Friday, 25 April 2014

Tripping Around Munich: Music, Trinkets and Beer

No no, not the hot Texans to the left, look here at Tom, our guide at
Sandemans Walking tour, a dose of British humour in Germany!
This was a quick two touristy days around Munich, Germany before a work assignment. A few hours of research and help from our host Stephie and the locals led me to explore the known and not so known parts of the city. Read on for my takeaways for a short but fun trip around the city.

First off get an uber cool map of the well connected underground train routes. With Hauptbahnhof - the central station you can begin by heading to Marienplatz for a free walking tour by Sandemans for an orientation about the city and its history. The guides are young, fun and witty and add a quirky perspective to the history of Bavarian culture and the region.

You are in the mecca of music, with operas and musical performances every day of the calendar so try to get yourself a ticket to one, you might not understand a word (I din’t)  but it is an amazing experience none the less. I was lucky to get tickets for a Mozart musical, right on his birthday - 27th January at Kulturzentrum Gasteig, one of the greatest performance halls in Germany. 
All set to explore the city in my new set of boots

The Marienplatz streets are lined with high fashion stores and if you have shopping on your mind, this is Disney land. I for one had a single point focus – a good pair of walking boots! So I trudged around from one store to the other in search of the perfect pair that would complete my winter look but not leave me penniless on my first day in Munich. Not wedges, not high heels just a pair of simple comfortable, no heel boots that I could explore the city in. I finally found the perfect pair on sale at Diechmann for a cool 29 euros, a steal it was! 

Travel Tips:
- Carry half the clothes and double the money, when you leave from home your bag should be half empty so that you have all that space for souvenirs and gifts. What is travel without heading home with a bag full of gifts for friends and family when you get back? 
- Don't wait till the last day of your trip to buy all those things you wanted to, of course exercise restrain, but you don't want to come back with all that cash and no gifts for all your loved ones, not to mention - yourself.
- You are in Bavaria, make sure you carry back a loot of chocolates and small chocolate liquor bottles, trust me I tried all of them and the chocolate liquor ones are the best. 
- Shnapps are stronger than liquor, exercise caution!
- Around the city center among other public spaces you can access free wifi for three days, make sure you remember to check in!   

Each time I travel, local markets feature on the top of my list, as they give me a whiff of the country side, a special treat on trips that I cannot travel to the countryside myself. So if you’d like to experience a bit of the Bavarian countryside through its local produce head to the Viktualienmarkt for a range of fresh and dry fruits, meats, gorgeous flowers, creative trinkets, and flavoured teas, honey, coffee, cheese... I can go on! Get clicking or shop here for unique souvenirs like bags of dried lavender flowers, roasted apple chips, rose and berry flavoured spices and more.
'You haven't mentioned the beer yet?' Only because that goes without saying, doesn't it! You cannot possibly leave German soil without sampling all the beer you can get your hands on, be it via bar crawls or settling at a local beer hole every evening; tourists head to Haufbrauhaus, one of the famous beer halls in Germany. So even though beer is not my poison, this one I had to try. Amongst all the local pubs and restaurants, I liked Hackersachor, a cute and quaint little pub at Marienplatz. After a pint or two head down the road for hot banana and chocolate pancakes at a little hole-in-the-wall cafe.   
Munich main beer to banta hain!
Talk about all that chocolate and beer overload? Ah, but I managed to balance that with a diet of fresh and juicy fruits, hot candied nuts and freshly roasted chest nuts throughout the trip, ideal energy boosters for all the walking around the city. My special favourite was the spiced chilli variety of nuts; in that chilly winter it made for a perfect snack. 

Day Trips from Munich
Neuschwanstein Castle. Cool Photo credit: Melanie De Andrade
Neuschwanstein Castle: Go for the story, the vision of a tall, fair and handsome King Ludwig fulfilled, well just about. It is a gorgeous castle yes, but the mystery behind his life and death is what this day trip will always remind me of. Oh and while en-route to the castle, if you are travelling via a tour coach, they stop at a little village called Oberammergau, walk around it for gorgeous trinkets to buy, unique stuff rather than the typical travel souvenirs. 

Beyond Munich
The trains are quick and very well connected you don’t need to worry about renting a car unless you want to head for a road trip across Europe. The Db Bhan is a superlative mode when you need to travel to other parts of Germany or nearby countries such as Vienna, like I did. 

But please please try living in a Home Stay, best source to find one is Airbnb; if you research a little, you can get the comfort of a luxury hotel at the cost of a hostel stay and a fab interaction with your hosts - the locals too. 

Things I missed which you could give a try: 
Merc Benz Museum

Dachau Memorial

Garmin Partenkirchen and Romantic Road A gorgeous drive through route. 

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