We arrived in Munich after quite the night on a train. We had planned this trip with our overnight train ride as the supposed highlight. We thought we’d love it. Matt thought he booked a train car for just the two of us so when we boarded, we set up our beer, asked a worker to adjust the seats to just two beds, took off our shoes, and settled in for what we thought was going to be a fun, tipsy night. After two stops, we had a knock on the door and learned that we had two other train-mates. Big mistake on our part, and one of the huge understandings that we will never forget when we go back! So, we had to re-pack all of our things, ask for the seats to be adjusted again, and we just went right to sleep because we were so disappointed about our mistake and felt awkward about sharing such a small, overnight space with strangers. In the morning we had to be ready to get off the train sort of early, so we got ready and left in a huff.
We were without showers, and had to take a long, hot walk to our hotel. Not only that, but we had tickets reserved to visit Dachau, a work camp. So in our heated, tired, disappointed states, we made it to our hotel and had to quickly freshen up (before our room was ready) to head to a work camp that we had bought tickets for. All in all, a very rough morning.
In times like these on long trips, it is a struggle to feel anything but gratefulness for simply being in an amazing place, so the experience was a good one for us. You learn a lot about yourself when you have unfortunate experiences in the midst of a great privilege, so we were glad to know that we were able to move right past it but this also made me aware of what expectations I hold, and what to work on.
So we made it to Dachau and felt it was an experience that anyone visiting Germany should make a point of having. I wanted to keep the experience in real time, so I didn’t bring my camera along and therefore have no photographs. However, others did, and photography is allowed. The trip to Dachau involved two trains from Munich, and with our guide it was fairly simple. We suggest booking in advance, and not showing up to Dachau on your own. There were some tourists who asked if they could join our tour, and our guide was not allowed to include them. It’s definitely helpful to have someone with you to share their wealth of knowledge. (We bought our tickets from Viator, and they were about $34 per person.)
When we returned from Dachau, we checked into our hotel, rested, and then ventured out. We loved that it got dark so late, and never felt like we needed to hurry back at any point until we wanted to. Our favorite, highly anticipated point of Munich, was the beer garden!
The feel of these places is amazing. The park is full of stands for German food and simple beer, and these simplicities make for memorable evenings. Families, loud conversation, and great food and drink were some of our favorite times in Munich. It was nice to have this simple meal that didn’t cost much money but provided such a satisfying time.
We did a lot of walking after our beer dinner, admiring the square. The great disappointment of Munich, however, is the knowledge that the city was rebuilt to mirror what it was before the war. So, amidst the beauty of the seemingly old, historical buildings and sights, there is a feeling of inauthenticity that is hard to shake as it combines with such a horrific past.
The next day we picked up our free walking tour (book it months ahead!) in the morning, and walked with our guide and a lot of other tourists around Munich. Our guide was good, we booked a Sandemans New Munich tour, but although they say 10 people, it is a lot more. I believe they say 2-9 people in order to throw you off, and to be sure you’re not coming with that large a group. However, the tour was quite large and although it is ‘free’, it is expected that you tip your guide at the end. (You’ll probably want to tip your guide, even without the obligation!) And, our tour guide stopped midway for a bathroom and beer break. The beer part wasn’t to drink a beer, but to buy one to bring along and drink during the second half of the tour because Munich is awesome and allows you to walk around with open beer bottles! We loved this, and walked around with beer a couple more times after because it felt so good to be out and about in a new city, with drink in hand.
After a suggestion from our tour guide and the notes we had written in our itinerary, we also went to Peterskirche for a view of the city, and our first glimpse of the mountains! There are a ton of steps to the top, and it costs a small fee, but the view and extra exercise are worth it:
Other walks we took included the Englischer Garden (stop by the Eisbach River Wave – it is a man-made, constantly flowing wave that people are always surfing on – very entertaining!), where several beer gardens can be enjoyed. (That ended up being dinner for us again instead of the restaurant we had planned on making reservations at. Gotta take advantage of the beer gardens!), and we took a walk to the Maximilianeum, “house of the German Parliament.”
The Maximilianeum can be seen after a beautiful walk down Maximiliansbruke (after walking on Maximilianstrasse!) – where you will cross the Isar River! We actually walked this the first night there, and loved going at sunset. The view once you head up the stairs of the Maximilianeum is stunning – we first loved Munich when we reached this point.
Overall Munich is a fun city and definitely a place to visit. We aren’t too into visiting buildings, so I think if we went back again we might do a World War II tour. (I would definitely recommend this instead of a general tour of Munich if you are a WWII buff – we assumed lots of history from that period would be given on our general tour, but we weren’t given much.)
Munich would be the last of our train stops for a little while, as we picked up a car to drive Germany! We kept it overnight at our hotel, got up early, and headed out for our next adventure – we were in for a messy car and mountains everywhere.