My trip is actually over now and I can’t really believe it. I left with many bucket list items and am happy to report that all were ticked off.
The truth is that when people asked me if I’m excited about my trip, all I could think of was that I felt like I was going home. It was a strange feeling considering I was going to places I had never been to before. I had never experienced such a feeling before, and it was probably the most at peace that I’ve ever felt.
So what exactly did I get up to in Munich? Here’s a breakdown:
I used AirBnB for my stay in Munich as it was the only affordable accommodation close to the city centre, at least, for that time of year (since Oktoberfest is the busiest that Munich gets). I stayed on the south east side of the city, about a 10 minute walk away from the Giesing metro station.
My host was a 40-something year old man named Klaus, who was friendly and welcoming. Now I know what you must be thinking…”A single girl being hosted by a single man? That can’t be safe!”. Relax, I did enough researching before I made my booking, and only did so after I saw that a fair number of other single women had stayed with him before and had nice things to say.
There were 2 things that were off with Klaus, however. The first was that upon my arrival, he asked if I enjoy cooking, to which I replied yes. Because I had mentioned that I wanted to go to the Viktual Market, he said that I should get groceries from there so I could cook that very same evening. I was not impressed as not only was it my first day in a totally foreign city, I had also just traveled for 17 hours and had not slept, so the last thing I wanted to do was have to cook, especially when I was on holiday. I tried my best to politely refuse, but he just wouldn’t take no for an answer. In the end, he threw in so many different spices into it that it the end result was a disaster. At least, for me.
The second thing about Klaus was that something he said to me not long after I arrived: “If any of the neighbours see you and ask who you are, just say you’re my friend and are staying with me for a few days”. This was something I had read about where tenants’ landlords are not aware that they are sub-letting the property. From the moment he said that to me, I prayed that I would not see any of his neighbours. Thankfully, I didn’t. So to avoid possibly getting kicked out, make sure you know enough about who you’re staying with.
Overall, I had a pleasant stay. I did not see Klaus much at all after my first day, since he was either working late or visiting his daughter far out of the city. I always left early in the morning before he could wake up, so there was practically no interaction with him until it was time to leave.
I would probably use AirBnB again, but since I prefer the privacy of staying alone, I would look at something where I have the place entirely to myself. Homestay is another option that I heard of recently, so I will probably try that next time.
The Viktual Market
The Viktual Market is an absolute must-do when in Munich. It is a bustling market that not only sells great food and the most amazing fresh produce, but also has a world-famous beer garden. It was here that I spent my entire first afternoon in Munich, since I had to try to find something to cook that evening.
Since I hadn’t tried German beer or curry wurst on my first 2 trips to Germany, I made sure I got both on my first day right in the Viktual Market itself. The beer garden is always busy, so the beer keeps flowing. They do not pour the beer when you order it; instead, they pour it into the various sized glasses and you pick up the one you want. This keeps the line moving quicker since you don’t need to wait for what you want.
I found a standing table near some locals, and they were only too happy to take photos not only of me, but with me too. I exchanged the favour of course, but it was lovely experiencing that German friendliness and warmth again.
Marienplatz is the centre of town and was my favourite spot in the city. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful, but the atmosphere is simply electric. There is also free Wi-Fi called M-WLAN Free Wi-fi, which is strongest at the entrance to the S-Bahn closest to the Viktual Market end. The Wi-Fi is so good that I managed to make a crystal clear Skype call, 10 minutes in length, to a friend back home in South Africa.
I found myself using Marienplatz as the main starting point for anywhere else that I wanted to go, and would walk hours and hours from there, only to return to take the same route back to where I was staying, which brings me to my next point.
Munich’s transportation system is by far the most convenient and easiest to navigate from all the cities I went to on this trip. There is one station per stop (which I will elaborate on when I write about Berlin) so it is a breeze to get around. I’ve used a number of metro maps before, and Munich’s one is without a doubt one of the simplest ones I’ve seen. There is an S-Bahn and a U-Bahn, which are very easy to find. Getting around the stations is seamless as they are clearly marked in both English and German in most places, so if you don’t speak the language, you’ll be fine if you have common sense.
I wanted to visit Nymphenburg Palace while I was in Munich, so Klaus advised me to take the S8 to the Hauptbahnhof then to get onto tram 17 which would take me right to the palace. Following directions was so painless and hassle free that it was impossible to get lost. I have never felt so comfortable in a foreign city the way I did in Munich.
This is another place that is a must see. The palace gardens are humongous, and they took me around 2 hours to walk around the inner pathways, although I did spend at least 30 minutes sitting at the lake. The gardens are lush and green, and made me feel as though I had stepped into the Secret Garden. It is not everyday that you get the feeling that you’re walking in a forest, but these gardens are so big and the trees are so thick in some areas that apart from the rustling of the leaves in the wind, there is no other sound. I particularly enjoyed the silence at the lake, in the company of ducks and swans. The last time I was fully alone with my thoughts like this was back in 2012 when I was being pulled up the side of Mt Pilatus on a toboggan. It is a rare pleasure that we all need every once in a while.
Munich was my favourite city from this trip. I have never felt that at home in a foreign place before. If there is one place I could see myself living in, its there. The only thing I regret is not having spent at least another day there; so if you’ve never been before, I recommend staying at least 5 days in Munich as there is tonnes to see and do, and plenty of beauty to take in. The culture is what got me hooked to it more than anything else. The locals are Bavarians first, then German. They are extremely proud of their heritage and it is visible everywhere you go. If you really want to see the culture at its best i.e. when they’re in traditional wear, go during Oktoberfest. It is like nothing you have ever seen.