From December 2016 to January 2017, our family (my parents, my 2 siblings, my husband, our 12 month old little boy, and myself) went on a whirlwind Winter Wonderland trip across Germany (Munich), Austria (Obertauern and Salzburg), and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Apeldoorn). The following series of posts are vignettes of that time there, and each place.
After a long flight via Amsterdam, Jay, the Lucas, and I finally arrived at the first stop of our Winter Wonderland 2016 tour: Munich. Though we arrived close to lunch, by the time we’d made it to our accommodations (Concorde Hotel), we were already exhausted and keen to spend a bit of time resting. Jay’s best friend, Jay K (yes, they are indeed both named Jay), was due to arrive close to 5pm, and we intended to wait for him for dinner. As such, we took our time getting settled in our room.
Once we’d unpacked, set up a bottle station (as we always do), and filled up our travel tumblers and a small day bag, we got suited up for a quick excursion outdoors. We decided our first stop should be the little Christkindlmarkt by Marienplatz, where we snacked on cinnamon crepes, and found an ATM to grab some pocket money out of. It then began to rain (and hail too), so we made back for the hotel, where we waited on Jay K to arrive.
After he’d arrived, we ventured back out into the cold to find some food. We satisfied ourselves with some frankfurters, more crepes, and a quick walk through the shops (particularly the Apple Store and an outdoor specialty store to pick up some gloves for Jay K) before heading back home. Our hotel was so conveniently located that it only ever took around 6 minutes to walk from there to Marienplatz. We spent some time together back in the room, exchanged Christmas presents, and then I took over with Lucas while the Jays headed to Jay K’s for a night cap and one-on-one bestie time.
We had a leisurely start on our 2nd day. We were expecting my family (parents, brother, and sister) to arrive in the afternoon, and so we had a half day just Jay K, Jay, Lucas, and I to explore the city. We took it easy with buffet breakfast before venturing out.
That morning, we made our way back through Marienplatz, toward Viktualienmarkt, and back – through shops and food stalls, tasting different snacks here and there, and enjoying the cold weather and scenery.
After a simple lunch of flammkuchen (a sort of pizza-like German dish), and German hot chocolate, we headed back to the hotel to rest, get Lucas a nice nap, and wait for the family to arrive.
Just before sundown, they pulled up in an airport van after their own looong haul journey (from Manila, through the Middle East, then Amsterdam, and finally Munich). They then deposited themselves in their conjoined bedrooms, with plenty of gifts, books, and good tidings in tow – especially for little Lucas. Once they had settled in, we all trooped out together to explore the Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz (now for the nth time for some of us, but no complaints there), before heading to a place called Augustiner-Bräu (both an authentic German restaurant, and a brewhouse) not far from the square for dinner.
This was our only full day in Munich together, because at 9am the next day we were being picked up by our van and driver (c/o Alps2Alps Transfers) to head up for our 36 hours in Obertauern (the Austrian Alps!). As such, we wanted to make sure we made the most of it.
We shared breakfast together first thing in the morning, then the group split ways. The Jays, my brother – Gab, and my sister – Andrea, opted to head out to Dachau Concentration Camp, I decided to stick to Mommy Duty and let Lucas rest for the bulk of the day in the hotel, and my parents walked the Christmas markets and Viktualienmarkt at their own pace. While Lucas took his morning nap, I managed to squeeze in 30 minute of alone time – sketching, writing, and reading; then at around lunch, as he emerged from his slumber, Mom and Pop came to my room just in time to take over and watch him as I ate. They brought me a delicious savory crepe from the market, and Pop played with Lucas, while Mom helped me pack a bag.
Once lunch was over, we coordinated with the others to meet at the BMW Welt Musuem. We got bundled up and ordered an Uber to take us there. Our driver turned out to be a really friendly, kindly gentleman who didn’t complain at all about Lucas’ incessant whining, and even gave him a little clementine to play with (which kept him preoccupied, surprisingly, for quite a chunk of the ride).
Unfortunately, we got off at the wrong BMW building, and thus had to brave (what felt like) some near-gale-force winds as we crossed a footbridge and a set of stairs over to the main museum building. Once inside the warmth of the museum, Lucas perked up and we met the Jays and my siblings at the cafe, where they were munching on some currywurst. We walked through the displays, then proceeded to the main museum, where we were treated to decades of gorgeous automotive history. And then back to the hotel we went. The group split again – my siblings and parents going for a quick shop, and the Jays and Lucas and I resting in the hotel.
At around dinner time, we all ventured out again for one last night on the town, walking less than 5 minutes down the road to the famous Hofbräuhaus München where we feasted on schnitzel, beers, giant pretzels, and more. Unfortunately, the service was atrocious (they were clearly understaffed and had very specific roles – bus boys couldn’t take orders or let you know how much time you must wait, waiters couldn’t clear tables…it was a mess). Plus, the hall was so loud you could barely carry a decent conversation. But at least we can say we’d been there. It is, after all, practically an “institution” of its own in Munich – being government owned, and one of the oldest brewhouses in the area.
By 9am, we were packed and ready to go, aiming to make it to Oberatuern around lunch time to maximize our short sojourn in the alps. We bid our goodbyes to Jay K (who had about 12 hours to go before his flight), and set off in our van to the snowy mountains of Sound of Music lore (not exactly, but close enough).
3 days in Munich was not bad, but I did feel that we could have done and seen a lot more if we had given ourselves more time. This was our first winter trip with an almost-toddler, and I had underestimated how much time we would take just to get dressed, ready, and set to go each day; and overestimated how much energy all three of us would have (parents and baby alike) to carry on through the day. As such, I do look forward to returning another day. Perhaps in Spring?
*Disclaimer: Some of the photos in this series will have been taken as well by my sister, Andrea; my husband, Jay; or my mother, Tina. I thank them for sharing their shots with me!