After an overnight train journey where neither of us were able to get quality sleep (mainly due to being awoken by ticketing agents and border control) we arrived in Munich just after sunrise. We were unable to check into our AirBnB until 7pm, so we decided to go out and explore Munich for the day. We were able to put our bags in luggage storage and walk to the city center. The walk into town was cold and a light snow fell around us on the way. This was a stark contrast to the Italian and Croatian weather we had been experiencing for the past few weeks.
Our first stop was at a cafe to eat some breakfast and chug some coffee. After a very long breakfast we walked to Munich’s main square to begin a walking tour that we had previously signed up for. The tour was pretty interesting and took us around all the main sights of Munich while providing a lot of information. If it hadn’t for the fact that we were both extremely cold and tired it would have been one of the best walking tours we had been on.
The tour finished in the mid afternoon after which Abbey and I went to a vegan restaurant to get an early dinner. After dinner we still had a couple hours before check-in so we decided to have the typical Munich experience and visit one of the famous beer gardens. We went to Augustiner beer garden due to its proximity to the train station. We were accidentally visiting Munich during Starkbierfest, the city’s biggest beer festival aside from Octoberfest. Due to the festival, a lot of beer gardens were serving their special “starkbier” (or “strong beer”) that wasn’t available during the rest of the year. Instead of the starkbier, I opted to get an Edelstoff, which happens to be the Pope’s favorite beer. Finally it came time to check in so we picked up our bags from the train station and took local transit to the AirBnB.
For the past week we were not having much luck with the weather and this continued in Munich. The next day we awoke to sunshine which quickly transitioned into a cold rain. Due to the uninviting wether we got a late start on the day and din’t leave the AirBnB until around lunch time. Our first stop was a vegan restaurant called “Erbil’s” where we got a vegan version of a traditional Bavarian meal. We split a delicious plate of schnitzel, purple sauerkraut, and German potato salad. This might have been our favorite meal thus far.
After lunch we went to an island in the middle of Isar River. On this island was a large science and technology museum. We had planned on spending the entire afternoon at the museum and even that wasn’t enough. The museum was absolutely massive with six stories containing exhibits on all things science and technology related. Even with entire afternoon we only had time to visit about a quarter of the exhibits. Anyone with even the slightest interest in science and technology should check out this museum. It is a perfect rainy day activity that could take up about an entire day (which makes the entrance fee absolutely worth it).
After dinner we went to a local cafe to relax for a while. Following the cafe it was past dinner time, so we returned to the museum island where there was a Mexican restaurant with vegan options. After a great dinner we payed a visit to Pauliner beer garden. They were usually closed this time of year, but had opened this week specifically for Starkbierfest. This time I did opt to try the starkbier which I enjoyed very much. Our AirBnB was a short walk from the beer garden so we headed back after finishing the starkbier.
The next day was just as cold as the last but at least the sun was shining. We still weren’t very eager to be out in the elements, so we got another late start on the day. We didn’t have many plans for the day, but decided to check out the large park north of the city center. The park was easy to reach by foot and impressively large. It is even bigger than central park in New York City.
Munich is known to have river surfers ride the current on the river that cuts through the park, but it was far too cold for anyone to be doing that while we were there. The park was fun to visit, but I’m sure it would be much more lively and fun in warmer months. We still saw a fair amount of people in the park and enjoyed its natural beauty. Before leaving we visited the beer garden in the middle of the park where I enjoyed a rattler (beer mixed with lemonade) and some currywurst.
It was getting later as we left the park and we didn’t have any plans for the rest of the day. We had a quiet evening where all we did was visit a cafe, vegan grocery store, and get dinner. We went back to the AirBnB for the evening and packed up in order to leave Munich the next day and head further north.
I took an overnight Amtrak to and from North Carolina and Boston four years ago and exclaimed I would never take an overnight train again. It was uncomfortable and I was unable to sleep. When Kevin suggested* we take an overnight train from Zurich to Munich I was a bit hesitant, but figured I would give it another go. After that experience, I say again, I will not take another overnight train.
I had a fitful three hours of sleep broken up by cramping, people joining us in our cabin, and ticketing and border control agents. Ah, the joys of travel. The border control into Germany was the most intense we had encountered. It wasn’t bad and nothing sinister happened, we were just grilled by an agent about what we were doing in Europe for so long, did we know when we had to leave the Schengen Area by, and where had we been. Questions answered while we were only half awake.
Exhaustion aside, Munich was an interesting city. While we were battling with the weather most of the time, I had fun dipping into the different beer halls and participating in Starkbierfest. We searched for bikes to ride around in Englischer Garten but couldn’t find any, unfortunately. It’s a rather sizable park, so it would have been really nice to ride around and see every part of it.
*Rather, “Kevin told me we were taking an overnight train from Zurich to Munich,” because flights were too expensive or too complicated.