In celebration of Martin’s 25th birthday we went for a long weekend to Munich. Below is a run through of our 3 nights in the land that beer created.
Munich is what I like to think of as an archetypal European city. It has an old town, a new town, a shopping district adjacent to its most famous theatres and luscious parks. It has at least three palaces, 2,000 churches, and 1 very important cathedral. It has a famous market, and a vibrant gay and lesbian scene, apparently. We didn’t find it ourselves. Munich’s uniqueness comes from its celebration of beer. One can find at least one beer garden on every road, so there’s no need to worry about missing out on the 10 most popular or famous. The beer is also, happily, very affordable and comes in what to me appeared to be small buckets.
So, we thought we’d be clever and try and wait till the last minute to see if prices dropped, as the cheapest hotel (room only) was around £300 for 3 nights. The prices didn’t drop. In a mad dash to save money, I forced Martin to create an Airbnb account and we managed to book a room in a house for under £200. As it turns out, the place located on Gabelsbergerstrasse was right near the Hauptbahnhof, the central station, and the owner, Iris, was lovely. She even shared a bottle of champagne from her family’s vineyard with us when we arrived! I highly recommend her.
As a Londoner, Munich seemed very affordable. For three meals, transport (if you take it), several litres of beer, and entry into tourist sites, I would budget between 50 and 70 euros a day for those on a moderate budget. If you stick to cheaper restaurants and walk everywhere, you may even be able to lower your budget, but it is worth paying to see as much of the attractions as possible. Most attraction tickets are divided into single parts (e.g. just the portrait gallery, or just the castle grounds), but you can by combined tickets, and discounts are given to those with student cards.
Day 1 – Schloss Nymphenburg, Hirschgarden, Tambosi
After picking up a quick coffee, we walked the 6km (around 3.5 miles) to the Schloss Nymphenburg, or Nymphenburg Palace, the former summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria. It’s bloody huge and needs at least a half day to see all it has to offer. It was built between 1662-4 to celebrate the arrival of the heir to Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy – a son named Max Emanuel.
The gallery of beauties is genuinely interesting, as you get to see the model of beauty for 19th century Germans, as well as getting a glimpse at one of the Elector’s bit on the side. It’s grounds are immense and littered with a smattering of small palaces, hunting lodges, mirrored halls, and decorative waterfalls. They are open to the public, so if you can’t be bothered to see the inside of the palace, a stroll around the grounds would take up a pleasant afternoon. The people of Munich can be seen walking their dogs, taking leisurely strolls, or – to Martin’s horror – jogging.
Straight after seeing the palace, we headed over to the Hirschgarden – one of the top-whatever beer gardens in Munich – for some much needed beer and lunch. Every single German meal consists of some sort of meat with potatoes and, most likely, vegetables in the form of saukraut. This is not necesarily a bad thing as I love meat and sour things. I had the obligatory currywurst, Martin had a barrel of beer.
Some rest time back at the lodgings (I genuinely had to take a nap), and we headed out for Martin’s birthday dinner. We thought we’d go somewhere random – after all, there are lots of places to eat out, right? Well there might have been, had we been walking the right way. Having left our map at home, we were left staggering around for what seemed hours, and eventually stumbled upon a busy, lively café serving Italian food. It wasn’t until later when I realised it was the iconic Luigi Tambosi, an italian café dating back to the 1700s , with live opera performances from music students in the large outside area. We both had a bolognese and ricotta pasta dish. It was very nice.
Day 2 – Marienplatz, Residenz, churches
On the second day we decided to the central attractions in Munich. After a quick breakfast at Marienplatz, the central square of Munich, we took the short walk to the Residenz, the residence and government seat of Bavaria’s Electors from the 1500s to 1918.
This is another attraction that needs a good half day to see everything it has to offer. If you like looking at room furnishings from different periods – mainly Renaissance, Baroque and, my new favourite style, Rococo – whilst reading up on the history of the rulers of Bavaria. Even if you’re not that into history, the place is beautiful enough and there are enough interesting tidbits to keep you interested. If not, there’s a short tour option.
The Residenz also holds the royal treasury of Bavaria which, as a female of Nigerian descent, I absolutely loved. I have never seen so many bejeweled animal figures in my life. Also, I will never understand the 17th century European obsession with chinoiserie.
After the Residenz we visited the Viktualienmarkt, a famer’s market turned hipster’s dream, before heading to Der Pschorr, a typical Munich beer hall, for lunch. We then went to see the Asamkirche, what can only be described as the most ornate church with a capacity of less that 100 people ever created.
We popped into a few other places, such as a music shop not far from Marienplatz, and the features of the old city such as the Senderlinger Tor at the end of one of the main shopping streets
For dinner, after not even being able to set a foot in the most popular beer hall in town, we ended up in a less-well-known-equally-as-heaving beer hall just near Marienplatz. Typical German fair in a setting, I was told, is quite common where instead of having a table to yourself, you share a big table with as many people as can fit around it. It was a nice, lively evening.
Day 3 – English Garden
Our flight was around 4pm, so we had time enough to wake up, tidy up, and take a stroll down to the Englischer Garten, a huge park that stretches from the centre of town all the way to it’s northeast ends. We ate breakfast consisting of coffee and cake at Milchhäusl, a small restaurant on the south-west side, then strolled around as the weather had turned and it was a lovely day for a morning walk.
Holiday rating: 4/5
I think Munich is a great place for a city break, especially for a couple looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of bigger, noisier cities. Munich has just the right touch of old stuff, blended with a dash of hipster, with a good studenty/well-cultured vibe.
This was definitely a whistlestop tour. We didn’t get to visit all the museums and beer gardens (it rained too much for a lot of outdoor activity), but – bearing in mind this is my second visit to Munich – I would absolutely go again.