München mag dich!

One week after the “big move” to Munich and I’m very relieved to say that I’ve finally settled in. I arrived in Germany last Tuesday only to discover that my apartment was being renovated and I had to stay in a hostel for a week, but that’s what international travel is all about – flexibility.

I’ve traveled to Munich twice before, so I was able to reorientate myself to the city pretty quickly. Of course, I had to spend my first few days reliving all of the fantastic “touristy” experiences the city has to offer. Living in an underground 40-person hostel room, I had a ton of fun playing “tour guide” for a rowdy crowd of Australian, Irish, and Scottish college students. For those planning on traveling to Munich soon or in the future, here’s a quick rundown of my (now) internationally-renowned tour:

Munich’s Top 5 Sites (a solid day’s worth of Bavaria):

1. Marienplatz – the center-square of downtown Munich (and has been since 1158!). Here you can not only see the “New” (and restored “Old”) Town Halls, but are also a couple steps away from one of Munich’s most historical churches, the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady (Frauenkirche), and the tower climb at St. Peter’s church as well. The new town hall (Rathaus) features a rotating glockenspiel clock of figurines that goes in motion everyday at 12:03 (right after the church bells finish ringing). By law, no other building is allowed to be taller than Munich’s church towers, so the climb to the top of St. Peter’s gives you a pretty awesome view of the city! The city’s largest retail street is the no-car street that runs from Marienplatz to Karlsplatz. Definitely worth walking down, but it’s easy to get lost in the crowds.

2. Englischer Garten – Not only is this the largest park in Germany, but it is also home to the Chinese Tower (Chinesischer Turm) beer garden and the Eisbach River, a man-made river through the park that starts with some man-made hydraulics that create surf-ready waves. The beer garden, like most beer gardens in Germany, is bring-your-own-food but there are also some other vendors that linger around (in addition to the built-in beer vendors). So if your looking to spend a full day in the park, make sure to bring a frisbee, some good friends, a picnic basket, your finest wetsuit, and surfboard!

3. Viktualienmarkt – If you’ve started to google-search “Best Restaurants in Munich,” I’m not going to stop you, but you’ll be missing out on dining on some of the best locally-grown, gourmet delicacies in Germany. The Viktualienmarkt, is the central farmer’s market of downtown Munich with over 140 stalls of breads, cheeses, vegetables, etc. Just last Sunday, I was able to gather up the makings of a delicious wurst sandwich, a Caprese salad, and a fresh-squeezed concoction of orange, banana, and strawberry juices for under €10. Overwhelmed by the size of the market? Just watch the locals (look for people in their “Sunday’s finest” lederhosen). Beer is served in the center of the market after church service ends and there is seating for around 250 people.

4. Olympiapark – really? Another park? Yes, I promise you this will not be a redundant experience. The Olympiapark is the remnants of Munich’s 1972 Summer Olympics and still serves as a huge cultural center in the city. In addition, the Munich TV-tower and BMW headquarters/museum are also within walking distance.

5. Beer Halls & Restaurants – The giant breweries of Hofbrau, Augustiner, Paulaner, Lowenbrau, Hacker-Pschorr, and Weisses all have a huge presence in the city. Besides the giant tents they construct every year for Oktoberfest and Sprinfest, these breweries retain a huge presence in the city year-round – not just with their beer gardens, but with a variety of delicious restaurants and cafés as well. I’m very fortunate to have landed here while the FIFA World Cup is going on. Last night, the Augustiner beer hall was filled to it’s capacity of over 3,000 people! Half and whole liters are the serving sizes, so make sure to get too far ahead of yourself.

The city of Munich offers a variety of historical sites, churches, museums, and modern marvels between these five sites. I’m off to my first day of work in the morning, so I left this post a little short. Stay tuned to learn more about downtown Munich, the crazy castles and natural wonders just outside of the city, and what it’s like to actually work and live here.

Prost!

-Will

(I’ve got plenty of pictures to add to this!)