Experiencing different customs during the holiday season brings about a different sort of culture shock. It is not the type that makes you feel like a complete alien, but it still throws a load of confusion at you. You feel as if you are in a day dream, instead you do not wake up momentarily dazed; you are perpetually dazed.
This sounds like I have been spending my time being overwhelmed and/or doing drugs. I swear its neither! I am very blessed to be experiencing new things and to be confronting new traditions, many of which I adore. I think that is what the cool thing is about life; when a tradition changes, whether for the long or short term, you can have the possibility of making new traditions. While I know being abroad for the holidays is likely to be a one time thing, my intent is to indulge in it now.
So, Munich. That city was my first experience visiting in Germany. Unfortunately, the truck attack at the Berlin Christmas market occurred during my stay. It was truly heartbreaking to hear the news on CNN that night, only a couple hours after I returned from Munich’s Christmas market. Many reached out to me from the states, hoping that I was safe. Although I found this sincere and heartwarming, Germany is rather large; Munich is roughly 500 km away from Berlin. The chances of me being affected were slim. Nonetheless, very appreciative that I have people looking out for me.
I really really REALLY do not want to brush over Munich, but I feel like my first trip only gave me such a narrow glimpse of it. Its a large city with roughly 1.4 million people. To be honest, I spent much of the time sleeping in, eating, and whining about the cold weather. Oh and trying to further understand German phonetics. I took lots of photos and asked lots of questions. I felt a little bit like a fish out of water; I came from Florence, where I was finally becoming more accustomed to feigning my way as an Italian. Then, I found myself in Bavaria where, well, I walked around as if there was a US flag tattooed to my forehead. I mean, that is how it is always going to be your first couple of times in a new country. Sometimes I coerced my boyfriend into speaking in Italian with me, just so that I did not stand out that much. Speaking of which, I learned on my trip that there are a tremendous amount of Italians living in Munich. This is due to a few reasons, predominantly its proximity and Germany’s attractive infrastructure. It was pleasantly surprising how many Italian words you hear and Italian restaurants you spot while walking, driving, or sitting in the tram.
Exploring the center, more touristy parts of the city enabled me to frequent certain places often. I was staying outside of the center, leading me to take the tram most of the time. Its pretty fast, punctual, and the map is easy to comprehend. It was nice and comfortable, particularly for someone (me) who forgot what -1º felt like. There was a delicious bakery adjacent to the nearest tram stop to where I stayed. Its called Bäckerei Aumüller. It is where I tried my first German pretzel, slathered generously with butter through the middle. It is a common way to serve pretzels and it might be the most perfect way to do so.
There are also two specific restaurants in the center that I can recommend 100x because we ended up eating at each place more than once. My boyfriend’s dad clearly preferred these places since we somehow kept ending up there. These places represent what Münich is now, modern and international. They do not make traditional foods that are commonly served up to preserve history. Those are important too, but these two places I can genuinely recommend.
First, there’s Fedora. Its a hip and casual restaurant with great drinks and lovely pizza. The staff is a mix of German and Italian, granting the place a unique vibe. The smells from their wood burning oven constantly linger through the air, along with the beat of an array of international [mostly pop] music. On a weekend, this place is poppin’. I mean, delicious Roman style pizza with fresh ingredients with a chilled draft Bavarian beer – what could sound better? I recommend the Fedora Special margherita pizza. Add some rucola to it if you want to get a little bit of bitter greens in there. You won’t regret it.
If you are trying to be more chic than casual, go to Brenner Grill. This place is rather new and large. What makes it dazzle is its game changing concept. Mostly all of the cooking occurs within the dining room, with two large grills under giant hibachi- like fans. It almost blends in with the neutral decor of the restaurant, with its high ceilings and stone pillars. The front boasts a casual area for a drink or even a meal, if you do not mind eating on a low stool-like table. After the host table lies the main dining area for the restaurant. Definitely make a reservation if aiming to have dinner anytime of the week, particularly if its the holiday season. Or, go for lunch. There is an interesting variety of foods. Their meat and fish from the grill are straightforward and fresh. One thing I need to mention is that their side of spinach is the best spinach I have ever had. Its simplicity just makes it foodgasmic.
There are many places you can find through our best friend Google to go eat some Bavarian specialties, like types of würst and spätzle. Unfortunately, I did not eat much of it at meals for two simple reasons. One, my boyfriend and his father do not eat red meat. Secondly, the Christmas market was there, which made for exploring the stalls to taste some Bavarian treats.
I am no longer in Münich, but I wish to return there as soon as possible. There is so much I did not explore! But, until then, some more photos of a spontaneous holiday trip.
Santa collecting donations for toys.
All that meat!
I wish I could remember the name of this bakery. I purchased a piece of stöllen, a traditional Christmas bread in Germany. Its dominant ingredients are dried fruit and butter. Its often filled with marzipan. Pictured above are fresh, warm stöllen (normal, no marzipan) at this tiny bakery. The missing half is long gone.
Just a better look!
On the way home, looking at a brochure for a spa, hoping to find an affordable manicure.
Happy Holidays xx