I’ve got a nice brew next to me, I’m wrapped up in my blanket and got my Christmas playlist on and I’m ready to make a confession. My name is Heather Baguley and I’m addicted to Christmas markets…
As you’re probably very much aware we are fast approaching Christmas and of course that means shopping and eating a ridiculous amount of indulgent food. Here in Munich the streets are buzzing and the Kaufhofs are all chocka with Germans strutting about looking way too organised and chill, ever the efficient people. To add to the festive feeling the temperature here has dropped dramatically so whenever you go outside it feels as if you’ve stepped out onto a vast mountain top about to ski the day away. It does add a bit of magic to each morning when you look out of the window and see all of the trees turned into snow white skeletons and the roofs of the houses covered with a soft blanket of frost. Of course a frost such as this would cause utter chaos in England but here in Germany they know not to lose their minds at a bit of cold weather.
For the first year ever I’m actually organised with my Christmas shopping, partly because of my slight addiction to the markets but also due to the fact that I have plenty of my own money to spend which I have been saving up from my au pair wages. I had requests from Mother for a real German nutcracker and a request from Ted to bring back as much intel from the German army as possible. Lets just say the only intel I have so far is that they mix their prinks bloody strong! But that’s another story for another blog 😉
Anyway the Christkindl markets opened in Munich the weekend I was in Southampton and I had a night out with Erwin and the soldiers last weekend so this week was the first chance I had to have my first visit. My plan was to have a look around in daylight and find the best stalls and clock what I wanted to buy, then come back in the evening when all the lights are on and have a cheeky Gluhwein with Sarah.
Now this sounds super weird and cheesy but I’ve had some of my best moments in Munich on the escalators in Marienplatz. I remember the first time me and mum came to Munich last November, when we came up those escalators and saw Marienplatz for the first time we were both amazed by the majesty and beauty of the Rathaus and Marienplatz as a whole. That was the moment I fell in love with Munich and knew I had to be here. Over a year later I had the same feeling coming up and seeing the market all set up and buzzing with the massive Christmas tree looming over it all next to the Rathaus. The sounds, smells and colours hit me all at once and I fell in love again.
As you walk through the market you’re hit by the sickly scent of Gluhwein on one side, then a whack of Bratwurst and Senf on the other side. The stalls are crammed with stuff ranging from tree ornaments to candles to Brotzeit boards and every other Christmas/German/crafty thing you can think of. Unlike British markets, the German markets sprawl all over the city and come in every possible variety. There’s the classic market in the centre, a craft market, food market, vegan/vegetarian market and even a gay market called the ‘Pink Markt’. There are clumps of markets all through the city and all round the edges and in between the clumps there are Gluhwein stands and food stands to sustain you for the next bout of shopping.
Much like Oktoberfest the markets attract thousands of tourists but it still feels authentic and traditional. Most of the locals visit the markets and do their shopping there and most of the store owners speak German to you outright and once they know you can speak German they appreciate it and stick with it. My favourite stall is run by an old married couple who sell wooden Brotzeit boards and other wooden knick knacks. They hand carve all of the boards and make each one new when you buy it. I bought a board for my dad and another thing which is a surprise and certain avid readers of this blog cant know about… mother. I should explain Brotzeit is like a German snack time where they have a board of cured meats, cheeses and bread. Having lived here for 3 months I’m a big fan of the ol’ Brotzeit.
Another fav pastime is Gluhwein! There must be hundreds if not thousands of Gluhwein stalls in the city and each one has a different type of mug on offer. My favourite are the boot mugs which are a bit more expensive at 3.50 Euros instead of the usual 3 Euros. Like in England you pay an extra deposit on the mugs which you can get back if you give the mug in. Here we have this deposit or ‘Pfand’ for all plastic bottles you buy in shops so you can recycle an empty plastic bottle and get around 15 cents back to use in the store. My plan is to collect as many mugs as possible by going to the markets with Erwin so I get double the mugs and don’t get absolutely slaughtered on Gluhwein in the middle of the day. One thing I don’t think I’ve seen in England before but they love here is Gluhwein with an extra shot of Schnapps in it, usually amaretto or rum. As you would think its a delicious but dangerous mix.
Even though I’ve just about finished my Christmas shopping I’ll still be returning to the markets as much as possible, mainly to stock up on my collection of Gluhwein mugs… Anyone who loves the Christmas markets in England I would highly recommend coming to Munich or another German city (Munich is best) and check one out. I volunteer as a tour guide for the low low price of a Gluhwein.
Finally I must do some shoutouts as I was told off from the other side of the world by my mother for not mentioning her last time. Shoutout to my wonderful mum for booking my flight home for Christmas and more importantly always being there to chat about Munich and boys and life in general. Even with us being 11,000 miles apart (woah thats far) we still manage to get a good few whatsapp convos in as I’m getting up and shes going to bed and vice versa. Also shoutout to Trin and Dad who are there in NZ with her having the time of their lives. Mini shoutout to Ted who’s also having the time of his life living in a house full of girls!