Munich - A City For Everyone

Munich, Germany - One of the worlds great museum cities, with Octoberfest, Fasching, Christmas Markets, great fun, and BEER .


Munich - A City For Everyone

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by flyingscot4 on November 8, 2007

I love Munich. Despite my age, I still travel with a backpack and stay in hostel dorms which makes Munich an ideal destination. Much of what I write is geared to the budget traveler (whether by necessity or frugality). I will not be recommending different tours (many of which are expensive), but rather talk about public transportation. I will not recommend hotels or expensive restaurants because I have not patronized them for over 40 years. I will talk about ways of budgeting time and resources allowing one to travel inexpensively as well as what can be called experientially. My goal in this writing is to convince readers that a trip to Europe need not be a one-time thing, but one in a series. My definition of a traveller is an explorer who doesn't have to get there first. A traveller is a person who goes to experience a culture not to just see some sights. A traveller is one is willing to devote more time to a country, it's heritage and it's people. Munich is a great place to start.

Like many German and other European cities, Munich is a city for wanderers. The churches and cathedrals are magnificent, the restaurants are varied and excellent, the palaces are extraordinary, the sights are memorable, the history is enthralling, and the people are wonderful. Also, the museums and art museums are among the best in the world. From hotels to hostels, accommodations for every budget are plentiful and necessary for the millions of tourists that visit each year. And, did I mention the beer, beer halls, and beer gardens? Let's not forget Fasching (Carnival), Octoberfest, and Christmas markets.

Munich is also an excellent "base city" for day trips to Bavarian locations such as Nuremberg, Regensburg, Augsburg, Oberammergau, Füssen (Neuschwanstein), Mittenwald and many others. It is also convenient to Tirolean ski destinations in the German and Austrian Alps as well as the Austrian cities of Salzburg and Innsbruck. There are numerous bus tours to local attractions as well easy transfer to "The Romantic Road" tours.

One can easily spend a month in Munich and not see everything. The three Pinakotheks (art museums) can easily take a full week to really appreciate. The "Deutsches Museum" is known as the oldest, largest and most interesting science and technical museum in the world.

Last thoughts. This is my "Do Not Miss" list and I will be writing about each in the future. They are: the Residenz, (especially the treasury), New City Hall and the Glockenspiel (the whole Marienplatz area), Frauenkirche, Peterskirche, Asamkirche, Heiliggeistkirche, Theatinerkirche, Victualiensmarkt, Pinakotheks (art museums), Nymphenburg Palace, Deutsches Museum, and other places.

There is something for everyone in Munich! ${QuickSuggestions} Munich is considered to be an expensive city. I find that it is the least expensive of cities it's size for tourists. Rent is expensive as are automobiles, some food products, and luxury items such as jewelry, famous maker clothing, etc. I don't find Munich to be exorbitantly expensive when it comes to tourism unless the tourist wishes to make it so and support all of the souvenir shops.

I stay in hostels. Why spend a lot of money for a room in which one will spend eight or nine hours? I usually eat one meal per day at a restaurant, and I frequent the local restaurants and not the "tourist catering places." This is not to say that the "tourist" places are not as good, they are just more expensive. One of my meals (either noon or evening), will consist of sandwiches and water or soda. I have an allergy to alcohol so wine and even alcohol-free beer can be problematic.

Munich has wonderful grocery stores right in the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), or across the street in the lower level of the department store. The breads and rolls are some of the best in the world and cold cuts are readily available. Soda and water can be purchased by the bottle at about one-half the price in machines.

From the main station to "Stachus" (Karlsplatz - Karl was not a favorite of the Müncheners) one will find lots of places for bakery, pastry, and other light foods or snacks. I usually spend about $1.50 for my small meal.

Learn the metric system of weights and measures before you leave. It is really simple. One kilogram (kg) is 2.2 pounds, which means that 250 grams (gm) equals slightly more than half a pound and 100gm equals almost a quarter pound. Simple.

Restaurant prices for local fare vary from very reasonable to very expensive. Personally, I try to find places that are recommended to me by people from the hostel or the TI. I ask for the places that "they" would go whether the menus were in English or not. I will write more tips about particular restaurants at a later time. What I will say is that I have NEVER been to a Munich restaurant where I was dissatisfied. Enjoy!

Websites:
http://www.toytowngermany.com/ (great - only in English)
www.muenchen.de/Rathaus/tourist_office
www.bayern.de/English/ ${BestWay} Walking is the best way to get around. As mentioned, it is truly a wanderer's city. Every time one turns a corner, there is something to see. The city has a large "pedestrian only" section. It is also flat and great for bicycles, of which there are many. Tourists need to be warned that when crossing the street to look, not only left or right, but also behind them on both sides. If one is able to hear the "tinkle, tinkle" of the little bicycle bell (warning system), it's already too late. Don't walk in bicycle lanes!

Public transportation.

Munich's excellent public transportation system consists local trains (which one finds at the Hauptbahnhof), trams, buses, and the U-bahn and S-bahn. The system is much the same as in most German cities. The city is divided into zones which are concentric circles radiating out from the city center. Fare prices increase by the number of zones one passes through.

There are multiple kinds of tickets available. First is the "single use ticket" which is exactly that, good for one ride in one direction. Next is the "Streiffenkarte" (strip card) available in 5, 10, or 15 strips. One punches the number of zones traveled, usually in multiples of two. Next is the "all day ticket" which can be a great savings if one is going to a lot of places in one day. The subway (U-Bahn) tickets are the same price. Also, if one wants an unguided tour of the city, take a round trip on tram 18 or 19.


The "Munich City Tour Card" includes all public transportation for a specific number of days and also includes discounts for museums, tours, etc. It replaces the "Munich Welcome Card" which is no longer available.

Some of the best transportation is by bicycle. Bikes are for rent at many city locations and is a good way to tour the city. Check "Mike's Bike Tours" when you arrive or at their website.

As previously mentioned, Munich is a city for walkers. The pedestrian zones allow for walking to be pretty care-free.

Walking allows a person to be an active participant in their own vacation. The ability to walk up and "touch" allows for a degree of knowing familiarity that would go unnoticed behind the windows of a bus. It takes only a little physical effort.

Have a wonderful time in this wonderful city.

One Of My Personal Favorite Hostels In All Europe

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by flyingscot4 on November 19, 2008

Munich is one of the best "base cities" anywhere in Europe. Franz Josef Strauss International Airport is just outside Munich with frequent and efficient train and S-Bahn transportation into the city. The Munich Hauptbahnhof has direct trains to almost anywhere in Germany, indeed, most of Europe. The city has one of the best U-Bahn (subway) and S-bahn (light rail servicing the suburbs) systems in the world. Austria and the Alps are close (you can see them on clear days), Regensburg, Augsburg, Nürnberg, and Stuttgart are all less than 2 hours by train. And, Munich is one of the safest cities in Europe.

What could be better? How about a very inexpensive hostel (14.50 euros per night for an 8 bed dorm in Nov. 2008) large, clean rooms with clean ensuite toilet and bath/shower facilities, comfortable bunks, pre made-up beds, excellent breakfast in a restaurant next door (not included), small, but efficient elevator, small lockable lockers in each room for valuables (padlock needed), two guest lounges on the reception floor, small guest kitchen and lounge on the 4th floor, small bar with reasonable prices, internet and WiFi facilities, bus stop (#58) within 50 meters, U-bahn (U3 and U6) within 100 meters, and still within walking distance of the old city. Add to that a movie complex that is right on the corner and behind the McDonalds (that's right, a McDonalds right on your doorstep). Other amenities include a quiet, residential neighborhood location with an Aldi grocery store, drug stores, and numerous eating establishments close-by, and the Paulaner Brewery Gasthaus (top-notch Bavarian fare) within walking distance.

I have stayed at the Easy Palace multiple times. I have also stayed at most of the hostels close to the Hauptbahnhof and always go back to the Easy Palace. It is a third less expensive and the rooms are larger and very clean and the neighborhood is much more quiet and less seedy.

Getting there is simple: take bus #58 from the train station and get off at "Goetheplatz" (the announcement will sound like "gur-tah--platz"). Get off the bus and walk straight down Mozartstr. past the McDonalds to the hostel.

Last, the hostel staff is super, among the best I have met in Europe. Besides being among the most friendly, they are also very knowledgeable about the city and the best places to go (not necessarily the most popular, but still the best). I appreciate them more every time I stay there. "Thanks guys. You're the best!"

The only negative comment that I have heard about the EP is their "key" system. There is only 1 key to each room. As long as there is one person in the room, the key stays in the room. When the last person leaves, she/he turns-in the key to the desk. When guests return they ask if the key is at the desk or in the room. Some say that the system is inconvenient, but I am willing to put up with a little inconvenience if there are no keys running around Munich looking for thieves. It makes great sense and keeps the guests and their property more safe. This is a very safe hostel in all ways.

I think it's the best!
Easy Palace Hostel
Mozartstr. 4
Munich, Germany, 80336

Wombat's Hostel

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by flyingscot4 on November 15, 2007

Wombats Munich is one of the cleanest hostels I have found.

Pros: The rooms and bathrooms are immaculate, the staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. The beds are quite comfortable. It is located within a block of the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) so coming and going is very convenient. All transportation is close by. Our two-person room was €70.00 per night, although some of the dorms are about €15.00 per night. There is a free walking tour of the city which leaves the hostel at 10:30 AM. It is quite a good tour.

Cons: It is in a kind of seedy neighborhood. While it is not unsafe, some women have felt uncomfortable. My girlfriend said she would not stay there if she was alone. I repeat, however, the neighborhood is NOT unsafe and I would happily stay there again.

Note: When we were there, our double room was TINY! It had a balcony with furniture, and both the room and bathroom were spotless, but the overall room was too small (and we are not large people). We could not comfortably pass each other in the room. It would have been better with a double bunk bed (one bed on top of the other).

Note: I accidentally deleted the photos that I took here. The photos on their website are accurate depictions of the hostel.

I have heard that the dorms are great and I highly recommend this hostel for everyone regardless of the "cons" that I have noted.

Octoberfest: Wonmat's is one of the most popular hostels in Munich and fills up early, so book early! Making reservations one year in advance is not a bad idea.
Wombat
Senefelderstraße 1
Munich, Germany, D-80336
+49 89 5998 918-0

Hofbräuhaus

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by flyingscot4 on November 20, 2007

Historically, the Hofbräuhaus has been around for over 400 years. Originally the royal brewery (the name "Hofbräu" means "royal brewery"), the Hofbräuhaus has been in it's present location since 1607. There is a wonderful "time-line" history of the restaurant and brewery at the Hofbräuhaus website listed at the bottom of the page.

I have read many reviews of the Hofbräuhaus over the years. Most were positive, but some were not. My reaction to negative remarks is, "If you don't like it, don't waste your time here and go somewhere that you enjoy." The Hofbräuhaus can be just as obnoxious as any other place that serves alcohol to a few million visitors per year. Basically, it's a lot of fun for those who like a good, boisterous beer hall. Try to think of it as a wedding reception in a beer hall without a bride and groom.

Most tourists see only the "Schwemme" (basically, the beer hall), but there are two other good places plus the Beer Garden in good weather. Try the "Bräustüberl" (first floor) or the "Festival Hall" on the second floor for a "Bavarian Evening" of food, music, and entertainment. Many tourists never see those.

I have enjoyed the Hofbräuhaus for over 40 years, I have NEVER had a bad time there, and I have experienced most everything that can happen there. I have had beer spilled on me, and I have had a girl dropped on me (she lost her balance while sitting on someone's shoulders). In 2007 I escorted three Japanese young ladies there and had another person convince them to try snuff (see photos).

It is difficult to be ambivalent about the Hofbräuhaus. Like it or don't; it's that simple. Remember the words to "Country Roads" by John Denver, and learn the words to the "The Hofbräuhaus Song" below. You will have the opportunity to sing both songs numerous times before the night is over. The Hofbräuhaus truly can be fun if the tourist doesn't take everything too seriously.

The Hofbräuhaus is not just for tourists. The majority of their business is German. They have about 90 groups that meet there on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. It is not the most well-known beer hall in the world for no reason.

The Hofbräuhaus Song

In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus
Eins, zwei, g'suffa
Da lauft so manches Fasschen aus
Eins, zwei, g'suffa
Da hat so manche braver Mann
Eins, zwei, g'suffa
Gezeigt was er so vertragen kann
Schon fruh am Morgen fing er an
Und spat am Abend kam er heraus
So schön ist's im Hofbräuhaus

About the food; remember that most German food is pretty heavy with stick-to-your-ribs great flavor and texture. While it may not be totally healthy, I notice many "old" Germans running around and I conclude that the food hasn't killed them yet. Menus at the Hofbräuhaus are multinational so translations are unnecessary.

For purposes of information, here are a few pointers. If you want a "menu," ask for a "Speisekarte." "Menu" refers to daily specials as does "Tageskarte."

Munich is famous for "Weisswurst," a white (weiss) wurst made of veal in a very heavy casing. The proper way of eating is to cut the wurst in half and "suck" the wurst out of the casing. Anyway, they say that "Weisswurst" should be eaten before noon, but consumption occurs round the clock.

Germany has "Purity Laws" that are centuries old. A meat product can only be called "wurst" if it contains only meat and fat. No fillers or binders (grain) can be used and still be called "wurst."

Another good thing to know is that many German servers are not smiley and friendly. They are not unfriendly, but they may be short. It is nothing personal, locals get the same service. Also, here are a couple of practices with which Americans are not familiar. First is the practice of putting the flatware and napkins in mugs or glasses on the table in a serve yourself style. The other is the fact that meals are not served to a group at the same time; the are served when they are ready.

Anyway, I have had many good meals there. I suggest the Schweinebraten, Eisbein (pork shank), the sausage platter and almost anything on the menu. Germans do more with pork than anyone and I personally love it. The daily soups are also excellent.

As for the beer...

This is not the place to go to sample lots of different beers. You have few choices, all of which are Hofbräu: light (Pilsner) beer, dark (Bock) beer, wheat (Weiss) beer, all of the above mixed with lemonade called "Radler;" two different size glasses for beer: liter (quart) and half-liter (pint). While wines, champagnes, and non-alcohol drinks are served, the majority libation consumed is beer.

Hofbräu is a very good beer. Some other beers are rated higher, but it is still a good beer. In every German brewery, the "master brewer" is a position of high esteem, and rightfully so. The master brewer is responsible for the entire brewing process, especially the taste of the finished product. The "Purity Laws" for beer still control the ingredients allowed in the brewing process - water, barley, and hops. At one time the laws also controlled the price of beer - one penny per liter. Of course, in 1516 a penny went farther than it does now. Another interesting fact about the original law was that fact that only three ingredients were allowed, water, barley, and hops. Yeast had to be added later. Originally Bavarian, the Purity Laws continue to be enforced throughout the brewing process in Germany.

The "Schwemme" (pub) seats up to 1300 people (read "drinkers"). Reaching capacity is not a rare occurrence. The Festival Hall accommodates another 900 and the Beer Garden seats 400. In other words, when the Bräustüberl is included, over 3,000 guests can be accommodated at any given time. And that, is a whole lot of beer!

"Stammtisch" means that the table is reserved for one of the regular groups mentioned above. There is usually a card on the table indicating the times reserved for the group.

When you arrive, just find a table with enough places for your party, say to the others at the table (if there are any), "Können wir heir sitzen, bitte?" ("Can we sit here, please?") and if the answer is "Ja!" just sit down and say to a server, "Ein Maas, bitte" ("one liter, please") or "Ein halbe, bitte" ("half liter, please," and "Prosit.!" Enjoy! And join the fun!

www.hofbraeuhaus.de
Hofbrauhaus
Brauhausstrasse
Munich, Germany

Bratwurstherzl

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by flyingscot4 on March 20, 2008

This wonderful restaurant is located just behind the Victualiensmarkt at Dreifaltigkeitsplatz 1. Historically, the present building of this "Bratwursthaus" has been a gasthaus since 1633, and became the home of Bratwurstherzl in 1901. The current owner, Herr Walter Berringer, has 5 restaurants, this being the only one in Munich. The others are located in Nürnberg and all specialize in Nürnberg Bratwurst. These delicious finger-like sausages, made in the city after which they are named, are brought in daily from Nürnberg (if the sausage is not made in Nürnberg, it cannot be called "Nürnberger"). Freshly grilled over a beechwood fire, the sausages are served with a large helping of sauerkraut or potato salad. You can order 6-8-10 or more with prices starting around €6.60 for six.

Bratwurstherzl is a Bavarian restaurant and looks it. From the outside the restaurant appears to be quite small, but there are a number of dining rooms, and it is larger than it looks. Upon entering, a feeling of "hominess" envelops the visitor like a warm blanket. The rustic brick walls with vaulted ceiling and arches throughout add to the intense but tranquil feeling of "gemütlichleit" (see below).

Although the specialty is Nürnberg Bratwurst, the full menu is not limited to bratwurst. Besides the usual Bavarian fare, because of the Nürnberg connection, there is a good range of Franken specialties (even though Nürnberg is in today's Bavaria, Nürnberger's still consider themselves Franconian). Anyway, salads, cheese plates, oxtail soup, potato soup, roast pork ("Schweinsbraten"), sauerbraten, turkey, pork, and veal schnitzels are all available and freshly made. The menu is quite extensive. Whatever one orders will be very good and the prices are reasonable (for those on the Euro standard).

The photograph of the dining room is typical of Bavarian dining rooms. They are very comfortable although sometimes a bit noisy. If you are looking for a super restaurant, filled with "gemütlichkeit" (see below) and great food, try Bratwurstherzl in Munich.

German Restaurants in General (especially Bavarian)

First, good local restaurants are everywhere. Ask at your hotel for a restaurant in the neighborhood that is very good, but not a tourist place. These are guaranteed to be better and less expensive than those restaurants that cater to tourists. After finding the recommended Gasthaus, just enter by the front door, and walk around and look for a table. It is customary to seat yourself. If there are no single tables to be had, find a table with enough empty chairs for however many you are, and ask if you may sit there, "Konnen wir bitte heir sitzen?" ("May we please sit here?"). Then wait till your server comes. He or she will usually ask what the diner(s) want to drink. The most common phraseology is, "Was zu trinken" or just "zu trinken." Most restaurants have two sizes of glasses of draught beer: "ein halbe" (half liter) or "ein kleines" ("quarter liter"). If you want a "pilsner" or "lager," "halbe" or "kleines" is all you have to say. "Dunkel" is the word for "dark" if you want a bock or double bock beer. If you want an English menu, ask for a "Speisekarte auf English, bitte." After you order, just sit back and relax with that good German beer or glass of wine, and look around the dining room. Mostly, you will see local people or at least German visitors. Try to ignore the smoke (it's everywhere) and relax in the lovely, and comfortable setting. There is even a word for it in the German language, "gemütlich," which means "comfortable or cozy," and "gemütlichkeit" is the word describing that feeling.

About waiters and waitresses. In most German restaurants the service staff is paid for being fast and efficient. I have read reviews that say the German wait staff are rude. From my years of experience, it is not rudeness but professional efficiency. Restaurant management wants the orders taken quickly and the meals served hot with as little distraction for the diners as possible. Management is not looking for quick table turn-around (you can stay as long as you like), just fast, efficient service. If you look like you have finished your meal, the wait staff will clear your plate. If you are not finished, just say, "noch nicht, bitte" (not yet, please).

Generally rolls and butter are NOT INCLUDED in the price of the meal. Just because they are on the table does not mean that they are free (you will have to request butter from your server). Both will appear on the check as will the nice big pretzels.

Another thing to remember is that in most German restaurants, the meal is served when it is ready. Meals for a group frequently do not come out of the kitchen at the same time. It's just the way it is. Also, your server will not bring the check until it is requested. Many's the American tourist who sits waiting for the check and thinking that the service is exceptionally slow. Meanwhile a waiter is wondering when the hell the party is going to ask for the check. All you have to do is to get the server's attention and say "Zahlen, bitte" ("pay please") or "Die Rechnung, bitte" ("the check please"). Taxes and tip are usually included. Look for the phrase on the bottom of the menu or check that says, "Alle Preise inklusive Bedienung und Steuern. Preise in Euro." which means "All prices include gratuity and tax. Prices are expressed in Euros." When the check is presented, it is customary, but not necessary, to "round up" to the next higher Euro. For example, if your check comes to €17.55, just say "eighteen," and the server will give you two euros back from a twenty euro bill. If your have received outstanding service you can certainly increase your tip, but give it directly to the server (just leaving it on the table will undoubtedly help the next diner pay for his meal).

Dining in German restaurants can be a wonderful experience. Some of the customs can be different from what you are used to, but just make it an "adventure." Look for the customs that make the dining experience different (like having the napkins and flatware in glasses in the center of the table). I sure that you will enjoy the experience.


Website:
http://www.die-nuernberger-bratwurst.de (in German only)
Bratwurstherzl
Dreifaltigkeitsplatz 1
Munich

Marienplatz - Where Munich Begins

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by flyingscot4 on November 17, 2007

Facts

Marienplatz is the heart and heartbeat of Munich's old city. Much of the old city was badly damaged or destroyed during the allied bombings in 1944-45, and rebuilt following WWII. In that respect, the square is quite new, but it has a history as long as that of Munich, and was central to the Bavarian seat of power for almost nine centuries. The Wittelsbach dynasty's first palace, the "Alter Hof," is one block NE of the New City Hall. The square and its immediate environs appear to be part of the Middle Ages as well as part of the Renaissance. Italian influence can be seen in the Münzhof, (royal stables) as well in the main post office on Maximillianstrasse (which is also one of the most exclusive shopping areas in the world). When leaving the square one has a choice of eight or ten different directions to travel, all of which lead to places worthwhile visiting.

Mariensäule (Mary's Column)

Standing in the center of the Marienplatz is Mariensäule (Mary's Column), after which the square is named. The Mariensäule dates from 1590, and commemorates delivery from the plague. The cherubic figures at the base of the column represent plague, war, heresy, and hunger. The square itself is a centerpiece for the city´s Founding Festival as well as for Fasching celebrations and the ever-popular Christmas market known as the Kripperlmarkt, or Manger Market.

Neues Rathaus (New City Hall)

The dominant and very ornate Flemish Neo-Gothic building on the North is the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), called that because it was built in the late 1800's. On the face of the tower is the famous Glockenspiel. Designed and built by Georg Hauberisser, it was begun in 1867 and completed in 1908. The beautiful Gothic building escaped heavy damage during WWII, and was used by the US military as a headquarters following the end of that war. There are 40 statues of Bavarian nobility encircling the exterior and at the very top of the tower, is the Munchener Kindl (Munich Monk).. The tower is 85 meters tall and houses the Glockenspiel (carillon) which has 43 bells across three octaves. At the very top of the Glockenspiel there is a cuckoo bird which sounds and flaps its wings. The fourth largest carillon in Europe, the Glockenspiel was a gift to the city of Munich in 1904 by furniture maker Karl Rosipal in celebration of his family's 100 years of furniture making.

My first glimpse of the Neues Rathaus was in September, 1962. At that time there was still rubble in places and many parts of the city were still rebuilding (i.e. the Residenz). Even then it was impressive.

Themes and Glockenspiel performances

During the summer tourist season, the Glockenspiel plays (spiel) three or four times each day: 11 AM, 12 Noon, 5 PM, and 9 PM (depending on the season). There are two different themes, the first in honor of the marriage of Herzog (Duke) Wilhelm V. Jesters and jousters circle each other three times in front of the seated duke and his bride, and on the third pass the blue knight unseats the red knight. The lower performance then begins what is called the "Dance of the Coopers" signifying the deliverance of the city from the plague. There are over thirty different characters as part of the carillon.

On the top of the tower there is a statue of the Münchner Kindl (Munich Child), a monk-robed child which is the emblem of the city and from whom the city gets its' name. The tower can be climbed by steps or elevator. The view is not nearly as good as the one at the tower of Peterskirche, but, as mentioned, there is an elevator.

In the lower level of the building is the "Ratskeller Restaurant." The ambiance is very Bavarian and well-done. There are lots of dark wood furnishings, vaulted ceilings, and the decorations are understated (as as true in most Bavarian restaurants). The flowers on the tables are real, and there is no hint of cheap souvenir junk that adorns most ethnic restaurants in the US. The theme is noticeably gemütlich or "cozy," and the Rathskeller makes one very welcome indeed. The reasonably priced food is traditional Bavarian. I have eaten here numerous times and never been disappointed.

Also located in the building is one of the Tourist Information centers (TI). It is a fountain of information, and the German TI's are among the best in the world. They are very friendly and helpful and the TI should be every traveler's first stop in any city or town.

I have taken great pleasure in this building over the years, and I still do. Today, however, I also watch the crowds and their antics while trying to take photos of each other in front of the Glockenspiel. I have seen more than one tourist standing with his/her back to the Glockenspiel and holding their digital cameras at arms length to take a picture of themselves in front of the carillon.

Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall)

If you are facing the New City Hall, the white building on your right is the Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall). This old and somewhat plain Gothic building is from the 15th century and houses a toy museum today. The tower was destroyed during WWII and rebuilt. In the council chamber, one finds all 99 German coats-of-arms and medallions; all save one: the swastika from the National Socialist Party (Nazi) era.

Transportation to and from Marienplatz

Marienplatz, along with the Hauptbahnhof, is one of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn hubs, the other being at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Looking toward the Old Rathaus, there are blue and white signs with an "S" and a "U" which signify a subway station for both the underground subway (U-bahn) and the S-bahn which is underground in the city and above ground as it travels farther into the suburbs. Getting to Marienplatz is easy from anywhere in Munich.

Impressions

Marienplatz is an impressive square. More than most others, I have always liked this square because it is a fun place for young and old and there are always people to watch. There are other European squares that are somewhat more impressive, but this is a square that is for the use of the common folk. This is not a square to which one goes to be "seen," or for bringing friends to, or meeting friends at, or a U-bahn/S-bahn stop. It is a place to eat and drink at reasonable prices and just be congenial. It is a wonderful and relaxing place to just "hang out" for both locals and visitors alike.

Christkindlmarkt (Christ Child Markets)

During the season of Advent (the last Friday of November to December 24th), Munich's Christkindlmarkts (Christ Child Markets) dominate the entire pedestrian zone including Marienplatz. Technically, the beginning of most German Christmas Markets is the last Friday before the first Sunday of Advent, which is usually the last Friday of November. Along with the Christkindlmarkts in numerous other German cities and towns, the spirit of Christmas and the holiday season comes alive in Munich. Since 1972, the Kripperlmarkt (Manger Market) has made it's permanent location location here in Marienplatz. During the week the hundreds of stalls selling holiday foods, and other hand-made ornaments, angels, fig figures, hot wurst, and glühwein (mulled and spiced wine) come alive during the late afternoon and evening. On weekends the stalls are open all day and evening (till about 9:00 PM). In 2008 there were 85 different Christmas Markets in Munich. This festive time of year is a wonderful time to visit this great city.

Story

My favorite story of Marienplatz comes from about 40 years ago. I was watching the Glockenspiel (carillon) when an elderly lady came up to me and said, "You know zat watch?" pointing to the Glockenspiel. I answered, "Yes, I do." in English. She then rattled off about two minutes of very fast Munchener dialect, of which I understood perhaps three words. When she stopped speaking, she looked at me and said, "Now you know all! One mark, bitte." I suddenly realized that she was not kidding. She had performed a service and expected to be paid. I paid.

And so, the heart and heartbeat of Munich beats on at Marienplatz. Try it, you'll like it.
Marienplatz
Marienplatz 8
Munich, Germany, 80331

Residenz

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by flyingscot4 on November 20, 2007

The Residenz was the home and seat of power of the Wittelsbach family for over 700 years. Built in 1385 as a small, moated castle, the Residenz replaced the Alter Hof (near Marienplatz) as the Wittelsbach family residence and seat of government. During their 700 year reign, which lasted until 1918, they also built Nymphenberg Palace as a summer residence.

Because the Wittelsbach's were in power for so many centuries, most of the periods are represented including Renaissance, Rococo, Neo-Classical, Baroque, etc.. The remarkable Antiquarium (Hall of Antiquities) is the largest secular Renaissance hall north of the Alps, and is on top of the list of highlights (other than the Schatzkammer). The Antiquarium is also the oldest German museum of Greek antiques (most are Roman or Renaissance copies). Other architectural masterpieces include the Reiche Kapelle (Ornate Chapel), the Hofkapelle (Court Chapel), the Nibelungensäle (Nibelung Rooms), the Rococo Ancestral Gallery and the rooms by François Cuvilliés the Elder (including the Residenztheater), the Porzellankabinett (Porcelain Cabinet Room)and the neoclassical Königsbau (King's Tract) created by Leo von Klenze. Today, the Residenztheater houses the Bavarian state theater, and the Nationaltheater, which houses the the Bavarian state opera and ballet, is next door.

The Residenz theater (closed and under major restoration when I was there, so no photos, sorry), the Cevilliestheater, was designed by a diminutive but tenacious man named Francois Cuvillies who was from what is now the southern (and French speaking) part of Belgium. He was actually the "court dwarf" of the famous Elector Max Emanual when it was discovered that he had amazing talent for designing military complexes. He was sent to France to study the new Rococo architectural styles and is responsible for many of that style's most beautiful examples. This is a "must see" theater and a very special place.

To actually tour the entire Residenz including the theater, gardens, treasury, and both interior tours, plan at least an entire day. The museum is so extensive that one section is open in the morning, and the other is open in the afternoon. Guided tours are offered and an English guide book available for purchase (which I recommend). Another option is use of the free self-guiding recorded tour which has narration and descriptions for each room the visitors pass through. It is fairly easy to get lost on the tours but there are many staff members walking around cautioning (sometimes emphatically) against flash photographs. Almost everyone who goes in eventually wanders out.

The Residenz is one of the most dazzling palaces in all of Europe. The walls adorned with wonderful paintings, the frescoed ceilings, and the most beautiful inlayed wood floors are truly inspiring. When one includes the Schatzkammer, the Residenz is more than magnificent. While this complex was completely rebuilt some fifty years ago, the quality of craftsmanship seen in the palace is exceptional. Quality remains an obvious watchword in Munich.

There are many palaces in the world, and some are more well-known (Schönbrunn in Vienna, Versailles in Paris, Buckingham Palace in London, etc.), but for all of that, the Residenz is still one of the very special palaces in the world.

I spent a lot of time at the Residenz and while I missed a couple of places that I really wanted to visit, the time spent was so worthwhile.

I listened to a number of people who were somewhat unimpressed with the Residenz and I feel so sorry for those who see this kind of treasure when they are still too young to enjoy it. It was not open when I was there in my early 20's and I am sure that I would have felt the same way as many younger people feel today. My goal in those days was professional beer and wine tasting, and seeing how many girls I could impress without having to dance. Now I wish that I would have better appreciated these marvelous places and I am so thankful today that I still can. It seems that maturity comes whether I want it or not and now, while still wishing I could dance, I also wish I had appreciated the things and places I saw in my 20's the way I do now.

So much for personal politics...

My personal opinion of seeing Munich requires six full days including one day trip to Dachau Concentration Camp. It works out like this: one day for basic sights around Marienplatz with stops at the churches and beer halls (just to look, of course), one day for the Deutsches Museum, one day for the Residenz, one day for Nymphenberg Palace, and one day (minimum) for the Pinokotheks (Old, New, and Modern). Add day trips to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof (including Oberammergau), and also the Tirol region of the Alps, Munich becomes a very full week.

As previously mentioned, this complex will take at least one full day to visit. There are two tours. The first (morning tour) encompasses over half of the rooms (Rooms 1 - 81), and is completed in the afternoon with the second half (some of the rooms are duplicated in the afternoon tour). The morning tour includes the extraordinary Nottbohm Collection of European Miniatures, an extensive collection of fine miniatures dating from the late sixteenth century to the mid-nineteenth. This collection is not repeated in the afternoon tour. In all, there are about 120 rooms to visit within the complex plus the Schatzkammer (treasury), the theater, and the gardens which can easily be a half-day to tour.

The longevity of the Wittelsbach's and the Hapsburg's is extraordinary (over 700 years) and partly due to the liaisons by marriage of both families. The "Ancestral Gallery" (shown in both morning and afternoon tours) covers 738 years of Wittelsbach's. One of the more interesting facets of this gallery is the lengths to which the Wittelsbachs went to insinuate that they were related to many of the great European royalty.

NOTE: The Residenz was almost totally destroyed at the end of WWII. The workmanship is so outstanding that one cannot see where any repairs were made or new sections added to modernize the complex. Private collections of art and artifacts were saved from destruction at the end of WWII, however, the Nazi's refused to allow the removal of any art from public buildings because they feared that the removal would cause panic and disquiet among the population. Rather than save the art, the Nazis meticulously photographed all of the buildings and their collections. That photography was so scrupulous and thorough that the building interiors and exteriors could be faithfully recreated during the reconstruction following the war. In this case, German efficiency was key to the recreation of these magnificent buildings.

Many people have told me that they can't justify spending that much time in one city. My response is, "Why not? Do you think that this will be your only opportunity to be in Europe?" If you think that, please read what I have written in what I call "Experiential Travel."

Address:
Residenzstraße 1
80333 München
Telephone(0 89) 2 90 67-1
Email - ResidenzMuenchen@bsv.bayern.de
Website - www.residenz-muenchen.de

Hours: Open daily
April-15 October:
9 am-6 pm (last entry: 5 pm)
16 October-March:
10 am-5 pm (last entry: 4 pm)

Admission charges:
6 euros regular
5 euros reduced
Combination ticket:
Residenz Museum / Treasury:
9 euros regular
8 euros reduced

NOTE: The Kaisersaal or Emperor's Hall shown in one of the photographs is one of the rooms available for rent for some private functions (as long as the State of Bavaria is not using it. The price, you ask, a paltry €15,000. Of course that does not include furniture, or heat. You'd think that at that price they would throw in a throne for your cocktail party. As I wandered through the complex, I kept telling myself, "I could do this. I really think that I could live here." All I have to do now is to figure out who I have to contact to try. No slender ambitions here.
Munich Residenz
Max-joseph-platz 3
Munich, Germany, 80539
49 (89) 290-671

Schatzkammer der Residenz (Residenz Treasury)

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by flyingscot4 on March 17, 2008

If you like jewels and gold and things that glitter and sparkle, prepare to get your socks knocked off.

Historically, the collection dates its origin from the will of Duke Albrecht V in 1565, which required the formation of an "unsaleable" collection. Under him and his successors, the collection grew through the centuries especially in the 18th century when the treasure of the Wittelsbach's of the Palatinate was transferred to Munich. Then, in 1803, a large amount of secular church property was confiscated (Roman Catholic for the most part), adding many more treasures. In addition to these secular pieces, the Residenz also has a collection of many liturgical relics (bones of various rulers, saints, and martyrs) which are housed specially made containers called "reliquaries." At about the same time, many pieces of religious paraphernalia including vestments, chalices, and other examples of the goldsmith's art were also added to the collection.

Following the almost total destruction of the Residenz by allied bombs in 1944 and 1945, rebuilding the Schatzkammer commenced immediately following Germany's surrender in 1945. The Schatzkammer was relocated to ten rooms on the ground floor of the Königsbau and was the first section to be restored after the Second World War. It was reopened to the public on June 12, 1958 along with the first section of the Residenz museum.

Although this was my first visit the Schatzkammer, I have toured the Residenz several times. On this visit I purchased a printed Schatzkammer guide at the reception area (a strongly suggested purchase), and along with the free audio guide which describes each room and each piece in the room, I started the ten room journey. In the first room I put the guide down so I could get my camera out. (I had put it away because I was told at the entrance that flash photographs were not allowed and that without a flash they didn't come out very well - see note to photographers at the bottom.) The very first room that I entered made such a deep and indelible impression that I decided to get what I could. Anyway, I never thought of the guide again until I was leaving (it was gone when I went back to look for it).

The translation of "Schatzkammer" is "treasury," although this exhibit has nothing to do with coin or currency. Rather, it has to do with the wealth of the Wittelsbach dynasty in antiquities: gold work, jewels, Objects d' Art, both secular and religious. Because the dynasty lasted for over 700 years, the collection itself is huge and one of the finest and most dazzling in Europe. Besides the quantity of precious stones, the goldsmith's art is beautifully displayed as is the art of cutting rock crystal. Words cannot adequately describe the stunning magnificence of the exhibition.

The Schatzkammer has hundreds of antiquities with values in the category of "priceless." The value is inestimable especially since the stones that look like diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, etc. really ARE diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. There are over 1200 pieces in the Schatzkammer, each with multiple gems including the Wittelsbach regalia as well as crowns of royalty from other dynasties. Many of the crowns of the dynasty including the crown jewels of Bavaria (crown, orb, sceptre, and sword) are located in Room 5.

Of special importance is the striking and bejeweled gold statuette of St George slaying the dragon in Room 3. Slightly less that 20 inches high, is difficult to see the gold through the 2000 diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other precious gems. It is said that the face under the visor is that of one of the Wittelsbach dukes who represents Catholicism and the dragon is, obviously, Protestantism.

There are numerous chalices, crowns, necklaces, and many other gold, silver, and enameled works as well as carved ivory and beautiful hand carved rock crystal (it looks like glass but is clear rock crystal). The pieces date from 890 AD forward to the early 19th century when the Kingdom of Bavaria was created.

The entrance to the Schatzkammer is the same as for the Residenzmuseum. Three different ticket options are available: Museum only, Schatzkammer only, or combination ticket. The prices are €6, €6, or €9. Hours of operation are listed below.

There are guide books available for purchase at the ticket desk, which I recommend. Also available are free audio guides. The audio guides will give you display by display descriptions, but if you listen to all of it, you will be there for five hours. The guide book has most of the information, and you can take it with you.

I have omitted detailed information of the pieces because while important to some, the pieces themselves and the marvelous craftsmanship exhibited are more important.

Photographs are allowed without flash or tripod (tripods must be checked at the entrance). See note below.

Allow at least 2 hours for the Schatzkammer by itself. It is really difficult to get lost as it is a "one-way" trip through. The Residenz is another story...

NOTE: There is a wealth of information to be found at the website including a history of the collection as well as some anecdotes: http://www.residenz-muenchen.de/englisch/treasury/

Address:
Residenzstraße 1
80333 München
Telephone(0 89) 2 90 67-1
Email - ResidenzMuenchen@bsv.bayern.de

Hours: Open daily
April-15 October:
9 am-6 pm (last entry: 5 pm)
16 October-March:
10 am-5 pm (last entry: 4 pm)

Admission charges:
6 euros regular
5 euros reduced
Combination ticket:
Residenz Museum / Treasury:
9 euros regular
8 euros reduced

NOTE for photographers: Making photographs in the Schatzkammer is allowed, however, a tripod is not, and neither is flash photography. While the lighting appears to be good for existing light photography, it is an illusion. The rooms are kept dark with very effective subject lighting done with small, low voltage spot and flood lights, which, because of the very low over-all illumination, only appear to be bright. I borrowed a man's meter and it registered F2 at 1/15 for ISO 200 film. He was using a small Leica set-up (film not digital) that was designed for horizontal table-top (gem or medical) photography. If your goal is good, high resolution photographs (digital or film), you will need to be very steady, and a good IS capable camera is really necessary. For film users with ISO 100 film, my exposure would be f2.0 at 1/8 sec. If you can still hand-hold at that shutter speed, you will probably be OK. Digital cameras allow for increases in the ISO to counter the light deficiency, but lower resolution is the price. In this case, a 12 MP camera was used with IS and 1600 ISO.

Note: The reason tripods are not allowed is two-fold. First, it would slow the passage through the displays and second, because of the low lighting, other visitors could trip over the various tripod legs. Flash photographs are not allowed because of the emission of ultra-violet light from the flash units which has the same effect of "bleaching out" colors much like the sun.

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j69159-Munich-Munich_-_A_City_For_Everyone.html

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