Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Curious Case of the Christmas Mug

Christmas tree at one market
Munich, 23.12.2016

It is not very difficult to find the hostel. It is very close to the main train station - cross the road, turn into the alley, walk a bit and there it is. I check in. The receptionist advises to visit a big Christmas market near by. It is only until 23.12, 11pm. It is already 9pm.

I quickly put my luggage in the room, take out my day bag, lock my backpack in the cage under my bed and head to the Christmas market. After walking through the dark (not literally) on many secluded streets I see lights. And people. Its the market.

The market is nice but I don't know if it is very traditional. But then, what is traditional?! There are big tents in which food from around the world is being served. I do not enter these tents. I am in Germany for Germany, not for the whole world or rather the rest of the world. I want German food. the rest can wait for when I get to them.

I walk around in the open. I look at what is being bought and sold. Every other shop has food or drinks. Lots of Gluhwein. Its 9.30pm. I grab something to eat, a bratwurst. Got to love them. I notice that most places are serving gluhwein in  special little christmasy mugs. Red, yellow, grey, green, black, blue. I must have one of those. What better souvenir from Munich?

I go to one of the many stalls. I wave at the barkeep. He waves back making a cross with his hands. Its over, no more gluhwein. The shop is shutting down. Suddenly everyone is heading in one direction (not the band). Its the U-bahn station. They are leaving. The market is shutting down. This is the last day of of the market. But what about my mug? Red, yellow, grey, green, black blue - I will take any. I am disappointed. No gluhwein mug for me.

I leave. There is a young couple walking in front of me. They have a wein mug in their hands. I am jealous. Should I snatch and run?! But I don't have the right shoes. And what about the running injury. It hasn't healed yet. May be another Christmas. May be another Christmas market.

24.12.2016, Christmas Eve

My Precious!!
Last night I remembered that the main Christmas market in the city centre is open until 24.12. Could this be my opportunity to get that elusive souvenir. Or were those mugs special for that Christmas market. The market that is no longer there. The mugs that are gone.

So thats my one target for the day. Get one of those mugs. I am reading my short story book while having breakfast. I look at the watch. Its 10. I am half way through a story. But I should head out. A traveller must travel. A visitor must visit.

I head to the city centre. Marienplatz. On the way I take photos. I am a bit irritated with my camera these days. It doesn't autofocus. Its the lens actually. I need a new one. A better camera too. I stop at several places. Take several photos of the same things. One of the perks of travelling alone. I have not been able to make up my mind. Do I like travelling alone or with someone? Travelling with many people people is just problematic.

After a while the crowd builds up. I see many wooden stalls. Its a Christmas market!! Roasted chestnuts, nativity statues, sausages, pulled pork, gluhwein......the mugs!! They are here too!! Red, white, brown, black, yellow, green, blue. I can't take them all. I would like to. Last night I saw a red, shoe shaped mug. I want that. I don't see it. I will keep looking.

I reach Marienplatz. There is an even bigger Christmas market. Its chock-a-block. Women, men, grannies, grandpas, prams, dogs. They are all there. Of course, a lot of tourists. Families walking around buying las minute presents and decorations. Food being had. Lots of gluhwein going around. Its cold. People hold mugs of the hot drink. The holiday drink flows and so do the conversations. Smiles, laughs, hugs, kisses. They are jolly. The atmosphere is festive. Songs are being sung. Music is being played from town hall balcony.

I walk through the crowd, smiling, infected by the spirit. The holiday spirit that is. There it is! The red shoe!! The illusive mug! I head to the counter. "One gluhwein please". They take a blue mug out. I stop them. "Can I get the shoe please"? I have the mug. 7 euros. Slightly expensive. It includes a deposit for the mug. You can bring it back and get some money. I am not bringing it back! My precious!! I got my Munich souvenir. And its slightly special. You can get it only during Christmas. It has Christmas market written on it. Some mugs also have 2016 written on them. I would have liked that. The red mug doesn't. Its evergreen. 

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