Authors note: It has been five months since we got back to the US. We were in Munich for October 30-November 2, 2014…these blogs just don’t write themselves! But don’t worry – this one is looong on words to make up for all the missed time. Enjoy – any let us know if you want any Munich travel tips!
We were really looking forward to Munich, one of our all time favorite cities to visit. Munich is the first European City I visited (in 2000 while on a family trip; fantastic introduction to the worlds best beer!), and the raison de’ ente for my original Passport (now on #2 and even the extra pages are filling up!). Munich hosts the world’s best festival, and if we spoke German, Munich was the city we were going to move to in 2009. We have been to Munich each a total of five times, including a few Oktoberfest and non-Oktoberfest visits, and we were looking forward to showing Imogen around!
We decided to stay in the Schluss Nympenburg neighborhood, a few miles North West of the main train station and old town. Hotel Laimerhof, our hotel, is the top rated hotel on Trip Advisor and the price was right at $105 per night! We were looking forward to being in a neighborhood rather than near the train station hotel scene, within walking distance of the Hirchgarden (Munich’s largest beer garden and awesome park) and within a number of public transit links to our favorite bits of the city.
We quickly dumped the car back at the airport then were off to do some early Christmas shopping. Our German neighbors back in California gave us a great list of the top toy shops in Munich, mainly just off Neuhauser Strasse in the old town. First stop: Kids level in the Galeria Kaufhof. We loaded up our basket with sleep sacks (which go up to age 10 size! The Germans have this one right!), wooden toys, awesome games that we’ve never seen in America and even a few German kids books (to help Imogen with her language skills when she comes back for Oktoberfest in 20 years). Next stop: beer o’clock at the Viktualienmarkt beer stand, dinner at der Pschorr, one of the many Munich homes to the best large Munich Brewery – Hacker- Pschorr. After that it was time to take the nightly “lets get Imogen to fall asleep while we enjoy walking around the old town of ____ city, possibly with an adult beverage” walk. Main tourist sites checked off our list, we were ready to explore new things!
Enjoying the Obatzda at Der Pschorr
One of the things we really enjoy about visiting Munich is that Munich is much more of an experience City for a tourist, rather than a gotta see all the Museums/ Cathedrals/ Mosques/ etc city. There are some great sites worth seeing once (Residence, Dachau, BMW Museum, Deutsches museum) but there are many more sites worth going to over and over again (Beer gardens in the English Garden, Schlosspark Nymphenburg, the Hirschgarten, Biking around the city, Viktualienmarket, and yes, the Hofbrauhaus)
The next day we decided to earn our food and drinks with a mega bike ride around Munich. In pulling together the map below this ride seems to lose some of the impressive-ness as it was only 16 miles or so, and mostly flat. But then I remember we had a 1 year old strapped to the back of a bike! Also this took wayyyyy longer than the 1 hour 19 minutes Google Maps recommends!
May have also been the stops at the English Garden, the Olympic Park, Schlosspark Nymphenburg (no bike riding allowed in the park apparently! We learned that one the hard way), and the Hirschgarten beergarden (our new favorite in Munch!), but we clocked in at a very reasonable 6 hours and change.
Dup dee doo… nothing to see here… certainly not a sleeping baby under that jacket…
Uh Oh! Pacifier must have fallen out!
Still going at the Hirschgarten!
Mega bike ride day happened to be October 31, which all you American readers will also know as Halloween. What you may not have known is that Halloween is actually an ancient German tradition, as back in the pre-Roman days the German children would dress in ….. Juuuust kidding. Halloween is mainly an American tradition to celebrate All Hallows Evening (Yes we dressed up in “fancy dress” while living in London in 2009-2011, but our awesome Homemade Batman and “Robyn” costumes got more weird looks then complements on the London Tube, so while Halloween is spreading around the globe, the US will always be the place to be on 10/31). Ok enough background – back to the story… so I had done some research and found a message board with details of a neighborhood that hosts Trick or Treating in Munich. Yatzee! “Robyn – pack Imogen’s Costume – we are going German Trick or Treating!” Best we could muster up was a fairly basic Duck costume, improved massively with Imogens “Quack – Quack”. Lucky for us the neighborhood was a few Bus stops north from our hotel. Off we were… it was fairly quiet at we got close, but then… wait… is that Michael Jackson’s Thriller??? Yes!!! We had arrived! And arrived we had! Now I cant say every house in the neighborhood was into it, but wow, if Halloween is a concept you have maybe heard about a few times, and some American women* asks you if you want to hand out candy to a few neighborhood kids when the sun goes down, then you may just go all out. Now we’ve got bubbling cauldrons and decorated houses in our California neighborhood, but some of these houses did it right! Imogen cleaned up, and after a handful of houses (a good mix of awkward German – English trick or treating) our bag was getting heavy and our child was getting tired – time to go home!
Quack Quack and Trick or Treat took quite a bit of practice!
We were all scared by the decorations
*This neighborhood near Memminger Platz in the North West corner of Munich has been hosting Trick or Treating for the past few years. Apparently an American Mom walks around and hands out flyers to the neighbors in early October explaining the tradition of Halloween and asking if people want to participate. If people respond that they want to participate in Trick of Treating on 10/31 then they are included on a google maps posted to the message board in last October. Sounds like a lot of work – but worth it! Over 50 houses participated in 2014!
Our last full day turned out to be a Saturday Holiday in Bavaria, so good thing we did our shopping earlier! We had blocked this day off to check out the Munich Zoo – recommended to us by our native Munich friends as a great place for Kids. Crowds were a little bit bigger than normal as it was a holiday weekend, but the Munich Zoo did not disappoint. Highlights include the monkeys, petting the goats, and the amazing playground complete with beer garden to please all family members (and yes – this is one of the many reasons why we love Germany!).
Last stop on our trip was one of our favorite beer gardens – the Augustiner Keller, and our new favorite beer garden – the Hirschgarden. Both have great playgrounds, though the Hirschgarden playgrounds are a bit far from the tables, while the Augistiner Keller playgrounds are on the grounds with the traditional picnic tables all around them. Both of these gems serve Augustiner Beer (difficult to find in America, and by far the most popular of the main six Munich breweries: Spaten, Hofbrau, Augistiner, my current favorite: Hacker- Pschorr, Lowenbrau, and Paulaner). These are both off the beaten tourist track, even though Augustiner is only 3 blocks west of the main train station at Arnulfstraße 52 and the Hirschgarden is located at Hirschgarten 1, which is a 5 minutes walk from the Romanplatz tram stop, 15 minutes from the main train station. They each have fantastic settings, and while Hirschgarten wins in the summer with the deer (Hirsch) and setting in a huge open park, Augustiner Keller’s actual Keller (basement) is a fantastic brick beer mecca to visit on poor weather days, or in the winter. When coming from London we used to book our flights early enough to arrive in Munich for last call at the Augustiner Keller, so while the Keller holds a special place in our heart, the Hirschgarten is our new favorite spot!
So… it was the end of November, after day light savings time ended… even so we were able to use the Augustiner Keller playground.
Hirschgarten (also a bit empty this time of year, but it was only 50 degrees out)
The next day we were back to the US of A!