Germany

Munich First Impressions

Some people may find this hard to believe but until recently I never had much interest in visiting Germany (slightly odd since a significant amount of my ancestral heritage is German). Some of it I suppose had to do with the language (I’m a Romance language person all the way), the rest, who knows.

Munich First Impressions

When it came time to pairing a city to visit with Prague, Munich ended up being the perfect choice. It is only a four hour drive from Prague, there are ample direct flights from American cities, and unlike other German cities, when it rebuilt following the devastation of World War II, it chose to rebuild its historic look, not just go the modern route like Frankfurt and Berlin. Although I (now) do have interest in visiting the German capital, I’m still a historic city kind of person and so the older the architecture is, the better.

Munich First Impressions

Like all trips, my stay in Munich was much too brief but taking into account the limited time I had, I still think I saw and did quite a bit. So here are my first impressions of this Bavarian beauty.

Munich reminded me so much of Seville, Spain

I know what you’re thinking, a German city reminded you of a southern Spanish one?? Well, yes actually. You see, Munich and Seville are more alike than you’d think (excluding the big fact that the latter was never heavily bombed like the former was). Both cities are not the largest in their countries (those honors go to Berlin and Frankfurt in Germany and Madrid and Barcelona in Spain). And yet, they’re still big, they’re still replete with scores of tourists. Also, regional pride is quite important in both countries as I would discover. The stereotypical Spain one envisions (women in flamenco dresses, bullfighting, arid landscapes) is so evocative of Andalusia, the region that Seville is located in. Well, stereotypical Germany is definitely found in the region of Bavaria, where dirndl and lederhosen, pretzels and those big heart-shaped  gingerbread cookies are as common a sight as a pint of beer. But what  truly exemplified the whole similarities thing were the squares-plätze is the German word, plazas is the Spanish word. In both cities, you can turn a corner and there is a platz in front of you. Some may be filled with people while others are peacefully quiet.

Munich First Impressions

The past is ever so alive here

One of the things I was most interested in doing was going on a walking tour of Hitler’s Third Reich (full post on that will be coming). Berlin is always the place one equates with Hitler and his Nazis and yet as I would discover, the Nazi party’s origins happened right here in Munich. You can’t walk down a Munich street without there being some reminder of the country’s and city’s recent past, whether it was the house of the owners of the company that published Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf or the bank that’s located where the city’s former Gestapo headquarters used to be. While I’m sure this applies to most of Germany, even 71 years after the end of World War II, in a city like Munich, the birthplace of the Nazi regime, it’s felt all the more.

Munich First Impressions

Munich’s Eternal Flame at the Square of the Victims of National Socialism (Platz der Opfer des Nationalsozialismus)

It has somewhat of a sedate feel to it

Excluding perhaps the Marienplatz (especially when the Glockenspiel would go off) and the outdoor food market Viktualienmarkt, Munich, at least in the city center,  didn’t seem overrun with tourists as it was in Prague. Sure, the streets were crowded in some sections, but you could move about easily enough, not be packed in when walking. I also found it interesting that in the city center of Munich you definitely encountered locals,  whereas in Prague it seemed like in areas like the Old Town Square, there was nothing but tourists representing a slew of different nationalities, presumably because locals avoid it. Munich is a huge city (its population is over 1.5 million people), but it didn’t feel as big as that.  And even in the late morning, the streets were still relatively empty (perhaps a sign of too many dunkels the previous evening…).

Munich First Impressions

It truly is a beautiful city

While pictures I had seen of Munich looked nothing less than impressive, in person the city wowed me all the more. Whether it was the striking architecture of the New City Hall (Neues Rathaus) or the more simple yet still charming Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus) or even just the row of random buildings whose window baskets were brimming with colorful flowers, Munich was stunning and a gem to photograph.

Munich First Impressions

My time in Munich reinforced the fact that sometimes the destinations that are never on your travel radar are the ones that completely exceed your expectations and even blow you away. 

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Munich First Impressions

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13 Comments

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    Bridget @ A Traveling B
    September 20, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Great reflection, Julie! Your post brought back the happiest memories – Munich was the first city Max and I traveled abroad to together (and Max’s first international destination ever) so there was something so new and fun about exploring Munich! Like you, I did not realize how much of the Third Reich history is present in Munich. We did a walking tour as well and I was so captivated by the history. There is something about Munich that makes it so easy to love – like you said it is serene and unprentenious and historical all in one. Looking forward to hearing more about your walking tour!
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted…Travel Tips for Utah’s Mighty 5My Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      September 21, 2016 at 10:45 am

      Thanks Bridget! And the first place you travel together with your SO will always hold a special spot 🙂 I definitely would love to go on a Third Reich tour in Berlin and compare the two histories. As I’ve read though, people said it’s so easy to forget that Munich was the root of such evil considering the Munich today makes you picture Hobfbrauhaus and Oktoberfest celebrations, not one awash with Nazi soldiers and swastika symbols.

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    JoAnn0924
    September 26, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Julie, You certainly found some beauty and warmth in Munich. Every time I see photos of Germany it always looks so cold and severe. Not a big fan of Bauhaus. Didn’t know they offered a walking tour of Hitler’s Third Reich! Will have to read your post on that.

    • Reply
      Julie
      September 26, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Thanks JoAnn although I think the cold and severe aspect can apply to so much of northern and central Europe in the winter months. The nice thing about Munich is that you see so much of the beautiful historic architecture, it was so easy to imagine it from hundreds of years ago. And yes, the walking tour on the Third Reich was fascinating, so much I didn’t know and I like to think I’m pretty knowledgable on that stuff 🙂

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