December 5, 2015

A Very Bavarian Christmas: Round 1

Christmas season is in full swing! The snow may have melted, but the spirit is very much alive and well. The bunches of markets I've decided to get to this year are mostly from internet research. If there are any specific markets you've loved in the Bavarian region, please share in the comments, and I will try to get to those markets as well!

This first round of Christmas markets belongs to Munich, Passau, and Vilshofen an der Donau (Vilshofen on the Danube).

The second round will include some smaller towns and either Nuremberg or Salzburg. Has anyone been to either, or both, and could make a recommendation between the two? I can only go to one this year!

I'm rating each market area on a scale of 1 to 4 for location, size, spirit, and overall impression.

1: Poor
2: Okay
3: Good
4: Awesome

Welcome to 2015's A Very Bavarian Christmas!

Munich Marienplatz

Location: 4
Excellent; very connected to the Munich subway and train station.

Size: 2
Medium; in the square and spread out down random side streets.

Spirit: 1
Crowded and chaotic.

Overall Impression: 2
It was way too crowded on a Saturday; we were all bumping into each other. The food was okay, but hard to enjoy it with cars speeding by. Every half hour or so a group of guys dressed in some kind of traditional Christmas outfits marched and drummed through, but there was no music in the square.

Average Rating: 2.25

Munich Residenz

Location: 4
Good; next to Odeonplatz, connected to subway station.

Size: 3
Small; enclosed inside a courtyard.

Spirit: 3
Warm and inviting. More families than tour groups. There was so much care put into the miniature Christmas trees in every corner.

Overall Impression: 4
Very intimate setting inside the castle-like courtyard with live music and "magical" (moving) nativity settings. Much more appetizing food options than Marienplatz and less commercialized feel.

Average Rating: 3.5

Passau at Dom St. Stephan

Location: 2
About a fifteen to twenty minute walk from the train station, up and down hills. Actual location of the market in the cathedral's plaza is great.

Size: 3
Medium; packed entirely into the area in front of St. Stephan's.

Spirit: 3
This rating could have been higher maybe, but the never-ending rain put a major damper on things. On the bright side, it lessened the size of the crowd on the weekend!

Overall Impression: 3
I don't think Passau's market was nearly as grand as it had been talked up to be, but there were decent covered areas for eating and drinking. The Sunday mass inside the cathedral served as a great respite from the rain and impressive backdrop to the markets. I had an amazing orange spiced cider and meat skewer here, though, which score points in and of themselves.

Average Rating: 2.75

Vilshofen an der Donau Floating Market

Location: 3
Only a ten minute walk through an adorable town on your way to the Danube (Donau is the German name).

Size: 3
Small; one lane of markets and one boat filled with vendors on the Danube.

Spirit: 4
Vilshofen is clearly a very special place. It was filled mostly with locals excited for the Christmas season and only a spattering of tourists. Open fire pits, the sharing of umbrellas, and friendly artisans and bakers.

Overall Impression: 4
Completely charming! Walking along the Danube to a Christmas market is a brilliant concept, and it is a very warm and welcoming village. There is a nativity scene with real sheep and donkeys, delicious snacks, beautiful craft options, and even a food tent where I was finally able to dry off and enjoy my first gl├╝hwein of the season.

Average Rating: 3.5

Coming Up: Regensburg, Vilsbiburg, and either Nuremberg or Salzburg!

Which German Christmas markets have you been to and do you recommend?