Back in October we were looking at the calendar and we realized we didn’t have any trips booked until Hogmanay in Edinburgh, and feeling that travel bug nipping at our feet, decided to go somewhere. The only issue was, we didn’t know where. Using Google Flights (or whatever it’s called these days), I said I wanted a direct flight, within 2.5 hours of Dublin, for under $200, hit enter and waited to see what came up. As you can imagine, there were a number of places we weren’t interested in getting away to for a long weekend, and several others we’d already been to. But there, shining like a beacon of inspiration, was Munich. We’d been to a few German towns in 2015 on our Danube Christmas market cruise and knew that we enjoyed them so we decided to give it some serious thought. Since our trip would be post-Oktoberfest and pre-Christmas, there was a bit of a lull in the city’s tourism so several hotels had fairly cheap rooms available. Within four days we had booked a four night trip. Then came the planning!
We ended up staying at The Sofitel Munich Bayerpost which was … interesting. Definitely high end, definitely luxurious but … weird. The rooms are decorated in a super contemporary style and while comfortable, the set up was a bit tight and the lights were probably the most confusing I’ve ever encountered, anywhere (and this comes from someone who still hasn’t mastered the lights in her house after having lived here for over a year). We loved the indoor pool though which was fantastic and futuristic and cave like and just oh-so-cool. We did not, however, use the sauna because it was co-ed and when Alan walked in there were women sitting there with their tits out. (Fun fact about me: I am a prude.) I didn’t really care that they were comfortable letting it all out, but *I* can’t handle the idea of anyone seeing my nips. I freak out if our 3rd story windows are open when I’m trying to get dressed. So yeah, no sauna for us. The other thing about the hotel that I was iffy on was the location – it’s located right across a parking lot from the main train station, which is also across the street from the Le Meridien. So it’s both an upscale location and a rundown one, if that makes sense. If you’ve traveled widely you know the areas around train stations aren’t always filled with the most savory characters and it’s true that walking back late at night we felt apprehensive. Not unsafe … just not quite as confidence as we normally feel in Dublin. The surrounding stores were also just one after the next selling crap, upon crap, upon crap. The walk to “Old Town” was about 20 minutes away, and had I known, I would have booked us a smaller three-star hotel over that way instead. (All of TripAdvisor’s reviews talked about The Sofitel’s “amazing” location.”
Now Old Town … dreamy. It is everything you expect a major German tourist area to be, and in the best possible way. Because we were in shoulder season, it was never very crowded walking around and we got to wander and just enjoy ourselves. The architecture, which I imagine was all rebuilt following the war, is just beautiful. (I’ll talk a bit about the war a bit later, but first … beer & drink!)
Our first night we went on a beer tour that was led by an American who had been living in Munich for several years. I mentioned this in my post about Venice, but we enjoy tours that are led by Americans because they approach it understanding an American sensibility and I think are better able to address the tour’s content to their audience. We started off with a beer from Hacker-Pschorr, one of the Big Six Brewers in Munich, while making our way across town to the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum, where we sampled beer from Augustinerbräu and ate pretzels. From there, we walked over to one of the Hofbräuhaus restaurants for dinner with the group. After that, our tour guide lead us over to the main Hofbräuhaus that you typically associate with Munich (more on it later), were we hung out with a few of the folks from the tour for more beer and pretzels.
I feel like I want to write chronologically how our trip played out, but I’ll be honest … there’s a lot of talk of Nazis coming, and I don’t want that downer to take away from the amazing food and beer we had while visiting Munich. Suffice it to say, we did our best to soak up as much of it as we could, having fantastic meals at Augustinerbräu and Hacker-Pschorr affiliated beer houses. (I’m drawing a blank on what they’re called right now.) At Augustinerbräu, we didn’t have a reservation so we got seated at a table with three old German men. Two of them left and by the time Alan came back from the restroom I was having a conversation with the third, an 80-something guy who was a retired Colonel in the German Army. His English was pretty broken, and my German is pretty much limited to ten words, but somehow we made it work. It also doesn’t hurt that no matter where in the world we are, old men love me. Seriously. The thing I love about these communal dining halls is how they’re actively not bars. Sure people are drinking, but they’re not there to get drunk. Or if they are, they don’t act like it. Because the beer isn’t overwhelmingly high in alcohol, you can sit and enjoy your beer for a very long time. (At the 2nd Hofbräuhaus we visited, this is not the case. People want to get drunk.) I think forever I will remember the amazing pork knuckles and potato dumplings we had at Augustinerbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, and Spatenhäus.
Okay, back to my chronological telling of our trip to Munich.
On our second day in the city we embarked on a tour dedicated to the rise of the Third Reich in Munich. You can imagine this is *not* a feel good tour. While I felt it didn’t match to the description on the website, I still found it very interesting and informative. I would have liked to have more specifics, but it was a good intro and served to give one a feel for how the Reich grew within Munich. We visited specific sites you associate with the Reich, including the rally grounds at Königsplatz, the site of the Kristallnacht, the Nazi headquarters, and the memorial to all those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Oh, and the Hofbräuhaus I mentioned before? That’s where the Nazi party was first formed (as a different party) and where Hitler basically took command and transformed it into what we all know about today. One thing that struck me during the 2.5 hours we toured these sites was the dissemination of propaganda and how willing to believe it certain facets of the population were. Sadly, it sounded all too familiar and the longer the tour went on, the more depressed I became because I was pretty convinced the U.S. was about to embrace it’s own version of the Nazi party. By the time our tour was finished, I was emotionally spent so we ended up back in the room to nap off our malaise before dinner.
Our final two days of this trip were spent exploring other areas of the country, so I’ll be back later with an update on those journeys. In the meantime, enjoy these postcards from our time in Munich.