Our trip to Munich turned out a little different to what we had originally planned. Instead of four seats on the train we only needed two. The news of their involuntary un-attendance came like a blow to the face. We were sad and they were sad; it was the worst of times. Nevertheless, Joe and I still had a wonderful time in Munich, even though only half the amount of steins and pretzels were consumed.
The apartment we stayed in was fantastic. It was the kind we could only dream of affording ourselves, at this point in our lives. Clean, white and spacious, it was comfortable and inviting and only a few blocks from the Oktoberfest site. Airbnb has yet to let us down.
The weather during this particular weekend was perfect. We had finally escaped the evils of winter and glorious spring was here. It was 24 and sunny all weekend and my shoulders became sunburnt as the days wore on. Actual sunburn. It felt magnificent and reminded me of home.
My pale skin met the light of day and threatened to clear out the entire English Garden.
Coffee in Munich
The coffee scene in Munich is progressing, but it still doesn’t compare to that of Berlin or Prague. Our two favourite spots for coffee in Munich were Bald Neu and Man Versus Machine.
Bald Neu is situated just over the Isar river in the quiet streets of the Untergiesing neighbourhood. Their coffee was great, albeit more expensive than what we’re used to, but great nevertheless. Their space is bright and welcoming and their delicious cakes – below is a gooey chocolate chip banana bread – are well worth the walk down river.
Man Versus Machine sits in the hip Glockenbachviertel neighbourhood, not far from the city centre. We came back here twice. The employees were friendly and the iced flat whites were a standout (especially as a contrast to the feeling of absorbing the glorious sunshine outside). Man Versus Machine is also one of the few ‘Third Wave’ cafes in Munich that actually roasts beans in-house.
Food in Munich
The one thing I was slightly disappointed with was that, despite all my research, I couldn’t find any restaurants or bars or eating establishments that really stood out in Munich. Don’t get me wrong – Munich certainly has good food. However, as far as I could see – perhaps I just couldn’t see far enough – it only ranged from fancy Michelin Star establishments to hearty, traditional German food, with not much in between. Compared to Berlin and Prague I wasn’t overwhelmed with interesting or exciting choices.
The food at Augustiner and Hofbräuhaus – we had to experience them once – is what you expect and the standard doesn’t vary much between them. The same goes for the many beer gardens spread throughout the city. You want a huge, crispy pork knuckle with juicy dumplings and piles of käsespätzle and sauerkraut? That’s what you’ll get. And you can get it almost anywhere.
We did, however, find one place. Hidden down a small, unobtrusive alleyway in the bustling Marienplatz is Spezl Wirtschaft. After climbing a few flights of stairs you’ll arrive at this trendy gastro-pub. Spezl Wirtschaft does a modern take on traditional Bavarian dishes; they serve wiener schnitzel but they also serve a vegan kohlrabi schnitzel that is delicious and deep fried and totally free of the meat guilt. Their cocktail list is extensive and the atmosphere is warm and cosy, so if you’re lost in the tourist-ridden streets of Marienplatz this is your go-to spot. Be sure to make a reservation, though.
And then there are the local places, like Ida’s, Ringlers and the Viktualienmarkt. The line at Ida’s is always long so be sure to know what you want before you arrive at that tiny front door; the pressure of order placement is rife. The line at Ringler’s is short because they’re fast on the grill and, similar to the customers of Ida’s, people know what they want before they arrive. Here is their Bayrisches Grill Sandwich ‘Lauginger’. That brioche bun, am I right?
The Viktualienmarkt is the perfect spot to put together an abundance of traditional German snacks and treats before heading to the English Garden for an afternoon picnic by the river. Think salty meats, stinky cheese and fresh bread larger than your torso.
Things to do in Munich
Renting bikes was, by far, the best idea we had. The English Garden is beautiful and enormous and seeing it all on foot would be impossible in two days.
We rode our bikes along rivers and lakes and in amongst hundreds of happy, pale bodies drinking beer in the glorious sunshine. We rode past naked old men in the south, butt cheeks jiggling and junk hanging freely in the breeze. We rode to a charming beer garden in the north, with steins, pretzels and pork knuckles aplenty. We rode for hours in that park.
Of course, we also checked out New Town Hall and the hideous jungle of consumerism surrounding it. We missed the 12 and 5pm Glockenspiel display, but it’s not really worth coming back to see.
We strolled the clean, idyllic streets of Munich’s museum district and found this creepy Michael Jackson memorial.
We went to the Literaturhaus (something I would recommend) and saw an exhibit on Stefan Zweig.
It being my third, but certainly my most memorable, trip to Munich, I feel I can now safely say I never need to go back. Munich was beautiful but two and a half days really was enough. Perhaps I’m just jaded from walking the graffiti covered, shit-ridden, freakified streets of Berlin, but Munich’s clean buildings, luxury shopping districts and busy suits (people actually work here?) didn’t leave me curious for more.
Munich is known for being the more conservative German city and, while a two-day visit will only reward us with a superficial look into true city life, Munich’s conventional character was obvious. There is definitely some cool stuff going on in this beautiful Bavarian city, but not quite enough to make me want to stay longer to check it out.
In summary, I remain steadfast on team Berlin.