Picture Germany and you’d likely envision its fairytale castles, overflowing pints of Oktoberfest beer, and the industrial might of automobile makers BMW and Mercedes-Benz. This is what I exactly found in my latest trip to the country, in the picturesque city of Munich, where one can find pretty much everything – sans the proverbial Berlin Wall and Brandenburg Gate of course.
I began my journey right here in Manila, heading to Abu Dhabi International Airport on an eight-hour flight. Upon arriving, I stayed at the stunning business class lounge of Etihad Airways for a five-hour stopover. I was delighted with the gracious hospitality of the employees, but then again, Emiratis have now become experts at quality customer service haven’t they?
Afterwards, I then boarded the plane again, with a whirlwind seven-hour trip to Munich. Finally, I’m in Germany. On this trip, I was also joined by a group of doctors whose trip was sponsored by their associate pharmaceutical company. With the itinerary organized by World Juanderer, we were all set for our week-long travels.
After going our separate ways for a short while, I then unpacked my bags at my hotel – the Sofitel Munich Bayernpost, located at the heart of the city. With its interiors that combine French avant-garde and Bavarian splendor, I immediately felt like a welcome guest.
I had my first day in Munich all to myself, as the doctors I was with had to attend an important medical lecture with the pharmaceutical. From the hotel, I walked down the cobbled streets to the Old Town, an architectural wonder where the locals often converge. There, I saw magnificent arches and churches, including some spinning figurines at Glockenspiel, a clock tower that rings every 30 minutes.
My next destination was the famed Viktualienmart, a daily food market and square also located in Munich’s center. From its origins as a farmer’s market, it evolved to a culinary venue for chefs, gourmet foodies, and city locals in general. Here, I wandered upon the hundreds of stalls and shops, which sold everything from flowers to cheese, and various types of meats. I even talked to a few residents while happily chugging down on some beer, a beverage they consider to be as staple as water.
Then, off I went to meet up with the doctors again for a lighthearted French dinner at Paulaner Brewery. Known for its classic regional delicacies, this was a great closer to a fun first day.
Afterwards, I headed back to my hotel room for some much-needed rest. I couldn’t wait to recharge as a lot more historic landmarks awaited.
As the glowing sun rose, I was glad to have spent my second day itinerary at the iconic BMW Museum. Situated near the Olympiapark, it was established in 1973, a year after the famous Summer Olympics were held in the city.
Upon entering, I was floored by the gorgeous contemporary archirecture, though I knew that this was just the tip of the iceberg. As a marketing professional myself, I was also glad to see the archived ads and milestones of the flagship German automaker. From the list of celebrities who have famously owned BMW vehicles, to the storied history of its establishment, I learned that this iconic company had been through a lot prior to its premiere status on the world stage.
Of course, I also saw the numerous vintage cars, bikes, and supercars that the brand has made famous, including Elvis Presley’s 507, retrieved from a disused barn and ultimately restored to its former glory. With kiss marks all over, it is said that many of his female fans left lipstick marks and phone numbers on the King of Rock and Roll’s car after his gigs. What a charmer indeed.
Right after, I headed to the dealership area where I even had a test drive-slash-joyride. The customer service was oh so friendly, and more than glad to let visitors try out their vehicles.
After a long day, I left the museum at 5pm, ready to see the long evening and eventual night sunset. Summer sunsets in Munich I learned, happened around 9:30 at night.
After exploring around my TripAdvisor app, I was able to have a nice drink at Emiko Rooftop, where I ordered a refreshing Roset. Many locals partied all around, enjoying what they viewed as well-deserved R&R after a productive day.
By 9 in the evening, I joined my fellow tour traveller doctors for a filling Japanese dinner inside the restaurant’s bar itself. We then called it a day right after.
The third day then quickly began. I once again went separate ways with the doctors, as they had to attend another medical seminar. To pass the time, I booked an eight-hour tour with Greyline A Tour, to visit the Bavaria’s picturesque castles. This is the stuff of Snow White and Cinderella stories indeed. I had a three-hour drive down the road which made for great observing in the German countryside.
Finally, I reached my first stop, the illustrious Linderhof Palace. Inspired by the Gardens of Versailles, its most famous resident, King Ludwig II, greatly admired his French counterpart King Louis XIV. This admiration, coupled with his own sheltered upbringing, allegedly caused him to develop an eccentric worldview, copying anything and everything French. This had many of his subjects accuse him of insanity, even by his own doctors, who down the line had to attend to his needs until his untimely death.
Most of his pipe dreams were never realized because of this, including his unfinished second castle. Many though still claim all of this as pure rumour, as a ploy to avoid him reigning the whole of Bavaria for long. Talk about royal gossip.
My next stop was the more religious site of Oberammergau. A charming small town, it is known for its longstanding woodcarving tradition, and its once-a-decade Passion Play flocked to by devotees all over the world. Here, almost every resident, about 5000 of them, play a significant role in the play’s production, from acting as Biblical characters to creating the props and costumes. Even though the next play is to be held in 2020, I was still glad to see all the colorful sights, even the lifelike woodcarvings of saints in this staunchly Catholic German region.
Then, I had a quick lunch prior to visiting another major landmark on my itinerary, Neuchwanstein Castle. Also commissioned by King Ludwig II, it is a Romanesque Revival palace made as an homage to opera composer Richard Wagner. More famously, this castle is known to have inspired Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the Disney film.
I left craving for more after this long-winding tour, which is why I had my dinner at Chef’s Table, a fine dining place where lobsters and other seafood dishes are cooked right in front of you. This was definitely a fulfilling end to the day. Then, I quickly went back to my hotel to savour the rest of the evening.
The next day, I bid goodbye to Germany, as I awaited another exciting adventure, this time in Rome. Flying to the Italian capital, I simply pondered over this great journey that took me to Germany’s postcard-perfect wonders and beyond.
#JuanderWithUs as we venture out for more travels in Europe.