When given the opportunity to travel to Munich – even if for only 48 hours – you never turn that down, right?
Well, that’s exactly what happened… and a few weeks later, I was on Lufthansa‘s new direct route from Boston to Munich, beyond excited to check off another city on my European bucket list.
But, let’s rewind a bit.
This past March, myself and a few other travel-loving Bostonians had the opportunity to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for Lufthansa‘s new business lounge at Boston Logan International Airport. With views of the airport’s apron, a chic interior, direct boarding from the lounge to the plane, and a fully stocked bar… it was an honor to be part of the airport’s expansion and to see how Lufthansa is adding value to our city.
Now, just a few weeks later, myself and Regan of @VentureTravelist, find ourselves hopping on Lufthansa’s new aircraft to catch a red eye to Munich, fully prepared for a whirlwind of a trip…seeing that we’d only be there for a little over two days.
Once boarding, we kicked back and relaxed, quickly gobbling down dinner and drinks. Since I knew we’d be on the run once we landed, I immediately cozied up under my blanket, threw on a sleeping mask, and settled in for the night, knowing once I woke up, we’d be in Germany.
A few short hours later, we stepped off the plane and entered Flughafen München, one of the most amazing airports I’ve ever been to. Really. From sleeping pods (to take a quick nap!), to an unreal beer garden, to tennis courts (yes, actual courts), to shopping, and the cutest dining spots… it felt like the airport was a city of its own, where I actually could find myself spending the day, regardless if I had a flight to catch or not.
Since we were grabbing lunch and beers at Airbräu (the airport’s very own beer garden) before spending the rest of the day frolicking around the city, we were given the opportunity to freshen up at the Hilton’s spa, literally attached to the airport. We were provided a pass to use the hotel’s spa for the hour and seriously, it was mind-blowing. I mean, possibly genius. The fact that we were able to check our luggage, take a quick shower, change clothes, re-apply our make-up and put a brush through our hair… well, it was a complete game changer. And, if we had time, I definitely would have taken advantage of the on-site pool, because… well, who wouldn’t?
Once finished up at the Hilton’s spa, we made our way to Airbräu, enjoyed a hearty meal of asparagus, potatoes and an assortment of hams, and had a chance to knock back our first beer of the trip. From our seats, we could see the brewery’s team actually making the beer, therefore proving just how fresh our drinks really were.
By then, Regan and I were full & satisfied and ready to hit the streets of Munich and take in as much as we could over the next 48 hours.
After hopping in a cab, checking into the Ruby Lilly Hotel, and dropping off our luggage, we were greeted by Markus, the nicest tour guide, who was very excited to show us first-timers his city.
While it was unfortunately raining, with umbrellas in hand, we set out to make the best of the weather and get our fill of Munich. From learning the history of Bavaria, to how Oktoberfest got its start, to realizing just how close we were to Austria and Italy… it made for an eye-opening walking tour.
My favorite part? Getting to view the stunning architecture.
I’ve said it before and this certainly won’t be the last time you hear it, but I am OBSESSED with historic architecture and therefore, within moments, I was already loving Munich.
Interestingly enough though – a majority of the architecture in Munich was made to look old, as most of the city’s buildings were destroyed in the war… but luckily for us, the city was rebuilt to resemble what it had been before.
Two hours later, we were ready for dinner and stopped by Spatenhaus for a traditional Bavarian meal.
Located a few steps away from Munich’s opera house and the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs, it made for the perfect location to learn more about the city’s history, while dining on crispy Bavarian pig, potato and bread dumplings, and the region’s best wines. Fun fact – we were told that Spatenhaus has one of the best tents at Oktoberfest.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early to arrive to ensure that we arrived at the Magic City art exhibit at the very moment it opened. Since public transportation was pretty easy to figure out in Munich, we hopped on one of the city’s street cars and got off a few stops later at Olympiapark München (where the exhibit was located).
Before getting into Magic City, Olympiapark is the Olympic Park made for the 1972 Summer Olympics. The park was filled with rolling green hills, tree-lined walking paths, scattered ponds, and of course, the arenas and buildings constructed for the Olympics. Now, the entire park is used by locals and visitors to be used as a cultural and recreational site.
Once we took a quick stroll through the park (it was still raining), we made our way underground for Magic City, an exhibit that highlights the history of street art and a small collection of the world’s best work.
If someone had asked me before if I had an interest in street art, I would have replied with a “meh, I don’t know…” Now, I can say with certainty that I’m absolutely obsessed.
After about two hours at the exhibit, we took a few steps outside and walked through the doors of Restaurant 181, located at the top of the Olympic Tower. Immediately, we were in awe by the stunning views — our table literally had 360 degree views, since the coolest aspect about the dining spot was that it slowly revolved around the sky high tower. While eating the most delicious lunch and drinking a beer or two, we were able to view the entire Olympic Park and even get a glimpse of the famous BMW headquarters.
Of course, once lunch was finished, we were quickly off to our next excursion, since we were trying to fit in as much as we could during the trip.
At this point, we made our way to our second museum visit of the day, this one being a bit more serious. The Haus der Kunst was located right next to the English Garden (a super large park) and was the Nazi’s first monumental structure. During the tour, our guide pointed out where Hitler once spoke to crowds of people. Once the war was over, American troops took over the museum, where it became an officer’s mess. Now, it is a non-collecting art museum, which rotates new exhibits into different spaces in the museum every few weeks. And while it might make visitors of Munich uncomfortable to talk about this period of history, I was glad to pause for a moment and learn about a very serious & horiffic time – believing that the more we talk and learn about our past, the less likely that it will happen again.
Once finishing up our tour of the Haus der Kunset, it was recommended that we walk towards the English Garden to see one of the craziest phenomenons I’ve ever come across. A river.. in the middle of the city… where hundreds of surfers were catching waves.
I know, strange, right? Well, it’s called the Eisbach and is a small channel in the Isar River, which runs right through Munich. But beginner surfers beware… there’s no paddling or much time to stand up. Surfers had to basically jump in with their board in tow and immediately stand up and ride the wave. Luckily, if they fall, they’ll just float down the river a bit and can swim ashore.
It was pretty mesmerizing, seeing surfer after surfer jump in. Of course, they made it look oh-so-easy. My favorite part? Seeing the surfers ride off on their bikes, with their surf boards under their arms, still in their full-body wet suits, just cruising through busy city intersections. Quite a sight that you don’t often see in a city, ha!
Luckily, once we finished up watching the surfers, it started to drizzle a bit and we hopped on the bus back to the Ruby Lilly Hotel to get changed and grab a pre-dinner drink. I was obsessed with the design of the hotel’s bar and it came to no surprise when hours later, after returning from dinner, that it was absolutely packed with locals, enjoying a night out.
But, before we got back to the hotel that night, let me just tell you about TIAM.
‘Wow’ x 6… because that’s how many courses we ate at this UNREAL restaurant. It’s a vegan/vegetarian restaurant, which I wasn’t sure I’d like. I might as well be a full-time vegetarian (just kidding)…but it was life changing. Honestly, I didn’t even know veggies could taste that good and look that good. Each dish that came out was plated so beautifully, it was truly an art. Of course, I was so full by the end of dinner, I could have probably been rolled out the front door.
For our last and final day, I proposed that we wake up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of the sunny weather. Since it rained a bit the first two days of our trip, I was itching for a nice day, as I wanted to walk the entire city.
So, at 5:45 AM, our alarm went off, we grabbed breakfast and we were out the door, strolling around the very quiet city… because no normal person is walking around at 6AM on a Saturday morning, right? 🙂
From hidden courtyards filled with sky high walls with vines, to little bikes and vespas lined up on the sidewalks, to flower shops slowly opening up and displaying their buckets of flowers on the streets.. it reminded me why I loved Europe so much.
For the last part of our trip, we walked to the Siegestor, a three-arched triumphal arch that’s topped with a statue of Bavaria and his lions. Look familiar? Well, there are very similar ones in France (the Arc de Triomphe) and Rome.
Of course, to finish up our walking tour, I went in full-on tourist mode and whipped out a baby pretzel I was carring around (yes, I am that person) for a food-in-the-air photo.
OVERALL – I cannot wait to plan my next trip to Munich & beyond. It was so incredibly easy getting to Germany from Boston via Lufthansa and our trip back was even easier. To be honest – while I missed my husband and pup at home, I always get very bummed when leaving Europe, as I never know when I’ll be back. Thankfully, with airlines like Lufthansa making U.S. to Europe travel so much easier, I know it won’t be long until I return!