Munich

dsc_0141

Munich (“Home of the Monks”) is a perfect rendition of all our typical German stereotypes. In stark contrast to Berlin, Bavaria brings to life charming market squares, the Alps, pretzels and men in lederhosen. With a history rich in kings and castles, the architecture is both Gothic and Baroque in style and reminiscent of yester-year. Cobblestone streets and misty mountain air add alluring charm to the city. The perfect place to enjoy litres of local beers and soak in the tales of a Benedictinian time, München and neighbouring town Fussen are must-sees when in Bavaria.

Quick Facts

Country | Germany
Language | German & English
Location | South East Germany
Closest Airport |MUC (35km)
Currency | Euro
Days Needed | 3-4

dsc_0070

Getting There

From Munich Airport: The S1 and S8 S-Bahn trains depart from the airport to the city centre (Marienplatz) every 20 minutes and the journey takes about 45 minutes.

dsc_0074

Stay

We stayed at an Airbnb near the Münchner-Freiheit S-Bahn stop. The city is well connected with the underground, so getting around is very easy. This area has lots of little cafes, is clean and safe.

dsc_0037

Sights

Walking Tour

Once again, I would highly recommend doing a free walking tour(s) when in Munich. We went with Sandemans, which meets at Marienplatz in the city centre. Our guide was a local Munich resident, hilarious and really well informed on the entire history of the city, giving us an authentic and in-depth overview. On the tour you’ll walk around the picturesque city and visit Viktualienmarkt, The National Theatre and Opera House, Mary’s Column, learn about the origins of Oktoberfest and see Hitler’s Beer Hall. The tour ends at Hofbräuhaus, one of the most famous and historic beer halls in the city.

dsc_0031

Marienplatz

The main square of the city, right in the city centre is called Marienplatz. Founded in 1158, the history is tangible. Outside of transferring here on the S-Bahn, the square is alive with shops, eateries and tourists soaking in the stunning architecture. This square is home to the Glockenspiel, a giant cuckoo clock that chimes every day at 11am (12pm and 5pm in the summer as well). The figures in the clock re-enact two historical stories, complete with jousting and dance, with a golden bird chirping at the end. You’ll see a large crowd gathered at the base of the clock, faces tilted upwards, rain or shine. For some charming Bavarian folklore, definitely check this out.

dsc_0141

Viktualienmarkt

Famous for its beer gardens, a must-see in Munich is the charming Viktualienmarkt, just around the corner from Marienplatz. When the weather is good, locals and tourists alike all flock to this lively market for some beer and pretzels. Browse the many stalls for artisan-made handicrafts and local farmer’s fare before settling in for a hazy afternoon in the garden. Surrounding the tables, are beer and food stalls along with leafy chestnut trees – a languid afternoon spent sitting at communal picnic tables has never been more alluring. You’ll catch many glimpses of local men wearing their lederhosen and alpine hats, an image we usually reserve for Oktoberfest, but one that is commonplace here.

dsc_0138

Neuschwanstein Castle

Located just outside of Munich, in the endearing town of Füssen, lies one of the most famous castles in Bavaria and the world, Neuschwanstein. Made famous by Disney for basing Sleeping Beauty’s castle on this architectural masterpiece designed by King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein is truly a thing of beauty. Rather than signing up for a guided tour, get yourself to Füssen for a more economical and independent visit.

dsc_0106

Board a Füssen bound train at the Hopbanhauf in Munich (München Hbf). The journey takes about 1 hour and trains leave every hour (no reservation required). This is a delightful ride with rolling green hills, farms and the Alps in the distance. Once you arrive at Füssen station, busses will carry you forward. Take RVA/OVG 78 towards Schwangau. This is a short 8 minute bus ride and costs about 2.30 euros. At your stop, Hohenschwangau, you can walk to the castle, which takes about 30 minutes.

We didn’t go inside the castle and therefore didn’t require an entry ticket. The tours aren’t that interesting and seeing as the castle was a work-in-progress and was never finished, there isn’t much to see inside. You can go as far as the inner courtyard without a ticket, which was plenty to get the full scale of the place. The walk up itself is a meandering road through a thick forest, and the views of the town from the castle are stunning. Don’t miss the misty lake at the base of the castle – perfect for pictures and glimpses of swans.

dsc_0054

dsc_0061

dsc_0093

Dachau Concentration Camp

Another must-see when in Munich, Dachau Concentration Camp is both eerie and fascinating. For purveyors of WWII history, seeing the model camp of Hitler’s Final Solution is a textbook brought to life. I would recommend signing up for a free tour with Sandemans – you’ll get a guide who can share a wealth of information with you. The tour begins at the München Hbf. You’ll take the train to the town of Dachau and your guide will take you through the camp. With much of it replicated, some of the buildings are still original, giving you a firsthand experience of the atrocities that occurred there. Your tour will end back at the München Hbf.

dsc_0119

holocaust-memorial-sculpture

Eat & Drink

Hofbräuhaus

The oldest beer hall in Munich, one that is next to impossible to get into during Oktoberfest, is highly recommended, especially after the tour.  This three floor hall dates back to the 16th century, and was restored and rebuilt in 1958 after the WWII bombings destroyed most of it. Inside, you’ll find a massive hall with hundreds of tables, and an elaborately painted ceiling. Traditional German barmaids serve litre beers in giant glass steins, alongside sausage, pretzels, schnitzel, and spätzle. While not the best place for a vegetarian to hang out, the carb overload and delicious beer make for an afternoon well spent.

dsc_0034

Additional

Eataly – Italian Restaurant and Upscale Grocery Store
Escobar Cantina Y Bar – Veggie Friendly Mexican Fare
Brotraum – Authentic German Bakery and Cafe
The charm and allure of Munich is representative of traditional Germany. Go for the famed festive of Oktoberfest, or in the calmer off-season for a more relaxed visit.

Check out my travel post for more photos.

xx

dsc_0070

 

Advertisements

Berlin

Brandenburg Gate

Berlin is one of the coolest cities you’ll visit. With such a recent, tumultuous history, the city is vibrant in culture, street art, and realness unlike anywhere else. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the city began to rebuild itself, but many of the distinctions between East and West Berlin are still apparent. With the famous East Side Gallery and street art, the underground music and party scene, and the Holocaust Memorial recently opened; Berlin is rich in history and revolution.

Quick Facts

Country | Germany
Language | German & English
Location | North East Germany
Closest Airport | TXL (9.2 km)
Currency | Euro
Days Needed | 3-4
Best Time to Visit | April-October

dsc_2357

Getting There

From Berlin Tegel Airport: Bus connections right from the airport into the city centre (every 5 minutes) and takes about 15-20 minutes.

From Schönefeld Airport: Directly connected to the regional and S-Bahn rail. You can take the S-Bahn into the city (departs every 10 minutes). The Regional Railway Airport Express (runs twice every hour) will take you directly to Berlin Hauptbahnhof (the main station) and takes about 30 minutes.

dsc_2241

Stay

We stayed at an Airbnb in Kreuzburg, one the best-known areas in Berlin. Easily walkable to the club district and with close connection to the S or U-Bahn. There are also tons of hostels within the city if you’re looking to meet people and experience a more relaxed, backpacker vibe.

dsc_2363

Sights

East Side Gallery

Not needing an introduction, the famous East Side Gallery is 1316 metres long, and is an international memorial for freedom.

dsc_2331

Holocaust Memorial

Designed by Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is not one to be missed. With an abstract design, it speaks volumes and can be interpreted in many moving ways.

dsc_2275

dsc_2283

dsc_2284

Walking Tour

I highly recommend doing a walking tour(s) when in Berlin. Beginning with the Holocaust and working your way up to present day, it’s the best way to get an overview of the city’s history, as well as see the sites. Sandeman Tours is highly recommended. Depending on the tour you choose, you’ll see sites such as the Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall, the Opera, etc. The Alternative Walking Tour gives you the background on the squatters and the art scene.

dsc_2367

dsc_2390

dsc_2411

YAAM Berlin

If you’d like to relax a little bit, spending some time at YAAM is ideal. A chill spot next to the river, you’ll walk into a sandy area resembling a Caribbean island. With a bar fully stocked and tables and recliners to relax on, YAAM is a great way to spend an idle afternoon.

dsc_2408

dsc_2412

Party

Pub Crawl

The best way to meet new people and check out Berlin’s pubs and bars, is a pub crawl. You can choose from the Original Pub Crawl or an alternative one (or both), and drink your way around the city.

Clubs

If you’re a party person, it would be sacrilegious to come to Berlin and not check out their famous clubs. Deep house and techno are the soul of the city and you can spend all day, night or weekend in their warehouses of sound. Berghain is said to be the Church of Techno and the most exclusive club in the world to get into. Tresor is the most respected and first techno club of the city, one that gave birth to techno and Berghain.  Check out this list on Berlin’s top clubs and their door policies.

dsc_2392

Eat & Drink

Neni

A garden high in the sky, Neni is Berlin’s place to go for Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fare. A delicious meal and beautiful surroundings, you can’t ask for better.

neni-2

neni-monkey-bar

House of Small Wonders

As cute as the name suggests, House of Small Wonders is a cozy spot, perfect for a casual brunch (and yes, definitely Instagrammable). They only take cash though, so come prepared.

dsc_2263

Silo Coffee

Totally hipster with a raw, wooden interior, Silo is a great little cafe for a light brunch, coffee, or to just hang out.

Burgermeister

There’s nothing quite like sitting under a rail station and having a burger. Burgermeister is a fun, casual take out spot in Kreuzburg to enjoy a burger and fries. Sit at the communal tables or take yours to go. And yes, they have a veggie option!

dsc_0012

Additional

Kebab Shops | any in the city

Berlin is truly unlike anywhere else, and it’s best to visit when you’re young and looking for culture mixed with partying and relaxing.

Check out my travel post for more photos.

xx

dsc_2264

 

Bath

dsc_2068

Quite possibly one of the most romantic and picturesque cities you’ll visit. Established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the history of Bath extends back to the time of the Romans. During their stay in the British Isles, the Romans established Bath in Somerset, England as their spa and rejuvenation place,  centered on the natural thermal hot springs found here. Popularized by Jane Austen, the 19th century writer spent time here, and based many of her plots in this Georgian city in the hills.

Quick Facts

Country | United Kingdom
Language | English
Location | 2 hours (185 km) from London
Closest Airport | BRS (32 km)
Currency |  GBP
Days Needed | 2-4
Best Time to Visit | May-September

dsc_2178

Getting There

From Gatwick Airport: Take the Gatwick Express (every 15 minutes) to Victoria Underground Station (this will take about 30 minutes), and then from Victoria Station take the tube (every 5 minutes) to Paddington Station (this will take about 15 minutes). Buy your ticket to Bath Spa (every 30 minutes). It is cheaper to buy your tickets to Bath in advance. Journey to Bath from Paddington Station is about 1 1/2 hours.

From Heathrow Airport: Take the tube (every 5 minutes) to Paddington Station (this will take about 15 minutes) . Once at Paddington, you can buy your ticket to Bath Spa (every 30 minutes). Journey to Bath from Paddington Station is about 1 1/2 hours.

From Bristol Airport: Take the Airport Flyer Express to Bristol Temple Meads Train Station (this will take about 30 minutes). From here, board a train to Bath Spa (every 30 minutes). Journey to Bath from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station is about 17 minutes.

dsc_2079

Stay

We stayed at a charming, family run B&B called Pulteney House, run by Steve who makes a great English breakfast. Walkable to the city center and on a nice, quiet street.

dsc_2159

Sights

Roman Baths

Made famous for its thermal spas, a visit to Bath isn’t complete with a tour of the Roman Baths located in the city center.

dsc_2122

dsc_2092

dsc_2131

Bath Abbey

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, commonly referred to as the Bath Abbey is located just beside the Roman Baths and worth a visit. Founded in the 7th century, rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries and restored in the 1860s, the Abbey tour can be completed after a visit to the Baths.

dsc_2201

The Circus & Royal Crescent

For history lovers and cultural enthusiasts, the Circus and Royal Crescent are classic Georgian architecture. Having been completed between 1754 and 1767, the Circus was a popular stay for many of Jane Austen’s characters, with residents still living there today.

dsc_2158

dsc_2153

Shop

Meticulous Ink

As an avid paper enthusiast (hello Owl and Oak), a stop at Meticulous Ink was a must. A gorgeous paperie with beautiful letterpress and gold foil designs, this print shop had me at its aqua ampersand.

dsc_2181

dsc_2183

Topping and Company

With Belle’s bookshop in mind, a visit to Topping and Company didn’t disappoint. Complete with rolling library ladders and hot tea, we each picked up a book for our trip here.

dsc_2196

dsc_2187

Eat & Drink

Bertinet Bakery

It was hard to keep me away from this tiny yet delicious bakery. With authentic pain au chocolat and quiche, it’s a great place to pick up a snack or light lunch while ambling the cobblestone streets.

dsc_2198

The Huntsman

A relaxed yet old English pub in the middle of the city, the Huntsman is perfect for an evening drink. A great selection of beers and a cool vibe, either on the patio or in their two story building, it makes for a perfect spot to spend the night.

dsc_2057

Colonna & Hunter

Winning coffee shop, Colonna & Hunter is a great, airy spot to grab a coffee with friends. Camp out here with your laptop to get some work done with their free WiFi, or stop in for a taste of their specialty beers.

dsc_2148

dsc_2149

Additional

Tagine Zhor | Moroccan Food
The Pig & Fiddle | Pub

I’d highly recommend a visit to Bath when in the UK. Realign your energies, take some quiet time to reflect and appreciate beauty in new places, and indulge yourself!

Check out my travel post for more photos.

xx

dsc_2073