Munich became one of our favorite cities two years ago when we visited for a few days during my 50th birthday. We had never visited Germany and were really blown away by the charm of Bavaria and the warmth of the people. When we were laying out our 2018 travel plans, we both knew Munich and Bavaria would be on the schedule.
We arrived in Munich in early August after a fun week in Amsterdam and Strasbourg. Normally August in Munich is warm but we arrived in the midst of a heatwave and it was very, very hot (90F / 32C). Our apartment didn’t have AC and we were not looking forward to trying to sleep on hot nights. As it turned out, the apartment had a great cross-breeze and we were never uncomfortable.
Having been to Munich before, we had seen most of the major sites and neighborhoods, but this trip allowed us to spend some time in the previously unexplored English Gardens, and have a slower visit. Dave and I had five days to explore on our own before the arrival of our friends. Once we were checked in, we went directly to the market that was a block from our apartment to stock up on essentials (coffee, cream, eggs, TP). Once that task was accomplished we were ready to check out our neighborhood home for the next 9 days.
We proceeded to the English Gardens and were delighted immediately by the clear running stream and the abundance of people who were out and about. People were enjoying evening picnics, there was a massive yoga class going on, and of course lots of runners, bicyclists and children playing. We walked close to a mile to the biergarten am Chinesischen Turm (Chinese Tower) to see if there was a dinner option, and were glad to find that they were open, serving hot food, and there was a lively crowd. We figured out how to get food and refill our beer steins (that’s what the tokens are for!), and toasted to a great first day.
On our third day we decided to take a daytrip to Nuremberg by train, which is less than two hours away. Arriving in Nuremberg, the train station is across the street from the old walled city, so it’s easy to walk right in to town. We entered through the Handwerkerhof Nurnberg, a perfectly charming, narrow maze of streets that will transport you back in time. If you have an urge to feel like Hansel & Gretel, this is your place. The small area of Nuremberg is a medieval center featuring craftwork and handwork goods as well as a small number of cafes. We spent a full day exploring the town, which delights with its castles, bridges, gothic cathedrals and impressive squares.
On our sixth day in Munich, six members of our group arrived and we proceeded to show them our favorite spots in town. We met in Marienplatz for coffee and beer, and they were able to get their first look at the Glockenspiel. They were also introduced to the bees of Munich – for some reason the honeybee population was excessive and it was impossible to get away from them. We just learned to live with them and no one was stung. We wandered to the Hofbrauhaus for steins, pretzels and sausages, and made our way to the Viktualienmarkt for schnitzel at Zwickl (one of the best schnitzels in the city in my opinion). That night, Dave’s kids just happened to be in Munich so we met them at the Sofitel for a nightcap and to catch up with them on their recent cruise through the Adriatic.
After a few days in Munich, the group decided to take a daytrip to Salzburg by train. The trip was again under two hours, and before too long we were trekking from the train station to the historic center of Salzburg. In hindsight we all wished we had taken a taxi to town… the walk is not long but it was so unbearably hot that we were all miserable and sweaty by the time we arrived. It took another 30 minutes to find a place to eat with AC, but our near heatstroke was rewarded with delicious food and wine, and wonderful service at Gastoff Goldgasse.
After lunch we headed to Residenzplatz for photos by the glorious fountain, and found our way to the funicular to take us to the top of Festung Hohensalzburg, an ancient fortress that began construction in 1077 that offers unparalleled views of the city. There are a number of cafes in the fortress so it’s possible to stop for a glass of wine and a sandwich while enjoying the breeze and the view.
Later we explored the many alleys and side streets of old Salzburg, stopping often to shop or rehydrate, before crossing the river to the Hotel Sacher for an afternoon snack. Dave and I stayed at the hotel on our previous visit to Salzburg, and knew the dark, cool bar area would be a welcome respite from the hot sun. As we noshed on charcuterie and wine, a massive rain storm rolled through providing a much needed cool down before making our way back to the train and Munich.
On our last day in Munich we celebrated the birthday of Julie, one of our travel mates. We made another exploration of the English Gardens and had lunch at the biergarten. After lunch we walked to Hofgarten and settled in to a beautiful outdoor café called Tambosi, where Julie was treated to a birthday surprise from the staff. We lingered at Tambosi for hours until it was time to head to Julie’s birthday dinner at Weinhaus Scheider. There we gorged ourselves on fondues of meat, cheese, bread and chocolate. Our hostess and server was so lovely and encouraged our celebration enthusiastically. The food was amazing too!
I’m happy to say that Munich did not disappoint and is still one of my favorite cities in Europe….I’m already looking forward to our next visit!
Next up: Prague and Budapest!