Last week I took a day trip into the city of Munich, which is just over an hour long bus ride from where I am living. I had originally planned to visit the city alone, but when I discovered two of the girls I went to Innsbruck with were also going, I changed plans to go with them. The weather was perfect the entire day – it was cold, but the sky was cloudless and sunny.
Before arriving, I searched the Google for a few places that were on the “must see” list, and planned to spend the rest of the time wandering the streets. I like to have a balance of knowledge and spontaneity when traveling to new places. This ensures I see a few top spots, but also opens the door for places I’d not have stumbled upon otherwise.
Munich is a high end city and a lot of people visit to shop, but I came for the sights. I came for the architecture, for the cathedrals, for the parks, and for the food. The Marienplatz (city center) area is home to Neues Rathaus (Munich’s New Town Hall) which was at the top of my list of must see’s. The gothic style building dates back to 1867 and the inside was like a labyrinth. This was the first stop of the day, and we happened to arrive just in time to see the Glockenspiel perform, which only happens a couple times a day.
There is something magical about seeing a building in real life after seeing a photo, like meeting Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Walking around the corner to see Neues Rathaus was one of those magical moments. As touristy as it may be, the building is a must see when visiting Munich. When walking around inside the building there were children everywhere, one of them was flaunting his money at me and I wasn’t sure if he thought I was a prostitute or just trying to brag.
Based on my thick puffy jacket and long pants I’ll go with the latter.
After wandering around the Marienplatz area for a bit, we headed off to find some cathedrals. I absolutely love the strong faith in Europe, and although I don’t identify with Catholicism (despite being raised catholic) the beauty of these old churches is awe inspiring. Our first stop was Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady.) The cathedrals iconic domes can be seen in one of the above photos.
This was a good start to the cathedral crawl, and I felt that each cathedral after was better than the one before it. My only complaint was that my group didn’t want to spend more time inside each place we stopped (perks of traveling solo.) We also visited St. Peter’s Church and Holy Ghost Church, but my all time favorite of the day AND of all time thus far in my life was Asam Church. Usually when I think of a cathedral, I think of bright lights and stained glass windows. I think of white walls and a victorian themed decor.
However, upon walking into Asam Church all my stigmas surrounding cathedrals were shattered by the dark gothic vibe. The walls were dark, the decor was dark, and the ambiance was dark. It was the most beautifully dark cathedral I have ever seen, and I will return to Munich just to sit inside of it for longer than 5 minutes. The inside is much smaller than the other cathedrals we visited, and I can only imagine what the hymns sound like inside those walls.
A trip to the city isn’t complete without sustenance, and although the Hofbräuhaus is very touristy, it’s a traditional beer hall that dates back to the 16th century. Inside we were lucky to get a table, because if you don’t sit you don’t eat. People are known to scoot into a booth with strangers because it gets so busy at times. I’m not a beer drinker, but I did partake in a bowl of potato soup and a “side” of sauerkraut which was enough for three people.
I ate it all.
I look forward to going back to the beer hall during Oktoberfest.
After our feast, we were off to the Englischer Garden, a public park created in 1789. Even the parks in Europe have deep history, it’s amazing. There is currently a lot of snow in Germany, which made the park look like a true winter wunderland. I can’t wait to return and see this park in the summer months. I envision myself sitting on the grass, having a picnic, eating bon bons and wading in the river.
For those who like to partake in the hops, there is also a biergarten nearby.
After making a pit stop into Starbucks for my compadres (the sign was in German, it was fun) we made our way to the last must see spot on my list. The Siegestor Arch was originally dedicated to the glory of the Bavarian army, and underwent serious damage after WWII. The arch was almost demolished in 1945, but was partially restored and now promotes peace. The total distance covered in Munich was 12 miles on foot, and I’d say we covered some solid ground.
Munich is a city for everyone. If you like to buy expensive unnecessary items, go to Munich. If you like to learn about history and visit museums (I need to go back to see some museums), go to Munich. If you like to explore old architechture and historical buildings, go to Munich. Just outside of Munich are two other must visit places: (I haven’t been to either yet, but they’re on my list ASAP) Dachau Concentration Camp, and Neuschwanstein Castle.
That wraps up my second trip outside of my “home” town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I’ve officially been living in Germany for three weeks (today) and I still feel like I’m on an extended vacation despite the fact that I’m working. Life is wild, and I’m happy to be along for the ride.
Q: When visiting a big city would you rather: shop, visit museums, or visit landmarks?