Munich: the destination that will draw you back

By Andrea Jiménez.

When I had to choose between my possible Erasmus destinations, Germany was not on the top of my list. By stroke of fate, I ended up choosing Germany and, a year later, I absolutely do not regret my decision. My final Erasmus destination was Passau, a little town located in the south of Germany with a population of about 50,000, of which more than 10,000 are students. Therefore, the party was guaranteed.

View of Munich from St. Peter's Tower

. Photo Credit: Andrea Jiménez Rodríguez.

View of Munich from St. Peter’s Tower

. Photo Credit: Andrea Jiménez Rodríguez.

Only 200 kilometers away was Munich, the second largest city in Germany. As a Madrilenian, I am used to being surrounded by people and I love to be in crowded places, enjoying the movement and noise a big city offers daily. For these reasons, I often took the train to Munich to feel the warm welcome of a big metropolis.

Despite this initial impression, my first memory of Munich was the deathly silence in the airport, as a reminder that the tradition of speaking loudly is typical only in Spain and clearly, does not apply to Germans. I was also fortunate to arrive at the end of September, while the city was still in full Oktoberfest mode. Thus, I spent my first Erasmus week among many different kinds of beer.

But Munich turned out to be much more than that.

Where to start:

I strongly recommended walking along The English Garden (Englischer Garten in German) regardless of the rain. Independent of the season, you can always find a group of surfers practicing in a standing wave of the Isar River. The landscape is indescribable and can only be experienced. Cyclists, joggers, roller skaters…the park is ideal for all sports fans. When the good weather arrives, people emerge from their buildings to prepare picnics and bbq’s. Naturally, a beer garden is located inside the park, right beside the Chinese tower and very close to the Tee House. Without a doubt, this is the place to do anything you want as it has so much to offer.

As my trips to Munich were very frequent, I had the chance to visit almost every corner of the city. I admit I am not religious, so the idea of discovering the many churches of Munich felt a bit weird at the beginning. Nevertheless, I evenutally fell in love with these buildings, especially St. Peter’s church and The Theatine Church of St. Cajetan (Theatinerkirche St. Kajetan), two of my favorite churches in the city.

Interior of the Theatine Church of St. Kajetan. Photo Credit: Andrea Jiménez Rodríguez.

Interior of the Theatine Church of St. Kajetan. Photo Credit: Andrea Jiménez Rodríguez.

If you’re looking to do some shopping, do not miss Maximilian Strasse, known par excellence as the shopping street. It is true that Munich is an expensive city. Unlike Berlin, which known as a sexy but poor city, Munich is sexy, but does not meant for all purses. Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel…these are just some of the best name brands you can find between the large amount of luxury boutiques and jewellery stores, all co-existing along this street.

To continue with the trip

For rainy days, museums are always the best option. I personally recommend the German Museum (Deutsches Museum) as it is something that can’t be missed. It is known for being the world’s largest museum of technology and science and receives approximately 1.5 million visitors a year. It is said that you need at least 4 or 5 hours to discover it completely. For instance, exhibitions range from astronomy, pharmacy, telecommunications, computers or music to the prehistoric ages to the present. Pretty close from the museum is the Technical Forum (Forum der Technik) where you can see the Planetary and the famous IMAX theatre, which is quite the privilege.

Perhaps you are a car enthusiastic. That is perfect, because Germany is the birthplace of the automobile. Munich is especially note-worthy as the main headquarters of BMW is located here. There, you can observe how a car is manufactured and see the best BMW cars ever made, including both the classics and the latest models.

On the other hand, if the weather is favorable, you can go to the Nymphenburg palace (or Schloss Nymphenburg), the summer residence of the various Bavarian royal families throughout history. Built in the baroque style, you will find the palace surrounded by garden pavilions. To get there, just take the tram number 17 from the Munich Central Station (HBF). I do not want to spoil it; look at the following picture and imagine how fantastic this place is in reality:

Nymphenburg Palace: Both the interior and the garden are worth seeing. Photo Credit: Andrea Jiménez Rodríguez.

Nymphenburg Palace: Both the interior and the garden are worth seeing. Photo Credit: Andrea Jiménez Rodríguez.

As I said, I visited Munich several times, but only on three of these did I spend the night. For various reasons, I had to book different types of hotels. When my friends came to visit me, we slept in a youth hostel. When my relatives came, they wanted to sleep in a top-class hotel, so I was able to experience that as well. Whatever you are looking for, Munich has a large variety of accommodations and if you make sure to look in advance, you can find very good offers.

To culminate a great visit…

At the beginning of the article, I said that Munich is about more than beer, but as a student, I have to make a final recommendation. Please, you must go to Hofbräuhaus, probably the best-known brewery, a title it has definitely earned. I went there at least ten times and I always experienced something new. Founded in 1589, it is still incredibly popular as its three floors are always very crowded. Immediately, a distinctly German atmosphere pulls you in: on the ground floor, there is an orchestra always playing Bavarian music and it is so easy to surrender to its charms. Both the waiters and waitress wear typical Bavarian costumes and constantly run across the restaurant carrying liters of beer to satisfy the clients as quickly as possible.  Furthermore, there is a souvenir shop at the entrance of the brewery, ideal to buy last minute reminders.

If you have a penchant for traditional gifts, Hard Rock Munich is in the same street as Hofbräuhaus and, obviously, is also worth seeing.

Munich is the city that never sleeps and there is a great variety of offers for every kind of person. What are you waiting for? Maybe an image of Marienplatz, the main square of the city, will fully persuade you.

The New Town Hall. Photo Credit: Andrea Rodríguez Jiménez.

The New Town Hall. Photo Credit: Andrea Rodríguez Jiménez.

This is the center of the city and the main meeting point for every citizen and visitor: guide tours, musicians, artists…everybody gathers here at all times of the day. The most famous building located here is the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus). There is also a large column at the center of the square, known as the column of St. Mary. It was erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of the Swedish invasion. Finally, there is the Carillon, which attracts everyone. At 11, 12 and 17 o’clock each day, visitors can listen to the music of the Carillon and watch the 15 minute dance of the little dolls. According to those who have been there, this is a magical moment enjoyed by both adults and children. Spectators are left absolutely speechless, just as they are after visiting and exploring the city of Munich. Therefore, all who visit are left with the need to return.

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