After a very underwhelming first night in Munich, I woke on the final day of the trip and shook off all the bad feelings ready to have a fresh new start and find something great in this city. I wasn’t disappointed!
The first stop on our little walking tour was a small coffee shop on a back street near our hotel called Das Neue Kubitscheck. The coffee was great and the cake was amazing! A triple chocolate mousse cake… how could we say no? The interior of the shop was really cool with a really eye catching display above the counter. A much better start to the day.
With my sugar levels at full, and a smile on my face, we strolled through the quiet back streets enjoying the fresh air in peace and quiet. The next checkpoint on the route was a small area filled with little boutique shops that sold everything from handmade ceramics and home decor to fabrics and artist’s studios. The shop I was looking for was Heimat Servus as I had seen they had a selection of really quirky Bavarian souvenirs that you couldn’t get from any street seller.
As I walked in the door I was reminded of Suck Uk in London. A really cool little shop I visit whenever I get the chance, that always has the most fun and interesting products. What I was searching for, as my own personal souvenir, was a stein. I had drunk a lot of German beer on the trip (which probably explains why I enjoyed everything so much) and wanted to have my very own stein to drink beer at home and remind me of the trip. Luckily for me, there was the perfect gift in this shop. A grey stein with a really nice blue print on…. Success! We also got some Bavarian playing cards, which are now taking pride of place on my bookshelf with my Rome cards, and some gifts for the family including some mini steins. I can’t have them having a better stein than me, now can I?
Souvenirs in hand, we slowly wandering around the different shops, peering through the windows and seeing all the expensive things that we couldn’t afford, on our way to the Victuals Market; a large open air market near to Peterskirche. This market was amazing! A whole square was crammed full of different stalls selling everything from fresh cheese and cooked meat, to flowers and Easter decorations (as it was March at the time). Right in the centre were rows and rows of benches filled with chattering locals enjoying a cold beer and some good conversation. I stood there looking at all the people going by, enjoying my fresh Bratwurst in the sunshine, thinking that I had really misjudged Munich. It really shows that you need to do a little digging before you make a lasting impression of a new place.
As we wandered around Peterskirche we saw a small door that seemed to lead up the tower overlooking the city. I have probably mentioned it before but in case you didn’t know I don’t like heights. What I mean to say is I am terrified of heights! Even climbing up a full size ladder is a very uncomfortable (if not impossible) experience for me. But as part of my resolution to be more confident, and push myself out of my comfort zone, I paid the man at the desk and we made our way up the very tight winding staircase. If I had known how high it really was there is no way I would have gone up but as I had started I had to finish. Going up was the easy part because I could look ahead and just put one foot in front of the other, it was the decent later that was a million times harder. I was being chased constantly by other people descending the stairs while I was just trying to keep my footing, with white knuckles on the hand rails. The stairs were quite thin, but in my head it was like I was wearing giant clown shoes and walking on wooden poles. I did not enjoy it all at, but I am so glad I did it. We walked out of the door at the top and could just see sprawling city in all direction under a perfectly blue sky. It was pretty spectacular. What we didn’t realise was that it was just about to hit noon and so every church bell in the whole city started ringing. I have never heard so many bells going at once, it was almost deafening. Then as the bells died out, the cuckoo clock on the old Rathaus (townhall) started up. Unlike the classic bird popping out from behind a door, this was a very different affair. It seemed to be depicting a story of some knights jousting and fighting each other for some reason. I couldn’t make it all out but it was impressive nonetheless. I am sure it would have been even more enjoyable without all the construction work around, but that is the sacrifice you make if you travel in low season I guess.
As the weather was still on our side we headed across the river into the park that runs across the whole east side of the city centre; Maximiliansanlagen. We didn’t manage to find an ice cream shop, obviously Germany doesn’t have as many as I am used to in Italy, but what we found was a really peaceful and beautiful park. Apart from a couple of people that were going for a run, the park was basically deserted. A really nice break from the hustle and bustle of the centre. We took a while here, on a bench near a small statue, to just enjoy the calm and plan what we wanted to do next. Sometimes it is really nice to sit down and catch your breath when you are busy exploring, don’t you think?
Breath caught, and journey planned, we wormed our way through the weaving tracks to Friedensengel (The Angel of Peace), a huge monument that sits at the end of a main street that runs right into the very centre of Munich. Taking our lead from the angel, we following the main street in search of the most important thing after food… a toilet. I drink a huge amount of water, usually around a dozen pints a day (as a conservative estimate), which may be very healthy but it means I am constantly using the toilet. When I am sitting in the office, or at home, it is fine as there are always facilities close by, but wandering around a German city proves a little more difficult. This time I managed to convince the receptionist of the Bavarian National Museum, in my best attempt at German, to let us use the toilet without having to pay for a ticket. I’m not really sure how I managed it but on this occasion the stars aligned and I was courteously directed down the corridor.
With a huge sigh of relief, and my fiancèe’s eyes rolling at me, we left the museum and went to get a coffee to enjoy in the sunshine. In the 25 degree heat, a nice iced frappuccino was definitely what the doctor ordered and the sugar fueled our continued strolls back to the Victuals Market for an ice cold beer. Next to all the rows of benches we had seen earlier was a small green hut with a very quick moving queue. As an Englishmen I followed my instincts and swiftly joined the end of the queue. As I approached the bar there were piles of glass steins and bottles being laid out that people would simply pick up and take to the till at the end to pay. No need to order, just pick it up. A very effective system. In under 2 minutes I had two beers in hand and was making my way back to our seat in the sunshine.
Although there was no sign of darkness, time was wearing on and we had to start considering the most important factor of the day; food. We had heard that the restaurant at the Augustiner Brauhaus was really nice, and happened to only be 5 minutes from our hotel, so we had already chosen this as our destination for the evening meal. We even took a picture of the menu on the wall outside as we walked past earlier so we could have a look at what we might want to order. Always be prepared!
As we walked in the door we were quickly seated in traditional Bavarian fashion on the end of a large table that already had another couple of guys on. They didn’t seem particularly happy to see the pair of us taking up room on their table and quickly left after they inhaled their food, but I didn’t really mind as this left more room for my food to be put out. I don’t like restricting something like a meal by the size of a table… you would be surprised how often table size is the main hurdle in fulfilling my appetite.
I think that we had both started to get a little home sick at this point as we were both really craving chips. However the meal I had my eye on didn’t come with chips, which lead to a 5 minute conversation with the waitress to explain to her in German that I wanted chips on the side. Whether it is just a strange thing for most people to ask, or the fact I chose the large mixed grill style platter, she seemed very confused by my request but eventually gave in. What arrived was very much to my liking. A plate of sauerkraut, potato dumpling, roast chicken, pork shoulder, Bratwurst, Weißwurst, and roast pork. Oh yeah… doh! Can’t forget the extra portion of chips I ordered as well. It was amazing! A great final supper for our Bavarian adventure.
And that brings our journey to an end. What a week it was! 7 nights, 1000km, 120,000 steps and more sausage than I have ever had in my life (insert your own innuendo there). Doesn’t get better than that.
Now it’s time to start planning the next great adventure! I hope you have enjoyed reading about it as much as I have telling it. I look forward to sharing more travels with you soon. If you don’t want to stop now head over to my Icelandic diaries of our week traveling round the south coast of the land of frost and fire here.
Ciao for now!
If you liked this don’t miss out on the rest of our German adventure: