In no particular order.....
- They have infomercials.
- They have made for tv products and commercials.
- They have religious nuts preaching in subway stations, who will switch to English if they sense the crowd is mostly tourists.
In no particular order.....
Below is an assorted list of some of the unexpected differences we found living in Munich. Photos throughout are of bizarre-to-us potato chip flavors.
Since Dachau is about thirty miles north of Munich and easily accessible via public transit, it was a site that I wanted to see while we were in Munich, but at the same time, it was very difficult to see, to learn about and now to write about. This is a collection of what I saw and learned, but please know that there is no way I can put into words how horrifying it was to be there. The above is the gate that all prisoners walked through upon arriving at the camp, with the message translating to roughly, "work will make you free."
I had been to Rothenburg once before with family, but our friends who visited wanted to go, because Rothenburg is known for being the headquarters of one of the main Christmas merchants in all of Germany. Her shops are all over the town, with the main one being three stories tall. All of Christmas goods. All year long.
Shortly before we left Germany our friends came to visit, in large part, because they wanted to see Neuschwanstein, the castle that inspired Walt Disney when building the castle at Disneyland, and they wanted to get the photo of it from this angle that lots of tourists get. This photo is from a bridge just slightly above the castle, and an easy walk from the castle. When the pathway is open. When you visit in the summer, all the paths are open, easy to walk, and lots of fun. When we arrived in early January, we had our slowest drive on the autobahn as we followed snowplows for about thirty miles since the snow was that heavy.
This is a post that I've been meaning to write for awhile, but put off a few times, because I promise, I will do my very best to not sound like I'm just complaining about the snow. Keep in mind though that I'm from California, where when you want snow in the winter, you drive a couple hours to visit it, and when you are done a day or two later, you can drive back down the mountain to the warmth. That isn't exactly the case here in Munich.
Nuremberg, aka Nurnberg in German, has a mixed history, what with being established around 1050, but to modern US citizens, predominately being known for the Nazi Party Rallies pre-WW2 and the subsequent War Crime Trials that took place after the war. When you read about visiting Nurnberg, multiple guides point out that the rally grounds and courthouses are open for visiting, but not exactly close to the city center, and not built up with much detailed museum exhibits, so it's hard to get the full sense since it seems like visting a generic expansive lot or courthouse. Since we only had one day and wanted to focus on the Christmas market, we didn't see any of the WW2 sights, but I did want to be sure to mention them to give a slightly more balanced picture, since the rest of what I describe about Nurnberg was pretty great. Above was a carriage in front of one of the buildings in the old town city center.
When we first got in Friday night, we went towards the central plaza, which had the main Christmas market in front of a church and the Schöner Brunnen (thing on the right that translates to Beautiful Fountain), which is a fountain that was finished in 1385 with forty colorful figures that represent the world view of the Holy Roman Empire. Because the Holy Roman Empire ruled everything and was everywhere back in the day. The church on the left wasn't listed in guides or labeled on google maps, so I can't tell you what it is.
In things that probably only amuse me, I am now humming Gagnam Style in my head after writing German Style above. Hehe. Anyways, in Munich (and from what we have seen much of Europe), Christmas tree lots like in the US don't really exist here. Hardware stores sell Christmas trees, but otherwise, very small squares here get filled with maybe 100 total trees ranging from one foot to eight feet high. They only have one type of tree (looks similar to Douglas Fir) so it makes going to pick your tree a pretty quick process since there literally isn't much to choose from.
Part of the fun of living in a new country is to see the changes throughout the year. When we arrived in February and for as long as we had known, the Chinese Tower was one of the biggest, most popular beer gardens, since it is located in the middle of the English Garden (main park similar to SF's Golden Gate Park) and had a band that played often. In winter, they were only open on weekends; during the summer, every wonderful day! Above is a photo from over the summer of me with the band. Spending a warm afternoon with friends and family at the Chinese Tower beer garden was definitely one of our favorite pastimes.
But, since Germany embraces Christmas in a way that words can't describe, they even removed all the benches, tables, and other signs of the beer garden from around the Chinese Tower, and instead, installed a smallish Christmas market, complete with carousel, kids rides, food stands, and booths selling ornaments and other goods. If you wondered what would get Germans to part with their beer gardens, at least temporarily, it seems Christmas succeeds in doing just that!
The city of Dresden has been having a Christmas market in some form since 1434, which makes it the oldest Christmas market in Germany, and gives it a serious leg up on other cities. Like most, they actually have about five smaller markets and one major one, but they did the best job of providing information in English about where they were and what was at each one. Some of the main sights in Dresden include the largest pyramid candle in the world which is 46 feet tall, a larger than life erzebrigge (wooden scene with an arch of candles) that you could walk up, two carousels, a ferris wheel, and loads of stands.