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Christmas in Bavaria
October 21, 2012 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Can you help us with cool things to do in Germany (specifically Munich - Nuremberg - Rothenburg - Frankfurt) in early December? Snowflake details inside.

We have often gotten many good travel ideas from AskMe in the past, but for this trip, we seem to be having trouble finding info that is relevant to our specific situation.

We have about a week, are flying into Munich and out of Frankfurt, and have hotels and flight reservations booked already. We know we will be spending a couple of days at Christmas markets in Munich and in Nuremberg, but other than that, our itinerary is pretty much open.

We are a group of four adults - me and my husband (around 30) and my parents. We like good food and good beer, museums, castles and historical buildings (the older the better). We aren't really into nightlife, our style is more to head to bed early and be up early to be at places when they open. We are looking for suggestions of neat things do to or see while we are there.

Complicating factor - I will be about 27 weeks pregnant at the time of the trip and have been dealing with some pretty serious exhaustion so far. I am anticipating that I will have to move slower and take more rests than is usual for us. (We usually are pretty much continually on the move when we travel.) This also means that some outdoorsy activities we would normally do are off the table for this trip.

Specific questions:
- Any suggestions for traveling in Germany while 27 weeks pregnant?
- My doctor has given me the ok to have a few beers as long as I don't overdo it. This is something I would not usually do in public in the US, due to the horrified looks I would get. Am I going to raise eyebrows in Germany if I have a beer or a mug of mulled wine?
- Opinions on Neuschwanstein Castle? I know that this is usually considered a "must see", but my parents have done it several times, and we are generally less interested in "newer" castle, so I'm going back and forth on this one.

Thanks, AskMe!
posted by pallas14 to Travel & Transportation around Munich, Germany (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Too many things. In Munich I would say a word for the Alte and Neue Pinakothek; great galleries (with officious staff). Not so much the Pinakothek der Moderne (good gallery with insane staff).

I would think carefully about Neuschwanstein if you're likely to get tired, and it is arguably more like a film set than a real castle - but I'm biased because I'm not that keen on gothic and there are so many baroque palaces you could do much more easily, eg Nymphenburg or the Residenz in Munich. But if you want to out-Disney Disney, of course...
posted by Segundus at 9:41 AM on October 21, 2012


I think you'd enjoy Kloster Andechs. I was there in the summer and it was gorgeous, not to mention the fantastic beer and excellent food. I didn't poke around the various historically-interesting parts, but I understand there's plenty to see.

My wife, who lived in Munich for several years, said it's even better in the winter. The countryside will be blanketed in snow and though the beer garden will be closed, the beer hall will be open.

I'll check with the missus and report back if she has any other recommendations for your trip.
posted by sportbucket at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neuschwanstein is apparently not worth the journey at the moment. The interior of Neuschwanstein is a bit of a let-down, and the exterior is currently undergoing substantial renovations, i.e. it's covered in scaffolding. See the website for details. I would either go to Schloss Nymphenburg (which has the advantage of being in the city) or, if you get good weather, Herrenchiemsee (Mad King Ludwig's Versailles replica, which involves an extremely pleasant 20m boat journey).

Gluhwein wine: no one will know. You could be drinking kinderpunsch. Beer: if your doctor says it's OK, then what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I'd be surprised if you got dirty looks (unless you order a maß of starkbier).

If you're in Munich on the right dates, then the Krampus run is for me the highlight of the (otherwise rather twee) Christmas market.

The other thing you can do, even if you're 27 weeks, is take a cable car up a mountain. Probably not Zugspitze (which is two legs, and at pretty serious altitude), but maybe something more sedate like Karwendel or Wank (hehe). Both of these are about 90 minutes from Munich station by BOB train. Check the cable car websites to be sure the weather is OK. They suspend the service in high winds, snow, poor visibility, etc.

If by old you mean pre-1800 then you pretty much need to get out of Munich, which is a very new city. Regensburg is about 90 minutes north of Munich on the train and its medieval city centre is a UNESCO world heritage site. Augsburg is much closer (40 minutes) and also very old.
posted by caek at 10:44 AM on October 21, 2012


The other possibility for a day trip from Munich is Salzburg, which is just over the border in Austria. 90 minutes from Munich. A very pretty old city centre with a big castle at the top of a dramatic mountain in the middle of downtown, Mozart's birthplace, lots of old churches, etc. Here's another comment I wrote about Salzburg with more details.

Unless you want to visit a cold version of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, in which everybody speaks German and all the shops are shut, don't bother with Frankfurt.
posted by caek at 10:49 AM on October 21, 2012


On the beer thing--I'm not sure about the eyebrows--but there are MANY good and non-alcoholic alternatives to both German beer and there will be plenty of Kinderpunch at the Christmas markets. So, once you do reach your 1 or 2 limit there are still some tasty options available.
posted by chiefthe at 11:40 AM on October 21, 2012


Am I going to raise eyebrows in Germany if I have a beer or a mug of mulled wine?

Nope. But you could also drink radler (half lemonade, half beer) and the non-alcoholic beer you can get is actually perfectly drinkable. But pregnant or not, everyone drinks glühwein at the market. I would also suggest skipping Schloss Neuschwanstein. Even in summer, it's not easy to get to, and when you do get there, it's rather underwhelming.

As for things to do in Franconia:

* For properly old buildings, visit Bamberg or Weißenburg, both easy day trips out of Nuremberg.
* The oldest monastery brewery in the world is the Weltenburger Klosterbrauerei, located along a beautiful part of the Danube between Ingolstadt and Regensburg and worth a visit if you have an auto. Also, if you have an auto and go to Schwanfeld, you can say that you have visited the oldest town in Germany (that's the only reason to go to Schwanfeld).
* Eichstätt, and the entire Altmühl Valley that it's in, is lovely. Eichstätt also, for whatever reason, has the highest ratio of pubs to residents in Bavaria (5.9 for every 1000 residents). It's approximately an hour and a half by train from Nuremberg.
* On your way to Frankfurt, which is a miserable city that no one should spend time in, you could stop in Würzburg (you probably will have to anyway, if you're going by train).
* You don't say what sort of museums you're interested in, but I'm a fan of the Deutsches Museum in Munich (both the main one, and the one focused on transport), the Deutsche Bahn museum, Spielzeug Museum, and Museum Industriekultur all in Nuremberg, the Criminal History Museum in Rothenburg o.d. Tauber of course, and the Kulmbacher Brauerei museum in Kulmbach.
* Be very prepared for massive crowds at the Nuremberg christmas market. We get something like a million tourists during December and on weekends it can be very difficult to move around. A tip: approaching the Hauptmarkt from the west, along Waaggasse, is far less crowded than approaching from the south along Köningstraße or the Fleischbrücke. Also, the best glühwein stand is usually found along the northern row of stalls. Look for the one that isn't just heating up Gerstacker glühwein.
* If you want to drink glühwein without the crowds, a train to Schwabach takes 10-20 minutes and they have a nice enough Christmas market if you're into that sort of thing.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have specific questions.
posted by cmonkey at 10:02 PM on October 21, 2012


If you visit Rothenburg be sure to come before dark since the schneeballen are only on sale during the day. Other than that it is extremely quaint if you like that sort of thing.
One thing I remember from there is the plaque on an ancient synagogue commemorating the burning of the town's jews in 15-- or so... ah germany...
posted by Mai2k3 at 11:18 PM on October 21, 2012


2nding Bamberg. Such a wonderful little town.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:43 AM on October 22, 2012


Thank you everyone, for the wonderful responses and suggestions. This gives us some great ideas.
posted by pallas14 at 4:46 PM on October 22, 2012


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