It was very, very cold in Munich in December. Snowing, too. Which was handy because that meant we had a cast-iron excuse to head along to the ChristKindlMarkt and drink lots of glühwein and stand around eating sausages. The perfect way to spend any long weekend, surely?
Un Attimo De Pace
by Eros Ramazzotti
Black pudding ravioli
Munich is a city chock-full of contrasts. Olde worlde buildings, steepled roofs, incredible church spires. Traditional oompah bands, Oktoberfest, lederhosen. Flip it over and it’s a cool, chilled, designer-clad industrial powerhouse of a place, rammed with fast cars (BMWs mostly, seeing as they're based in Munich), designer shops on the lush Maximilianstrasse and ‘Hollywood FC’ (what the locals call Bayern Munich as it’s full of superstar players). Munich is still known for its Nazi past (the Stadt museum explains this in detail – and it’s utterly chilling seeing the rise of Nazism in this traditional town) and the terrible events that took place at the Olympics in 1972... but even with this tough history to deal with, Munich feels welcoming and friendly.
We wandered about a lot in Munich – it’s small enough to see the main sites in a couple of days – and liked it very much. The people seem smiley and funny, sarcastic and smart. It has some incredible museums and art galleries, plus gorgeous parks and the beautiful river Iser (not that we lingered too long outside, as the snow fell and the temperature dropped). Plus, it has beer cellars (kellers?) and wine houses everywhere. Drinking is the thing in Munich, but choose wisely – head to smaller spots away from the main square to enjoy true German beers and cuisine. If you don’t leave the city half a stone heavier and with a whacking great hangover, you truly haven’t experienced Munich. Oh, and maybe go in the summer. When it’s not, like, -1°C.
Deutsches Theater Bar
I have no idea why we ended up drinking here so often – but we did. Probably because it was close to our hotel, quiet, cheap and played terrible Italian pop music. What’s not to enjoy (apart from the terrible Italian pop music)?
Tucked away inside the cold, imposing Haus der Kunst gallery is this warm, cosy, golden spectacle. Gorgeous wall paintings, amazing wines, good food. Perfect for a break from the incredible art works on show.
Another day, another museum cafe, which is good because you need a sit-down after you’ve walked for miles round historical exhibits and the like. This is a warm, buzzy, student-y sort of place, and we ended up spending ages in here. Just cos it was, you know, warm.
Olympiaturm beer garden
Couldn’t find a link to this one. But it’s there, on the side of the Olympic hill, promise! We had tea with rum, bratwurst and kinder punch. Plus wrapped up in their blankets and sat on their heaters (’cos it was cold, have we mentioned that?).
So good. So, so good. A modern take on a trad German restaurant, this is the sort of place that serves amazing cocktails, bowls of soft cheese (yes, just cheese) with pretzel crackers, meatloaf and sausages. Lots and lots of sausages, cooked in interesting ways. Brilliant atmosphere, lovely service, packed out with Bayern fans. Book ahead.
A coffee-shop chain (lowdown Starbucks) – but we liked them. Nice bagels for cheap brekkie and the coffee was good, too.
One for special occasions. Old-world charm in a beautiful 19th-century building. The food was just fabulous – high-class traditional, but done in the loveliest way. The tasting menu was €55 each and we had to splash out on four courses. The black pudding ravioli was oh-my-God delicious.
Achingly cool Japanese just outside the old town centre… but we ate so well here. Fabulous ramen and even better gyoza. Nom!
Oh, we can’t resist that Japanese food. Another fab ramen place tucked out of the way behind the main square. Fantastic tonkotsu ramen here.
Based on Magma in London but better. Incredible selection of mags, from high fashion to low-brow erotica. Great greeting cards and a small selection of quirky, fun books.
Huge vintage shop where you basically collect up clothes by the kilo, weight them, and then that’s the price. Very tempted by a hot pink 80s Adidas track top. Very tempted.
Sams & Son
These guys dressed the sets for The Grand Budapest Hotel and it shows – quirky suitcase labels, mannequin heads, maps, globes and tin signs rub shoulders here in fabulous disarray.
Bloody marvellous record shop with a properly curated selection of new and old discs. Great prices for the secondhand stuff too – we picked up a Blockheads LP for €6 – and with a grand line in new / old pressings.
What we did:
Wandered the streets of the old town, which is like a perfect Christmas card when it’s dusted with snow. Old houses, cobbles, gorgeous churches ahoy. Climbed the bell tower of St Peter’s and admired the views at night. Hung out in the Christmas market in the Viktualienmarkt, which was a bit less touristy than the one in the Marienplatz. Visited the art museums Pinakothek der Moderne and Alte Pinakothek on a Sunday as it’s only €1 to get in (top tip). Caught the U-bahn out to the Olympicpark, admired the futuristic stadium and climbed the Olympicturm, a ‘mountain’ made out of all the soil dug up to build the venues. Great views. Bloody freezing. Did I mention it was cold when we were there?
Un Attimo De Pace by Eros Ramazzotti
Terrible, terrible Italian pop as heard in the Theater bar every time we went in there. Awful. Cheesy. Totally unforgettable. And the guy is called ‘Eros’, for Gawd’s sake. I loved it.
What we bought:
Christmas market time! So we purchased a hell of a lot of glühwein (too much on Friday night, as it turned out – killer hangover on Saturday). More currywurst. Gingerbread and chocolate treats. Christmas tat (a dachshund dressed in lederhosen for the Christmas tree). Some cool postcards and a fridge magnet shaped like a cuckoo clock. When in Germany…
Where we stayed:
House Of The Dead / Crazy golf?:
So… it was closed. The crazy golf course out at the Olympicpark, that is. It’s probably really nice in the summer. Not in -1°C though.