It’s the end of October, and I’m talking about Christmas already. It must be down to the snow and the freezing temperatures. But I’ve started doing some serious thinking as to what I’ll be giving friends and family this Christmas, and there are so many great Munich-based gifts to give. So I thought I’d share them with you, my dear reader.
For theatre lovers
My favourite theatre in Munich is the Blutenburg Theater, near Mailingerstr.. It’s a tiny theatre, with just eleven rows. It’s a bit like being in someone’s lounge and watching a very intimate, personal show. They show lots of detective plays, and it’s superb fun – you can pick up a voucher from the theatre during opening hours – tickets start from 18 €, and the recipients can seek out a play online. If you’ve not yet popped down to see a play there, you really must – it’s such a fantastic small theatre.
At the tourist info at Hauptbahnhof, you can buy vouchers for the Deutsches Theater – valid for a year. Perhaps Munich’s most famous theatre, they offer a lot of musicals – including the Jungle Book, running until mid-January 2013.
Of course, if you’re after some real high-culture in a beautiful location, look no further than the Bayerische Staatsoper. On Monday 14th January, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is being shown in the Nationaltheater. Worth going to, just to see the elegant decor – and tickets are still available.
For film lovers
Cinema München offers vouchers to buy online, which is handy if you’re avoiding heading out in the cold (as I am).
I’m not the biggest fan of CinemaxX as I much prefer the smaller, more intimate theatres (I was having a despondent chat with a colleague the other day about the lack of small, cute cinemas in Munich), but the one plus of a chain cinema is that you’ll inevitably be able to see almost all new releases. You can buy vouchers for the CinemaxX at Isartor here.
The Citykinos often show original language films, and you’re able to buy vouchers at the cinema itself for 8 € and above.
München Ticket allows you to buy vouchers from 5 € and upwards at several Munich locations for a whole host of events. So if you’re not sure if you should buy a ticket to the ballet or to a heavy metal festival, let them do the choosing.
For spa lovers
Of course, the first place that springs to mind if you fancy treating someone to a day of rest and relaxation is Groupon. I’ve bought several massage treatments and spa days as gifts for myself (someone has to!) and you’re able to get pretty good discounts. Note that you should check the length of validity of vouchers you buy. I recently bought a voucher to visit the Emotion spa in Le Méridien, so I’ll be providing a full report as soon as I’ve been. They also offer day tickets for 20 € – buy here.
I once spent a very luxurious day at the Blue Spa at Munich’s swankiest hotel, the Bayerischer Hof. It was gorgeous – the spa is located on the very top floor of the hotel, and while doing lengths of the pool I had the most stunning view of the Munich sunset. Alas, it’s not cheap – a full list of prices (including massages, manicures and depilation) is available here.
Therme Erding is Europe’s biggest spa – and vouchers can be ordered online, starting for 27 € for three hours. I spent a wonderful day there in summer, and would love to go again when the snow is deep and I need a good hot sauna. Three hours is far too short for such a large location though – get a day ticket and take your time! Oh, and their cakes are really rather yummy.
My favourite spa in Bavaria is the monte mara spa, near Tegernsee (though they also have a spa near Schliersee too). Last winter I enjoyed a day sunbathing by the lake, overlooking snow-capped mountains and dipping my feet into the ice-cold Tegernsee post-sauna. You can buy entrance tickets – either day tickets, early-bird tickets or evening tickets online here, or you can buy some L’Occitane scented candles (I am a BIG fan of those, if anyone’s wondering what I’m after this Christmas) and provide your loved one with a spa day at home – monte mare do very scrummy bath sets, hello Careccino!
There are dozens of spas in Munich, and if you Google “München wellness”, you’ll be overwhelmed with options. I can only vouch for the above, but you might want to do your research and find your very own day or R & R perfection.
And if you want to give your own beauty/gift set, Uslu Airlines nail polish is gorgeous, and they have a range of cool colours. A friend’s just recommended Butter London nail polish to me (slightly cheaper, around 17 € a bottle, available on Amazon or in Douglas), and their colours are also pretty funky. I also love Kiehls products – I have their hand cream, and for someone who gets raw and chapped hands each winter, it’s been a godsend. I don’t think you can go far wrong with some nice pamper products.
For food and wine lovers
I gave my boyfriend a wine tasting voucher for Einfach Genießen for his birthday earlier this year. It was informative, cosy and we got sozzled on excellent wines and enjoyed a quiche with some lovely strangers. You can buy a voucher online here – and if you’re more of a whisky fan, they do whisky tastings too.
The Schrannenhalle has become a deli heaven, and if you want to make your own hamper this Christmas, head down to the Schrannenhalle to pick up some fine cheeses, salamis and truffles. Naturally, top it off with a good wine from Einfach Genießen (see above). If all that choice at the Schrannenhalle overwhelms you, take your tastebuds on a tour – tickets are 21 € and you get to try lots of goodies. You can do the same at the Viktualienmarkt, though wandering around the Viktualienmarkt on a bitter winter’s day isn’t my idea of fun. Maybe save that for the summer.
Mangostin is perhaps Munich’s most talked about restaurant, and if your loved one fancies themselves as the next Nigella/Jamie, you can book them into an Asian cooking course at the Mangostin. Top chef Joseph Peter is on hand to teach on the 12th, 19th and 26th January, the 2nd and 23rd February and the 2nd March. Peter’s cooked for the likes of Mick Jagger and Charlie Chaplin, and was awarded “Young Chef of the Year” in 1977. I’d be happy enough if I got taken there for a meal, I already know exactly what I’d choose from the menu (beef tartar, lobster salad and the homemade sorbets). Luckily for me, there are vouchers available for the restaurant too.
A friend of mine recently raved about the night watchman tour in Munich (14 €). She’s been here for several years, and her husband’s a Bavarian through and through, but they still learnt new things about the city on an evening walking tour with the night watchman. This is perhaps not something you’d want to be doing in January or February, but if you go out for dinner, and wrap up warm, 90 minutes of history and culture outdoors should be doable.
Some people out there claim to enjoy sliding down snow-covered slopes in the winter. Not me, not me at all, but if you get excited by fresh powder, take the BOB down to the Alps and spend a weekend on the slopes. If you’re not much of a fan of the snow, you could let your friend/partner out alone, while you spend your time in a nice spa hotel, eating lots, reading lots and sleeping lots.
Ladies and gents, I’m out of ideas. If you have your own tips, feel free to share them with me – I’m yet to buy any Christmas gifts!