After having recovered from my 6:35 flight from Kraków to Munich (oh Lufthansa…) in the house of my friends, I take the metro U5 to the Munich city center to say hello to some of my favorite places here.
Karlsplatz or Stachus
The Stachus is the entry gate to the city center. The Christmas market starts here with an ice rink. I have never seen wheeled walkers (in German: Rollatoren) that support ice skaters… “Ja, sind die nicht nett?” (Yes, are they not cute?), my friend asks me, when I am back at her place.
I buy a cup of hot wine (Glühwein) and watch the ice skating scene for a while from the terrace.
Shopping at Stachus and in Neuhauser-/Kaufringstrasse
I try some large shops and then enter Biebl at the Stachus. I buy three cheese graters from Alessi. The shopkeeper frowns: “Now there are just a few Euros missing for your gift… let me give you a knife, you deserve it and it is Christmas time.” Then he drops a small kitchen knife into my bag with the graters. Nice. I like smaller shops.
In Bayern it is perfectly okay to wear a dirndl – in the theatre, at the party, at the business reception or at the wedding. There are shops selling just dirndls. When I look at some of them, I feel sad not to live in Munich. In Basel it is not possible to wear a dirndl – except perhaps at the Basel carneval when the dirndl dress matches a specific “sujet”.
From Stachus to the Viktualienmarkt, there is one huge Christmas market with wooden stands selling everything from Christmas decoration to cloths, and of course there are many stands with hot wine, sausages, Reiberdatschi (small potato omlets) etc etc. There are many tourists and – like on the Christmas market of Kraków – I hear Russian, Swiss German, English, French and Spanish around me… there seems to be a real Christmas market tourism going on in Europe.
Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady)
I look for a more quiet place away from the busy Christmas market scene and turn to the Frauenkirche. One of the towers is being renovated. Is the church open? – Yes it is.
I love the Frauenkirche. It is an exceptional church in Bayern. All churches in Bayern that I know are full of decoration and a lot of gold. The Frauenkirche has suffered severely in the second world war. It has been reconstructed in the old gothic style with adding the decoration that has been saved in the war. This is not much. The decoration is unostentatious and breathes a touching solemnity that also reminds us of that ugly war.
Alter Peter (Peterskirche or St. Peter’s church)
Most church towers have a regular shape and four clocks – one on each side. The Peterskirche is different. The tower is “flat” and an additional clock is hanging on the roof. They call this tower just “Alter Peter” (Old Peter). For me it is a symbol of the charming stubborness of the Bavarians that I love.
Asamkirche (Asam Church)
The Asamkirche is on Sendlingerstrasse. It is a late baroque church built by the brothers Asam and it hides memories for me.
I came across the brothers Asam in Weltenburg – my mum took me there, when I was a teenager. It is a monastery located on the Danube, and I was impressed by the baroque church that the two brothers had built – as legend says, because they were in trouble in their boat, and, when saved, built this church out of gratitude. I was very impressed by the cupola that seemed to float high above me. I had never seen such a floating cupola before.
The brothers Asam also built the Asam church in Munich. It was first their private church and was then opened to the public. As a teeager, my mum introduced me also to this church – and much later I came back several times with Ernst. Now I am here again, with my mum and Ernst in my heart.
Dinner in the Il Sorriso with my friends
In the evening my friends take me to their favorite Italian restaurant, Il Sorriso. We have spaghetti with clams and noodles with truffles. We do not select the best Nero d’Avola, perhaps we should have asked for another bottle (would not have been a problem). The place is friendly and has a selection of postcards that guests can take with them as a souvenir. Here is an example – this card is useful for someone who is in love.
It says: “When do we meet again? I can barely await it.”
Back to Basel by train from Munich-Pasing
How lucky I am that I had planned to take the train to Basel instead of flying Lufthansa. Lufthansa is also on strike on Tuesday – today. Yesterday I had bought my first class ticket at the Munich main train station for 120 Euros. My SBB “Halbtax” entitles me to a discount of 25% for German trains. The lady at the counter was sighing. I was the first client that was friendly with her – before me she had been confronted with many frustrated Lufthansa passengers.
After a long evening entrenched in vivid debates with my friends, a quiet night and a wonderful breakfast, I catch the train in München-Pasing at 1 pm, settle in first class and I arrive in Basel shortly before 6 pm.
It was great to stop over in Munich on my way back from Kraków – I will do that again. And I will avoid Lufthansa…