Before you wonder why another article on Munich and why I’m calling it marvellous – my son lives and works there! That’s why I tend to lean towards it and deem it as special.
My earlier article was purely on Oktoberfest, but Munchen has so much more to offer. Flights to Munich abound (now Lufthansa flies direct from Mumbai). When you get off at the Franz Josef Strauss airport, head downstairs to the basement and take the S8 or S1 into the city. It’s economical and very fast. I took the train and got off at Marienplatz which is close to where my son lives. You could alternatively get off at the Hauptbahnhoff which is the main train station. From there you will get bus and tram connections to wherever!
Marienplatz is the main square in Munich. There is a clock tower which is very unique. On an hourly basis, the Rathaus-Glockenspiel comes to life. It chimes and enacts two famous 16th century tales. It has 43 bells and 32 real life figures. The upper ring relates the story of the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V (founder of the Hofbrauhaus – the famed brewery in Munich) to Renata. There is jousting with knights on horseback dressed in the Bavarian white and Blue with knights in Red and White. The bottom ring then enacts the Schafflertanz. It depicts the time of the plague in Munich in 1517. The dance symbolises perseverance and loyalty to authority even in difficult times. At the end of 12 minutes, a small golden rooster crows thrice marking the end of the show.
This square is a haven for shopaholics (like moi)! From Apple to H&M to Deichman (for fab shoes) to Sephora, Body Shop and other such stores, you can spend a lot of quality time there also spending quality money! Cafes abound and you should try the strawberry cakes with some latte. It’s fun to watch guys who sit there like statues dressed in various costumes. They won’t even blink. You can take pictures with them and pay them some money.
In the platz is an old Church – the Peterskirche which boasts of a 91 meter Renaissance steeple. Inside you can see a statue of St Peter, some Gothic paintings and an amazing ceiling fresco. Close by is the Heiliggeistkirche or the Church of the Holy Spirit. Worth a visit just to see the amazing Altar.
Cross over and go to the Viktualienmarkt – a farmer’s market which has numerous stalls selling fresh produce – vegetables, fruits, German sausages, cheese, fish, flowers, garden ornaments and of course beer! I’ve spent many a happy afternoon there sunning myself on a bench armed with cheese and a mast of beer.
Make a Wish!
Other buildings worth a visit are the Michaelskirche – a large Renaissance Church which belongs to the Jesuits and has a crypt where famous Dukes are buried. The Frauenkirche is the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich. Built in the Gothic style, it has two bell towers which serve as a famous landmark in this city. Legend has it that the devil stood and laughed at the Church which had no windows. A black mark which resembles a footprint can be seen at the entrance. It’s called Teufelstritt or Devil’s footstep.
If you’re feeling very holy and wish to pray a lot, please visit the Theatinerkirche, Burgersaalkirche, St Anna Damenstiftskirche, Dreifaltigkeitskriche and Asamkirche. Their facades and altars are worth a visit. I visited all and made numerous wishes – the belief is that the first time you visit a Church, you’re entitled to a wish that will come true. Since that genie fellow seems to not come around anymore, this is the next best thing!
Also close by is the Residenz Palace complex – the residence of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria. It is now open to public. I spent a happy afternoon there wandering around marveling at the architecture, ceiling frescos, and seeing collections of paintings, porcelain and other royal stuff!
Walk along Isar river
My son thought I’d put on too much of weight (thanks to beer and German sausages) and insisted I do a 4.5 km walk by the Isar river. I resisted at first but then gave in. It was actually enjoyable. You can amble along, play chess with virtual strangers (they have huge chess pieces on a board at intervals), drink a beer, snack on wafers and lose some calories.
Alte Pinakothek – for the art enthusiasts
On a Sunday you should go to the Alte Pinakothek. Totally devoted to Art, it houses some fantastic collections. The Alte houses painting from the 13th to 18th century – Dutch, German, Italian, Flemish, Spanish painters are featured here. Some of the painting are so huge, you literally have to sleep on the floor to be able to see the full picture so to speak! The Italian Gothic ones really caught my eye – Giotto’s The Last Supper is awe inspiring. Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Stefan Lochner, Francois Boucher, Vernet and countless others are featured.
There are two other buildings close by called the Neue Pinakothek (houses 19th century paintings) and the Pinakothek der Moderne (modern art). I came away feeling very humbled – I can’t draw a straight line to save my life!
Munchen is great. So much to do and so much to see. The BMW museum is also a must visit. Uniting the past and present, you can see models of these wonderful cars – BMW, Rolls-Royce, Mini!!
Relax in Munchen
Like me, if you don’t really want to hare around doing 10 things a day and getting real tired, just spend time at the English Garden or Englischer Garten – a very large public park. Go there armed with a beer and a nice chunky sandwich, find a nice place to park yourself – sit and read a book. Or you can wander around and see the Japanese Teahouse, watch surfers in an artificial stream where a wave is created, Apollo temple, Chinese tower etc.
Food is amazing – a wide array of sausages. The white Bavarian ones are yummy with sweet mustard. There’s schintzel, bratwurst, pretzel, currywurst, blood sausage (not for me though), stollen, liverwurst etc.
I love Munich and never get tired of visiting!