Welcome to Munich! Or as they say here in Germany: Wilkommen in München!
We made it all the way to Germany! 2,700kms in a plane packed with noisy, loud, assertive German people – man was that a shock after the socially restrained behaviour we’ve become accustomed to in Scandinavia. I know it’s a stereotype, but man Germans can be boisterous! We’ll just have to pull out our best lederhosen, grab a tankard of beer and join in!
We started our day at 4:00am – which means got up before the sun! As we were standing outside our hotel waiting for the Flybus to pick us up, the sun just started poking its head over the horizon. The last thing we saw as we hopped on the bus to the airport was the outline of the Hallgrímskirkja, by the light of the new dawn. Ah Reykjavik….
An hour on the Flybus and we were at Keflavik International Airport and it was MADNESS. There were hundreds of people in that tiny airport trying to check in, drop their bags off and then find out what gate they had to be at – all still half asleep and many of them with cranky kids in tow. Man what fun! Luckily the flight was smooth and easy and within 4 hours we were in Germany (I LOVE flying in Europe by the way – everything is so close! Fly 4 hours in Aus and you barely make it to Perth, let alone across 4 countries).
After the chaos of Keflavik we were dreading arriving at Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss International Airport. It’s one of the busiest airports in Europe (38 million passengers flew through there in 2012!), and tired as we were, the thought of those kind of crowds was freaking us out a bit. Turns out 1:00pm on a Sunday is the PERFECT time to arrive in Munich if you want to avoid the crowds. It was empty! We were quickly out with our bags and on a bus to Munich proper (the airport is about 40kms out of town). On the way we passed lots of fields full of sun-ripened corn and the occasional farmhouse. Mostly we saw lots of BMW’s, MercedesBenz’s and VW’s speeding down the autobahn (translation = freeway). The speed limit was 120km/hr but I’m sure people were zipping past our bus much faster than that!
Established in 12th century, Munich grew in size and influence over the centuries to become one of Europe’s most important cities by the 15th century. Modern Munich is home to over 2.4 million people and is Germany’s most prosperous, relaxed and liveable city; it repeatedly makes it into the “Top 10 Cities” for global quality-of-life rankings, and apparently, when Germans are polled about where they would like to live, Munich finds its way consistently at the top of that list too. Within proximity of the Alps and some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe, it is not surprising that everyone wants to live here. Add to its benefits the beautiful Baroque and Rococo architecture, green countryside, a booming economy with global headquarters of many world-class companies, modern infrastructure, extremely low crime and the greatest beer culture on the planet. What’s not to love?!
We’re going to be in Munich for almost a week, using it as our base for exploring Bavaria. While we’re here we’re staying in a small family-run guesthouse just a couple streets from the hauptbahnhof (translation = central station) and a few blocks from the altstadt (translation = old town). The hotel is so very authentically German that we can’t help but love it already!
Once we’d checked in and had some lunch we took ourselves out for the afternoon exploring – doing our usual City-WOT (City Walking Orientation Tour – cool I know; sorry it’s already trade marked by shaneandrobbie). The inner city of Munich is the cultural heart of Munich; it lies within the old historical walls (and a modern loop road known as the Altstadtring) and is where the city was first born. Most of Munich’s best known sights lie within the walls of the altstadt so that’s where we headed to do our touristing. The architecture is amazing – very grand. You can see that Munich was a wealthy town (still is actually) and, as the capital of Bavaria, an important city. Here’s just a small sample of what we’re here to see over the next few days…