It's a city...
We arrived after our brief Alpine adventure to Munich, staying at Schiller5 Hotel, a rather great and affordable option on a side street across from the main train station in an area that is, frankly, not great. It's just a bit shabby and a bit too modern is a brutally ugly way. But needs (and budgets) must and despite the neighborhood not being utterly idyllic, the hotel itself was really nice and the staff really friendly. So if you're looking for budget, convenience to public transport (which LOL WE WILL GET TO IN A BIT), but without sacrificing quality, then Schiller5 is a good bet.
Anyways, I'm not sure what I expected of fair München. Maybe it was being based in a less historical, kind of iffy neighborhood. Maybe it was that Rothenberg, Heidelberg, and the Alps were so freaking charming and quaint, but I found myself a bit disenchanted with Munich, maybe unfairly so.
Let me be clear, Munich is NOT a bad city. It does have its charms, but I think the thing for me was in some weird way it really reminded me of San Francisco and I think that sort of coincidental urban vibe made me feel a bit underwhelmed because it was sort of like being in a German extension of my own backyard. I hope that makes some sort of sense.
It's urban mingled with some historical, and granted we only really were around the train station, Marienplatz, and Englisch Garden, so maybe Munich required more exploration. Having walked over to the other side of Marienplatz I wonder if staying more on that side would have changed my perspective.
I wish I could put this into better words, but some things are just this indescribable feeling not easily translated and I think my first visit to Munich is overall like that.
But let's get to what I did like.
The architecture at Marienplatz is really, really cool. I dig Gothic spires so this was totally my jam. Sadly we got hit with some weird belated jetlag towards latter half of the trip and slept through the Glockenspiel going off every morning.
Over on this side of town it's pretty bustling with shops, pharmacies, and a lot of smaller versions of local biergartens and beer halls that have seating set up outside so one can enjoy cold beer, warm pretzels, and sausage.
It's also home to one of the fanciest Starbucks I've ever been to in terms of the building itself, as it feels like it's situated in an old school shopping arcade complete with a cute decorative well in the back courtyard.
Speaking of beer, we had a nice lunch at Ratskeller where we tucked into some nice Bavarian eats and I learned there is such as too much späetzle. Especially if the cheese isn't gooey enough. But we were able to add biergarten the list of things we accomplished, even if I, for some reason I don't even remember now, grumbled about not going to the super popular Hofbauhaus like my friend wanted to go to. I did feel bad about it but it's something we can look forward to again for next time.
We also went to the famous Residenz Palace, where they don't seem to like you taking many pictures but I snuck a pic of a super pretty ceiling because apparently that's my thing at palaces/operas.
And really, I just loved the gold detailing too much against the rich blue.
The thing I ended up really liking though, which was also totally free, was visiting the Englisch Garden a short distance away from Marienplatz.
It's a large city park that residents and visitors can flock to, especially on hot days, for a dip in the super cold river or some surfing.
Yes, you read that right, surfing.
Where the river meets the edge of park (where it flows underground then back to the surface again) creates a constant set of waves that many flock to with their boards for a little bit surfing and trying not to be swept downstream by the constant flowing current of the river.
Which, if one brought their own tube would have quite fun hopping in and being swept away downriver like you're own free lazy river ride. Allegedly there's a tram at the other end of the park that will bring you back to start. And even if you don't hop in you can still dip your toes in the water and watch the brave kids jump in because really, the water is quite cold all year long.
Also, just a disclaimer, Englisch Garden allows patrons to frolic in the nude so don't be weirded out if someone strolls by sans clothing. Welcome to Europe!
At some point I'll give Munich a proper second chance, because it really isn't a bad city it just, for me, wasn't fulfilling my Germanic dreams like the other towns did. And that's okay you know, I'm starting to learn I definitely enjoy some of the smaller, more country towns in Europe than big cities like Munich and Rome. Next time though, I'd probably just stay for an overnight and spend more time in the Alps, Rothenberg and maybe take a jaunt down to Austria.
You don't have to completely be in love with everywhere you visit, but hopefully you find at least a few good takeaways.