Total time: 1 travel day plus four nights. Total steps walked: 40,279. Total miles walked: 16.5.
Bavaria is the largest state in Germany and Munich is its capital. We decided to go to Germany in the first place partly because of our interest in WWII history. While we’ve visited many US and UK places of interest, it dawned on us one day that we’d never been to the “dark side.” My husband and I are of an age to remember a Germany divided after the war into East and West as well as when the Berlin wall fell. We grew up on cold war spy thrillers, of which both Germany as a whole and Berlin specifically played major roles.
So that’s part of how we chose Germany. Why/how we decided to go to Bavaria/Munich is still a bit of a mystery to me. I’m sure it had to do with some travel show we were watching and since we were going to go to Germany anyway, it made sense we should stop in. It was an easy flight from London and from there we were going to catch trains to Berlin and then Amsterdam.
So after spending months trying to learn a bit of German on Duolingo off we went. The original plan was to fly to Munich from London and use it as a home base for various day trips into the Bavarian countryside. One of the planned day trips was Nuremberg. Once we figured out that our train to Berlin was going through Nuremberg, we made Nuremberg its own stop. We did make a day trip to Ulm which has a gorgeous church. So this part of the trip was a “get there day” in Munich, two full days of exploration there, a day trip to Ulm, and then on to Nuremberg for an afternoon/night.
Unlike London, which is like old home week for us, going to Munich caused me a bit of stress. We’d never been there, we don’t speak the language (although I found out I’m pretty good at reading menus, signs, and train information). But that’s never stopped us (or slowed us down much) before so no reason to slow down at this point. Actually I’d try to say something in German and they’d just smile and say something back in English.
When we arrived, even though we were sitting close to the front of the plane, we wound up being the absolutely last people to get through immigration and the last people to get their bags. Things got much better from there (except for the cab drivers who are the rudest I’ve met anywhere, ever — it was actually kind of funny in a perverse way).
We stayed at the Courtyard close to the east train station (or Ostbahnhof) which was comfortable and access to the train station made it easy to make it to the central part of the city. Much of what makes Munich famous is found around Marienplatz — only a couple of stops from our hotel. When I came up into Marienplatz from the underground elevator (tired and beaten up by travel), the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh, Wow!” We spent the arrival afternoon and two full days exploring the area and found yet another small Italian restaurant with great food.
Here are some pictures that say so much than I can (you should be able to click on them for a larger view).
The third full/final day we were in Munich, we decided to take the train over to Ulm (about two hours each way). Again, we had seen a terrific travel video showing a quaint Bavarian village. What we found was modern, high-street shopping terminating in a magnificent cathedral (under renovation). Neither quaint nor Bavarian were much to be had (although I found more Radlers and they were good).
Our fourth day in Bavaria found us heading to the train station early for the trip to Nuremberg. I enjoyed the city, which is walled with a huge castle on a high mount on the north end of the city. We had a cab take us up the road to the castle but neither I nor my husband were brave enough to scale the seemingly vertical driveway up to the castle itself. Nuremberg isn’t as hilly as, for example, Edinburgh, Scotland but it’s pretty challenging. I found the city charming with some great architecture and lovely scenery.
After spending the night in Nuremberg, we caught the train to Berlin, leaving Bavaria behind us.
I’m really glad we visited the region. However, if I were to plan the trip differently, I probably would have taken the four nights we spent in Bavaria and added them to the Berlin and Amsterdam itineraries. A lot of it just had to do with just the stress of added travel – bags, trains, hotels, etc. As much as I enjoyed Munich, Ulm and Nuremberg, if we had flown directly to Berlin from London, we would have been much less beatup by the trip.
Next stop – Berlin – where the Kindle ran away with the iPad! (Stay tuned!)