Guten tag! Here’s my blog on a short little trip of the Christmas Markets of Central Europe tour through My go-to travel company, Intrepid Travel.
The tour started in Munich Germany ending in Budapest Hungary.
My sister and I flew from Calgary Alberta to Frankfurt Germany, hopped on the train and headed about 3 hours to Munich.
Munich has many claims to fame. Home of Oktoberfest, BMW, Nazi headquarters and Christmas markets to name a few! I liked that free wifi spots are just about everywhere, and it’s quite easy getting around with speaking English. There are public toilets, but they are often paid. So keep change in your pocket for that. The money is the euro, and they tend to still deal more with cash than using cards.
The big draw here in November and December is the world famous Christmas markets. People come from all over the world to visit them. The whole concept of Christmas markets originated in Germany, and they don’t disappoint. It’s very competitive to get a booth, so there are strict rules on who they let be a vendor. For example, all the products are German made, you won’t find anything mass produced from China etc. There’s a mix of food, mulled wine, ornaments, woodworking, clothing, beauty items etc. Munich had over 20 different markets, and some with specific themes.
One of my favourite parts of the market is the mulled wine called gluhwein (pronounced glue-vine). It’s red or white wine, heated with things like cinnamon, cloves, sugar, citrus etc. Sometimes another alcohol can be added. Tons of boths around, everyone makes their own recipes. It’s actually really good. There’s also punsch, which is a heated fruit drink with rum. Different kinds as well, Also really good. Don’t let the fact that it’s heated turn you off. It’s a must try! I don’t usually like red wine, but I do like red gluhwein. Open alcohol is allowed in public, so that’s a bonus. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t fear, there’s alcohol free versions as well. Just look for the sign that says kinder-gluhwein. You will pay a deposit for the mug, called a phan. So if you break it or take it, it’s already paid for. You’ll get the money back when you return the mug. Every market has different mugs.
There was also this one called Feuerzangenbowle, basically it’s a gluhwein with a sugar cube soaked in rum and set on fire.
If you want to booze cruise, there’s an evening tram that is about 30 mins around downtown in the evening. It’s all decked out in Christmas decorations, music and you can buy gluhwein on it!
Another cool thing about these markets, is that there are different themes. This one is for making your own nativity scene. It’s expensive, but you are meant to pass it down in your family. There was many stalls of every little detail you’d need for building a nativity scene. Just thought it was interesting.
The Pink Market, LGBTQ ran.
The Medieval Market
Now if Christmas markets aren’t your thang, well Germany is rich in history. We did a Third Reich walking tour. Munich was the headquarters for the Nazi regime. So we did a guided tour to main buildings and talking about how Hitler rose to power. Very interesting. An interesting thing in Germany, it’s illegal to buy or sell any Nazi symbols as well it’s illegal to do the Nazi salute. If you are caught doing the salute, you can face jail time, as well you will be fined one months gross salary.
All the black buildings on the map below are Nazi headquarter buildings. Some are museums, and one is now an apple store! We did one museum, it was very well done. You follow how the Nazi party started, and slowly see the minor gradual changes made that led to their power and slaughtering. Hitler was a broke artist from Austria, and somehow ended up with great power and influence. He only ever had about 30% of the popular vote. So many scary parallels to our world today. Just a heads up, most museums around Europe are closed on Monday’s, so plan with that in mind!
Hitler did a famous painting of this building below.
If you are in Germany, you can’t leave without visiting a beer house. If beer isn’t your thang, no worries, go for the atmosphere and food!
One of the most famous is the Hofbrauhaus. Most famous during Oktoberfest! So sit back and enjoy a litre of beer 🍺 and a pretzel 🥨 the size of your head!
Upstairs in this building, is a hall where Hitler made his first speech.
Alright, that’s enough about Hitler. Let’s talk food. The bulk of the diet in this region is meat, cheese, bread, beer, coffee and pastries. So if you are vegan, gluten free, paleo etc, you may find some challenges. I did see the odd vegan food booth in the markets, so there’s hope!
The apple strudel is a must!
If you come across the statue of Juliette (from Romeo and Juliette), if you rub her breast, it’s suppose to bring you good luck in love!
We then jumped on the train and headed a couple hours to Salzburg Austria! European trains are a great way to travel!
Salzburg Austria! Home of the Sound of Music and Mozart! Normally they have snow this time of year, but it’s been more rainy than snowy as we found out.
You can put a lock on the bridge, with you and your lovers name or initials.
They have a fortress. It’s one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. You can climb all the way up or ride the funicular.
The land of The Sound of Music! The funny thing about the Sound of Music being filmed here is that the locals don’t know the movie, but lots of tourism comes through for it. So of course we had to do the Sound of Music bus tour!
If you touch the handles on the famous gazebo, you’ll be lucky in love! (Getting lucky in love seems to be a reoccurring theme!). It didn’t work out with Liesel and Ralph in here, so I’m not sure why it’d bring good luck. Oh well, when in Rome!
The bus driver giving us free gluhwein, that’s probably how they get us all to sing.
The family house was shot in 2 different locations. The real house, wasn’t on a lake, so they used this lake as the backyard. These geese weren’t too happy we were in their space.
The tour takes you out of Salzburg to Mondsee, this is where they filmed the wedding scene. We were able to go into the church. Even if you aren’t into the movie, the scenery alone was worth it.
Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart. We toured his family home below. It was really interesting.
December 5 was the anniversary of Mozart’s death. We went up to the fortress on the funicular, they serve a supper similar to what they’d eat in his time period, and then there’s a concert. They do this on most nights, it was worth it!
Salzburg is a music town. The university has a big music program, so the concert was masters students playing Mozart’s music and Austrian folk music. They were excellent. It’s a classical music town and area. So it’s worth checking out something in this realm.
And of course they have Christmas Markets and gluhwein!
Cool bar that has no roof.
Check out St.Peters graveyard. Mozart’s family is buried in there. He isn’t, he was poor when he died, so it’s unknown where he was buried. It’s speculated in an unmarked open grave. It’s a unique graveyard.
Beer is also big here. The 2 dishes to try are the Wiener schnitzel which is a breaded pork or veal, and the goulash, which is like a beef stew. If you aren’t a beer fan, they are also big into red and white wine, not just the gluhwein.
Well on that note, next stop Vienna Austria and finishing up in Budapest Hungary. I hope everyone is doing well!