Munich, Germany

After spending four romantic days in Venice, we headed to the land of beer and bratwurst: Munich, Germany! We caught the S-Bahn from Munich International Airport to City Center, and we immediately realized why Munich is said to be one of the most livable cities in the world. First, the public transportation system is top notch — not only is it clean, but it is also efficient and gets you almost anywhere you could want to go. (And yes, it puts the NYC Subway to shame. Absolutely. No. Delays.) Second, the city is extremely contemporary and vibrant, with lots of coffee shops, cafes, bars, museums, parks, and festivals. And finally, the people are so friendly and helpful, but perhaps this is due to a liter or two 😉

Here’s how we spent four full days in Munich, including our first Oktoberfest experience!

Day 1
We settled into our AirBNB and set out to explore the English Garden. As we entered the park, we heard a brass-band playing, so we followed the music and discovered the Chinesicher Turm, or Chinese Tower Beer Hall. This outdoor beer garden is the second largest in Munich, with over 7,000 seats! We ordered the first of many liters and bratwurst to come, before continuing our adventure to City Center.

Munich’s City Center is fairly small and can easily be walked in an afternoon. And, to be completely honest, we didn’t spend much time in downtown Munich. Because there were so many things we wanted to see outside of Munich — Dachau Concentration Camp and the Bavarian countryside — the trade off was worth it. But, if I could change one thing about our trip to Munich, it would be adding an extra day to visit some of the city’s museums and palaces (The Residenz, Nazi Documentation Center, Nymphenburg Palace, etc.).

We stopped by Hofbrauhaus, shopped around Viktualienmarkt, watched the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in Marienplatz, and window shopped along Kaufingerstraße. We also climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Church, and boy, the 306 steep steps to the top were definitely worth it! The 360 degree views of Munich were absolutely beautiful.

Tired from walking and sightseeing, we headed back to Hofbrauhaus for a traditional German dinner: beer, pretzels, and bratwurst!

Chinesischer Turm, an outdoor beer garden in the English Garden

Enjoying our first German beer at Chinesischer Turm!

German potato salad, sausages, and sauerkraut!

River surfing in the English Garden

Heads up! If visiting the English Garden, you may encounter sunbathers!

Obligatory Hofbrauhaus stop!

Shopping at Viktualienmarkt

Shopping at Viktualienmarkt

The maypole at Viktualienmarkt — each year around Oktoberfest, rival towns try to steal one another’s maypoles. The thieves are then rewarded with lots and lots of beer!

Marienplatz, Munich’s main city square

 St. Peter’s Church

 The first of many steps to the top of St. Peter’s Tower!

 Views from St. Peter’s Tower 

 Views from St. Peter’s Tower 

Hofbrauhaus — staff walk around with baskets full of pretzels and gingerbread cookies!

…and of course we had to order a giant pretzel!

 Beers on beers at Hofbrauhaus!

Day 2
On our second full day in Munich, we headed to Dachau Concentration Camp. While it takes about 90 minutes via train and bus, you cannot visit Munich without visiting the Dachau memorial site. I am so glad we made the trek — the history is extremely somber, but the impressions will last a lifetime.

Dachau Concentration Camp was the first Nazi Concentration Camp to open in March 1933, originally intended to hold only political prisoners. From 1933 to 1945, the camp housed over 200,000 persons — imprisoning not only political prisoners, but also Jews, German and Austrian criminals, priests, and foreign nationals. Over 41,500 persons were murdered, and there are thousands of deaths still unaccounted for. Prisoners lived in constant fear of of brutal treatment and terror detention, including standing cells and pole hangings for extremely long periods of time. As the Allies began to advance on Nazi Germany, the Nazis began mass executions and started destroying incriminating evidence to cover up the crimes that occurred in the concentration camp.

On April 29, 1945, American troops liberated Dachau. The American liberators made sure residents of Dachau and surrounding towns were forced to confront the horrors of the concentration camp — German civilians, Nazi elite personnel, and young boys in the Hitler Youth were brought to the camp to look at the naked, emaciated bodies of the innocent victims. Most could not believe what they saw, and yet, those from the surrounding towns had done nothing to stop the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

After spending several hours walking the memorial site, we headed back to Munich, just in time for a liter and pork-schnitzel at Augustiner-Keller!

Our morning walk through Hofgarten

Breakfast at Cafe Frischhut

 Dachau Concentration Camp was the first Nazi concentration camp, set up in March 1933. It served as the model for all later concentration camps throughout Europe.

The remains of the Dachau train platform, steps away from the camp’s gate. 

Arbeit macht frei, or work sets you free. This German phrase was used at several Nazi concentration camps throughout Europe. 

 Inside the Bunker at Dachau. Persons were imprisoned, subjected to brutal treatment, and interrogated for hours on end. 

Just three days before the Allies liberated Dachau Concentration Camp, the Nazis forced 7,000 prisoners on a death march to Tegernsee. During the six day death march, those who could not keep up were shot. Many others died of hunger and exhaustion. 

 This sculpture symbolizes the emaciated bodies of the prisoners who died of starvation and disease. 

“May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933 and 1945 because they resisted Naziism help to unite the living in the defence of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow man.”

 Never Forget

The original foundations of the 34 barracks at Dachau. The barracks were meant to house no more than 6,000 persons, but between 1933 and 1945, the camp grew to hold over 200,000. 

The Jewish Memorial at Dachau

 The Catholic Memorial at Dachau

The crematorium at Dachau was used to dispose corpses from the concentration camp. At the end of 1944, the capacity was no longer enough to cremate the scores of dead. When the Allies liberated the camp, American soldiers came across countless corpses piled up in the crematorium.

 The Grave of Many Thousands Unknown

 The Grave of Many Thousands Unknown

Day 3
We started our morning at Gartensalon, a cozy cafe near the English Garden. Between all the beer, pork-schnitzel, German potato salad, and pretzels, you would not believe how excited we were for a healthy (but yummy) breakfast.

After filling our bellies, we headed to the Bavarian countryside. We took the S-Bahn to Ammersee and walked about 3.5 miles through the countryside to the Andech’s Monastery. While somewhat strenuous (3.5 miles up hill), the views made up for the burn we were feeling in our legs!

The Monastery is the oldest pilgrimage church in Bavaria, and the largest business enterprise is the brewery. In fact, the Andech’s Monastery is rumored to produce the BEST beer in ALL of Germany. I would have to say I agree.

We explored the grounds for several hours, before heading back for an early night to mentally and physically prepare ourselves for OKTOBERFEST!

Breakfast at Gartensalon

Breakfast at Gartensalon

It’s only 10am, and everyone is already drinking beer! Prost!

The cutest baby announcement in the Bavarian Countryside

The start of our 3.5 mile hike…all uphill to the Andech’s Monastery

Lake Ammersee

The Bavarian countryside

The Bavarian countryside & Andech’s Monastery in the background

The Andech’s Monastery — over-the-top Baroque architecture

Enjoying the best beer in all of Germany!

Day 4
There is nothing quite like Oktoberfest. And literally nothing can prepare you for the craziness you will experience. We got to the grounds around noon, and by the sheer number of drunk people, we were apparently late to the party.

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival, with more than 6 million visitors and over 7.5 million liters of beer served each year! The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810, when (crazy) King Ludwig got married. The party was so fun, the Germans decided to repeat it year after year.

We visited several different tents including Augustiner, Hofbrau, Hacker, and Pschorr-Bräurosl. Augustiner is Munich’s oldest brewery, and the tent is known to be the friendliest at Oktoberfest. Hofbrau is the counterpart to Hofbrauhaus, and this is where you can join thousands of other people from all around the world uniting as they sing German drinking songs. At Hacker, you are surrounded by clouds and stars, and with a beer in hand, you truly feel as though you are in Bavarian heaven. Pschorr-Bräurosl is where the locals drink, and you can expect nothing less than great food and even better Bavarian music.

Oktoberfest is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience — drinking all day with strangers from all around the world. Plus, you can’t beat free entertainment, watching drunk guys thinking they can handle roller coasters without losing their stomach contents. Oh, and my best piece of advice? Drink all you want, but don’t forget your lederhosen and dirndls! You will stick out like a sore thumb if you forget this at home!

After a full day at Oktoberfest, we made it back to our AirBNB to prepare ourselves for an early morning train ride to Prague!

It is impossible to get lost trying to find your way to Oktoberfest!

Our first Oktoberfest!

Walking the fair grounds is one of the best ways to experience Oktoberfest

Hofbrauhaus

Augustiner-Festhalle

Prost!

Prost!

Prost!

Bavarian heaven!

Auf Wiedersehen, or Goodbye!

The Oktoberfest fairgrounds are magical. This day truly made us feel like we were in the adult version of Disneyland!

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