Germany 2023: Day 5 & 6 probably

Yesterday in Munich, in the block where we ate lunch at a very good burger place, there was a movie theatre. This is what was scheduled for Sunday night:

The silent era masterpiece Metropolis with a live orchestra? Yes, please. My only consolation was that it was no doubt canceled because of the snow. Everything was canceled because of the snow that everyone seems to think is so pretty.

Otherwise, there would have been plenty to do in Munich of an evening besides wander the stalls of the Weihnachtsmarkt and sip glühwein. One theatre had a production of Cenerentola, for example, Rossini’s version of Cinderella and one of my favorites.

So when we last left our intrepid band, the cliffhanger was whether they would be able to escape Munich and make it to Stuttgart, the next stop on the tour. In a sequence worthy of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles they made it: four cabs to the bus station, and a 2-hour+ bus ride to Stuttgart (plus a subway ride to the main train station and a walk to the hotel).

Around Munich the snow was still thick:


But by the time we got to Stuttgart, there was no snow on the ground, Gott sei dank!

After a short break, we headed out to the Christmas market. I will state for the record that Stuttgart’s market is to be preferred over Munich’s. It seems more relaxed with a much broader selection of wares than Munich’s. I can state this with confidence because we immediately bought a bunch of stuff, which was not the case in Munich.

Here, have some photos:

Yes, that is a children’s Ferris wheel, with seats that look like Christmas tree ornaments.

We ate at the Alte Kanzlei, a well-regarded restaurant featuring Schwabian cuisine. It was very tasty. On the wall, one of my favorite glitches in the Matrix: the random use of English in another language:

Bottom line: Oldtimerturen durch Stuttgars Weinberge.

We explored the Market thoroughly, making some fun purchases because NEVER TOO MANY CHRISTMAS KENNETH, and then heading back to the hotel and its lovely gin bar.

How dedicated a gin bar is this bar? When I asked the bartender in this one if he could make a Manhattan, not only had he never heard of the drink, he had no idea what rye was. (They did have Bulleitt bourbon, so I used that to build on the young man’s knowledge base.)


No real reporting for Wednesday, because I had a bit of an upset digestive system. Nothing Immodium couldn’t cure, but I realized it too late to take the meds and be settled in time to catch the train. I settled for a quiet day in Stuttgart while everyone else headed off for a charming day in Tübingen. (My Lovely First Wife found THE SHOES THAT CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN EUROPE KENNETH, so it was probably just as well that I was in the hotel reading Terry Pratchett.)

Have another glitch in the Matrix, a major one:

This is a sign on a store, one of several. The store builds wooden furniture and makes that fact its identity. But did you catch it? It’s a tree story. A freaking pun in English, and only in English. One’s head spins, it truly does.

Once everyone else was back, the two of us chose to go to Mauritius, a “beach bar,” where indeed all the cocktails are tiki cocktails in English: Zombie, Beachcomber, Sex on the Beach, etc. The food was good; we eschewed the fruity drinks.

Back to the parts of the Market we missed, including the great plaza with a light show:

The column in particular puts on a computer-sequenced show that’s delightful.

Very nice things at the section of the market we covered: antiques, quality goods, and this charming decoration:

The three discs turn, giving the illusion of skiers schussing down the mountain. Did we buy it? Not at all. But it was cute.

Germany 2023: Day 3, 4? Who the hell knows?

It’s been a right old time here in München, Deutschland. You may recall the general rejoicing over the SNOW, KENNETH, as we rode the train into Munich. Yeah, well, what you saw as picture-perfect Christmas-postcard delight, meteorologists saw as a 90-year record snowstorm, blanketing Germany in feet of snow and crippling transportation all across the nation.

But first, let me back up and tell you how our Saturday did not end in starvation but indeed turned out beautifully.

Our tour leader Jim texted us all that he had made reservations for an Italian restaurant nearby if anyone wanted to join, which we did. There were seven of us and we had a great time over drinks and dinner, getting to know each other and laughing. One of us, Debbie, misheard the waiter asking if “alles” wanted the tiramisu and thought he called her Alice, which is her name now I don’t make the rules.

(“Alice” also made an inadvertently — and hilarious — vulgar joke which I will not repeat here but which you definitely should ask me to repeat for you in person if you’re that kind of person. You know who you are.)

Alice went out for a smoke and returned to tell us excitedly that there was a carousel right down the street, plus one of the dozen Christmas markets that litter the city at this time of year.  Of course we headed out, only to find that she had scammed us: the carousel was kiddie-sized. But the market was real, and we had a blast wandering through it. It was much smaller and much more fun than the Marienplatz market downtown.

Finally we returned to the hotel and hit the bar.

You will recall that I had hit the hotel bar on Friday night and called it solid but basic. This was their bar book:

It listed all the whiskeys, rums, vodkas, etc., that they stocked, plus a handful of basic cocktails. But it didn’t list the gins, of which there seemed to be dozens. I thought that was odd.

On Saturday night, we headed back to the bar after that long day, where I discovered:

I was in a gin bar! This bible contained all the gins they stocked…

… including its type, its botanicals, where it’s made, and the recommended tonic water for a gin & tonic. And you see that half-page bit in the center? Those are regional gins. I suddenly didn’t mind that a) Munich does not seem to be blessed with solid craft cocktail bars; or b) that I might be trapped here for a while.


We were supposed to go to Nüremberg on Sunday, but transportation across Bavaria was largely shut down. What trains were running were overbooked as Germans tried to get home from Munich. We had to cancel any of our plans, which included my visiting the Ayers gin distillery and buying more of one of the most delicious gins I’ve ever bought. Ugh.

I am omitting our visit to the Alte Peter church, because it triggered my inner Marxist and I’d like to keep this positive.

We went to the Residenz, the in-town palace of the ruling Wittelsbach family back in the day. It was largely destroyed in WWII, so most of what you see is a reconstruction.

The main courtyard as we waited to enter was blanketed in snow. I found this cherub delightful:

Yes, there is a cherub under there.

The first room was the Grotto, a fantasy of one of the Wittelsbachs.

A close-up of one of the ladies in the decor:

Yeah, the whole thing was pretty grotesque. Yes, the whole thing is encrusted with seashells.

The first main hall:

Here the Wittlesbachs gave full rein to their imperial fantasies, with busts of all the Roman emperors and their appendages.

Me with my friend Marcus Aurelius:

My friend Dionysus:

My friend Apollo:

These two were fairly nubile, but there were multiple athletes of one kind or another who were much tauter.

Here’s a terrazzo at the bottom of a very big staircase leading up to the Elector/Duke/Emperor’s private chambers. I really liked the geometry involved in graduating the sizes of the tiles to accommodate the arced design.

The palace as a whole is a rabbit warren of halls, antechambers, bedrooms. Each head honcho felt compelled to build his own suite of rooms, often adding entire buildings to do so. The only rooms open to the public are the glamorous ones, but of course we wondered where the accommodations for the servants were, where the kitchens were, dining halls, etc.

We noticed throughout this little dingus:

I thought perhaps it was some kind of drawer for the maids to keep brushes or something, but it’s simply a retro-fit for electrical outlets for today’s custodial staff.

The Residenz has some nice bits, but on the whole the Wittelsbachs were not Bourbons, and the Residenz is not Versailles.

We roamed the Marienplatz market again for a while, then the group set out to find sustenance. At some point, two of the company and we set out for a restaurant that one of us had highlighted in her book, i.e., highly rated. We set the phone to guide us, and trudged through the snow-still city only to find that the restaurant was closed because of the weather.

Just down the street though was another restaurant, a charming little cottage set in a courtyard, which was brightly lit and warm and closing as we walked in.

But they recommended Siggis, right next door, and it was open. It was also vegan, but the meal was delicious and we were content.

After that it was back to the hotel, a few more gin and tonics at the bar, and then bedtime.


Everything is still at a standstill. We slept late, then hit the road to explore another market. On the way were these cool sculptures, made even cooler by the snow:

Did you see it?

All the trees in this park had straw bales tied to their bases. Why? Because kids were sledding there; these cushioned any kid who whammed into the tree.

Our main goal on the way to the Sendlinger Tor market was the Asam Church, which we had seen in 2007 but was worth another visit. Our hearts sank as we hit the street and saw scaffolding covering the facade, but it was open. Although the gate to the chapel itself was locked, we could still see the interior, which is a stunningly Baroque masterwork.

This was the private chapel built by two brothers; it sits behind an unassuming facade in the middle of a 21st-c. shopping street, and it’s a showstopper.

The Sendlinger Tor market was a bit of a disappointment, very few booths and most of those food or glühwein.

Lunch at a really good burger place, then more wandering through the main market before linking back up with the group to head over to the Hofbrau Haus for a beer and pretzels. There we discussed how the hell we were getting to Stuttgart tomorrow, or if we would get to Stuttgart tomorrow.

All I will say is that we have a plan, but since it involves the icy precipitation holding off enough for us to escape, I will spare you the details.

Back to the hotel, where I have decamped to the lobby with the laptop to catch up on this blog, this time with a Manhattan rather than a gin and tonic. (I had to teach the Hungarian bartender how to make one.)

I apologize for the blogging of this trip being so lackluster, but as I said in the previous post I haven’t been able to get as many photos as I usually do. Rest assured that we’ve done plenty of shopping, and the company has been first-rate. (In fact, I can snag a lot of photos from our WhatsApp group, but the wifi at the hotel is less than first-rate and it’s a pain to stay online.)

Here, have a photo from one of the markets:

Will our intrepid crew make it to Stuttgart, much less Frankfurt, much less home? Stay tuned.

Germany 2023, Day 1 & 2

Note: The weather is working against us, so for the first two days there’s not a lot to report or show.


We had a long and uneventful flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt, and then a long and uneventful train ride from Frankfurt to Munich.

Here’s the train station right there in the Frankfurt Airport (not to be confused, we were told, with the Frankfurt station, which is in Frankfurt, unlike the Airport station, which is not).

Uneventful, except for this:

Not only is it snowing in Bavaria, it’s a white-out. MY FAVORITE KIND OF WEATHER, KENNETH. (It is not my favorite kind of weather.)

The hotel in Munich is nice, Hotel One, clean, well-appointed. After a short rest, we met with the group to walk down to the Christmas Market. It was crowded, snowy, and pretty enough. No shopping, because we were just getting our bearings. (Our tour guide, Jim, is an old friend from GHP who drags tours around Europe.)

We dined at the Weisses Bräuhaus, near the market, where we had traditional German food and those who liked beer had traditional German beer.

And as was foretold, we trudged back to the hotel in the snow — still falling — where some of us retired. I went to the bar, basic but solid, and had a gin and tonic before retiring.


Still snowing. This is the garden area outside our hotel window.

We headed back to the Marienplatz, where the Christmas Market  is, in time to hear the Glockenspiel play and watch the charming 19th-c. animatronics do their thing in the New Town Hall tower.

Then over to Alte Peter, “Old Peter,” the oldest church in Munich. (Munich — Bavaria in general — is Catholic, having fought off Martin Luther and his minions over the years.)

Although the Alte Peter dates to the 12th-c., the  interior is a mishmosh of subsequent architectural styles, with Rococo predominating.

Next we hit up the Frauenkirche, the “Lady Church,” i.e., a cathedral devoted to Mary. I don’t have a photo of this one. I’ve been bundled up with multiple layers, plus a stadium coat, plus scarf/hat/gloves, so it’s a real pain to get the phone out and take a photo. My apologies.

Lunch at the Augustiner Bräuhaus, where it was so crowded that we were able to be seated only because we volunteered to take two other people at the table. We were joined by a lovely Belgian father and his young son, who had come to Munich for a soccer match but were forced by the weather to circle the airport for two hours, plus wait for the transport bus (from the tarmac to the terminal), and then found trains/buses/taxis were all shut down because of the snow.

You know, the beautiful snow that you all seem to love.

We were not with the group, so we decided to use our time before regrouping to head over to TK Maxx so I could buy a fleece blanket for my personal sleeping comfort. By the time we made it back to the Frauenkirche for the next leg of the trip, the group had already moved on to the Residenz. Since we’re all communicating via WhatsApp, we told them that was fine, we would do our own thing.

We then set off to maybe actually shop at the Market, but then one of us wanted to find a shop that we remembered from visiting Munich in 2007, Kenneth. You might be surprised to learn that we never found it.

At this point we decided to trek back to the hotel. It was still snowing.

At the time of this writing, we are wondering if we are going to be able to find anywhere that’s open at which we can eat dinner. If worse comes to worst, I have a pack of trail mix that will keep us alive until morning.

Germany 2023: The Beginninging

::sigh:: Yes, yes, we were just in Germany last spring, but this is different.

When our son was studying in Munich seventeen years ago, we went to visit for Thanksgiving. We had a lovely time, but we had to leave the day before the Christmas market opened. This has rankled my Lovely First Wife for a while now, and so for Christmas I have given her a tour of Christmas markets in Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt.

Because, if you know my Lovely First Wife, you know that there is no such thing as TOO MANY CHRISTMAS.

Follow along as I freeze my ass off all across Germany.