it was Christmas Eve, the autobahn was relatively free of traffic and we could enjoy the scenery along the way.

View from the Autobahn

View from the Autobahn

Because I was leaving on a train for the airport before 5am the morning after Christmas and Suzi was leaving on a bus for Prague a couple of hours later, we elected to stay a block from the main downtown train station in a hostel catering to a younger age set. WiFi is usually excellent at hostels but here it could be received only in the small lobby on the first floor. Suzi discovered that we could get a signal in our fourth room if we opened the window and positioned our computers toward another nearby hotel.

Stealing WiFi

Stealing WiFi

The lobby was usually crammed with Chinese and Japanese student types seeking good internet connection, but on Christmas morning a homeless guy wandered in, settled down in one of the easy chairs and took a long nap, snoring contentedly.

A homeless man joins others far from home on Christmas morning.

A homeless man joins others far from home on Christmas morning.

We had two potential dilemmas at the hostel. Our six bunk room, which we had had to ourselves for several hours, eventually filled up with four Chinese technical students from Aachen U. Suzi immediately befriended them and they became as quiet and cooperative as possible. On the second night, we made our get-away at 4:30am in the dark, as quiet as mice, having stashed most of our things the night before in locked storage downstairs.

Our second more modest dilemma was that we would miss breakfast on our very last day in Germany. Miss a ritual. Dang. The baker makes his delivery at 6:30 and the breakfast room opens at seven, but we were long gone by then. So here’s a shot of Christmas brekkie.

Last breakfast, the kind of fuel that propelled us for most of the day.

Last breakfast, the kind of fuel that propelled us for most of the day.

Suzi has four first cousins in Germany. We were invited to Isabella’s for their Christmas Eve party where two of the four attended, along with Suzi’s Aunt Sibylle and Uncle Alexander, and kids and spouses. We rushed away near midnight to catch the last subway back to town.

Family gathering on Christmas Eve

Family gathering on Christmas Eve

Suzi with cousins Gregor and Isabella

Suzi with cousins Gregor and Isabella

Christmas Day we were on our own to roam new parts of Munich. However, we were not alone as many others were doing the same.

We enjoyed some outsized outdoor art and a carefully maintained tribute to Michael Jackson.

I wonder who he represents. Interesting nonetheless.

I wonder who he represents. Interesting nonetheless.

Suzi befriends the lady behind the Michael Jackson tribute.

Suzi befriends the lady behind the Michael Jackson tribute.

Michael Jackson once stayed in the hotel across the street, that's why this setting.

Michael Jackson once stayed in the hotel across the street, that’s why this setting.

We heard some excellent music on the streets – two violinists playing duets, a pianist playing Mozart, an accordionist playing Bach organ pieces. All were highly accomplished musicians. Delightful.

A grand piano right on the street! Really?

A grand piano right on the street! Really?

Essentially every single store and restaurant was closed. Christmas is taken seriously. Church doors were unlocked. We went in a few churches to smell the incense and have a moment of quiet for reflection.

Marienkirche - the Munich cathedral - bombed out in the war but rebuilt modern and light on the inside.

Marienkirche – the Munich cathedral – bombed out in the war but rebuilt modern and light on the inside.

But we knew where we would have our last meal. Suzi had already found it online – the famous Hofbräuhaus. It never has a day of closure. And, geez, was it doing a smashing business. We got our fill of oom-pah oom-pah band music, shared a stein of delicious beer and pigged out on maybe the best known Bavarian fare – roasted pig shanks big enough to feed a hungry platoon.

Locals in traditional garb enjoying themselves.

Locals in traditional garb enjoying themselves.

Suzi tackles a whole pork shank. Eventually she licked the platter clean.

Suzi tackles a whole pork shank. Eventually she licked the platter clean.

After this indulgence, we drifted off to people watch and see the lights and sounds of Christmas on the streets.

Christmas lights added a cheery note.

Christmas lights added a cheery note.

A main shopping corner with modest lights

A main shopping corner with modest lights

The Apple store where people were enjoying free wifi connection.

The Apple store where people were enjoying free wifi connection.

A festive street scene

A festive street scene

A church filled with the odor and smoke from a day of incense burning

A church filled with the odor and smoke from a day of incense burning

It was a fine evening to wander the streets of a grand Old World city and bring to a close an excellent vacation for father and daughter.

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