23 December 2009

Day 8: Munich

Today is the last shopping day before the holiday for the Germans, since December 24th is traditionally the day of celebration and actual gift opening. Therefore, when my brother and I headed into the downtown to get a few more gifts for our nephew Diego, we ran into packed masses of Germans. (You find them everywhere around here.) Trying to negotiate a Gummi Bear store required battle plans and dexterous feet.

I found out something remarkable today: even though Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten is a classic German language novel, no German bookstore employ seems to have heard of it. I was hoping to purchase the novel for my sister, but the major bookstores don’t carry it, and when we asked about it, people thought we either wanted a DVD of the movie, or a children’s book with illustrations from the movie. How in the world did this happen? Crap, another thing for which Walt Disney must answer. And I like that movie, too.

It seems every time we go into Munich, we run into a new Christmas market we haven’t seen previously. This time, it was a market where Rosenstaße turns into Sendlinger Straße that specializes in - and sky-high priced wooden nativity figures. In the center of the market is an enormous rotating heliotrope, a giant version of the ones that spin from the rising heat of candles. Reed and I had Feuerzangenbowle and the half meter red sausage in the square, then walked down Sendlinger Straße to see the Asam Kirche, which I’ve previously discussed.

We stopped to have beer at the Alte Hackerhaus, which serves the Pschorr brand beer and dates from 1825 (although the company claims the beer originates in 1417). The décor of this small beer hall is one of intense Bavarian coziness—and considering the bustle of the streets, it felt calm and soothing.

Back in Starnberg, the family went to drink at Konigwasser, where I got to sample the best Riesling I’ve had in Germany so far. Close to the source. . . .