It’s been a while since my last blog post, and that’s because I’ve taken some time this week to slow down a bit and pace myself as I’ve traveled through Germany (Deutschland!) Initially, my plans were to spend a little over a week solely in Berlin, taking the time to enjoy the unique art scene and soak in as much history as possible. However, as has often happened this summer, my plans changed along the way. On the advice of a few friends who have visited before and swore I would love it, I decided to include a few days in Munich (München) during my time in Germany.
They were right, to an extent. I arrived in Munich Monday morning after a smooth overnight bus ride from Amsterdam (I am quickly becoming a huge fan of Flixbus! It is ridiculously cheap and both trips with them have been comfortable). After checking in to my hostel, I struck out to explore the city. Munich was once the capital of Bavaria, a separate state in the south of Germany that joined Prussia and other states to create what we know as modern Germany back in 1871. Therefore, Bavarian culture is quite unique compared to other parts of Germany (i.e. lederhosen and Oktoberfest!)
Over two days in Munich, here are my highlights:
-The chiming of the glockenspiel at Marienplatz. Nothing screams “Bavaria” like a giant music box in a church tower! I stumbled upon this by accident right at 11am, as the bells were chiming and the glockenspiel, which contains 32 life-size figures that move about, started going. This was definitely a unique surprise during my visit to Munich.
-Munchen Residenz and Hofgarten. The Residenz is the former palace of the Bavarian kings and dates back to the 14th century. Much of it was destroyed during WW2 but has since been restored. I walked through the complex, not going inside, and spent most of my time in the Hofgarten, or the courtyard garden of the palace. Here, I stopped for about 30 minutes to listen to an amazing celloist playing both classical and modern music (like U2!) in the rotunda for free. I relished this moment, as I remembered how just 6 months ago I would never have had the time or patience in my daily life to stop and listen to free and beautiful music. I hope I always find the time to do so for the rest of my life!
-Englischer Garten. By far, this was my favorite part of Munich! I spent the afternoon wandering through this beautiful garden, laying in the grass and reading, and dipping my feet in the cold water of the surfing river that flows through. I immediately planned to forego all museums and spend my second and final day sunbathing here (unfortunately, it was cold and rainy so I did museums anyway!) I also met some nice Germans sitting nearby who gave me some good advice for the rest of my week in Germany. I finished the visit by finding a hidden beer garden tucked away near the river, where I enjoyed my first true Bavarian weiss beer!
-Deutsches Museum. My last day in Munich was chilly and rainy, so I decided to geek out at the Deutsches Museum as I could not go back to the Englischer Garten. The Deutches Museum is a giant science and technology museum located on the bank of the Isar River. The exhibits range from physics to astronomy to modern energy production to aeronautics to cartography and geology to cryptography and mathematics to everything in between! I learned a lot about how windmills are used in Germany for energy (the process of selecting the correct sight and implementing the necessary public policies is much more complex than I realized). I also enjoyed seeing the Enigma coding machine, used by Germany to send encrypted messages during WW2. The code was ultimately broken by British mathematician Alan Turing and was crucial to ending the war (for more info watch Imitation Game…an amazing movie!)
I only spent 2 days in Munich, but I found it was enough time to get a feel for the city. If the weather had been nicer, I could have spent a few more days just enjoying the Englischer Garten! As it was, I found myself ready to move on to what I knew would be a highlight of the trip–Berlin.