Sehr Gut in Bad Tölz
It’s Christkindlmarkt season and taking-of-the-waters time! Munich’s Christmas market is more sprawling than ever, filling the streets from Odeonsplatz through Marienplatz and out to Karlstat with stands offering gluhwein and würstel and lebkuchen and hand-crafted ornaments and candles and sparkling kitsch. All the magical stuff of the season, overseen by an enormous evergreen towering above the Marienplatz, wrapped in twinkling white lights. Traditional Bavarian Christmas dirges performed by Alpine village ensembles drift out from a rathaus balcony.
We even had the great good fortune to be in town for the Krampuslaufen! Krampus is, ostensibly, a helper to Santa, ferreting out the naughty children and stealing them away to be roasted and eaten. So much more persuasive than a lump of coal in the stocking. I like it. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Krampus was rampaging the Tyrolean Alps long before St. Nicholas was a twinkle in the Pope’s eye.
Many little towns and regions have their own particular Krampus traditions, often featuring huge and terrifying wooden masks, artfully crafted, with outrageous horns and big, sharp pointy teeth. Most Krampuses are clothed in wild fur and skins, the occasional full fox pelt. And he always wears bells about his person to shake and jingle in a most frightening fashion. Big bells.
Last Sunday, Munich was descended upon by 600 Christmas demons from all the local Krampus chapters, interspersed with dainty angels bearing sweets and suspicious saints, leering with good cheer. So. Much. Fun.
After investigating the seeming invasion of Vietnamese cuisine ~Truly, TripAdvisor’s #8 restaurant overall in the city is Nam Giao. Eat here.~ it was time to bug out for a few days. This season’s choice is Bad Tölz with their expansive spa and entertainment complex, Alpamare. From the required saunas & steam room, massage offerings, and thermal outdoor pools, to a wave pool, indoor water slides, and a standing wave for surfing, it’s a full day. The crowning jewel is a golden-green outdoor pool, warm and outfitted with various bubblers and jets, and boasting the recuperative energies of iodine. Yes, the local healthful element in the water is, in fact, iodine. Remember my post about the lovely spa town featuring radon several years ago? At least the scent of iodine smacks of treated water, made safe to drink.
So we soaked in steaming iodized water, hurtled down the water slides ~the open outdoor section of one was bracing on a cold evening; it would have been truly invigorating were it snowing~ baked & steamed, and had a massage. The Weihnachtsmarkt of Bad Tölz was small and quite nice, too.
Soon, the pilgrimage will be complete, the car will be full of Bavarian goodies, and I will carry back to southern climes all the wonder of the season.