While my main purpose of traveling to Europe this time around was to visit my best friend, whom I hand't seen in a year and a half, since our tear filled "see you next time" in South Korea. I booked my flight on a whim almost 6 months ago, when I was browsing for flight deals, as one does, but knew I wouldn't regret it. After spending a week catching up in Leipzig, I figured I'd take the opportunity to hop around a bit of Europe. Flixbus is currently offering a 5 cites for 99 Euro deal, so I'd have been a fool not to take advantage. The only catch being the trips must be direct, which is how I found myself in Munich, a stop-over on the way to Ljubjana a city that for some reason or another has been on my mind for the past year. I've had fleeting thoughts of wanting to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, but after thinking about the reality of all the crowds of tourists and overpriced everything, I quashed that idea, and the last 24 hours have been a confirmation that I made the right choice.
, Munich is the capital of Bavaria and sometimes thought to be the classier or more mature alternative to the country's capital, Berlin. A few years ago on my last visit to Europe, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Berlin and thus unsure what to expect from Munich. I only had roughly 24 hours in the city, so I knew I wouldn't get to see the outskirts: Dachau concentration camp, Neuschwanstein castle, and other attractions, but I hoped the city center wouldn't disappoint. I arrived via bus from Leipzig around 5:30 in the afternoon - only slightly delayed from traffic, and thankful to have booked accommodation only a 10 minute walk from the bus terminal. I stayed at Meininger Hotel and while it was adequate for my needs, I don't think I'd do repeat business with them.
After a quick drop of my bags I headed out the door towards Marienplatz, the "downtown" of Munich, home to Saint Peters Church, New town hall and if the season is right Christmas markets. I was hungry and tired of sitting so a long walk through the center of town sounded like an okay idea to me. The first mistake I had made was that I didn't prioritize food, I tend to do this when traveling, always afraid I'll go for the first option to only regret it a few blocks later. Instead I grabbed a mini bottle of wine at Aldi and wandered the streets. The buildings in Munich are definitely the highlight, towering high the architecture and detail on these old buildings is amazing. What's even more interesting is how they're preserved between the new modern shopping malls and office buildings. New Town Hall, a 1909 neo-gothic style building, was the most impressive of the bunch and thanks to dusk lighting I was able to capture a few beautiful photos. I also had a quick walk through Viktualienmarkt (Victuals Market) which is home to 140 various food stalls, but was on the tail end of service with most shops closing, leaving only the beer gardens. Of course, Marienplatz was stock full of tourists, but sometimes they too offer good entertainment.
The following morning I was up early and decided to take advantage of this by venturing to the English Gardens, surrounded this time by commuters and morning walkers, rather than the throngs of tourists from the prior evening. On the way to the gardens I passed through Marienplatz again, much less hectic than the evening before and also stumbled upon the National Theater and Royal Residence, more impressive buildings Munich can claim credit for. I'm sure you could have gone inside some of these buildings for a tour or further photo ops, but I was interested in nature and the company of dogs and birds rather than tourists. I had found a cute cafe near the gardens on my brief google maps search the night before, with one reviewers claiming "the best coffee in Munich", but was glum to find it closed as I approach, much ready for a coffee. I chose instead some shop around the corner and paired my coffee with some mystery bread, the plethora of bread and baked goods in this country is outstanding.
As soon as I entered the grounds of the gardens I knew I had made the right choice, rows of tree-lined paths, a small stream, fields of green laid before me. I was happy to leave behind the city for a while and soak in the therapeutic effects of nature. As much as I had thought about walking through the gardens, maybe seeing the Chinese temple and other sights, I opted instead for a bench and my book, I figured the hour walk I had taken to get to the gardens warranted me this rest.
Overall my visit to Munich was probably too short to give it a fair "yay" or "nay" vote, but never having an intention to visit in the first place I was happy with the time I spent there. I have German roots, and come from a very German city in Wisconsin, but there's always one thing lacking for my visits and that's the food. As much as I'm told to do so, I never have a desire to sit down to a huge sausage, thankfully though, the cheap and plentiful beers I'm on board with.
For now it's time for me to say auf wiedersehen to Germany, and move on to explore some new places. I'll be spending the next few days dipping my toes into "Eastern Europe", starting with a weekend in the capital no one can pronounce - Ljubljana Slovenia.