It is the season of good cheer, and the mood in central Munich in these bright sunny December days is very jovial indeed.
I like Sundays in Munich, despite still coming to terms with the fact that almost everything is shut. It is quieter, more relaxed, and families are out in force enjoying a break from their hectic lives.
I chose yesterday as the day to check out Munich's Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz, the main but by no means the only Christkindlmarkt in the city (click here for a map of all your options)
I took the S-Bahn into Hauptbahnhof and then decided to wander through the pedestrian zone to take in the atmosphere. First stop Karlsplatz Stachus, a square which is transformed each winter, and families were enjoying pitting their skating skills against one another, while parents lapped up the midday sun with a Glühwein or two. A really nice attraction for the city centre each winter.
From distance, the bulbous heads of the Frauenkirche towers were looking somehow even more magnificent. Was it really true that one was 12cm shorter than the other?
Looking down the pedestrian zone, it would appear that I would not be alone... There was an irony here - hordes of would-be shoppers crowding Munich's central shopping district, and with cash to spend, but all the well-stocked shops shut for the day. That is Germany. Get used to it.
And of course the season of good cheer is a commercial rat race. If you have the money for prime advertising, the city is yours. McDonalds at Stachus undergoing a facelift, courtesy of Apple.
And so to Munich Christkindlmarkt. Any thoughts that it might be contained to Marienplatz were soon dispelled, as it started soon after Stachus.
Cribs, one of the mainstays of the market. None was better than this clever collection, made entirely of stones.
But if you wanted the real thing, there was a whole section for you...
Looking to ward off the cold? It was actually very warm, at least for this Englishman clad in just a jumper. Plenty of options to warm you up.
Especially the Glühwein, with many stalls offering the very finest, some with their grandmother's secret recipe.
Some of the stalls were a little more creative, mirroring the local sights. Now was one of those towers 12cm shorter, or at least proportionately so?
The young pretender against the established master...
The shops may have been shut, but not their ability to lure customers in at a future date. Some very impressive window displays proved almost as popular as the market itself.
It has been reasonably busy approaching Marienplatz, but then when I got there, it was clear I was in the thick of the action. The square was packed!
Nothing for it but to look up and admire central Munich's three iconic towers in a perfect sky.
A quick wander around the stalls, admiring all the tradition and innovation on show.
And then wander on to somewhere else, away from the crowds, but not before enjoying the sound of a jolly accordion in this temporary tower just south of the square.
The energy in the heart of Munich on the eve of Christmas is impressive indeed. I encourage you to take a stroll!