A connecting plane ride through Vienna, Austria from Bulgaria landed us in Munich for the first of two nights in the Bavarian city. This was the first connecting flight we had taken over our summer travels; the reason being is during a flight connection is when airplanes lose bags most often. Since we have only been traveling with essentials in our backpacks and one suitcase that we check, we really don’t want to lose the suitcase, and hadn’t, thank goodness. It did acquire a wheel crack when we arrived in Antalya months before; but was still usable with no performance loss.
When we checked in at the Sofia airport, the desk agent told us we must check our backpacks; we had medications, laptops, contacts, underwear; the important stuff in our carry-ons and really really didn’t want to check them. The desk agent was not having it (we saw her supervisor hovering nearby) and then told us we had to take our laptops out of our bags, because we couldn’t check those. She did say “It’s free. It’s free!” regarding the checked backpacks multiple times during the interaction. The cost wasn’t the issue. We did not want to part ways with our belongings as we had heard about the summer horror stories of lost luggage at European airports. Luckily, we had a small day-pack that we had purchased during our time in Antalya, so we took that out, moved the essentials to it, and checked our bags, praying that they would make the connection and meet us in Munich.
And…they did, after much palm sweating in the baggage claim area. We took a train from the airport to the central station. Germany ran this great promotion for the three summer months; only nine Euro a ticket for in-country trains and buses, so we used those to the fullest. From central station we took a local train a couple stops to the Theresienwiese stop, right outside our hotel. The hotelier was friendly with a German humor; they had a fridge full of German beer, so we had a couple in our modest room before heading out for dinner. After dinner we walked the nearby neighborhood and passed St. Paul Church,
then had another beer at the hotel, this time sharing with the hotelier with a friendly “cheers,” before calling it a night.
Our full day in Munich was jam packed. We knew there was a lot to see, so we walked in the direction of Old Town, and stopped where it looked interesting. First we came upon Frauenkirche Church, which is a restored Gothic Church, with very tall ceilings and beautiful, intricate, and colorful stained glass windows.
There was also the Cenotaph of Emperor Louis IV by Hans Krumpper:
We happened into the New Town Hall, a gothic building finished in 1908, which was huge as we wandered up staircases and down long hallways, until we reached the highest level, looking down on the square below, and sky above:
Finding some stained glass windows with an American theme (there were other countries represented as well):
Our next stop was Odeonsplatz, a 19th century square with the Theatine Church and the Feldherrnhalle monument.
Inside the Theatine Church, built in the 1660s, was an interior unlike any we had seen; entirely stucco, intricately sculpted, and all bright white; the reliefs, altars, columns, everything;
After we finished straining our necks to inspect it all we took the short catacombs tour for a small fee. The older gentleman selling the tickets told us, in limited English, a little about the Catacombs. We could tell that the oldest graves, dating back to the 1600s, and the newer ones, from the 1800s, were Germanic royalty of some kind, and the musty smell of the catacombs confirmed it.
After a two-scoop gelato lunch, we went looking for the Munich Residence Palace. The Munich Residence Palace is also on the Odeonsplatz, however, it is somewhat confusing to find the entrance. We started at the back of the main building (which we figured out later) but at least there was some shade (it was super sunny that day) and some multi-colored flower gardens along with streetlamp lined paths. Then past a fountain and a large courtyard, but still no entrance.
The Cuvillies Theater is a part of the complex, and we found the entrance after walking through another courtyard with a much more elaborate fountain than the one we had just seen:
The ticket agent inside said there was a cheaper ticket if we wanted to visit the Residence Museum, and Treasury, so we asked how long it would take to see them all (a few hours) and decided we had enough time before we had to get back to the hotel to get ready for our evening plans. In the entryway to the theater there is a peacock chandelier worth appreciating.
The Theater inside is magnificent, originally built in the 1750s, designed in the South German Rococo style, and is even more impressive in person.
After we left the theater and finally found the entrance to the Museum and Treasury; a statue of Poseidon stood solitary in the courtyard entrance, as fellow tourists milled about.
Once inside, to the left is the Residence entrance, and to the right is the Treasury. We headed for the Residence first, after getting an audio guide, which is provided as part of the entrance fee. The former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria. The Residence is the largest city palace in Germany with 130 rooms, most intricately and stunningly decorated and showed the massive wealth built over time by the Bavarian monarchs. It was the seat of government and residence of the Bavarian Kings and Dukes from 1508-1918; each ruler adding to the complex of buildings that make up the residence, which had originally begun as a castle in 1385.
The first thing one encounters is the seashell grotto, which seemed out of place compared to the design of the rest of the rooms and decorations, but it is one of the weirdest and most impressive things I saw on our travels. Made up of thousands of shells, and only shells, I will share pictures, but it truly must be seen in person to be properly appreciated.
Next up was the Antiquarium, built between 1568-1571, filled with frescoes, wall paintings, and so many busts, of Roman Emperors and other important figures from antiquity. One could spend hours inspecting all the busts and the frescoes.
We continued the self-guided audio tour, through countless rooms with some of the most beautiful tapestries we had seen, cool furniture I’d like to have in my (imaginary) house, sculptures and finely painted ceilings; it was a bit overwhelming after a couple hours. Still, not to be missed. Here are pictures of just some of the rooms, staircases, ceilings, chandeliers, furniture, and much more that we saw on our visit.
We had just enough time to visit the Treasury afterward; the Treasury has artifacts dating back to year 1,000; from statues and swords to plates, goblets and crowns and many other pieces. The Treasury is only ten rooms, but there are so many items on display it could take hours to see every piece. Here are just a few of my favorites.
The piece de resistance is the Statue of St. George slaying the dragon; made in the late 1500s, meant to hold a relic of the actual St. George, the statue is made up of many precious stones, and glistens and shines under the lights, and is much brighter and vibrant than pictures can convey.
We made haste back to our hotel, as we had a concert to go to. 2000s emo band Bright Eyes, one of Jesse’s favorite bands, was playing in Munich that night!
The concert was a lot of fun, and capped off a jam-packed day in Munich. Next stop, Regensburg!