19 Reasons to Love Munich

We’ve stayed in Munich twice on the trip. Mark, Scout, and I all adore it there and can’t wait to go back. Like the rest of Bavaria, it’s pure Gemütlichkeit — warm and relaxed with a live-and-let-live atmosphere.

Why do we love Munich?

In no particular order…

THE OOMPAH LOG RAFTS

They float down the Isar every afternoon like clockwork, rain or shine, tourists throwing back steins of beer, the oompah band belting out traditional German tunes or pop classics. We liked to stand on the bridge and watch them ooze by. The ride always ends across from our campground, and it’s fun to watch cranes disassemble the rafts and hoist the logs onto trucks to be hauled back upstream for tomorrow’s partiers. Remember Lincoln logs? It’s like that.

Oompah raft, Isar river, Munich

THALKIRCHEN CAMPGROUND

Perched on the Isar river, Talkirchen is one of our favorite campgrounds. It has super-convenient bus and bikepath (radeweg) access into central Munich. That’s no small thing when you’re camping in an RV, because at some campsites, schlepping to town is a marathon of transit legs and transfers. Talkirchen is sprawling and international, so you never know whom you’ll meet. We met and broke bread with families from Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, and Estonia. From our little pitch on the river we could perch in the camper doorway and get wi-fi! For digital nomads, wi-fi is the Holy Grail of campsites.

Site on the river, Thalkirchen campground, Munich

THE ISAR-RIVER SURFERS

Surfers in Germany? Bestimmt (definitely)! They line up on both sides of the short (20-meterish) stretch of rapids, every day from dawn to dark, rain or shine. Their dedication is impressive. Also, they’re heroic. When Archie accidentally knocked his favorite ball into the river, an adorable surfer followed it down river, managed to grab it, and then paddled about 500 meters upstream to return it to my anxious pup.

Munich surfers

NAKED GERMANS

Fact: Germans are happiest when they are naked outdoors. Whenever the sun shines, they love to strip down and improve their all-over tans.  They can be found scattered throughout the English Garden, in city parks, on the banks of the Isar. Mainly older gents, but not always.

THE ISAR RIVER

Some days it seems like all of Munich is outside taking it easy and enjoying life along the Isar. Families with kids, older folks, everyone. They’re sunning, grilling, picnicking, reading, sleeping, partying, skinny dipping, fishing, or taking in the view from a local Biergarten.

 

BEER IS CHEAPER THAN WATER

For 20 years I’ve disliked beer, but Munich has converted me. Mainly because a big glass of beer — good, cold beer — is cheaper than a small bottle of mineral water, and I’m a really thirsty cheapskate.

THE RESIDENZ AND SCHATZKAMMER

Now a museum, the Residenz was the private palace of the Wittelsbachs family, who ruled Bavaria for centuries. Lots of fancy palace rooms, plus the Schatzkammer, or treasury, with all Bavaria’s crown jewels and other jewel-encrusted chachkies.

Willtelsbachs Residenz

Wittlesbachs Residenz, Munich

Wittlesbachs Residenz, Munich

Guess who that is, passed out on the chair…

Schatzkammer, Munich, Germany

Bavarian Crown Jewels, Schatzkammer, Munich

THE VIKTUALIEN MARKT

This farmer’s market in downtown Munich has been around since 1807. It radiates out from a big Biergarten, where you can sit and taste all the stuff you bought at the market stalls. Scout went wild and blew through half her savings on a huge artichoke, a container of artichoke Brotaufstrich (bread spread) an octopus salad from an Italian stall, some Spargel, a kilo of cherries, a wedge of Wasabi Gouda and a runny French cheese that smelled so vile, Mark and I were forced to ban it from the camper.

Viktualien Markt, Munich, artichokes

Viktualien Markt, Munich, raspberries, blueberries

Viktualien Markt, Munich

Viktualien Markt, Munich

Viktualien Markt, Munich

THE PETERSKIRCHE

Built and rebuilt numerous times during the past 900 years (most recently after WWII) the angelic Peterskirche is the symbol of Munich and probably the city’s point of origin.
St. Peter's Church, Munich

St. Peter's Church, Munich

Peterskirche, Munich

Peterskirche, Munich

IT’S BIKE FRIENDLY

All points in Munich are easily reachable by bike. The city is flat and laced with clearly marked  bike paths or “Radwege.” Wunderbar!

SCHINDERSTADL BIERGARTEN

On the bike path by the Isar and the Tiergarten (zoo). Cheap, good food. Different specials every day. I love. love, love this place. We’ve had a lot of breakfast beers here.

Schinderstadl Biergarten, Munich

Schinderstadl Biergarten, Munich

Schinderstadl Biergarten, Munich

EVERY OTHER BIERGARTEN

Stalwarts can be found downing 1-litre mugs of beer at 10 in the morning. Also most Biergartens have outdoor play areas for kids, often with trampolines, so the entire family can have fun hanging out. The Biergarten atmosphere is so friendly, so gemütlich. This would never be allowed in the States or Canada, where the citizenry would wave their pitchforks in protest about—gasp—children at bars. Cheers, Munich!

DOGS EVERYWHERE

Actually all of Germany and the Netherlands get credit for this. Dogs are all over the place, often off-leash. You see them on subways, trains, busses, in restaurants, in stores, often off-leash. And why not? Owners know whether their darlings can behave off-leash or not. No one gets upset. Live and let live. Also how can you expect people to use public transit in a serious way if they can’t bring their dogs? Wake up North America.

TRADITIONAL DRESS

Fabulous. You can still see people wearing Lederhosen, Bavarian hats and jackets, or Dirndls. Most people don’t unless it’s a special oaccasion, but once in a while you luck out and see someone strolling the straße in traditional dress.

Lederhosen

MÜNICHER STADTMUSEUM

When I strolled through the Munich City Museum in the middle of the day it was completely empty. I particularly enjoyed the vintage puppet and carnival display, a tattered house-coat worn by King Ludwig I almost every day for over 60 years of his life, the Bavarian food conveyor-belt, and some of the national socialist historical stuff. Oh, and if you accidentally drop your audioguide into your backpack along with your camera because you stay until closing and are rushing to leave, the little devil will beep for days until you get around to returning it. Like the One Ring to Rule Them All wants to return to Lord Sauron, the Munich city museum audioguides are determined to find their way home.

Horned Lady, wax cast of 19th c. carnival "freak"

The “Horned Lady”—wax cast of 19th c. carnival freak. What do you think? Is this a scam or can someone really sprout a horn like this???

THE HALF-LITRE BEER IS THE SMALL ONE

Big beer, small beer

Our beers. Mark’s is a barely-manly one-litre, while I opted for the half-litre child’s-portion.

LOW BUILDINGS

Munich’s buildings are just one or two storys. Not a skyscraper in sight. I find that refreshing.

A BIG APPLE STORE RIGHT OFF MARIENPLATZ (the main square)

For traveling digital-nomad Mac families, an Apple store isn’t to be taken for granted. Halleluja!

THE DEUTSCHES MUSEUM

It’s got the randomness of the Smithsonian, but it’s smaller and German. Unfortunately I couldn’t take photos, because my offspring begged me to leave my camera at home the day we visited. It’s all her fault I tell you! Here’s a link though: Deutsches Museum.

So there you go. A whole bunch of reasons why we love Munich. There are even more reasons to love Munich, but after all that beer, I forget what they are. Have you been? If so, what was your favorite thing? Hiccup.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tricia(Geeky Explorers) July 9, 2011 at 11:11 pm

So many things to love about this post (and about Germany!) Beer is better than water, naked Germans, Scout blowing her allowance on fabulous stinky cheese and artichokes (way to go kid!!!), & dogs everywhere. Sounds like a paradise – enjoy!!

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2 Renee July 14, 2011 at 6:11 am

Thanks, Tricia. Munich’s definitely been one of the highlights so far.

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3 Lisa July 10, 2011 at 2:49 am

Hi Renee,

Glad to hear you’re having some fun times. I haven’t been to Munich for more than 20 years (ack!), but you’ve got me itching to go back. Love the German orderliness of the berries at the market. Get Mark or Scout to take some pictures of YOU one of these days (and then post them).

Auf wiedersehen,
Lisa

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4 Renee July 14, 2011 at 6:15 am

Hi, Lisa!

Those berries say it all, don’t they?

I’ll try to make a guest appearance in front of the lens one of these days. Scout does get pictures of me once in a while, but I’m always eating or bending over or something. 🙂

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5 Bridgette Booth July 12, 2011 at 5:49 am

Your photography is so crisp that I just want to jump in and join you. Especially since it’s Munich. So many favorite memories from your photographs. (Except the naked German men. Hello. Where was I?)

Thanks so much for posting the pictures and comments. It’s wonderful for those who are living out our adventures through you. 🙂 (Too bad we don’t have Smell-O-Rama. That stinky cheese would make one interesting. . . post.) LoL

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6 Renee July 14, 2011 at 6:22 am

Thanks, Bridgette. Munich is a fun city, isn’t it? I’d love to go back and stay awhile. Though I have to say, the Bavarian German is much harder for me to understand. It sounds all mushy, like everyone is talking with their mouths full.

Oh, that cheese, that cheese…It wasn’t just strong, it was disgusting. I have a picture of it outside the camper, but it looked to gross to post. Really.

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