Germany Part I: Getting There, Munich

I’ll be posting about Germany for the next few days because, well, you cover a lot of a country when you spend three weeks in it. It’ll be lots of words then photos with captions. (If you don’t like to read, just scroll down to the photos in each section. I’ll never know.)

We’ll start with the trip over and our time in Munich, where we spent 3 nights.

Getting There

We took Icelandic to Munich from DC, stopping off in Keflavik (airport outside of Reykjavik). Yes, they do really try to sell you on the “Iceland stopover” – their perk where you can spend up to four days there without any additional flight fee on your way to/from other destinations. It was about like any other airline, though I think there was more legroom than normal. (I’ve only got a 30″ inseam so YMMV if you’ve got longer legs.)

Our first slight was nearly 6 hours – we watched movies, listened to music, read, and I knit. We’d thought ahead and brought along sandwiches from a local place; bring your own food if you fly with Icelandic, they only sell food and it’s, well, airplane food. The transfer process was easy in Keflavik, as it’s a tiny airport and EU passport control had tons of lines open. We mostly tried to stay awake and enjoyed the free airport WiFi. Second flight was 3.5 hours, where we both attempted to (and were successful-ish at) sleep.

Munich – Day 1

After the usual blur of pick up bags (we’d checked them, making the gate agent’s day), getting cash, taking public transport into town, dropping bags at hotel, and freshening ourselves up as much as we could in a tiny hotel lobby restroom, we were off to explore. We did, as you’ll see we do almost anytime we get to a new city/town, the Rick Steves walking tour. Matt read as I sort of listened/sort of ignored him because I’m not too into history and more into finding out what a particular building is used for.

My highlights, as recorded during lunch:

  • Found a large stationary/office suply store to check out later (I did – on our last day there. It was AWESOME.)
  • Picked up pastry for breakfast
  • Purchased SIM cards for phones from T-Mobile (Rant: I’m still annoyed that they set mine up wrong – the data on my phone turned off after 10 days of minimal use because it was the 99 Euro cents per day for unlimited vice however long it takes you to get through 500 mB of data for 10 Euros.)
  • Sat and relaxed in Marienhof, a small park lined with shops

Speaking of lunch..we ate at the Hofbrau Haus, expecting it to be packed with cold beer and eh food. It was only about half full in the biergarten under the chestnut trees, the beer was quite cold, and the food was about the best we had the whole trip in a biergarten. I splurged on a giant pretzel being hawked by a woman who highly resembled Matt’s cousin. Did the usual biergarten food – schnizel, sausages, light beer for me, dark beer for Matt. [I’ll skip descriptions of biergarten food in the future, just assume we got this same stuff, more or less.]

After lunch, we visited the Residence, basically a palace in the middle of the city. We’d been there last time (more than 11 years prior) and I actually recognized several of the rooms. We picked up the pass that lets you into tons of Bavarian castles/palaces for a single, rather low, fee while there. After walking through the building, we relaxed in the formal gardens for awhile. They’re basically a can’t-miss part of Munich for me.

Then we did our first split-up: Matt toured the Penotiek Museum (which was mostly closed for critical repairs/renovations) and I hung out in the lobby and knit/people-watched. (I learned the German word for knitting beforehand and it came in handy, as this was the first of many times I was asked what I was knitting.)

At last, we were able to check into the hotel and change. Amazing how much a quick shower and clean clothes can make you feel after traveling! We did some shopping then headed back to relax in the hotel before dinner. We try to stay up our first day without naps, but I just couldn’t handle it.

Dinner was at the same Italian restaurant where Matt proposed back in the summer of 2005. It was still the very non-romantic place it was then – loud waiters shouting at each other and the kitchen staff, tons of guests packed into non-matching tables and chairs, and really tasty pizzas and pastas for next to nothing. Matt surprised me by giving me an early anniversary gift – a Tanzanite ring. He’d snuck it into his camera bag before we left and brought it along to dinner. And, yes, we did not resist the joke that I need to go back there again, as I’ve always gotten a nice ring when eating there!

…and we crashed.

[Taken at some point along our journey. Probably before the second flight? Matt usually wears contacts and I wear glasses to read, but we went for the easier approach on the flights.]

[Some building used for something. Don’t remember.]

[The new Munich synagogue.]

[Shopping street.]

[Biergarten in the morning.]

[Outside of the Hunting and Fishing Club, I think it was called. They also have a bronze fish outside, but Matt had to pose with his true love, the pig.]

[Yep, no idea what this is. Church?]

[We were in Munich just before Oktoberfest. There were stores selling “festwear” all over the place – and random people wearing it as they went to work or running errands.]

[I always take photos of buildings with flower boxes.]

[We randomly went here our first time in Munich, 10 years ago. We’d visit another of their locations later in the trip.]

[I would be like this guy if I worked in Munich. Go to this peaceful art installation/fountain to relax when stressed.]

[Lighting candles in churches to focus prayer is always very powerful for me, not being from a church tradition which uses candles in association with prayer.]

[Loved the stained glass.]

[I think this is the outside of the church where the above photos were taken. Don’t bet on it, though.]

Munich – Day 2

We slept in, played on our phones without talking (yay, introverts!), and finally dragged ourselves to breakfast around 9. Tons of breakfast options, but I was most happy about the make-your-own fancy coffee station.

I really wasn’t feeling well (sinus issues) so we had a more relaxed day. We visited Schloss Nymphenburg, a beautiful palace in the suburbs with lovely gardens. The rest of the day was spent getting up to (S-Bahn, bus, then steep but short climb required) and relaxing at Kloster Andechs. It’s a still-working monestary with a chapel you can tour plus, the real reason 90% of people visit, a very, very good biergarten. We hung out all afternoon, drinking beer and chatting, with some reading (Matt) and knitting (me) thrown in. We’d had lots of lunch – at the Augustiner biergarten a bit outside of downtown Munich – so went for a variety of meats and cheeses with another giant bretzel (pretzel). Everyone seemed to be there to just hang out, with most bringing impressive picnic spreads, complete with real silver wear and even place mats. Before heading back to the city, we stopped at a little beach named Panorama for Matt could take some photos of the sunset.

[Dinning hall – or was it ballroom? – at the Residence.]

[One of the many neat ceilings at the Residence.]

[The view as you walk up to Schloss Nymphenburg.]

[Artsy fartsy version of the view, from closer up.]

[Loved the chandeliers, which were different, room to room.]

[Not a great picture, but I love that she’s rolling her eyes.]

Munich – Day 3

Okay, so we didn’t actually spend the day in Munich, but half of it. We got up early and took our already-reserved train to Regensburg, about 90 minutes away. We walked around town – stopping to tour the Palace of Turn and Taxis, had lunch at the world’s oldest bratwurst stand (got a table!), and walked through two different churches. We walked over to where they were holding Dolt, basically a local fair like we have in the US with no livestock and add one or more GIANT bierhalls. We walked around, feeling very out of place, then shared a liter of beer before going back to Munich.

This is when I finally got to visit the big stationary store, where I limited myself to only a Lamy Demonstrator and some light blue cartridges for it. Matt took sunset photos while I did that and, a bit later, sat and knit. Dinner was at the Hacker-Pschor biergarten which was far fancier than any of the others we’d visit.

[Starting the German-only tour of the Palace of Turn and Taxis. Our guide was great, though, telling us a bit more than the English audio guide as the other guests filtered between rooms. The family started the German postal service back in the day and still live in the palace.]

[Inside a Regensberg church.]

Next Post: Bavarian Alps

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