Going to Munich! Help!

An opportunity to good to pass up has landed in my lap, and my girlfriend and I are going to spend a week in Munich in August. There’s a condo on the outskirts (I think) we’ll be staying at, so probably not near the city center if that matters.
Questions abound:[ul][li]Neither of us speak German, how big of an issue will this be? I took some in high school, but it’s been about five years since then, so while I can probably stumble through written directions to somewhere, there’s not a snowballs chance of carrying on a conversation.[/li][li]What’s the weather going to be like?[/li][li]Anything we should be sure not to miss? The Glockenspiel is in Munich, right? And isn’t there a huge Central Park-type park/garden?[/li][li]Any areas we should try to avoid to increase the odds of leaving with our wallets and skins intact?[/li][li]Is it possible to rent a car with an American driver’s license? Should we bother, or is public transportation good enough?[/li][li]Are there any day (or two) trips we should try to make to other areas of Germany or Europe in general?[/li][li]What’s the average cost for both a pint of beer and a pack of cigarettes?[/li][li]Any restaurants we should make an effort to go to?[/ul][/li]
I’m sure that I’ll have more to come, but I have faith in the Millions to help me out as you always do with these threads.

I’ve not been there for an length of time that allows me to recommend specifics, but:

Brush up on the basics, and you should be fine. Most people working in tourist environments will speak English to a greater or lesser extent.

Probably hot and humid.

Yes, not within the city, and yes. Munich has, well, some of the best public transport anywhere outside of Switzerland. Should you want to explore further afield in Bavaria (highly recommended!), a US licence is fine.

The most obvious one I can think of is Salzburg, two hours away by train.

Darn spent so long tapping away I’m no longer the first :frowning:
Hi Ender_Will - I worked in Munich for a three week stint just beforee Christmas 2000 so I’ll see if I can help at all.

1 - I speak no German, zilch :wink: , generally this is not a problem. (Sweeping generalization alert) a lot of Germans speak pretty good English. Being home to the Oktoberfest and near places like Neuschwanstein the locals are quite used to tourists and happy to speak English. I’m not sure all the menus had English but a trick I learned is to think in ‘old English’ so that Schwine Fleisch (no idea of the spelling) becomes swine flesh or pig meat which would be pork you see?

2 I’d say pretty hot but check weather websites for a clearer idea before you go. They are in the middle of the continent and not far from the mountains.

3 You can’t miss the Glockenspeil it is on the Rathaus in Marienplatz - this is one of the main suburban and underground stations IIRC. If you have time try to get out to the castle I linked to above. I did an organised day trip (very unlike me!) which took in another castle, Neuschwanstein (there was a long wait to get on and I felt the guide rushed us through but it is amazing) and Oberamagau where they do the Passion Plays every few years. If you don’t have time to do that there is a castle on the outskirts of the city - very nice.

I also treated myself to an opera ticket, la Bohème - mindblowing.

For a different feel you may want to go out to the Olymic stadium.

Or even Dachau concentration camp. You may want to think twice about the latter option. I haven’t visited myself (although I have been to Auchwitz-Birkenau) so can’t give you any idea as to scale or ‘feel’ but visits to concentration camps can be deeply troubling and could overshadow your whole trip. A decision to visit or not is a personal one and need not be justified.

4 I wasn’t aware of any ‘trouble spots’. As I say I was there in the run up to Christmas and, despite the odd over indulgence in hot wine at the Christmas market, had no problems of this sort - nor did I hear of any horror stories. (Munich is not Barcelona !)

5 Not sure about the car hire - I suggest checking out car hire websites. Public transport in Germany is very efficient and reasonably priced. I too stayed in a suburb - local train and bus ride from the centre - and didn’t ever feel my activities were curtailed. (BTW some stretches of German motorways don’t have speed limits - they trust the drivers !)

6 A week isn’t that long - I’ve already suggested a trip out to the fairytale castle, another day trip I did - on my own - was Saltzburg, Austria. An easy train ride from Munich and a great little city although the Sound of Music tours weren’t running when I was there I would have been tempted. If you want more German History Nuremburg is another possible day trip.

7 No idea I was there pre-Euro but that’s the sort of question that the folk on this site love to answer.

8 Nothing that has stuck in my memory I’m afraid, again I suggest you try the site linked above.

Have fun - oh, and the Bavarians are very proud of their culture, by using “Gruss Gött” as a greeting rather than “Guten Morgen” you will earn extra smiles.

We went to Dachau. This was in 1985, so I don’t have any kind of current advice to offer re: travel in Munich. But I was glad we went.

Nice city, but I was only there for a day and a night (en route between Salzburg and Budapest).

My main problem was finding something to eat that wasn’t made of pork (backpacking, so looking for cheap fast food, not a restaurant, I’m afraid).

My German is very basic, so this mission was achieved by waving vaguely at all the food on offer and asking “Wird alles mit Schweinefleisch gebildet?” At which point the reply was “Ja. Alles Schweinefleisch.” Repeat ad nauseum. I ended up with a nice felafel from a Halal kebab shop!

If you’re planning to stay in a budget hostel, don’t stay at the DJH (Deutsche Jugend Herberge) unless you like the sound of separate buildings (not just dorms, buildings) for men and women, a strict no smoking or drinking policy and breakfast served between 6am and 7:30am.

Salzburg is nice and the YoHo hostel was much more pleasant (despite the coin-operated showers).

Bahhh…when in Bavaria, eat sasuages :slight_smile:

You owe it to yourself to visit Castle Nymphenburg, a baroque castle built in the 17th century. It is on the outskirts of Munich, easily reachable by trolley. It is where the exterior shots of the movie *Last Year at Marienbad * were filmed. Inside the palace is the famous Hall of Beauties. Mad King Ludwig had portraits done of the most beautiful women in Europe painted, and these 36 portraits hang of the walls of this gallery. Quite impressive!

When you are Munich please visit the renowned Hofbrauhaus. It is gigantic, cavernous beerhall filled with tourists sitting at long wooden tables, drinking liters of beer, and singing German drinking songs (very easy to learn, once you are in the right frame of mind.)

Munich has some outstanding museums. There is the Deutsches Museum, focused on technology. It has a model of an underground mine you can walk through and some gigantic turbines. There is Lenbachhaus, which has great stuff from the Blue Rider school of art. And there is the **Hunting and Fishing Museum ** - imagine a museum that feels like an ornate Bavarian hunting lodge, and there you are. There is also a first class Greek and Roman archeology museum, the Glyptotek.

Munich has a good public transportation system.

I’d been eating pork every day for the last week in Salzburg and Vienna, and I just couldn’t face any more!

That’s it CBCD ! Nymphenburg, that’s the castle on the outskirts I was thinking of. Thanks.

I haven’t spent that much time in Munich, but I do have some input.

  1. Language. You should be fine with just a little bit of German. I first visited Germany about the same time after high school, and I’d taken 2 years of German in high school. I was totally intimidated to try to speak. It will be OBVIOUS that you are not German, but attempts are appreciated. Even little things like “danke”, “bitte”, and “guten tag” are appreciated.
    As with most of europe (in case you haven’t been), when you go out to eat, you will need to ask for the check - it won’t come automatically as in the US. So you can ask “zahlen” (and add the mime “writing in your palm” gesture) to ask for the check.

  2. Weather. I was not there at that time of year, but I would guess pretty warm. And maybe a little humid.

  3. Others have mentioned Neuschwannstein, but I recall that one of Ludwig’s other “castles” (although it is more of a “palace”. I tend to think of castles as more fortified as in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”) is right by Munich: Herrencheimsee (sp ?). This was Ludwig’s version of Versailles, and it’s pretty cool as it is on this little island.
    If you do go to Neuschwannstein (which I would recommend, but at that time of year be prepared for some big crowds), be sure to also visit Hohen Schwangau, the smaller castle at the base of the hill (where Ludwig grew up). There’s some pretty cool stuff inside, and a lot of people overlook it.

Hope this helps.

The big park in Munich you are thinking of is the Englischer Garten, similar to Hyde Park in London, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, or Central Park in New York. None of those parks, however, have a Chinese Pagoda in a beer garden, just the right thing for the happy visitor to Munich.

I have a friend who recently had to go to Munich for two weeks for training at her new job (I was so jealous, I could barely see straight when I dropped her off at the airport). She’d never been to Germany, stayed there for two weeks, and got back 13 days ago. I emailed her the text from the OP and this was her response:

She’s a pretty reliable source, too, so I believe everything she says here :slight_smile:

I enjoyed the boobies in the English Garden. But if you decide to partake in some nude sunbathing, let me advise you: DO NOT jump into that swift little stream to cool off. It’s slightly colder than the Arctic Ocean, and can cause some ma-a-a-a-jor shrinkage. A plight you best not suffer when naked.

The Alte Pinakothek is pretty swell, if you like pictures. I’ve heard that the technology museum is fantastic, but I have not been. I found the area around the train station sort of dodgy-- probably not really dangerous, but grotty and unsavory-- mostly money-changing/ western union/ bail places, video gambling, and porn shops-- and I wouldn’t want a hotel there.

The Frauenkirche is a landmark and a fairly impressive Cathedral, if you enjoy that kind of thing you might enjoy an afternoon there.

Depending on when you will be in Munich in August you might want to take a short trip (aprox. 90 miles) northwest to Straubing and get in on Germany’s second largest Festival after Oktoberfest, [URL=http://www.ausstellungsgmbh.de/home.cfm?layout=volksfest0The Gäubodenvolksfest. It runs from Aug. 12-22. Trust me, it is a blast! Huge beerhalls, great food, people, music, singing, and the best beer! If you ever wanted to go to Oktoberfest this is your chance…it might even be better than Oktoberfest in some ways.

Let me fix that Coding:

The Gäubodenvolksfest.

…and here is the English press release for the fest, at your service.


Here are some of the key phrases for you to learn and become comfortable using when you are in Bavaria:

General Phrases
Gruss Gott: ‘Hello,’ the Bavarian Guten Tag, literally Greet God
Bitte: ‘Please’
Danke: ‘Thank you’
Es tut mir Leid: ‘I’m sorry’
Entschuldigen Sie: ‘Excuse me’ If this is too hard to say, stick with Es tut mir Leid
**Sprechen Sie Englisch?: ** ‘Do you speak English?’

Your All Important Beer Hall Vocabulary
*Wo ist der Bier Halle? ‘Where is the beer hall?’
*Noch ein Bier, bitte: ‘Another beer, please’
*Noch ein, bitte: Shortened form of the above - ‘Another, please’
*Ist dieser Sitz frei? ‘Is this seat free?’, or ‘May I sit here?.’ It is the custom in beer halls and many casual resturants in Bavaria to sit at a table with complete strangers.

*Very important, as the beer in Bavaria tastes like ambrosia

Munich native / resident (the other resident doper I know of is fishcheer15) chiming in: Well, there’s some good advice there. Let me add some of my own: I’d skip the Glockenspiel which IMHO is rather boring. (Then again, you probably have to watch it just to tell everybody at home “Oh, I watched the Glockenspiel, it was boring.”)

If you’re into “Views from above” you might want to consider to climb the “Alte Peter” instead which is a church tower right next to the Marienplatz. And since you’re in the vicinity now anyway you should visit the Viktualienmarkt where you can get all sorts of great food. Other place to get a good look around: The Olympic tower, you get to see the neat architecture of the Olympic stadium and on a good day you can even see the Alps from up there.

In August it will be really hot (usually not really humid), so I’d recommend cool museums (like the ones mentioned above, if you have any specific interests let me know and I’ll try to find out whether there’s something to your liking) and beer gardens instead of the Hofbräuhaus (where you’ll only meet other Americans - then again, you’ll probably have to have a look since it’s rather well-known. If you’re in the vicinity anyway eat at the Orlando Haus next door, they have a nice all you can eat buffet serving lots of Bavarian food). Try the Augustiner beer garden which sports the best beer or the Hirschgarten which is the largest one in Germany. Note that you’re allowed to bring your own food (no drinks though), so it’s best to take a huge basket of eats from the Viktualienmarkt (or supermarket of your choice) and just buy the beer.

Food stuff you should try: Obazda - available in the beer garden of your choice, it’s a creamy cheese that goes really well with a pretzel, Radi - a sharp tasting, salted radish, Weißwurst - white sausage that you’re only supposed to eat for breakfast, goes with sweet mustard. If you’re interested in food you could visit Dallmayr’s (round the Marienplatz corner) where they sell all kinds of Bavarian delikatessen.

If you’re interested in churches, there’s also the Theatinerkirche (at Odeonsplatz) next to the Feldherrnhalle (which during the Nazi regime sported a guard that you had to salute if you passed it, so everybody used the small street behind it to avoid that) Be sure to rub the noses of the brass lion sculptures there, it means good luck and that you will surely return. Since Munich is considered the “northernmost Italian city” you’ll also want to sit in a street cafe, have a “Latte macchiato” - coming out of the Theatinerkiche there’s Café Tambosi where everybody sits and watches people as soon as the first rays of sun hit town.

I’ve just realized that I know too much to give a lot of unspecified recommendations :slight_smile:

You might want to post where you’ll stay then I can recommend some things to do in that area. Or drop me a line if you want to go into more detail or maybe even have a beer if I’m around during your stay - email’s in the profile.

For the fest all you really need to know is:

“Zwei maß, bitte!”
Ts-vei ma -sss, bit-tah!
Two (liters) beers, please!

There is also a delicacy not to be missed at the Gäubodener Bierhallen. They have fresh Pretzels (Brezeln) and Cheese (Käse) to be enjoyed together with the finest, “vintage”, festbieren. The cheese is shaved paper thin from giant. full wheels of a young, swiss style cheese…the closest example that I have sampled here would be Baby Swiss. I do not remmeber the name of the cheese (maybe you would know, Einmon?). The paper thin slices are shaved with a huge, straight edge, mezzaluna style, cheese knife. The sheafs are drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper between layers . Large, soft, freshly baked pretzels are then eaten with the cheese and beer.

Pace the beers and eat something…take your time and enjoy. Sing, lock arms, sway, and laugh. Get to know the people you sit next to… Remember, It is not considered rude or an invasion of a person’s space to sit directly next to somebody if there is a free seat. This applies to most public places and restaurants.