I had a great time during my week in Munich. There was lots of time for me to relax as well as plenty of time to take in the sites and even make a day trip to a famous castle!
Read on for my timeline in this beautiful city, which I will update with pictures soon.
I checked into the Hilton Munich Park and relaxed luxuriously in the king sized bed after a nice hot shower in the huge bathtub and drying off with the fluffy towels. My sister had mentioned she had some Peace Corps friends that were in Munich and connected us in a message. We decided to meet up at the Christmas market in front of town hall and then go to Hofbrauhaus. It was a delight to meet these Peace Corps gals and a perfect first night in the city. There were also some Australians from their hostel hanging out. Hofbrauhaus left me a little underwhelmed. The service was awful and the food is overpriced because it’s such a tourist trap. Definitely check it out for drinks if you’re in Munich, but better beer halls can be found, especially in the summer time when the gardens are open. After Hofbrauhaus we went to Kosmos Club and enjoyed $1.30 draft beers and a cute bartender. Since none of us ate much at Hofbrauhaus, a few of us went out in search of a midnight doner kebap, which was delicious and hit the spot.
I needed to stock up on shampoo and contact solution, as well as wanting to find some bubble bath for my nice big tub at the Hilton, so after a nice run through the English garden, I went out for a day of walking and errands. I walked all over the neighborhood of Schwabing, which is a trendy neighborhood with lots of shopping, cafes and restaurants. After getting a coffee and finding my way to a Rossman, I purchased a gingerbread man bath bomb, Head & Shoulders shampoo, contact solution, and an Essie nail polish that caught my eye called “Eternal Optimist”. I decided to walk around some more and made my way towards the University and stopped at Cafe Konigin 43, which was reported to have healthy options on Google Reviews. I ordered the turkey teriyaki salad with pineapple and a chai latte. It was a delicious salad with a good ratio of meat to vegetables and the teriyaki sauce didn’t taste like it had too much sugar, of course the acidity of the pineapple helps mellow that out. The price of $9 was truly exceptional for the size and tastiness of this salad, I thought. I’ve been told that Munich is the most expensive city in Germany! On the way back to the hotel, I stopped and watched the English Garden surfers for a few minutes.
Back at the hotel, I showered and relaxed with my book (now on to The Handmaid’s Tale) before working on some writing and planning the next few days. I googled wine bars near me because I had had enough beer the night before, and was led to Brenner Operngrill on Maximilianstrasse, the upscale avenue lined with haute-couture shops near the opera house. This place was amazing. The interior decoration is phenomenal, cozy and classy at the same time. I sat at the bar (!!!) and had a glass of Merlot, which I paired with the duck liver mousse and black truffles. What a treat… Having been told that drinking wine in Bavaria is looked down upon, it was fantastic to find a place with such a wide variety and affordable selection of wines as well as eclectic takes on German foods alongside more French style dishes. Highly recommend this place if you’re in Munich and need a break from beer or are just looking for an overall nice experience.
After another run through English garden and breakfast from the sprawling buffet at the Hilton, I decided to take advantage of the free walking tour. Having some time to kill before the 2pm start, I enjoyed the Christmas market and bought post cards. The walking tour started at the New Town Hall (Rathaus = Town Hall), and focused on the history of Bavaria, the lineage of Kings beginning with King Otto I, whose wedding celebration is remembered by the Glockenspiel on the bell tower at the Rathaus. Every day at 11am and 12pm, the clock goes off and the Glockenspiel sets into play a scene of jousters entertaining the happy couple on their wedding day. We learned that Munich once was saved by beer, promising something like 200,000 barrels of beer as a peace offering to Sweden during the invasion of 1632. After this we stopped by the Old Rathaus, which is now a toy museum with Europe’s largest collection of teddy bears. Then we went by St Peter’s church (which holds the jeweled skeleton of Saint Munditia, the patron saint of single women, who inspires some superstitious practices) and the Frauenkirche (whose “history with the devil” is quite amusing). We also went through the Victuals Market with its array of produce/meat/cheese/toiletry/homegood stands, stopped at Dodger’s Alley and briefly discussed Hitler, and we ended at the Residence Palace Christmas Market after seeing the Opera house.
Being alone, I was kind of over the Christmas markets for the day so I got a mug of Gluhwine and walked towards the tram. Having spotted an Eataly and never been in one before, I stopped in there and perused the restaurant offerings and merchandise market. I had a glass of sparkling wine and texted with my best friend in Kansas City. I asked her what I should have for dinner and she said, “A steak.” So I googled steak houses near me, and there was one across the street! Zum Goldenen Kalb. I was pleased to see a seat at the bar open when I entered, and enjoyed conversation with a Nigerian man sitting next to me. He had been living in Cologne for 11 years working as a consultant for Deloitte. He told me he loves Germany and hopes to never leave. Meanwhile, I explained to the bar tender that I am just one person and only wanted a small steak. He told me he would bring me the smallest one they had, which turned out to be about 8oz. It came cooked medium rare, served with sautéed spinach and scalloped potatoes. Wine night again, to my liking, I had two glasses of red wine and a liter of sparkling water to wash down my meal. Back to the hotel, where I read my book in bed and enjoyed a couple squares of a dark chocolate bar flavored with strawberries and black pepper.
Another run + breakfast finished, I went to the Nymphenburg Palace for the day. This is where King Ludwig II and his brother were born and raised, for the most part. It is a large, sprawling palace with a huge garden/forest in the back and a fountain that is home to many fowl in the front. When I see such beautiful ducks and geese, I can’t help but think, “You look delicious!” Do people eat swans?
Schloss Nymphenburg has a big, beautiful Great Hall with a very high ceiling and grandiose artwork throughout. This palace also holds a large collection of carriages and sleighs dating back to 1715. It was definitely worth the $8.50 to go inside and the tour takes about 2-2.5 hours.
On the way home, I stopped at Urban Soup for a delightful late and light lunch of sweet pumpkin soup. I love the concept here, all of the ingredients are fresh and sitting salad-bar style behind the counter; when you pick which soup you’d like, the gentleman (in this case) puts the required ingredients in a blender with the appropriate hot soup base, and bam… You’ve got a stew going! After a few pulses in the blender, said soup goes into a jar and you can enjoy it anywhere, no spoon needed. The jars are recyclable, and of course you can always return them to the shop, so this is about as sustainable as you can get. Check it out if you’re in Munich!
From there I walked through the English Gardens and enjoyed a Gluhwine at the Chinese Turm Christmas market before returning to my room and my ginger-bread bath. It was fantastic. In the theme of a spa treatment, I painted my nails as well. From there I went out to Ratskeller for dinner and tried the traditional German Schweinshaxe (pork “knuckle”… it’s not the actual knuckle but the ham hock). The skin and fat are left on while cooking and become super crispy. This was served with potato salad and gravy, of which they brought extra because the meat was a little dry and it helps to soften the skin.
Thursday 12/15 –
I spent the mid-morning at the post office mailing a package of gifts and souvenirs to my parents house. After that, I checked out of the Hilton and moved to the Meinenger hostel for the rest of my stay. After a trip to Lidl to purchase water and breakfast foods (croissants and apples), I worked on my computer while my laundry got clean and dry. From there I enjoyed a dinner of wiener schnitzel at Augustiner Braustuben. Not the best schnitzel I had on my trip, and it came with mediocre French fries, the portion of both schnitzel and fries being way too much. I finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale while I finished my beer and was harassed a bit by the table of men next to me for being a bookworm (yet they didn’t formally invite me to join them, either, so I stayed where I was).
Friday 12/16 –
Since I decided against Dachau after many people said it was too depressing and I didn’t need to go, I still decided to do the Third Reich tour, so I met the tour guide in front of the New Rathaus at 10am. I didn’t find anything about this tour depressing, it was definitely more interesting than anything and lasted a little longer than 2 hours. Between this tour and the one in Berlin, it’s pretty obvious Munich doesn’t like to wear WWII history on its sleeve. Many of the memorials are kind of inconspicuously placed and would take some explaining to understand. I can’t help but wonder if anyone still has a hand-painted postcard by Hitler in their possession, as this is how he made money before joining the military. He was rejected from art school because he couldn’t draw hands and faces, though he excelled at buildings and architecture. Since he had never finished primary school, he couldn’t get into an architecture program, like the art schools suggested.
Anyway… After the tour, I stopped for lunch at Augustiner Keller, a sister restaurant of where I had dinner the night before, and not only was the service better, but the food was better too. I enjoyed a creamy and flavorful crock of pumpkin soup (I don’t know why I was all about pumpkin soup in Germany, this was the fourth one since Nuremberg) that came adorned with whipped cream, then spinach stuffed ravioli baked and served over sautéed cabbage with bacon, and a pint of dark beer. It was a great meal.
I had a phone call at 330pm with some dietitians from the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition dietetic practice group, then cleaned up and went to the Pink Christmas market and Tollwood Winter Festival at the suggestion of Alex (the Third Reich tour guide). Wow, they could not be any more different from one another. The Pink market is very small and quaint, there was a DJ mixing up some Christmas beats, and santas descending upon the crowd suspended in pink lights and the glitter of a disco ball. Tollwood Winterfest takes place where Oktoberfest takes place, but only takes up about ¼ of the space. It’s still very large, with tents housing concerts, international street food markets, gifts and souvenirs, and so on. I had a small bite to eat here since I wasn’t very hungry, and enjoyed the concert going on in one of the tents. It was a German band covering American rock songs and everyone was having a great time rocking out, this was the most fun I had in Munich!
At 9am I met a large group of people at the train station to depart for the Neuschwanstein castle tour. It took us three hours to get out there since we met up about an hour before our train actually left, two hours to explore the castle (including the mediocre 35 minute audio tour), then two hours to get back. Austin, our tour guide from Dallas, TX, was very entertaining with the story of King Ludwig II, how the castle came into existence, and the various conspiracies surrounding his death.
Austin was also full of great recommendations, and I enjoyed my best dinner in Munich at Weissesbrauhaus at his suggestion. Here I ordered a beef schnitzel on which the breading was made with pretzels and mustard seed, it came with warm potato salad and capers. When I make schnitzel at home, I can guarantee you will be with pretzel + mustard breading. Not only was the food great, the beer selection was much larger than Augustiner or Hofbrauhaus and they had rotating tap handles.
On top of that, the service was outstanding, and I was joined by a sweet old man who told me about when he came to America in 1970 to work on a documentary about hippies. He started in Berkely after a brief visit to Portland, then went to New York and a short stop in Washington, DC. He could not stop talking about how nice people in New York were! He said he was so surprised because everyone always says New York people are rude. He told me that Berlin is the best city in Germany (because of its international people, infrastructure, and population size), and that Italian food is better than French food because it’s more approachable as well as easy and fresh. Then he told me that every year he and his wife escape to their cabin on the coast of Ireland, and that I must spend some time in Ireland soon. We were talking so long he lost track of time and had to run out the door to catch his train home. Best conversation during my stay in Munich.
I had started reading “The Butterfly Garden” at the recommendation of Kindle Unlimited during the train to Neuschwanstein. I cannot say that there is a book I have ever enjoyed less. If you’re reading this, take note, DO NOT READ “THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN”. I will make a Goodreads review soon and will update the blog to include a link.
Caught a bus at 7:45am for an 8-hour drive to Venice! Read before mentioned terrible book because I just wanted to get it over with. Waaaah. Also listened to Christmas music and wrote postcards.
Things to do in Munich that I didn’t do, but you should if you’re there: