Planning a visit to the German city of Munich? Here are some recommendations*. To view all the photographs (with the captions in full) of the city, click on any image and navigate using the left and right keys.
1. It took my breath away, the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), when we walked into Marienplatz for the first time. The town hall houses the city government, but visitors flock to it three times a day to watch the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, an automated clockwork performance just below the clock which chimes and re-enacts two stories from the sixteenth century. It is quite an experience, watching it for the first time, and observing the many camera- or smartphone-equipped tourists jostling to get a better view of the spectacle.
2. Another view of the Neues Rathaus, where we started the first day.
3. We passed the Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshall’s Hall), which was commissioned in 1841 to honour the tradition of the Bavarian army. This was also the site of the ill-fated Beer Hall Putsch, during which Adolf Hitler – who was eventually arrested and imprisoned, albeit not for a long time – had organised an illegal march against the Bavarian government.
4. The Catholic church Theatinerkirche Saint Kajetan (Theatine Church of Saint Cajetan) is right next to the Feldherrnhalle, and while its exterior is undergoing refurbishment, its interior remains gorgeous. There are also a number of other churches around the city.
5. Since my exchange semester in Helsinki, Finland, when I travelled to different European cities on a shoestring, the free walking tours have been a mandatory activity for me. They do not cost a lot (in fact, absolutely nothing if the tour guide is rubbish, as it has happened before) and they give good overviews of what to expect in the city. Our tour in Munich was excellent, because the guide knew his stuff, kept the session jovial, and created a good atmosphere too.
6. My parents absolutely loved the signature pork knuckle at Haxnbauer restaurant (even though we had roasted sausages and beer to go with the dinner), to the extent of buying a whole portion for our daylong train trips from Munich, Germany to Zermatt, Switzerland. We initially had a half-portion. The pork is marinated and roasted from the morning over a charcoal grill, and the slow roasting process can be seen through the outside window.
7. View from the coach, when we travelled from the city to the village of Hohenschwangau.
8. In the morning, we cycled for two hours around the Swan Lake with the tour group. The mother was worried in the beginning, and the actual route was quite challenging with a good number of inclines, though in the end it was a good workout, and an even better way to explore the area. There were also good views of the two palaces in the horizon.
9. Right after a simple lunch of sausages and salad, we did the sommerrodelbahn (alpine slide) in a small hill. The slide is like a combination of a luge and go-kart, and from the top of the hill the driver can only choose to slow down or go faster with a simple lever. The weather for the day was perfect: cool with grey clouds in the distance, yet it never rained.
10. From the village of Hohenschwangau we started our trek up the gorge, a route which the guide described as “steep and strenuous”. My parents took half an hour to reach the top.
11. In the centre of this photograph is the Schloss Hohenschwangau (High Swan County Palace), one of the two palaces in the village. A little context and history is important here. The palace was built by King Maximillian II, the father of King Ludwig II, and therefore was the childhood residence of the latter. Political assessment of King Ludwig II is not necessarily flattering, but he did commission the Schloss Neuschwanstein (Neuschwanstein Castle), which is now a popular tourist destination in Munich.
12. The view of Marienbrücke (Marie’s Bridge), a bridge named by King Ludwig II after this mother Marie Friederike – from Schloss Neuschwanstein.
13. The Schloss Neuschwanstein, a photograph taken from Marienbrücke.
14. King Ludwig II only lived in the palace for 172 days, and the interior of the castle – with plans for more than 200 rooms – was never completed. Only 15 rooms or halls were finished. The king also paid for the construction on his own, through borrowing. These were some of the titbits gathered from the government-sanctioned tour within the castle, which takes no more than half an hour across less than 10 rooms. Individuals who have visited lavish European palaces or castles may therefore want to give this tour of the interior a miss.
15. View from a vantage point a few steps below the Schloss Neuschwanstein, of the village of Hohenschwangau. Individuals can reach the area on their own, through a combination of train and bus rides. We paid a little more for a guided tour and the additional activities, though the parents enjoyed the convenience and fuss-free arrangements for the day.
16. A dessert of apple strudel, caramel sauce, cream, and ice-cream, after the short experience at the sommerrodelbahn, in the same café where we had lunch.
* Not an advertisement, and also not sponsored (unfortunately).