Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ten Best things about Munich (Other than Oktoberfest)

by George Hope

Munich, in Germany, is perhaps most famous for its Oktoberfest, which takes place during the second half of September. The festival consists of locals and tourists consuming enormous quantities of sausages and beer. As I didn’t visit Munich during Oktoberfest, here are my top ten best things about Munich other than Oktoberfest!

BMW Welt & Museum
BMW Welt is essentially a glorified showroom of the very best cars and motorbikes that global giants BMW have to offer to the world of design and technology.  Set in a futuristic glass building, this is every car lover’s heaven. Free entry is always a bonus.
What struck me about Munich are its facilities, appropriate for large cohorts of people (notably Oktoberfest). At the same time, the outskirts of the city and the underground itself were not overly busy. This allowed travelling and sight-seeing much easier than one would anticipate for such a large cultural capital.

Brez'n pretzels

The Bavarians are meat-eaters through and through, with veal and pork appearing on every menu. Some specialities that I tried were Schweinebraten (roast pork), Leberkäse (a pork sandwich spiced with nutmeg), Currywurst (curried sausage) and Brez’n (salty pretzels - pictured). Food is well-priced, with a full breakfast of boiled egg, ham, cheese, croissant, bread, butter and jam costing less than €5.
It is a stereotype that Germans are efficient, but their underground system is exactly that. There is absolutely no need to take a car to Munich because everything can be found via a short train journey. The tickets are good value and a three-day pass comes with a discount booklet for most of the major attractions the city has to offer.
Munich’s 1972 Olympic Games were scarred by a terrorist attack, but the facilities at the Olympic Park are still open for the public to visit 40 years later. The modern tent structure looks as though it could have been designed by a 21st century architect and the views from the top of the Olympic Tower span the whole city. On a clear day you can see the Alps.
Munich’s zoo is one of the largest in Europe.  Here you can see a large array of animals, such as lions, tarpans, orang-utans and even two polar bears.  The zoo is clean and the animals well looked after, and entry costs just €8.50 for students.

The Innenstadt (town centre) has an almost Mediterranean feel with its street cafés and beautiful buildings. The Neues Rathaus (pictured) is an imposing building in the centre, whilst the Altes Rathaus is rather quainter. Munich’s centre has numerous bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as museums, churches and landmarks.  There is also a large marketplace.
You may remember the 2012 Champions League final was held at the Allianz Arena; Chelsea won their first ever European Cup after beating Bayern Munich on penalties. The stadium is certainly appropriate to stage the largest club game on earth. With its futuristic exterior (the stadium changes colour based on which Munich side is playing – we were told by our tour guide it boasts the largest LED display in Europe) and 70,000 seater interior, the Allianz is well and truly one of the greatest sporting arenas in the world. Remarkably it cost just a third of the cost of Wembley to build, but the most expensive VIP season tickets cost 500,000 euros per year and must be held for at least five years. Tours are priced at around €10 and last 60 minutes. For any sports fan that visits Munich this iconic stadium is not one to be missed.
The Hofbräuhaus is one of the most famous attractions in Munich. Serving their classic beer only in litre glasses and providing live music daily, the Hofbräuhaus has an undeniable charm (different to, but perhaps on a par with, traditional English country pubs).  It is a magnet for tourists, but perhaps more so for locals, who enjoy spending time with friends with good beer, sitting at long tables.  There is a famous saying in Bavaria which goes along the lines of “There’s good Bavarian beer and better Bavarian beer, but no bad beer.” The world’s oldest food law forbids the use of anything but water, barley and hops in brewing. Unlike many foreign beers, therefore, there are absolutely no chemical additives. Aside from the delicious beverages, the simple food and lively atmosphere make this a must-visit for anyone.
I found it difficult to pick the number one thing about Munich, because the Allianz, the Innenstadt and the Hofbräuhaus are all fantastic for different reasons. Gemütlichkeit is a difficult word to translate, but is a kind of warm welcome or fellowship. The people in Munich are lively, welcoming and chatty – so much so that I really felt at home there. I would recommend giving this city a visit to anyone; above all, it is well-priced and more green than grey; there are some great tourist attractions, as in London and Paris, but with fewer tourists. It is a highly cosmopolitan city and there is undoubtedly something for everyone, from food or sport lovers to those who prefer architecture or cars.

George Hope is an Old Portmuthian

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments with names are more likely to be published.