I never knew that Munich, nevermind Germany, exploded with culture. Even in mid-February, the opposite time of year from the world famous Oktoberfest, locals and especially tourists filled the air (primarily beer gardens) with the boisterous festivities known to Bavarian culture. I’ve already mentioned that I’m not fond of beer, but in Munich, beer is not a beverage but a staple, like bread. Beer in Munich is not only integral to their culture—it is the reason why people visit. To avoid beer in Munich would be like avoiding pizza in Italy. Blasphemy!
Two of the closest options to Munich where we could park our RV (that didn’t have too terrible reviews) were a free stellplatz near the Dachau Bahnhof station, or at the Allianz Arena (football stadium) for €15/night. Because both locations were approximately the same distance by metro from Munich (25-30 minutes), we opted for the free one. There was probably only enough room for 4 RVs max, but because it was February, the lot was pretty empty the entire time we parked there. The only real downside was that the parking lot was literally beside the metro station, which meant loud subways throughout the night. We couldn’t complain–it was free! That’s what earplugs are for.
Most people will probably begin their visit in Munich with Marienplatz, the center plaza of Munich like Times Square is to New York City. However, unlike Times Square, there are no angry taxi drivers, flashy lights, and 50-story tall digital fashion ads. Instead of those gaudy adornments, the centerpiece of Marienplatz is the neo-gothic New Town Hall and haunting Glockenspiel. My jaw dropped as I emerged from the underground escalator with the Glockenspiel looming into view.
Just down the street from Marienplatz is the Church of St. Peter, which had spiral steps that we climbed for €2 each. Views of the Church of our Lady, New Town Hall, and Glockenspiel from the tower of St. Peter:
And just steps from the Church of St. Peter was Viktualienmarkt, the daily farmers market of Munich. We treated ourselves to fresh fruit and coffee, and refrained from all the gourmet cheeses, bread, meats, and all the other delectable goodness.
Strolling around Marienplatz led us to upscale shopping streets. Not really our thing, but we still enjoyed the architecture.
You can even buy fresh bread at the local sporting goods store! Because when in Germany…
We did stroll through the Englischer Garden to the Chinese Pagoda, hoping the oldest beer garden in Munich would be open for a bite. But alas it was the off-season (and freezing!), and because the beer garden was outdoors, everything was closed.
For dinner there were numerous beer gardens to choose from. We chose Hofbräuhaus for our first dinner because of its reputation—it’s always Oktoberfest there! It fulfilled everything I dreamed of a beer garden: a beautifully painted dining room, clanging 1-L mugs of beer, bigger-than-your-head pretzels with tasty mustard, sausages, noisy bands, sharing tables with strangers/new friends, and people of all ages cheering, laughing, and dancing.
I can’t even remember the name of the second beer garden we dined at, but we do recall being drawn in by their window display of rotating, sizzling pork knuckle.
Even ½ a pork knuckle was difficult for the two of us to finish.
We wandered around the center for dessert, and thanks to the recommendation of a local, we gave kaiserschmarrn (sliced and fried raisin bread with powdered sugar and apple sauce) a try. It was so yummy…similar to French toast!
When it was time to return to our abode, we gazed at Glockenspeil for the final time. We thought it was dramatic during the day, but the night brought theatrical lighting and elongated shadows to the structure. It was very much the setting for a horror film.
To top everything off, here is Glockenspeil with a giant pretzel. Now that is truly German.