Updated: Mar 10
December 21: Today, I was supposed to celebrate the Winter Solstice but didn’t really. Holidays are hard when you travel, but that doesn’t mean that a good time wasn’t had. After all, isn’t celebration the whole point? We started our day late because the blackout curtains were closed, and I had to trade my cute shoes for the Chuck Taylor’s that were already falling apart in Paris a couple of years ago. It wasn’t a cute look, but my feet couldn’t take one day in the platforms. Sometimes comfort has to take precedence over beauty.
We met Theresa downstairs and walked over to a breakfast spot that was closed, forcing us into a serve-yourself bakery that was actually great. They sure don’t make pretzels like that in America, though we do hot chocolate way better. After a leisurely meal, we took a trolley to a royal palace previously occupied by the Bavarian royal family for hundreds of years.
After buying tickets that allowed access to the palace, treasury, and theater, I thought it would be a fun activity for an hour or two. We wound up wandering through the just the palace for four hours. The first room you walk through is a grotto that used to have flowing water; the walls were full of shells and glass fragments. What a way to welcome guests! That room began to weave a rich tapestry of Bavarian history, of which I knew nothing. Many of those rooms were more dramatic than Versailles, which is saying something.
This was the first time I felt the impact of WWII in Germany. Many of the rooms had been bombed to all hell, equaling the loss of structures and art. Walking into a room themed for the seasons, we looked up to find Vulcan, Juno, Jupiter, and Neptune (fire, air, earth, water). Pan was meant to live in the middle to represent the wild, but he had fallen during an air raid. Gone, just gone because of human depravity. An entire chapel had been demolished, too. Though the structure was rebuilt, nothing inside it survived. It made me think about the war and the Holocaust and all that senseless loss of life. Humans can be so evil. What’s worse is the ambivalence that paved the way for fascism in the first place. I thought about that a lot while resting my feet in the remains of the church, listening to the echoes of voices and footsteps.
When we were done, we went to the shoe store because my Chucks were done and full of water. After I’d spent some serious money, we wandered over to another Christmas Market for snacks and new knickknacks. While we ate a bratwurst, we made friends with another American who plays the drums at Julliard (Richie had thoughts), and it was so funny to see how musicians interact with one another. Making friends—or perhaps frenemies is a better term—seems easy for them. Writers definitely don’t interact like that.
The shortest day of the year lived up to its reputation. The sun shot down fast and ran us back into the big Christmas Market in Munich’s town square, where we did even more shopping before deciding we were ready for dinner. I love vacations.
Taking a recommendation of an old high school friend, we tried a “traditional” Bavarian restaurant. I only use the quotes because there were enough lot of English translations that made Theresa raise a brow. However, we knew nothing could be more appropriate once we ordered a freaking pig ankle and beer. Everything was so flavorful. We took our time, too, spending a couple of hours in easy conversation before parting ways at the hostel. How beautiful it is to have friendships that span oceans.
I felt grateful for our time in Munich. It’s a walkable city, there’s plenty to do, tons of history, wonderful grocery markets, restaurants, and music. All I really need to do now is learn German.
Score Card: Munich (1 to 5)