One year ago at a Thanksgiving Dinner I was hosting at my place, one of my monsooners from my 2016 Southern Africa trip and the 2017 Trans-Mongolian + Tibet trip, JC, brought over his new roommate Stephanie. She had just moved into NYC from her hometown of Munich and within a few months we would find out we’d share a scary number of unrelated, unconnected mutual friends from all over the world.
When I saw that I had a 22 hour layover in Munich on my way back home from Chisinau, Stephanie came to my rescue. This wouldn’t have been possible without her guidance.
But before I even start something crazy happened the moment I landed in Munich Airport. 3 months ago while hiking up Kotor Fortress I had made a friend named Terri from Australia, who since our chance meeting has been trying to come travel with us on our weekend trips to Slovenia and this very one to Moldova and Transnistria. However, neither came to fruition given her previously scheduled plans.
And alas, guess who I would run into the moment I landed in Munich Airport, on her one hour layover here?
Can’t make this up. It was meant to be, Terri!
After this chance meeting, Nick and I spent about a tortuous hour trying to locate our Uber before we were able to get into the city center at 4:30pm. We then checked into our accommodations at Gspusi Hostel before heading out into the cold, nasty rain. And to make things worse, we came in on a Sunday, which meant most places at this time would be closed.
Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to see in Munich so here’s the list of what we saw in order, making it all in 2 hours:
We started at Sendlinger Tor, an arched 14th century brick gate flanked by two towers that was part of the original city wall.
Asam’s Church, built in the 1700s and known for its baroque interior swathed in gold leaf.
200 year old Victuals Market boasting over 100 stalls.
Heiliggeistkirche, a 14th century Gothic church:
St. Peter’s Church, known for its tower overseeing the city:
The official city-center Square: Marienplatz and the neo-Gothic New Town Hall:
To the west is Frauenkirche, known for housing the Devil’s Footprint inside.
According to legend this was where the devil stood when he pondered and then ridiculed a windowless church. And in another treatment of the legend, the devil made a deal with the builder to build a church as long as it contained no windows. When the builder tricked the devil by placing columns to obstruct th e windows — which prevented the devil from entering the church — the devil stomped furiously at the foyer to which he could proceed no further.
A little more west of Frauenkirche is St. Michael’s Church, built during the Renaissance:
Turn back around so you don’t miss legendary beerhall dating back since the 16th century: Hofbräuhaus München.
Then head to Max-Joseph-Platz
…where to its north is 19th century Odeonsplatz, which is home to Feldherrnhalle, the 19th-century Italianate monument to the Bavarian army & the site of Hitler’s 1923 Beer Hall Putsch:
…as well as Theatine Church…
A few blocks over and you can enjoy a calm respite within Munich Residenz…
…and with another 5 minute walk, Prinz-Carl-Palais…
From Prinz-Carl-Palais you can enter the English Gardens (Englischer Garten’s) to catch a sight of Eisbachwelle, a hotspot featuring year-round surfing on a continuous wave on the Englischer Garten’s Eisbach River. Even more north in the park is the Chinese Tower (Chinesischer Turm), where there’s a beer garden here. Unfortunately, the heavy rain and early sunset deterred us from seeing anything interesting.
If you’re in the English Gardens, exit from its west side to reach the Ludwig-Maximilian University Campus where in front is the poignant Weiße Rose pavement memorial in front of the main entrance (address: Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1)
Here members of the White Rose — including the Scholl siblings — who had distributed anti-Nazi leaflets in the university’s main atrium — were arrested by the Gestapo on February 18, 1943. They were subsequently interrogated and executed by beheading 4 days later. However, their efforts did not go down in vain as their final leaflet was smuggled to Allied troops and later dropped out of planes across Germany, leading to posthumous recognition of the group’s activities in the postwar era.
Inside is a church-like interior in Germany’s 6th oldest and highest-ranking universities.
Right behind the main building of the university is Verrückter Eismacher – an ice cream place featuring flavors such as sauerkraut, sausage, and beer:
Look left to see Siegestor, a famous 19th-century triumphal arch featuring a bronze sculpture of Bavaria with 4 lions.
Begin heading south and recharge at Pommes Boutique, arguably the best Belgian fries in Munich featuring 15 different sauces (and you can try as many as you want for as little as half a euro for each sauce!)
Then head further south to reach Karolinenplatz and walk back east to reach Wittelsbacherplatz to return to the city center.
And if you have any more time, check out Maximilianeu — home of the Bavarian State, and to your south south the majestic and towering Bavaria Statue. Too bad it was pouring rain throughout…so after a round of shisha at Babylon to celebrate a weekend well spent, we turned in back at our hostel.
Thanks for the tips Stephanie. Not bad for a few hours here during a cold, rainy Sunday in Munich!
And you too Terri. Munich how holds a special significance for me after what just happened with us at the airport.
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- At time of posting in Munich, Germany, it was 8 °C - Humidity: 85% | Wind Speed: 19km/hr | Cloud Cover: rain