Leave the stress at home with these tips for smooth travelling, packing and gifting over the festive season
Tips for smarter travel from Nordstrom Canada’s Lisa Tant
As if crowded transportation hubs, inclement weather and family gatherings aren’t anxietycausing enough, there are less obvious holiday travel headaches. Here’s how to avoid a few of them.
BEAT THE WRAP: At an airport, whatever you pack might be inspected, even in checked bags. Savvy travellers leave presents unwrapped (and throw in gift bags and tissue).
DO A SOLID: For flying, if it’s not solid at room temperature, it’s a liquid/gel. Snow globes and cans of soup are fluid examples that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (catsa-acsta.gc.ca) advises to put in checked baggage.
PICTURE IT: If you want to fly with something you’re unsure about, send a photo or question to CATSA ( facebook.com/
CATSAGC or Twitter @ CATSA_GC), 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. KNOW YOUR WORTH: When crossing the U.S. border, know the value of gifts you’re carrying (receipts aren’t a bad idea).
BOTTLE SHOCK: Flying within Canada, you can pack and check up to five litres of booze (24- to 70-percent alcohol) unopened in retail packaging— cushion bottles well and get your bag tagged “fragile.” Keep in mind that some provinces technically have lower limits for bringing in personaluse amounts.
FOOD FLIGHT: You can fly with cakes, pies and even produce and some meats (within Canada, check catsa-acsta.gc.ca/en/ whatcanibring). U.S. Customs and Border Protection allows baked items, most cheeses and packaged items ( like condiments, honey, coffee and tea)—leave rice at home, because it can harbour insects. To be safe, declare everything that’s edible.
of monopolizing Germany’s waterways, it makes artisanal lederhosen. This isn’t the stuff you can find in every tourist shop in Germany for $200 a pop, either. It’s the real, custom, hand-stitched item that will put you on a year-long waitlist. Apparently, the leather is a good choice in the mercurial Bavarian climate and isn’t only worn during Oktoberfest. (Though if you don’t sport a pair in Germany then, you’re not even a tourist; you’re like an alien or something.)
The latter is Germany’s oldest distillery, open since 1692. Grassl doesn’t use any aromas or perfumes for its schnapps, either; they’re all-natural, to the point that many of the shop’s specialty products are still made up in the mountain ranges and barrel-aged for three years.
Berchtesgaden has also cornered the market on a certain Olympic sport with a massive luge/bobsled track that German athletes flock to in all seasons. It seems like a perfect little paradise, but as with all such places, our time here is too short.
KEEP MUNICH WEIRD
After another bus ride through the mountains, we arrive in the capital of the state of Bavaria. Spotless Munich is one of the richest areas of Europe, but there are some eccentricities amid the beautiful buildings that shape the city centre.
Perhaps chief among them is the Rathaus-glockenspiel, basically a huge merry-goround, attached to New Town Hall. At 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (and at noon in the summer), bells chime and figurines rotate, playing out scenes from German history.
To Munich residents, it must be as trivial as Gastown’s steam clock is to Vancouverites, but there’s always a swarm of people waiting to see what the figures will do this time. (The smart money is on them moving in a slow, circular fashion.)
There are other pockets of weirdness. A Michael Jackson memorial gets a significant amount of play, and no one’s sure why it’s here. But the shrine is still nicely maintained, with fresh flowers complementing the photos and news clippings.
And although landlocked Munich is miles away from the nearest beach, it’s known for its downtown surfing. The Eisbach, a man-made river that runs for two kilometres through the city, is a hot spot for surfers who come from around the continent to ride the waves. It’s also popular with tourists, offering plenty of prime viewpoints for watching those brave enough strut their stuff.
Munich is a collision between old and new, as the state capital grapples not just with its past but with the changes that modernization brings. Many antique struc- tures stand tall, while new shops and fancy hotels increasingly surround them.
One thing that hopefully will never change in this town? The beer. Augustiner-bräu has been marrying water, malt and hops for 670 years, and when I step through the heavy doors to the brewery’s accompanying restaurant, I’m transported to a simpler time. There are no bigscreen TVS, and all the tables are long, not so much encouraging interaction with fellow customers as demanding it.
The attitudes are from another era, too, as a server takes my order of a lager and a weisswurst (white German sausage made with minced veal and back bacon) and jokes that the table of women sitting nearby, dressed in traditional German dirndl skirts, could help me cut it.
Once I carve through the skin (on my own, thanks very much), it’s delicious. As for the beer: centuries later, the stuff holds up. Light and refreshing, yet packed with a complex aftertaste, it makes for one of those moments that screams, “How do I stay here?”
The writer received travel help from Lufthansa and Kempinski Hotels, neither of which reviewed this article before publication
HANG ZEHN Munich's Eisbach river draws surfers from all over