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Munich, nothing changes, everything changes

Article and photography by Michael Morcos

‘It has been over 30 years since my last visit’ I said. ‘So thirty years?’ said the hotel manager, with a smile and a chuckle she said ‘nothing has changed, the beer is the same, the buildings are the same and we are the same’. Maybe true but I had less than 48 hours to find out.

Although I was still young and my priorities have changed in life since the 80’s, I would attack this Bavarian capitol with energy and purpose. I had been challenged to find change in Munich.

This being December, we were in a for a holiday cheer and the locals would be out in droves from late morning to late evening, so much so that I jokingly questioned my wife if anybody worked here? We would stroll the many wide pedestrian streets, visit the landmark Neues Rathaus (new Town hall, that is not so new), Marienplatz, with all the well lite Christmas kiosks, the amazing Alte Pinakothek museum, Peterskirche, (St Peters church) to climb the hundreds of narrow tower steps to get a fabulous bird’s eye view of Munich, wonder though many opulent shops and fashion malls, visit some of Munich’s most iconic historic buildings and stroll through the magnificently laidback Englischer Garten (English gardens). The best part, it was all within walking distance in the city center.

World Class Museums

Munich is packed with museums for every interest and taste, so much so that art lovers could spend a month and still need more time. We visited the Alte Pinakothek museum, truly one of the best museums I have had the pleasure to see. With some of the most well-known historical pieces, the artwork ranges from Monet and Velázquez right up to Dutch and Italian masters such as Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci.

Eating your way through Munich

With so many local and international dining options in Munich, our biggest problem was choosing from a host of wonderfully themed restaurants and cafes. We would have fantastic buffet style breakfasts at our hotel, small lunches at any one of hundreds of local cafes and feast on Bavarian dishes at Beer halls.

A memorable time was had at the Augustiner Bierhalle. This centrally located establishment is by most standards, huge and extremely popular, not just by tourist but by the hundreds of locals present that enjoyed the wonderfully brewed beers and appetizing Bavarian dishes. Since 1328, Augustiner has been serving the Munichers and so popular was their beer that I would recognise their beer labels in stores throughout the city.

Where it is, was and will be

There are town halls and there is the Neues Rathaus. Located on Munich’s most central square, Marienplatz, it was constructed in the 19th century but the municipality needed more office space than the Old Town Hall had and they built a new building. After completion in 1909, the building had added a 79-meter-high tower and a huge Flemish Gothic style façade. The interior is just as stunning, with vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and carved wooden decorations.

Munich airport

There are airports that people would use to travel to another destination and then there is the Munich airport, a delightful destination on its own. Having connected here on many occasions, it would be the first time I left from here. The whole process from city center to boarding was seamless. To say the least, getting there on the efficient and well-kept regional train was a delight, the checking-in process was effortless and all so relaxing that the rest of the journey was like a piece-of-cake. With so much time on our hands we even strolled through a (get this) their outdoor yearly Christmas market, enjoyed some great airport restaurants and even some last minute duty free shopping. With such a wonderful experience, the rest of the world airports have a lot to learn from Munich’s.

On this trip I would find the old and new fusing to create a rather bold and unmistakably modern city while still holding on to centuries of history and traditions. Many favourites are there and will always be, while hard working and positive thinking Munichers are firmly planted in this new millennium.