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9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com

The first stop on our Germany and Luxembourg trip was the Bavarian city of Munich. My parents, sister, daughter, and I arrived after an unending flight where my toddler refused to sleep, and we were all exhausted. After being up for 48 hours straight (and nearly 9 of those hours wrestling a two-year-old on an international flight), I was not in a loving mood towards this new city.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
Hour 1 in Munich, and all I could think about was how exhausted I was.
We attempted to sightseeing that first morning, but I was so tired, I could've laid in the cobblestone streets and slept. After those few introductory hours in Munich, I was ready to write the city off and sleep through until we headed out on the rest of our road trip.

Munich, I'm sorry.

It wasn't you; it was me.

After some rest for all of us, we had fresh attitudes and clearer minds for our second attempt at München. It took two attempts, but I discovered what was incredible about this amazing place.

In no particular order, here are the 9 reasons why I loved Munich, Germany:

1) The history

As my blog regulars know, I can't go an entire blog post without talking about history! For fellow history buffs, Munich is a fantastic place to visit since there's been a documented settlement here since the 8th century. Those first recorded Münchners were Benedictine monks, and the city takes its name from the Old High German word "Munichen," or "Monk."

If you're interested in later history, there's plenty of that as well, as Munich was the governmental center for the Bavarian dukes back before Germany became a unified country. Ludwig the Bavarian (who built Ettal Abbey) and Ludwig II (who's known for his work on Neuschwanstein Castle) both lived here, albeit about 500 years apart.

In recent history, Munich served as a favorite haunt of Hilter and the Nazi party. Before he rose to power, he was arrested here for a failed insurrection, and he held his first meeting of the National Socialist party in the Hofbrauhaus. Because of his knowledge of Munich, Hitler chose an area just outside of the city for his first concentration camp, Dachau.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
During World War II, Munich's buildings suffered severe damage from bombings and few of the older buildings still stand in full. Munich's history--both the good and the bad--is literally carved into its structures, and it is a city that is not afraid to hold that history up for anyone's perusal.

2) The food

From the pretzels to the beer to the sweets, you can't go wrong in Munich. Although German food often gets a bad wrap in the culinary department, I thoroughly enjoyed the tasty treats we had while in town.

Make sure to wander the Vikualienmarkt to see what fresh produce, meats, and pastries are for sale. There are several grab-and-go food stands offerings paninis, bratwurst, pretzels and more. At one (Teltschik's Wurst-Standl), my dad, my toddler, and I ate some delicious sausage with mustard and a huge, soft pretzel. It was the perfect start to my German culinary sampling!

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
Brats, wurst, and bretzel: YUM!
Near the Vikualienmarkt is Cafe Frischhut with their out-of-this world schmaltznudel, a fried dough that's covered in sugar and cinnamon. Try it. You won't be sorry.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
Schmaltznudel, I love you.

3) The user-friendly transportation system

We speak very, very little German and had never been to Munich prior to this trip. Despite that, we were able to use the public transportation with little problem.

If you're coming from the airport, hop on the clean and efficient S-bahn that runs between Flughafen München and the Hauptbahnhof. If you're traveling with your family or friends, make sure to get the group ticket.
9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
Waiting on the U-bahn at Hauptbahnhof
To get around the city, the U-bahn is easy and quick. I've been on my far share of subways, and none that I can remember have been this clean and safe-feeling. I was traveling with my parents, daughter, and sister, but I would've felt comfortable on the U-bahn even if I'd been traveling alone.

We also made extensive use of the tram network that connects both the S-bahn and U-bahn systems.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
The tram stopping outside our hotel

4) The Residenz

Never have I given up on a palace before I got to the end of the rooms--until I visited the Residenz. With over 90 rooms open to the public (all of which are decorated in the over-the-top Rococo style), it's easy to get overwhelmed by it all.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com

Thankfully, there is a short route for the easily overstimulated visitor, and a long route for those who want to soak in every single room.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com

Whether you give up 10 rooms in or you make it all the way through, the Residenz is an architectural and historical marvel and should not be missed.

5) The city's cleanliness

There are a lot of people in big cities, and, with large groups of people in a small area, trash piles up quickly.

Not so in Munich.

At least in the areas that we visited (Old Town and Maximilianstrasse), the streets were free of trash. Throughout our visit to Munich, my family and I remarked at the difference between other large European cities and Munich. I don't know what their secret is, but it's working.

6) The pedestrian-only areas

Back when Munich was chosen to host the 1979 Olympics, city officials decided to turn Kaufingerstrasse into a pedestrian-only zone, and business owners panicked because they thought they were going to lose business. In reality, their businesses skyrocketed as people flooded into the car-free areas to shop and sightsee, and, today, more streets in the area are petitioning to be pedestrian-only as well.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
The area around the Glockenspiel is filled with tourists, but no cars!
Along this pedestrian area are hundreds of shops, the famed Glockenspiel, and Michaelskirche (where Ludwig II is buried).

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
Just taking a stroll
Munich is, in general, very pedestrian friendly, so lace up those walking shoes and pound some pavement.

7) The city's resilience

As I mentioned above, Munich took a beating during World War II, and the city was nearly unrecognizable by 1945. When the war ended, Münchners had two options: take the easy way and bulldoze the entire place and start over again, or do the more difficult thing, and try to salvage what they could.

They went the second route, and, because of their persistence, 21st century travelers can still see what those historic buildings looked like before the bombings. Instead of creating new architecture, the city rebuilt the old buildings as close to the originals as they could.

I've read about other travel bloggers' disdain for the city's architecture because of this, but I applaud Munich's decision to do so. After the war was over, and they were trying to rebuilt their homes and churches and businesses, they went the extra mile to make their city look like their city again--I cannot find fault with a city reeling from that experience as they sought comfort in what they'd once known.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com
The restored interior of St. Peter's
If you still had any doubts about the city's focus on rebuilding, let me tell you a story. St. Peter's Church, the oldest in Old Town Munich, is seen by many as the symbol of the city. When it was badly damaged during the war, parishioners began to slowly collect the funds to rebuilt it. As a reminder that their work was not finished, the church's bells would ring the normal song on the hour, but would leave off the final note. (Which, by the way, would drive me insane. I NEED resolution!) The parishioners listened to that for over 50 years until the church finished its restoration in 2012.

8) The cute little monks everywhere

Several centuries ago, the Benedictine monks established a monastery there long before Munich was a city. As a nod to the monks who gave the city its name, the Munich coat of arms features a hooded brother. Over the years, the iconic monk has become younger in his portrayal, and you'll often see him as a young boy without the hood. More recently, the Münchner Kindl is shown as a girl.

Once you know what you're looking for, you'll find the monk everywhere. Much like the Hidden Mickeys at the Disney parks, the Münchner Kindl pops up in the least expected of places, including manhole covers and on top of the Glockenspiel.

9) The friendliness of the residents

You never know what you're going to get in the way of help in a big city. I've been snubbed in some cities, while other places have locals who are happy to help. Munich, I'm glad to report, falls into the latter category.

From the front desk clerk at our hotel to the lady who served me my first taste of wurst and bretzel, we continually found people who welcomed us to their city and did what they could to make our visit better.

Have you visited Munich? What did you think about it?

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