Or, Merry Christmas! Â We are very excited to be celebrating the Christmas season here in Germany, especially with our family coming over to visit. Â It is truly a magical time. Â We all know people who have said, or perhaps ourselves have said, that Christmas starts too early. And, that it seems to start earlier and earlier each year. However, our Christmas started pretty earlier here in Germany. Since the Germans do not celebrate Thanksgiving, the season actually starts much earlier than it does back home. Â We started seeing Christmas decoration and lights popping up in November, and even saw Santa Claus come riding into Amsterdam on his horse with his helpers.
Well, three months in and we finally flew on the Autobahn. Â I say “flew” because there is no way that the wheels of our car were actually touching the road. Â I know that Brian is a good driver, and I have full confidence in his abilities, but that didn’t stop me from squeezing my eyes shut and keeping my hands folded in prayer for the majority of the trip. Â The Autobahn is just the German interstate system and, while some of it is marked down to 130 kph (80 mph) most of it has no speed limit. Â It works out though, because they mainly use trains for the transportation of goods so there are very few trucks on the highway (I think we saw a total of 5 in 400 miles). Â But let me back up, because the purpose of the trip was not to fuel Brian’s childhood dream, but rather a romantic getaway weekend.
The last two weeks were peak foliage here in Munich, and I have to say, I am really grateful that it was. Â Even though we are thousands of miles from Upstate New York it felt a little bit like home. Â Spending an October without the Â changing leaves would have felt weird. Â To celebrate the wonderfulness that is Autumn, Brian and I headed to the Englischer Garten for a lovely walk. Â It has been really freeing to have bicycles, we just ride along the Isar river for 10 minutes and lock up our bikes right at the park entrance. Â We could bike the whole thing (all 27 kilometers) but then we wouldn’t have gotten the superb potato chip crunch of dead leaves under our feet.
Last weekend we set off to discover the small town of Tegernsee, which is about an hour train ride away from Munich. Â We printed out a Bayern ticket for 2 the night before, and set out to this quaint little town the next day. Â It was a beautiful fall day, warm, and sunny. Â This time we were sure to get on the right part of the train, which was indeed going to Tegernsee. Â After arriving at the train station, we followed everyone else down the hill, through the small narrow streets, into the little village. Â I can imagine that this would be a lovely town for someone in Munich to have a small summer home in, maybe with a dock and a boat. Â
The day had finally come — the first day of the world-renown festival: Oktoberfest. Â When Bonnie and I had first talked about moving to Europe, we had considered several cities and countries to live in. Â Bonnie had learned French in high school, and she is fairly good at speaking French, so we considered Paris. Â I had studied Spanish in high school, and we also thought about living in Spain — maybe Madrid or Barcelona. Â I had originally thought about moving to Europe when I was in college. Â I dreamt of one day having a job in London or the U.K. Â I had envisioned living in a country that spoke English and traveling throughout Europe from there, as it is pretty affordable to jet around Europe once you are here. Â So, I thought, maybe we would move to London. Â Then, we both looked at each other, and said “We are Germans”. Â Bonnie and I are both 4th generation Germans, and thought it would be very cool to go back to the “Vaterland”. Â If we were going to live in Germany, it only seems obvious that we would choose Munich — I mean, this is where Oktoberfest is!
After a long week of hard work, we decided to head out and explore more of the city that we are now living in. Â We had a mission. Â We wanted to find some lederhosen and dirndl for Oktoberfest. Â Oh yes, we absolutely intend on wearing traditional Bavarian dress while attending the festivities. Â I had read that there was some great architecture around KÃ¶nigsplatz, and Bonnie had done some research on second-hand shops that were located around the area. Â So off we went.
We live in the Glockenbachviertel neighborhood in MÃ¼nchen. Â It also happens to be a very gay friendly part of town â€“ and they know how to party. Â They have been advertising a street festival since we arrived, called “Pestalozzistrassenfest”. Â It began at 3pm and by 5pm we couldnâ€™t see a single speck of sidewalk or road there were so many people crowding together.
A rainy Sunday had us feeling a little homesick â€“ without a crazy adventure to distract us (and only CNN on TV) we were left wondering what to do.Â There is this great website that we have been relying on heavily for information â€“ toytowngermany.com, which is written by expats with advice for expats.Â A few movie theaters were listed as playing English movies so off we went, umbrellas in hand.Â The directions led us to a very busy mall; apparently we werenâ€™t the only ones with this idea.Â A throng of peopled queued up in front of ticket machines and we joined in the line.
We returned to the Munich town hall/KVR (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to continue our registration process and apply for our visa.Â We had read hours of horror stories, scathing reviews and all sorts of advice that made us scared to attempt this next set of paperwork.
Today we â€œtramâ€psed off to Nymphenburg Palace on the west side of the city.Â Traveling by tram was a nice change as we were able to actually see some of the city instead of taking the subway â€“ which has a much less interesting view.Â The Palace was built by the Ferdinand Maria (Bavarian King)Â as a â€œpush presentâ€ for his wifeâ€¦ Continue reading