Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Zurich & Munich: Brought to You by the Letter “C”

C is for Cold. No matter how you look at it, Celsius or Fahrenheit, it was literally freezing. Snow was blanketing the ground, disguising rooftops, flocking trees and even falling from the sky at times! Sitting in a restaurant or bar, Luke and I kept feeling like we were in a ski resort; people would walk in, shake off snow and immediately start unzipping coats and shedding layers.  Luckily, we were smart enough to pack layers as well. So between that and the gluhwein (hot, spiced wine), we managed the cold pretty well (most of the time).


Walking in a winter wonderland.


Don’t let the sun fool you; it was frigid!


Warming up with gluhwein.


Maybe this human charger will heat me up?


It must be a hassle to get those babies all bundled up, but they sure did look nice and cozy! This cutie was brave enough to expose his face (and I was weird enough to snap a pic.)

C is for Crystal. We saw the famous Swarovski Crystal Christmas tree in the train station in Zurich, which is where they hold their annual Christmas market. Despite how it looks, there were no Christmas lights on this tree. It’s trimmed solely in crystal!



Don’t mind the winter hat hair.

C is for Christmas. Despite the cold (or maybe in part due to the cold), it certainly felt like Christmas in Switzerland and Germany. We strolled through the famous Christmas markets of Munich, bought gluhwein from Santa in Zurich and saw Christmas trees, décor and lights everywhere. What a festive time of year to visit!


The New Town Hall in Munich.


Everybody wants some gluhwein in Munich!


Munich Christmas market at night.


The vendors at the daily Viktualienmarkt in Munich were festive too.


Santa serving up the cheery beverage in Zurich.


A naturally flocked Christmas tree in Zurich.


Christmas wreaths and other décor brightened the city!


The living Christmas tree in Zurich.

C is for Concentration Camp. That’s a shocking switch, I’m sure, but there was no way around it.  On our second and final day in Munich, we took a tour of the Dachau concentration camp, which was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany. It’s hard to describe this tour. It wasn’t neat. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t exciting. But it was informative and some what eye opening to see buildings, grounds, even gas chambers and ovens, from that part of history.  It was also cold, like miserably cold. With no trees nor buildings to block the wind, it was downright frigid and noticeably colder than in the city (which is why I needed the “most of the time” caveat above). It certainly made us wonder how the people who were held there survived the winters when they were forced to work and sleep in those conditions.


The saying across the entrance gate at Dachau means “Work sets you free.” Put there in order to make the victims believe that the harder they worked, the more likely they would be released.


Roll-Call Square



A replica of how the sleeping quarters looked near the end of the war. I can’t recall exact figures, but they would stuff more than 10x capacity into a room like this.




The gas chamber was made to seem like a true shower so that the victims wouldn’t put up a fight. The word above the entrace is “Showers,” and there were even fake shower heads on the inside.

C is for Cerveza and Carbs. It wasn’t Oktoberfest, but we made sure to sample plenty of the famous German beer and pretzels. Our own personal beer house tour included stops at Lowenbrau, Augustiner, Der Pschorr, Paulaner, Schneider-Weiss, and the most famous Hofbrauhaus. When in Munich, drink (and eat) as the Germans do!


Pretzels and beer at Lowenbrau (aka lunch).


So many of the beers were only sold in “Mass,” which is a full liter.


The Augustiner was festively decorated as well.


Weissbier at Der Pschorr.


Paulaner, which to us was the most recognizable of the German beers.


Dinner (and more beer) at Schneider-Weisse.


His and hers at the most famous Munich beer hall, Hofbrauhaus.

And finally, C is for Calling those hogs! Well, we didn’t really call the hogs, but we couldn’t contain our excitement when we stumbled upon this Razorback right in the center of Munich!



Apparently, we show our excitement differently.

We had a cool time (pun intended), checked two more countries off our list (although we’d like to visit additional cities in each), and definitely left full of the Christmas spirit! Since then I’ve been searching for Christmas gifts, jammin’ to my Spotify holiday playlist and getting anxious for our trip back to the states for Navidad!

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