I managed to convince my older brother (Max) to take a trip and spend some time with me while I was living in Munich. The convincing wasn’t so hard when he had some vacation days to burn and a bad case of the travel bug! While Max had detailed plans for the rest of his itinerary in Berlin and Copenhagen, he left his 3 days in Munich up to my local expertise. Put two siblings together in Europe, and the best Munich weekend will unfold.
Max arrived early Friday morning and I met him at the airport by taking the S8 train from Marienplatz. A day ticket for the entire transportation network costs €12.40 and is cheaper than buying a one way ticket, go to a booth at a main station for assistance if the machines are too confusing, and they will be!
After freshening up, we set out for the Viktualienmarkt – a Munich hot spot where locals can buy fresh produce, fish, and bread or where tourists can peruse crafts and get a mean cup of coffee. There is also a beer garden open when the weather permits, basically if the sun is out you will find some Germans enjoying a Helles. We ended up at Kaffeerösterei for a cappuccino and a florentiner.
Around the corner from the market is St. Peter’s Church and outside of that is a small entrance to climb St.Peter’s Altar. For a few euros you can climb to the top and get a 360 degree lookout around the city, seeing the Alps on a a clear day. I would not do this if the line was long and the day was hot, its a nice view, but it’s only a 20 minute activity and the staircases could get intimate and uncomfortable.
Getting hungry for lunch we grabbed some pretzel sandwhiches from none other than Brezelina. We took the food with us on the U-Bahn to Universität and headed for the English Garden. You wouldn’t go to NYC without stopping in Central Park, and you shouldn’t visit Munich without seeing the English Garden. The pathway we took in the park led us to the Chinese Tower Beer Garden where we got some beers and sat down to enjoy our food.
Travel Tip: Chinese Tower is great for beer, but expensive for food. Bring your own snacks or just enjoy a beer! When in doubt, opt for a Helles and remember to return your beer glass with the token to get your deposit back. Or keep the glass as a souvenir!
Next up we took the S2 train to Dachau. It’s about a 45 minute ride to the stop, then a short bus ride to the entrance of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. When you get off the train, you’ll see a bunch of people waiting at the bus stop, get on the 726! The entrance to the memorial site is the 5th or 6th stop – rest assured, most riders of the bus will also get off with you!
Travel Tip: We did not need new tickets because we already had a full network day pass (covering rings 1-16) that got us from the airport. For most tourist needs, you would only need access to the inner rings 1-4, which is €6.40 for a day pass. But, since Dachau is a neighborhood on the edge of the transportation network, you need access to rings 1-16 to get there. Already have an inner ring day pass and want to go to Dachau? You can supplement your ticket by buying the Muncher XXL day pass. Essentially adding your range of access from the inner rings 1-4 with the XXL rings 5-16. Make sure your ticket is validated with a timestamp or you could still be fined. The ticket covers the S-bahn, U-bahn, Trams, and Buses. My ticket was never checked the entire time I was in Munich…Honor system.
This was my first visit to a concentration camp memorial site. We got the audioguide at the entrance (well worth a few euros and also in English) and silently walked through the camp. While learning more of the historical details was saddening to say the least, I surprisingly didn’t leave with an air of depression. I say this only to encourage more visitors who might skip this on their agenda for fear that it would dampen their spirits. I personally left remembering to learn from history’s mistakes and to be kind to all people, despite our differences or disagreements. I highly recommend visiting this memorial site.
After returning to our home base near Isartor station, we rested up before meeting Patrick for a cocktail at Bar Centrale – an Italian cafe around the corner from our apartment. After some Aperol Spritz’s, we took the U-Bahn again and went to our dinner reservation at Bachmaier Hofbräu (near Giselastraße) for some traditional German food. Max had the Wiener Schnitzel, while me and Patrick stuck to the vegetarian section and had a sweet potato pancake. And of course, more beers!
Travel Tip: reservations mean something in Germany! You will have the table for as long as you like and that is usually longer than you want it, so don’t expect the waiter to drop the check when you’re done eating. And don’t expect them to check on you very often. Tipping is not necessary, despite what the restaurant’s English menu says in bold print along the bottom… A 10% tip is very generous, since the waitstaff in Germany make a normal hourly wage. The tip is built into the price. The common courtesy is to just round up to a whole number or add a few extra euros if the service was great. If paying with a card (not all places accept them), you will have to tell the waiter how much to charge in advance. There is no signing and adding the tip with a pen. I’ve had many a credit cards just taken out of my hand and charged the flat amount on the receipt without even being asked how much to charge, I promise tipping isn’t expected!!! Touristy spots know Americans are accustomed to tipping, don’t be taken for a fool!
14 mile training run with/behind/chasing Patrick. We started before the sun rose and wore headlamps because the English Garden does not have any lights along the paths and was still pitch black. We saw a few other headlamp lights on our trails, that or criminals running with flashlights. Patrick started out with me and then charged ahead for some fast paced miles once the sun rose. At first this was really annoying, who wants to be constantly reminded for 12 miles that they are in second place?! But, the chase kept me going when I was tempted to stop. For anyone who worries they aren’t fast enough to run, literally no one cares but you. And training with faster people, is unfortunately a great motivator to run faster. Thanks Patrick!
We grabbed some espresso’s at Bar Centrale and then went to the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism. A mouthful of a name, but a great museum that details how the Nazi party was able to grow and flourish in Munich. The museum is in a modern 4 story building, each floor corresponding to a certain time period. At the end of our visit, we all agreed that the fourth floor/pre WWII time period was the most captivating.
After our history lesson, we walked down to Königsplatz and then went to my all time favorite lunch spot in Munich, Lezizel Manti. They have meat or vegetarian Turkish dumplings, which you can add a variety of toppings or spices to (I always got sunflower seeds!). They speak english and take credit card. Go here and get your own Instagram-worthy photo!
*Relaxation/Nap Time. Weekend trips don’t need to feel like a marathon, set some time aside to decompress*
With a revived pep in our step, we went for a short walk to the Hofgarten. From there we exited onto Odeonsplatz, known for it’s lion statues, large arches, and proximity to the “Evaders” Alley – a back alley that many people would take to avoid having to pass a guarded memorial for a group of Nazis killed during a rebellion. Every person passing the memorial was required to hail hitler, so the evaders would take the back alley. There is a gold ground artwork where the Evaders Alley is today.
For dinner we went to Gratitude, a vegetarian restaurant in a hip part of town. Great cocktails, healthy food, and friendly service! Max and I rounded out the evening at surprise, surprise, Bar Centrale. The convenience of living close to a good cafe is threatening to your wallet, but good for your soul.
We set out mid morning for Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which is a 90 minute train ride from Munich and located along Germany’s southern border with Austria. It’s your typical Bavarian Ski Resort and Alpine hiking town, if such a typical thing should exist. The town is well known for it’s proximity to Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak. For those with euros to burn, you can take a cable car to the top of the peak for €53 a person. Or if you want to save some of that money for some german cuisine and beers on top of the mountain, you can follow a few different trails to some restaurants with a view.
Travel Tip: One of the big selling points for making this day trip was that we knew we could travel using a Bavarian ticket. These tickets encourage travelers to…well…travel Bavaria because the ticket is cheap (€23 plus €5/person for up to four additional people) and covers all public transport for the day going anywhere in the state (and also Salzburg). For the three of us to get to Garmisch and have a full days use of all city transportations, it cost €33. For comparison, my one way train ticket coming home from Berlin was around €110. Travel Bavaria!
Upon arrival we knew where to go because both Patrick and I had day tripped to the town and hiked before, but for new visitors there is also a tourist information center where you can get a map and directions for some day hikes. We started up the trail for St. Martins restaurant. It wasn’t more than two miles, but it was very steep. You’ll work up a sweat, so pack a water bottle in your backpack. Once we got to the top we sat down at the CROWDED restaurant and waited a quick hour for the waitress to take our drink order and then another 20 minutes to flag her down and order some food. The day was unseasonably warm for Fall in Germany and the sun was out, so the locals were taking advantage of their good fortune on this Sunday.
Travel Tip: All grocery stores/shops/pharmacies etc. are typically closed on Sundays, with the exception of restaurants. While this is annoying when you have errands to run, it also forces you to enjoy your Sunday with family and friends. How inconvenient!
We caught the train home and rested while looking out on the German countryside. We ended the evening at our favorite Indian restaurant – Bombay Tandoori near Rosenheimer Platz. It’s a small hole in the wall and I’m in love with their Dal Mahkni curry and Butter Naan. If you dine-in, expect your clothing to smell like Indian food until washed again. They also take credit card and bring you a mango flavored digestif to wash it all down.
Max departed for his solo adventure in Berlin Monday morning, rounding out his 3 day/night stay in the Bavarian Capital.
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