25 December 2009

Last Call! Christmas Market Tour (Salzburg, Munich, Nürnberg)

We got a great last minute deal on a rental car, so we decided to take a quick tour to the "real" Christkindlesmarkt in the Bavarian region of Germany. Salzburg, in Austria, is practically part of Bavaria, and on the way, so we stopped there along the way too.

Here's Oliver playing with the giant chessboard in the shadow of Festung Salzburg (the Fortress which has stood above the city in one way or another for 1000 years).

The main market near the Kirche. There was one market stall, which we really liked, but even better there is a nice metal-work store down a small side street where we stocked up on hand painted pewter ornaments.

Elora and Ollie are so cute. They love looking at all the decorations.

After all the running around in Salzburg (plus the 2.5 hour drive just getting there) the kids were zonked out. And we'd only just begun!

The kids napped for an hour in the car on the way to Munich. By the time we arrived, it was already dark, which meant the crowds would be out in force, getting boozed up on their rum-laced punch or hot spiced red wine.

The Munich market is one of our favorites. Better than any market in Vienna. Possibly the best we've been to.

The Rathaus is the main area where the market stalls are, but all the side streets leading up to the Rathaus are packed with booths.

Wood decorations, hand carved, painted, metal, plastic, glass, gold, you name it, they've got it. Plus at all the various stalls you're sure to find toys, pastries, candied roasted nuts, chocolates, bratwursts, and Gluhwein (hot, spiced red wine).

More ornaments! We spent too much money. Really... but we have enough Christmas ornaments to last a lifetime (And since most are made of pewter they will!).

Oliver found a mud puddle that was just perfect for jumping in. He had sat in the car so long, we felt obliged to let him jump away. Funny how sometimes when a kid jumps in a puddle you get mad, and other times you look on and smile. And people say kids are manic.... Everyone that passed by thought it was cute and some even joined us in taking pictures.

After all that puddle jumping we were hungry. We saw a nice looking restaurant next to the square advertising high quality, low priced Bavarian food. Each plate was about 8 euros and it was great. Elora especially enjoyed the Eisschokolade (hot chocolate with a couple scoops of chocolate ice cream and whipped cream--it's amazing, try it.)

After dinner we drove to a little bed and breakfast an hour outside of Munich in the countryside and spent the night. Sleeping with both kids in a single room wasn't nearly as bad as we had thought. Fortunately they were both tired. The next morning we were off to Nürnberg, the mecca of all Christmas markets.

The Nürnberg market has a kids market, with rides and little kids' stalls. Oliver loved this train that was on display. There were several trains zooming back and forth. Everytime one would go around the corner or into a tunnel he'd cry, "No go, No go!" in the saddest, most pitiful little voice. Imagine a kid pleading with his mother not to leave him in an orphanage... that's the saddness in Oliver's voice about a train rounding the corner... a bit dramatic?

It might be hard to tell from this expression, but they both really do love trains. Even though it was a bit rainy, it wasn't actually that cold. Which is too bad, because if it was cold the rain would have been snow!

Next, was the carousel. Our kids are the oddballs. Some kids ride lions, or a horse. Elora rides a rooster, while Ollie sits in the back of an Elephant.

Anyone care to interpret this strange, but eye catching and intriguing statue? The inscription in german says something about destroying life and the dead smiling... Nürnberg was one of those cities reduced to rubble during WW2, so maybe it stems from that.

Ahh.... Karen. The mighty mouse who swore she'd never eat a Bratwurst. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Here she is scarfing down, not one, not two, but THREE consecutive Nürnberger Bratwursts in a single french roll. This says nothing about Karen's aversion to Bratwursts, but tells you how tasty the Nürnbergers really are. The best ever. (Just ask Chris' Mom who bought him so many Nürnbergers last time he was at a market there years ago that he threw up from overeating -- most visitors to Germany throw up from over drinking, Chris is a bit different)

Check out the fancy Lebkuchen -- ginger bread.

More market stalls! We bought a kinderpunsch at one of the stands, but when we tried it, it didn't taste like alcohol free kinderpunsch... I asked the guy if it was a kinderpunsch, and he said, "nein, (then caught himself mid-sentence and said) jo jo!" (which means yes). All we know is it burned your throat, not just from the heat, tasted kind of nasty, and after two sips, and watching Oliver make an amusing face when he tried it, we dumped out our five dollars worth of kinder(adult)punsch...

Ollie was excited by this life-size spinning Weihnachts Pyramid. It has a huge wooden carved sheep that he was enthralled by.

Elora was getting silly when we asked her to smile. She's a goober. Whenever we call her a goober she says, "I'm not a goober. I'm a child of God and my name is Elora."

We took a short break to listen to an organ concert inside the church.

The Nürnberg churches still have not been fully restored fromt the WW2 destruction. We think it's just a plot to keep the donations coming (really, every other cathedral in every other German/Austrian city looks spiffy). At last our Christmas market tour had come to an end.

On the way home we stopped at McDonalds. We wouldn't normally...but you know...ah what the heck, we're not making excuses. We stopped there ok! Stop pestering us about it! It's in Austria you know, where they use Austrian ingredients, which has the highest percentage of organically grown beef and vegetables in all of Europe. So it's like we're eating at Trader Joes. And look how happy this cow is. Who doesn't want to eat this cow, with his cute little hat. (ps, it tastes the same as in the US, possibly worse)

When we got home Elora was really excited to examine our loot. Well, I think we were the ones that got looted...

Putting the ornaments on the tree. Each branch now has an average of 2.325 ornaments...

Once again, after a long drive the kids were excited to play together. It's cute because they've finally started to really like each other on a regular basis. This concludes our Christmas market posting... stay tuned for Christmas morning, followed by more skiing in a week or so (Chris says "Yay!" Karen shakes her head).

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