Munich — Department Store Holiday Window Decorations

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On Sunday, all of the stores were closed in Munich, except places to eat and the Christmas Market stalls. This was good, because there weren’t as many people out, so I could walk and really look at the store windows.

I thought you’d enjoy these holiday decorations. Really beautiful with the gigantic nutcrackers. Notice that I was able to take pictures with no “shoppers” in the photo. The store had Christmas music playing in English, I was singing along.

The perfect way to end the day!

Munich – The Christmas holiday has begun

5B3A1DEF-DA7E-4F3F-A387-209A49882D35It’s officially Black Friday even in Munich. As I was walking down the street I came across this BIG beautiful Pyramid. My ex/mother/n/law is German and my first introduction to the pyramid was from her. She would get the box where it was stored and show me how to put it together and then the fun part was adding the candles at the bottom, so the heat could move the propellers. I fell in love with this Christmas traditional instantly.

To view a nice assortment of German ornaments and the pyramids, visit Käthe Wohlfahrt of America’s website. I am not affiliated with this site, mainly sharing with you, because it took me “forever” to find a website in America that sold the pyramids. Good news, they come in different sizes. Bad news, they are bit pricey for the 3-tiered ones. However, they are a Christmas tradition to be handed down to your children and grandchildren. Start small, then go BIG.

NOTE: Make sure you buy extra candles, because you cannot find the right size pyramid candles at normal stores.

If you come to Europe for the Christmas Markets depending on where you go, you will see even bigger pyramid displays.

Merry Christmas!

German Oktoberfest is here! Time to go to Munich.

Oktober fest collageI almost forgot it was Oktoberfest! I was at Cost Plus / World Market the other day and they had a German section of food for Oktoberfest celebrations. The usual variety of sausages, mustards, beers, spaetzle, pretzels, chocolates and more.

Lederhosen group of men

Have you ever been to Munich for Oktoberfest? It’s really beautiful to see the men in their lederhosen and the women in their dirndles. I think this is the only place in the world where you will see grown men wearing leather shorts with bright colored shirts and as you see in the photo, you have to have the right shoes and socks too!

schnitzel

They really celebrate with fabulous music, singing and good food. Who can resist some schnitzel?! It’s a special tradition they have. My in/laws are German, so we always celebrated with their German friends, it was fun! They would sing all the German songs together, locking arms together swinging back and forth. Singing from their hearts.

My favorite is the Chicken Dance, here is a Youtube video (Wurstfest – How to Chicken Dance) that explains the steps for the chicken dance. In Germany, (EVERYONE) old and young get up to dance this dance. Enjoy this German tradition!

German Christmas Ornaments

1F9F01D6-5279-4FA9-9462-F1CDADE719EFThis past weekend was the start of Christmas shopping. I say, “Christmas,” because for many of us it’s when we start putting up the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, hanging the lights inside and outside and finding those special ornaments to put on the tree.

Every year I look for new ornaments. I like to send them as gifts. I had a lucky find this weekend. I came across a German Christmas Market. I was in America, but I felt like I was in Munich, Germany. Wonderful!

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They had similar ornaments that I would find in Germany, hand made, so a bit expensive, but as you can see from the photos, really darling. Everyone was enjoying themselves.

One special item that Germans put up is the Christmas Pyramid. I learned this from my mother/n/law, because Italians do not have this. Every year, out came the Christmas Pyramid and we would scramble to find candles to light, so that the propellor would fly around in a circle. Here you see a larger pyramid that they put up in a town in Europe. Ours was much smaller.

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When I was young, we had a German neighbor and they put small candles on the tree and lit them. Can you imagine what a possible fire hazard that was?  BUT they never burned their house down. While we enjoyed the lit candles on the tree, we would play a game of Canasta!

Memories… it’s nice if we still have them!

Back in Bavaria

imageI love Munich. Many years ago, when my ex-husband was working for Siemens, he was given the opportunity to go on a one month assignment to Munich. We jumped at the chance. At that time our older daughter was 2 years old and I was working as a contractor, so we were mobile. What a great experience.

I don’t speak German, but that didn’t matter. Most people speak “some” English, so asking questions and getting around was not an issue. I remember going to Oktoberfest and being really surprised AND not in a good way. I thought Oktoberfest was like the inside of the Hofbräuhaus, instead it was a big outside Fair and the drinking imagewas done in tents and the weather was cold!

That’s Ok, it just wasn’t what I had visualized. There was a ferris wheel, different outdoor games, etc. I felt like I was at an American Fair. However, riding the train to Oktoberfest was fun, because people were dressed in their lederhosen and dirndles with the green hats and feathers. I took a photo today of this street singer dressed in tradtional Bavarian outfit.

It happens that my hotel has a view of the Hofbräuhaus. As I heard the singing, I remembered being in Munich for the World Cup in 2006.  All of the soccer players were coming in town from different countries, they had their jersey’s on and they were excited, the fans were too, so there was a lot of drinking and singing going on.

For those of you who don’t know much about the Bavarian dress, I took a picture of imagethis retail shop’s window, so you could see how the ladies would dress and what the men wear. I highly recommend a trip to Munich. It is so much fun and who knows, like me, ladies you might just go home with a dirndle. I’ve worn my dirndle to holiday cocktail parties many times. The guys would say I looked like a cute “Swedish girl.” So ladies, if you are single, dirndles are a good way to make conversation.

And men, “in Munich,” ALL guys wear ledershosen with bright colored shirts. You can do it too! Make sure you wear the red knee high socks with tassels. Am I scaring you yet?  You gotta dress the part AND don’t go on the ferris wheel if you’ve been drinking!

Globetrotter – German Sportswear, Outdoor Gear

imageI was recently in Munich walking down the sidewalk and kept seeing these fantastic store windows of outdoor displays. The colors of the clothing and equipment were so bright and vibrant, I thought, “What is this store!”

Store window

So, I went in. Wow – I felt like Charlie did from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” when he walks into the factory and he’s amazed by the “Oompa Loompas” and the factory process.

I had that same feeling of wonderment. This store was modern, bright and beautiful. Three levels to explore. imageThey had everything from outdoor clothing, to camping gear, biking, hiking boots, skiing, travel maps, canoes — what am I missing?  Oh, a tiny cafe too.

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We have REI, Cabela’s, and Bass Pro Shops as our “go to outdoor stores,” but this was unique. When trying on shoes they had different terrains to test them out. They had a pool on the ground floor, so you could try out your kayak. I got a kick out of this alligator one, great way to get a child involved in kayaking.

You can try everything out. Before you buy the rain jacket, go into the rain chamber and see how it works OR test a jacket for warmth, go into the cold chamber, where it is minus 20 degrees. That’s great!

If you are an outdoor person, if you are traveling through Germany, I highly recommend adding this store to your list of “things to see.” I promise you, you will be like a kid in a candy store.

If you’ve been there – post your recommendation. Would love to hear what YOU thought.

OK — heading to Green Lake, canoeing races today!