Munich is special, at least it is for me. I was stationed in Nürnberg, Germany during the early 60's and I spent many weekends in Munich. When I couldn't get an overnight pass, the city was still only a bit over an hour away by train, so I could go for just the day. I had a number of friends that were German university students and we loved going to the Bavarian capital. I was introduced to the Hofbräuhaus on my first visit to the city and although it was a really fun place, through my German friends I grew to like the Löwenbrau Keller and most of the Augustiner Brauhaus's (over 30 and they're all good!) a little better. Personally, I like the Augustiner Keller and the Hirschgarten, but they are all good. However, when it's fun you want, the place to start is the Hofbräuhaus!
Munich is one of few places that I feel qualified to do restaurant reviews and have done a few. However, that is not the purpose of this Tip/Story.
Munich's history is long, sometimes gory, oft times funny, and always interesting. Bavaria is mostly Roman Catholic and Munich leans heavily toward the Church. Some of the most impressive churches and cathedrals are in Munich and all are worth a visit. Octoberfestis the biggest and best beer party in the world, but if you are lucky enough to visit during Octoberfest, you shouldn't be reading this in the first place. This writing is for us "poor folk." Prices go up twice a year: during Fasching (it's the equivalent of Mardi Gras) and Octoberfest. One tally said that in 2007 there were six million visitors during the three weeks of Octoberfest. Whew! How would you like to have Chicago pop in for a visit?
I have done reviews and stories on Munich on this site (Please see Munich - A City For Everyone. They are just my opinions, but most folks have told me that they were well fore-warned.
There is no bad time to visit Munich. As beautiful as the city is outdoors, much happens indoors as well. One can spend two days at the Deutsches Museum and not see it all. The Residence is worth an entire day (but that's for when you return to Munich). Nymphenburg Palace and the small palaces on the grounds can take a full day as well. The city has over 80 Christmas Markets (read my reviews), which go from small to humongous and pretty well indescribable. You can feel the Christmas Spirit. It is palpable.
So, enjoy Munich and the time that you have to spend there. This is just your first trip, remember?
But, I'm not done. There's more about your trip that may or may not work for you and I will just put it out there for you to think about. In this itinerary, you are in Europe for eleven nights including the night before you leave On a two week vacation, you will have a little time to recuperate, but if you have an extra couple of days and would like to relax, Munich is the most relaxing city I ca think of. There are a number of options.
1. Open jaw air itinerary - flying into one city and leaving from another.
2. Additional nights in Europe with my suggestions at about $50 - $60 per day.
3. Night travel.
An Open Jaw air ticket would allow you to leave for home from Munich giving you one extra day in Munich or any other nearby city you choose, depending on the departure time of your flight. It is a little more expensive, but the cost of the rail ticket back to Warsaw is eliminated. For me it has always been worth it. This is where your travel agent is good to have. They are very good at routing and finding the best price.
Additional nights are possible as well. If you have the time and money to stay extra time, I figure about $50-60 per day plus all travel costs, it is worth the amount of extra cost. My trips (now that I'm retired) are usually between 4 and 6 weeks. My Spring 2011 trip was 39 days and cost about $2200. That figure includes over two weeks in the old East Europe zone which is still a bargain but costs are rising each year. I was also able to find a flight for $418 RT Chicago to Warsaw. I am fairly adept at organizing my trips so that I travel on night trains, which are next.
If you can sleep when on a train, there are lots of possibilities, but there are some warnings and things to watch out for. First, it is strongly recommended not to travel on night trains in the old East Europe. There are lots of thieves and worse. Females are advised that there have been reports of attempted sexual assaults in sleeping berth cars. Also, if you find yourself alone in a car at night, it is advisable to move to a car with other passengers. These problems are mostly in the East Europe zone and not frequent.
There are plenty of thieves in the West zone as well, but these are usually pickpockets. When traveling at night, I keep my camera bag and netbook under the seat in front of me, chained and padlocked to the seat. My main backpack never carries valuables and the clothing is easily replaceable. I carry a small line of aircraft cable that can be padlocked for my pack in hostels (I actually never have had occasion to use it).
If you are one who cannot sleep well in autos, you probably won't be able to sleep on trains either. Also, and this is important, if planning to sleep on a train, make sure that you don't have to make several transfers with significant waiting time at stations between trains. I do travel at night, but I have been doing it for so long, that I can sleep almost anywhere. My jacket is my pillow and I carry a small sound and vibrating alarm in my pocket for wake-ups when I need to change trains. I sleep well sitting in a compartment or a regular second class seat, but if you don't, travel during the day! This is a vacation, not a test of performance when sleep deprived. It is best to go slow, see less, and enjoy more. You'll be back.
A few last tips. I do use a money belt for cash and keep only about $30 of cash in my wallet along with change and one debit card (I have three debit cards in case an ATM gets hungry). At home I use a money clip, but in Europe I carry currency and change in a wallet because it does not identify me as a possible target, and also, Europeans consider it rude to flash money around. Most crime committed against tourists in Europe is pickpocketing (and they are very good) so, if you can help it, take no valuables with you other than a camera and cell phone. Do not take valuable jewelry or your Rolex (buy a cheap Timex). Laptops are OK because they are hard to pickpocket. Pockets with Velcro are OK, but zippered pockets are better. Men, keep your wallets in your front pockets.
I wear no white clothing when I travel. Mostly I wear polyester because it dries fast and gets me out of a laundry fairly quickly. Linen slacks dry pretty quickly too. I never travel in jeans because denim dries very slowly. I have the front creases of my slacks sewn in which makes it look as though they are freshly pressed. I try to dress appropriately for houses of worship. I usually travel in spring and fall months and my wardrobe, including my pack and what I'm wearing, consists of 3 pair of underwear (poly), 3 T's (poly), one turtle neck (poly), 1 sweatshirt or sweater (poly), 2 pr slacks, 1 khaki (poly), and one olive cargo (poly), 1 pr sleep shorts, and a medium weight jacket. My heaviest items are worn on my person when I fly. That's it!
I hope that this information has been helpful. I have been doing it for many years and still repeat mistakes. I still make enough for both of us so you won't have to. I would like the satisfaction of knowing that I helped convince someone to try solo travel. It is so nice to do only the things you want to do. A poet I don't remember said, "Mostly, it's letting yourself come first for awhile." I like that.
Remember to pack light and if you need lots of clothing changes with you, make them underwear. Hopefully, you'll thank me.
Have a great first trip to Europe!