We started the day earlier than either of us wanted because the train to Munich left at 7:15. Apparently, this didn’t matter to anyone else because there were so many people at the station. Our car was jampacked, too. For breakfast, we had schnitzel sandwiches (I get the appeal) and some shitty hot chocolate. I did too much office work, which led to a lovely guilt cycle. Why not write? Why not talk to my new husband? Why not read? Why not stare out the window at snow-laden mountains and trees? Oh, well. There’s no one way to do things, though going on vacation without bringing your job with you seems like a simple equation.
Our train arrived on time at this huge train station. Snow was all over the place, so we slipped down the street to our hostel. I was surprised that no one shovels or throws out salt in Germany. If you had a physical disability, wouldn’t it be dangerous to go outside? Many things about Germany are better than the U.S., but at least we make safe pathways.
The new hostel wasn’t as nice as the first one (A&O hostels are cheaper than St. Christopher’s Inns and quieter, but they don’t have the same charm). We couldn’t check in immediately, so we locked our bags into the world’s sketchiest linen closet before heading into the city center to see the Glockenspiel. As we came up the escalator, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of an enormous Christmas Market!
There were so many stalls with different items (I don’t think I saw any duplicates), mulled wine vendors, and all the food in the world. We were a little overwhelmed at first, made worse by our hunger, but settled on the first non-sausage place we came across: smoked salmon sandwiches.
Holy shit. Flammlachs are absolutely on my list of top ten meals. What made it even better? You could see the salmon filets smoking on cedar planks right there in the market. Mouth-watering, really. I’m going to have to figure out how to make these things.
After that, we started to explore the city, the stalls, the sights. Munich is a pretty city with a lot of old-world charm that survived World War II. Richie had this only perfumier on his to-do list because it’s been in business since the Bavarian court was still around. The place wasn’t much bigger than our kitchen, but it was packed with glass bottles and a cacophony of smells. I don’t say “cacophony” to be literary or whatever; I say “cacophony” because the potent mix was like sitting in a room full of sixth-grade orchestra students tuning their instruments for the first time. And that was through a mask.
Watching Richie walk around in awe was cute, though, so the smells mattered less. Eventually, he asked a clerk for some help (in German, of course). We sampled a few scents and decided to purchase half the store. As we were checking out, Richie trotted out a phrase that our housemate Bettina taught him (translation: “We are on our honeymoon”). The clerk crooned, finished checking us out, and told us to wait. When she came back, she had two more bottles that I was sure she was going to sell us, but then she popped those suckers right into our bag and told us congratulations. His & Hers perfume. It was such a kind gesture that we both cried a little bit outside. We’re always crying a little bit, aren’t we? Hearts on our sleeves.
After a brief nap at the hostel, we were back in the Christmas Market, eating our way through currywurst, ox tongue sandwiches, and a lot of mulled wine. There were stalls full of miniatures, nativity sets, paper stars, on and on. I just love it so much. My shoe choice didn’t allow us to wander too far (why wear broken-in shoes on vacation when you can suffer?), so we had a drink in this enormous tourist trap that had a kitchen so big that it could have hosted one of those cooking competition shows. When we were done, it was time to pick up Theresa from the Munich train station, a sentence I never thought I’d write.
With our German friend around, Munich is going to get even more interesting.