It’s been a year since I was last in Munich, with my daughter Suzi to enjoy the Christmas holiday atmosphere. This year I’ve returned with my wife Eva to do the same.

Marienplatz - the heart of downtown

Marienplatz – the heart of downtown

We left San Francisco under warm and sunny skies and arrived in Munich many hours later to cold and dreary weather, typical for early winter. We like Munich. It’s a beautiful city and full of vibrant life. The Christmas markets and holiday decorations are all around and the season is taking hold. We get to visit old friends here, as well as many family members.

We started our visit rather humbly. In past years we’ve stayed at the rather centrally located Blauer Bock Hotel near the Viktualienmarkt, infamously known as a prewar hangout for Hitler and his cronies. The hotel was certainly a nice place but it has become a bit pricy for our tastes. So I was eager to show Eva a hostel where Suzi and I stayed last winter. It’s a little further out of the city center but but within walking distance if you put your mind to it. It’s the Haus International. Although often filled with school and athletic groups, it also caters to young families and even the older set such as ourselves. We reserved a private room with bath on the quiet top floor. A full varied breakfast always got our day off with full energy.

On one walk downtown we passed a small Christmas market that featured traditional crafts. The vendors were dressed in costume of the period.

Freshly baked bread is a must, even if it's only a sausage bun.

Freshly baked bread is a must, even if it’s only a sausage bun.

Want a slice of roasted suckling pig? You got it.

The slow roast does wonders for succulance.

The slow roast does wonders for succulance.

Look, here comes St. Nicolas, bearer of gifts to the children. To me, he seems a bit caught up in his appearance.

St. Nicolas, for sure

St. Nicolas, for sure

It’s cold out and time to dress warmly.

Ready for snow

Ready for snow

This is the time to warm the inside with a tall mug of Glühwein.

Hot mulled wine to warm the innards

Hot mulled wine to warm the innards

Actually, Glühwein and a cig were common companions.

Smoking is mostly an outdoor activity these days, being generally banned indoors.

Smoking is mostly an outdoor activity these days, being generally banned indoors.

We haven’t been visiting museums for quite a while so we dropped in on the Neue Pinakothek. I was particularly impressed with the building, both outside and inside showing a remarkable unity of Postmodern design.

Neue Pinakothek lobby

Neue Pinakothek lobby

Across the street was the Alte Pinakothek, home of older European art.

The Alte Pinakothek is a challenge for the older set.

The Alte Pinakothek is a challenge for the older set.

We spent quite some time here scrutinizing the delicacy of old masters.

What details to behold

What details to behold

By the time we reached the Marienplatz it was almost dark. The main plaza in front of the city hall was all busy with merrymakers enjoying the Christmas stalls.

The heart of Munich

The heart of Munich

We did have a chance to visit some family members. Here’s nephew Gregor, Bettina and the most recent additions to the growing family.

Our two talented architects and their budding offspring

Our two talented architects and their budding offspring

And here’s my first selfie with Helga and Dieter, and Eva, friends for over 50 years.

All happy after a great dinner and homemade dessert

All happy after a great dinner and homemade dessert

At the end of our four days in Munich we took the tram to the Schwabing SIXT rental car office and drove off in a sleek black BMW, probably made in the factory almost in sight of us. Except that I couldn’t get the car started, or find reverse gear. Oh, these new-fangled cars! Fortunately the navigation system was a dream – if you can read and understand German and the husky female voice. English is among a number of navi languages that can be chosen so we’ll soon figure out which button to push.

We select our cars, not on name brand, but on the size of the trunk. We’re traveling this time with slightly larger than normal suitcases because of the boots and bulky winter gear we need. This class of car was described as holding two suitcases. We could barely squeeze our two modest pieces of luggage inside.

Our 116i BMW rental car, a dream to drive.

Our 116i BMW rental car, a dream to drive.

Late in the day with evening gloom, fog and threatening snow descending upon us, we sped off toward the south in search of Alpine splendor.

Advertisements