For our final Christmas in Europe we decided to spend it in Munich. We had previously been to Munich (both as part of Oktoberfest in 2011 and Darin previously when touring Europe in 2006/2007) and really liked the city. We had around 5 days in the city so enough time to fully explore it.
We arrived late at night on our first day so found our hostel and then went to check out the Christmas market in town. We've done our fair share of German Christmas markets now so there's nothing really there that we haven't seen but had a look around and had a beer and some German sausage. We then headed to a very authentic beer hall near our hostel (I think we must have been possibly the only tourists in the place) for a quick drink. Where the locals took a liking to us and there was a lot of 'prost' (cheers) trying to get us to drink more.
The next day we did a free walking tour, getting our bearings around the city and found out a lot of history. We then had a long proper German meal with good helpings of meat, dumplings and some delicious wheat beer. In the evening we joined a beer tour which we were hoping would be like the one we did in Prague last Christmas where we got to learn quite a bit about different beers and try a few different varieties. Unfortunately it wasn't and instead was basically a piss-up. The tour was still good though and we had some good people in our group who we got to know. We visited a few of the more famous Beer Halls including Hoffbrauhaus and Augustiner Keller.
The next morning we were very much feeling worse for wear after our beer tour. We had to pick ourselves up though as we were taking a train trip to Nuremberg for the day. Nuremberg was a much prettier city than we were expecting. We visited Reichsparteitagsgelande (quite a mouthful) which was a purpose built venue in which Hitler held his huge rallies. We then walked around Nuremberg and visited the Christmas markets which are meant to be the oldest in the world. We didn't find them particularly different from other markets though but still nice nonetheless. After some gluhwein and listening to some carols we took the train back to Munich.
Christmas Eve is pretty much a national holiday in Germany as it is in most European cities, we had learnt our lesson from Prague the year before and knew that almost everywhere would be closed for dinner tonight. We therefore headed to Viktualienmarket which is a large outdoor market selling some very nice German food. We picked up some food for the next few days before we went for a walk around the English Garden. The highlight here would definitely have to be the surfers surfing the artificial wave in the middle of winter (although it was still close to 10deg and nice and sunny)! Darin then had a Skype chat with his family back in the hostel while we increased our German knowledge and watched a movie about a resistant group during the Nazi era.
Christmas Day and we started off with some nice food which we picked up from the market yesterday and some bubbles. It was then Ellen's turn to talk to her family over Skype. In order to burn off some of breakfast we headed out to the former Olympic Park used during the 1972 Olympics. We played a game of mini golf here on a very weird plywood-based, metal-lined golf course. We then walked around the park, getting a great view across Munich and seeing the Olympic swimming pool. We then headed back into Munich for a very German Christmas Lunch (again consisting of meat, dumplings, cabbage and beer!). It was then time to watch a movie and relax and get a good sleep before heading back to London the next day.