After leaving Amsterdam quite late in the day, we arrived in Munich gone midnight! So, we couldn't wait to spend the next day exploring and seeing what the city was like!
When Harmony and I landed in Munich, we found it easy enough to navigate through the airport, to the train station. A train into the city cost us about 11€ each, which seemed like a lot to me, but it was a surprisingly long journey!
Waiting for us at the platform was the S1 train. The S8 train would've taken less time to get into the city, but they come at alternate times. So, even though the S1 took an hour, it was still five minutes quicker than waiting and getting the S8.
We got the train to Karlsplatz Station and, from there, we walked for about ten minutes. We could've just changed trains, but we couldn't be bothered to get another ticket and everything in the city seemed to be in close proximity anyway! It wasn't the best rail system that I've been on, but there were always stops where we needed them, and we were lucky enough to have one right outside our hotel!
In retrospect, it would've been worth getting a multi-day train ticket because we ended up paying lots of little train fares that soon started to add up. It wasn't until the second day that I got a 3-day ticket, which only cost 16.50€!
Where We Stayed
Our hotel was called Centro Hotel Mondial and it was great value for money! The surrounding area wasn't that nice, but it was the closest we could get to the old town without breaking the bank - about 70€ a night. We could've paid 8€ extra each morning for breakfast, but we saved our money and headed into the city centre instead because we just wanted to get out and explore!
Where We Ate
Each morning, we headed to the nearest Starbucks for breakfast, which was on the way into the city centre and was super easy to get what we wanted because of the familiarity. Seeing as we were in Germany, it only seemed right that we treated ourselves to a few pretzels to! The best place for pretzels that we found were from the Ditsch stall in the main Hauptbahnhof train station. There were also lots of fruit stalls all around the city that we absolutely loved going to!
Since returning from Asia, we had particularly missed eating Vietnamese food... That's why we couldn't resist ourselves when we found out about a restaurant called An Nam that was just down the road from our hotel! They even managed to squeeze us in between reservations! The service was amazing, the food was fantastic and the experience was authentic!
Another restaurant that we loved was called Jack Glockenbach. A quick Google search suggested this vegetarian restaurant, and we weren't disappointed when we decided to give it a go! In fact, we were blown away and very impressed when the food was placed in front of us!
What We Did:
Walking over from our hotel and an area that was mostly dull and grey, we started to notice more of a mix of old architecture and more modern styles. It even started to seem like Exeter High Street, and some spots in central London! That was all after we walked under Sendlinger Tor – an old city gate!
The first place that Harmony and I headed for was Marienplatz – the city's main square. What makes it so amazing is the foreboding design of the New City Hall, which contrasts to the almost unreal and unusual, but also traditional look of the Spiezlemuseum.
Hidden inside the New City Hall's incredible courtyard is a secret elevator that allows access to the building's tall tower. We got the elevator to the fourth floor, paid a lady at a counter 2.50€ each, and then got another elevator to the ninth floor.
After stepping out of the elevator and seeing just a small room with graffiti covered walls, we found a door that took us outside, where we saw amazing views of the square and the alps in the background!
St Peter's Church
We then stumbled across St Peter's Church, which was lucky because I wanted to check it out anyway for it's home to another of the city's secret towers! To find the tower, we stepped inside the church, but all thoughts of the tower slipped our mind when we saw the truly impressive paintings and decorative interior, as well as the statues gilded in gold.
That's when we started to look a little closer and started to see the little details. Surely it should look older than this, surely it should've been built with older materials? The giveaway was what looked to be walls of cheap concrete. It then became clear that this was a result of bombing and due to the destruction of the war...
After looking around inside the church, we realised that the stairs up the tower were only accessible from the outside, so that's where we went. The stairs were steep and the walkway was narrow. The top was a fantastic view point that was well worth experiencing, even after already going up the New City Hall tower! The perspective was completely different! This tower cost 3€ each and we also put 50c in a telescope and and thought it was amazing to see all the tall trees and forestry area just outside of the city!
On our second morning in Munich, I decided to go to Konigplatz for the sunrise. It was snowing pretty heavy, but I knew that I didn't have many chances to get the shots that I wanted, so I headed out with a plastic bag at the ready to cover my camera from the elements.
From Sendlinger Tor, I just had to go a couple stops up the line. As I came out at Konigsplatz, I was faced with three unusual but very interesting buildings right in front on me. One building was an antiquities museum, one was a museum for Greek and Roman sculpture, and the final one was just an awesome monument. To me, they looked very Roman and somewhat out of place! However, as it turns out, there are a lot of these Roman looking structures sitting as centrepieces in squares all around the city!
** WARNING – A sensitive and somewhat dark subject from here **
Dachau Concentration Camp
It might sound a bit dark, but the real reason that we came to Munich was to visit Dachau Concentration Camp. Dachau was the first concentration camp created by the Nazis and was home to all sorts of horrors, including torture, slave labour and medical experiments. It also acted as a model for other concentration camps around Germany and other occupied countries.
I know, this isn't an activity that every tourist would like to enrol themselves on, but I still think that it's something that everyone should experience. Harmony and I booked a tour online through Viator.com for about 24€ each.
The tour started at 10am in front of tourist information at Marienplatz. Also waiting for the tour was a much larger group than we were expecting to see, and with them all, we walked to the train station, took a train and then rode a bus to Dachau.
For the sake of getting to the concentration camp without having to worry about how to actually get there, the tour was worth doing. However, it would've been easy enough to get to by ourselves with a bit of research, and it would've been much better to go through the camp at our own speed, with just our thoughts and not such a big group.
After arriving at the visitor centre, getting refreshments and going to the toilet, it was time to go through the iconic gate and into the camp grounds. In terms of first thoughts, I didn't really have any. I was lost for words trying to make sense of what I was seeing and reading on the information boards and in the accompanying old images. All the while, a light rain fell through the air and set a general mood of eeriness.
The museum was an old-looking, C shaped building, and is where we went first. The tour guide talked us through the displays, imagery and information, whilst other tour groups also made their way through behind and in front of us. We walked half way round the building and saw some truly brutal stuff before being shown the memorial outside and the reconstructed barracks across the “Roll Call Ground”. Passed that, and marked out by a seemingly endless row of railway sleepers, we could see where the other barracks once stood, where the prisoners lived overpopulated and underfed, whilst the German population was brainwashed and desensitised with propaganda.
Finally, we were taken to watch a documentary, and then we were free to explore the other areas - the showers, chapels and crematorium - whilst trying to absorb everything... Everyone but the tour guides in silence. And a little while later, we left the camp with heavy hearts, bearing a thought to those who didn't see the outside world again... To those who came to the camp 70 years ago in hot, cramped, windowless cattle-cars, with ideas of freedom long forgotten, or perhaps with nothing more than the idea of freedom and their memories keeping them going...
NS Documentation Museum
On our last day in Munich, we had one more place that we needed to visit – a Nazi museum, to put it simply. We still had a lot to learn, and this museum taught us it all... All about the lead up to the Second World War, the war between right and left wing politics at the time, the war itself (minus Japan's involvement), the discrimination that people had to endure, the use of propaganda and even the fascist viewpoints that remained.
It was really interesting to learn about Munich's important role in Hitler's rise to power. In fact, the museum now sits on the site of “The Brown House” - the building that the Nazi government worked out of. The best bit about the museum was being able to hear the stories and speeches that showed us how the individuals were effected – they weren't just a label, but a person. However, the museum still could've done with more of this, and we could've done with more time there!
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