Surfers in an urban park. That’s a new one. Leave it to the Germans to find a way.
So I’m back from a week in Germany. I had previously only spent a few (yet very comfortable) hours at the Frankfurt Airport, so I was looking forward to getting up close and personal with Deutschland. And lemme tell you, I loved it. Some of the reasons were quite silly but just so refreshing after living in a small town in Italy. These include: individuals who speak perfect English, clean buses and trains that are easy to navigate and muesli. Did I mention efficiency?
After somewhat of a tumultuous departure (hooray for airlines that charge 30 euro for tickets, boo for how rude they are and how much the plane reminds you of being an animal in a feedlot), my travel companion Urmila and I made it to Munich. I am a firm believer in the NYT 36 Hours column, but this was our chance to design and execute our own version.
At the suggestion of a friend, we booked an Airbnb in the “rich hipster/university/artsy neighborhood” AKA Maxvorstadt. In our block, we had an organic grocery store, a vegetarian restaurant, a green juice stall and an unmarked bar. You get the picture.
Quite hangry from our journey from Italia, we settled into this lovely place called Cantine Cantona for what I wish would be the kind of food served at my university cafeteria–a hearty scoop of stewed lentils and some braised fennel. Sounds stupidly simple but it was just what we needed/wanted/hoped for. Lots of young moms in here drinking artisan sodas.
After the veggie fill up, we wandered in the direction of Marienplatz and ended up at Dallmyr, a high-end food emporium recommended to us by our Airbnb host and somewhat reminiscent of the food section of Harrods. There was such a wide range of products that I was sort of overwhelmed, disgusted and intrigued at the same time.
We needed a timeout, so we went upstairs to the cafe for a coffee. The place is reminiscent of the restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman. Lots of old ladies eating salad and hip young things drinking coffee. Like us. Not really. But this cappuccino was heavenly. Yes, those are chocolate shavings on top.
Sadly, we encountered a torrential downpour upon exiting the shop so we did what any sensible tourist would do and headed towards the Brandhorst Museum.
This museum was quite intriguing for several reasons. First, the building itself was basically a work of art. See picture below for details. Second of all, there was quite a bit of Warhol. Like, a lot of it. Wasn’t expecting that. And lastly, there was some super creepy stuff downstairs in the “Dark Pop” exhibit. I mean, we should have known what we were getting ourselves into with the title, but I’m talking a video about the history of the universe involving dead birds, a leg coming out of the wall, teddy bears talking to each other, strobe lights superimposed over airplane footage… Luckily I don’t remember my dreams, so none of these images manifested themselves as nightmares.
After making it back to our home base and recovering for a couple hours, we decided it would be a shame to make it to Munich without having some beer and sausage. So we wandered over to Alter Simpl for some weisswurst (a boiled veal sausage with an off-putting color but an enjoyable taste) and beer (don’t ask me what I ordered, I don’t really know).
What would a Saturday night be without a trip to a sort of under the radar hipster cocktail bar? FOX satisfied that requirement quite well.
Most of the next day was spent at Dachau, which is a definite must-do if you are in Munich. It’s just outside of the city and I think it’s very important to see. I won’t say much more on this front because it’s honestly kind of hard to put into words the feelings that I had while I was there except to say that it’s chill-inducing, nausea-inducing, anger-inducing and much more. We spent about 3 hours walking through the museum and the grounds and could barely speak to each other.
When we came back to Munich, we grabbed a late lunch of some Middle Eastern salads from a vendor at the Viktualienmarkt, a mixture of fixed food stalls and little beer gardens near Marienplatz. This place also happened to be quite close to a serious game-changer: a store completely devoted to muesli, aptly named mymuesli. I picked up a container of oats with hazelnuts and honey that disappeared quite quickly…
Not sensing a repeat of the great flooding of the day before, we took a stroll through the English Garden and bumped into the surfers pictured at the top of the page. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Quick detour: a place I would recommend for a quick caffeine fix (are you sensing a theme there?) is Stereo Cafe. Downstairs there is quite a trendy menswear store and so we thought we were mistaken but then we heard the espresso machine doing its thang and knew we were in the right spot. From our perch on the second floor we had a nice view of a rowdy TTIP protest going on outside.
As far as the evening goes, we weighed the moral implications of being in Germany and not eating as much sausage as humanly possible versus taking advantage of being in a city with a number of lovely vegetarian restaurants. Unsurprisingly we opted for the latter. Sorry not sorry.
We enjoyed a leisurely 3 hour dinner at the very spacious Prinz Myshkin with a bottle of Riesling, some wasabi hummus and lemongrass/coconut curry stir fried vegetables. Hallelujah.
Overall, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Munich. Nobody really talks about it that much, do they? Besides Oktoberfest, I mean. But if you’re seeking something else besides beer, this is an easy to navigate, quite modern, art-inclined, veggie-friendly city…and that’s just what I wanted in those 36 hours.