Christmas time is upon us and when I’m in Liverpool that means buying a tree, drinking Glühwein and visiting the German christmas markets. This year, I’m experiencing the real deal and spending this weekend in Munich!
Currently, I am sat in my bunk bed in Wombats hostel after a slow start to the morning and some Christmas shopping. We arrived on Friday morning, after waking up at 4.30am to get to the airport (ugh) but the early start did mean we got to see a spectacular sunrise. We were promised a view of Mont Blanc by the pilot but I think the entire plane of passengers was asleep by then. I’ve never been to Germany and now that I’ve been here for a couple of days I can’t believe I didn’t come sooner. As we walked through the airport we saw stall upon stall of delicious looking food and then a Christmas market right outside the exit to give us our first taste of what this weekend would be like. Despite not speaking much German we managed to find the train station and buy our tickets with ease and then we were off to the city centre.
We couldn’t check in to the hostel for a few hours when we arrived so we tidied ourselves up and headed for the markets and hoped to find some coffee as the early morning was taking its toll. The markets were just as magical and lively as I expected them to be. Each wooden hut was uniquely decorated with plenty of different Christmassy gift ideas but my favourite part was the smell. Sausages, mustard, Glühwein and a whole manner of sweet treats mixed together in a way that instantly put me in the Christmas spirit. Unlike the German markets in the UK, each stall had plenty of room around it so no one was pushing and it didn’t take forever to walk around the marketplace.
After we had wandered for a while, we found a small square off the main road with food stalls and stood under a quaint wooden structure with some hot Fruchtpunsch. One of my favourite things about German Christmas markets is the hot alcoholic drinks and the cups they come in – I must have seen about 15 different designs so far and they all make you want to keep them (which you can! That’s what the cup deposit is for). Whilst we were being warmed by our drinks, Macey noticed that there were people stood on a viewing platform around a clock tower. We decided to walk in that direction and see if we could go up and get a view of Munich. Entry to the tower of what turned out to be St. Peter’s church only cost 3€ so we made our way up the very creaky wooden steps of the bell tower alongside crowds of other tourists. I’m going to warn anyone reading this now – if you’re claustrophobic do not even consider going up here because there is no control of whom is coming up and whom is coming down meaning we were squashed against a wall more than once and for longer than a few seconds. The view was nice and I didn’t mind paying the 3€ at all but the viewing platform was one person deep and as I said there was no one managing the crowd so everyone was pushing each other trying to see the city. It was all a bit chaotic for me so I looked for all couple of minutes and headed back down.
After the tower, we headed back towards the hostel but ended up stopping at the ice skating rink to watch the skaters, this proved to be a lot more amusing than we had anticipated. There were people falling over left, right and center and there were children not so much skating but running on the ice. We stayed until the skaters were told to clear the ice for maintenance but decided to come back later and watch some more wipe-outs.
We checked in at the hostel and they gave us a map with recommendations on it as well as some free drink tokens for their bar. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful and places like the YHAs I’ve been to pale in comparison – Wombats has a Winter Garden in the center of the building with comfy sofas and pastel painted walls. The rooms are very clean and come with lockers don’t require you to hire and lock/key. Towels are free from reception and the rooms are always warm enough. We asked for a restaurant recommendation and ended up at a proper Bavarian place with 1L steins of beer and a hearty menu that was very reasonably priced. Our plan for Saturday was to get up early and visit the Neuschwanstein Castle so we didn’t stay out too late although we did stop at a Bavarian beer hall on the way home for good measure.
I will be dedicating a whole post to the castle later this week so keep a look out for that as the photos are staggering.