We recently spent 10 days in Europe – London, Paris and Munich. 3 of those days were spent in Munich…..I have ALWAYS wanted to visit this city. Not really sure why – could be the allure of Oktoberfest back in the day – you wouldn’t catch me there these days. Too many people – correction – too many drunk people in one place. I think something like 6 million people visit this festival every year.
I have to say, I loved Munich a 100 times more than I thought I would. Even with the 2 packs of cigarettes we inhaled via second hand smoke! Could have been due to the fact that there was no rain like we experienced in Paris – the deluge of rain on the second day we were in the City of Light, sucked the life out of us.
Poor Sean describes his experience in Paris, “I felt like I just followed you around in the rain looking for tea towels.” This makes me laugh so hard, because we did spend at least PART (like an hour) of an afternoon looking for tea towels. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to find the buggers, but it was. This is what happens when you do not put forth ideas for activities when you travel with me – you get stuck SHOPPING.
Back to Munich….
I have a set of criteria I use to rate the quality of a European city or town. Munich topped the charts in every category – this is RARE – maybe I’m just picky….
- Interesting town square – In Munich it’s called the Marienplatz (St. Mary’s Square). This beautiful square has been around since the 12th century – that’s a LONG time. Every day – 3 times a day depending on the season, the clock chimes and 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures come to life in the 260 foot clock tower to reenact two scenes from Munich’s history – aka, the Glockenspiel. It’s pretty cool, the ‘show’ lasts about 15 minutes. I generally get nervous about crowded tourist areas because of potential pick pockets, but no-one else seemed to mind! And seriously, we felt safe the entire time we were there.
- Great restaurants – Admittedly, traveling with Sean does not always mean we will eat 5 star meals – in fact, I think we had lunch in the train station a couple of times – though I have to say, they did have some pretty good brats. We had some of our best meals at beer gardens. He likes good food, he just isn’t a foodie which is fine with me.
- Excellent shopping – Munich has all of the usual suspects as far as the high-end shops are concerned, but it also has one of the BEST outdoor stores I have ever seen (Sporthaus Schuster) – 5 levels of outdoor gear – it was dreamy. The local German department stores (Ex: Oberpollinger) were also incredible – really beautiful housewares if you are into that. Sean was at the Hunting and Fishing museum while I was out and about shopping. He didn’t rate that experience very high, though he said it could have been amazing if you were 10 years old :-). If you have a rough day of shopping, you may just be able to find a beer garden nearby.
- Outdoor markets – There is a daily market near the Marienplatz called the Viktualienmarkt – they sell pastries, fruits and veggies, coffee, juices, food and flowers – it was sooo lovely. One of the coffee shops had a chandelier hanging from its rafters – pretty swank if you ask me. And If you need a beer to go with your food, there of course, is a beer garden.
- Easy to get around – The city was easy to navigate on foot and had a convenient subway with attendants on site to answer questions. As the title of this posts suggests, we walked everywhere. The only time we took a train was to get to the BMW museum, which was soooo cool. (BMW has some incredible electric cars for sale in Europe – not available in the states just yet. I’ll be waiting – I have my eye on an electric Mini-Cooper. For now, I’ll keep the Subaru with the cracked windshield.) The subway trains are clean as a whistle and graffiti free. I do love graffiti, just not on my modes of transportation. The train station near the BMW museum had, guess what? A beer garden.
- Parks and open spaces – This was by far, my most favorite part of the city. The English Gardens in the fall has to be one of the most beautiful parks I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I did recently read you could go nude most likely in warmer weather – dang – sad to have missed that opportunity. We stumbled upon, guess what? None other than a beer garden with an outdoor cafeteria at the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower). Even though the food lines reminded me of Disney, the food was pretty decent. The English Gardens are larger than New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park, with 48 miles of trails and all kinds of outdoor activities. There is quite a bit of ground to cover – you could probably spend an entire day here if that’s your jam.
- Crowds – Munich was fairly crowded, but not Paris/London crowded. I swear there were so many people in Paris and London, which in the rain, is a dangerous thing – with all of the umbrellas, I kept thinking I was going to get my eye poked out. Munich was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of P & L.
- Munich Bonus #1 – Beer Gardens – As you can see, the number of beer gardens was insane. I think Munich has roughly 60 in town. It felt like there was one on every street corner. We enjoyed 3 of the 60! Now, if you don’t like beer, they do sell wine. Or if you don’t drink at all, they are still fun places to visit and kick back after a day of walking, and the food is pretty good. The people watching is some of the best, but just know if you choose to sit outside, you WILL inhale a pack of cigarettes in one sitting. We did manage to try out the Chinese Tower, Augustiner Keller and the Hofbräuhaus München and would happily recommend all of them for a fun experience.
Munich Bonus #2 – The Isar River- From the English Gardens we followed a path along the river. It was INCREDIBLE. There is an option to rent a bike and ride the path as well. Sean wanted to do this, but honestly, I was too freaked out that a tourist would wander in front of me and things would get ugly – so we walked – for miles – along this beautiful river. The fall colors were gorgeous and added to the whole experience. They do have guided bike tours which may be a great alternative. The joggers below made me want to put on some running shoes and get after it!
With only 2.5 days in Munich, we couldn’t see it all. We’d like to go back again, in the fall season, and add a few things to the list:
- The Audi museum – About an hour train ride from the city – I can only assume it’s similar to the BMW museum. If you like cars, this would be a good experience.
- Dachau Concentration camps – This is such a sad part of history but because of the sadness it is sure to invoke, I may end up tackling this one on my own. It’s only a 20 minute train ride from Munich.
- Neuschwanstein Castle – This is the castle King Ludwig II built as his private refuge and happens to be the model for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle. From what I could tell, the time investment to do this, is about 8 to 9 hours. I found a good article about the castle via Travel & Leisure. I’m not a castle person, but the views in the area look pretty spectacular.
- Hike in the Bavarian Alps – Hiking opportunities in this part of Germany are endless. I’d like to do a little more research and see if there is a hut trip opportunity where you hike from hut to hut for a few days.
- Take the train to Salzburg – yep, none other than the home of Mozart and the Sound of Music. We ALMOST did this, but we enjoyed Munich so much we decided to do this ‘next time’. Travel time is roughly 2 hours.
I would not consider my list of to do’s as exhaustive – they only represent what would interest Sean and me. There is so much to see and do here!
If you are in this neck of the German woods, I would highly recommend a stop over to Munich!!
This post is part of the 30-day November blogging challenge known as NanoPoblano2019. Our challenge is to write for 10 days, read others’ posts for 10 days, and share our posts for 10 days – could be to other social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or simply sharing with friends with a text link.
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