Frommer's Munich & the Bavarian Alps

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Overview

Experience a place the way the locals do. Enjoy the best it has to offer. Frommer's. The best trips start here.



  • Insider tips on the best beer halls, walking tours, and mountain villages, plus details on Bavaria's alpine skiing and hiking trails.


  • Outspoken opinions on what's worth your time and what's not.


  • Exact prices, so you can plan the perfect trip whatever your budget.


  • Off-the-beaten-path experiences and undiscovered gems, plus new takes on top attractions.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470887295
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Series: Frommer's Complete Series , #903
  • Edition number: 8
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Authors Veteran travel writers Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince have written numerous best-selling Frommer's guides, notably to Germany, France, Italy, and England. Porter, who was bureau chief for the Miami Herald when he was 21, was the author of the first Frommer's guide to Germany and has traveled extensively in the country ever since. He is joined by Prince, who was formerly a member of the Paris bureau of the New York Times.
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Read an Excerpt

Frommer's Munich & the Bavarian Alps


By Darwin Porter

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-7269-5


Chapter One

The Best of Munich & the Bavarian Alps

Sprawling Munich (Munchen), home to some 1.5 million people, is the capital of Bavaria, and one of Germany's major cultural centers (only Berlin outranks it in terms of museums and theaters). It's also one of Germany's most festive cities, and its location, at the foot of the Alps, is idyllic.

Thomas Mann, a longtime resident of Munich, wrote something about the city that might have been coined by an advertising agency: "Munich sparkles." Although the city he described was swept away by two world wars, the quote is still apt. Munich continues to sparkle, drawing temporary visitors and new residents like a magnet from virtually everywhere.

Some of the sparkle comes from its vitality. With its buzzing factories, newspapers and television stations, and service and electronics industries, it's one of Europe's busiest and liveliest places. More subtle is Munich's amazing ability to combine Hollywood-type glamour and stylish international allure with its folkloric connections. Few other large cities have been as successful as Munich in marketing folklore, rusticity, and nostalgia for the golden days of yesteryear, yet this rustic ambience coexists with the hip and the avant-garde, high-tech industries, and a sharp political sense. This is what lends the city such a distinctive flair.

As Americans migrate to New York orSan Francisco to seek opportunity and experience, so Germans migrate to Munich. Munich is full of non-Bavarians. More than two-thirds of the German citizens living in Munich have come from other parts of the country, and tens of thousands are expatriates or immigrants from every conceivable foreign land. Sometimes these diverse elements seem unified only by a shared search for the good life.

Outsiders are found in every aspect of Munich's life. The wildly applauded soccer team, FC Bayern Munchen, is composed almost entirely of outsiders-Danes, Belgians, Swedes, Prussians-and the team was trained by a Rhinelander throughout its spate of recent successes. The city's most frequently quoted newspaper mogul (Dieter Schroder) and many of the city's artistic movers and shakers are expatriates, usually from north Germany. What's remarkable is the unspoken collusion of the whole population in promoting Bavarian charm, despite the fact that real dyed-in-the-wool Bavarians risk becoming a distinct minority in their own capital.

Virtually everyone has heard the city's many nicknames-"Athens on the Isar," "the German Silicon Valley," and "Little Paris." But none seems to stick. More appropriate is a more ambivalent label-"the secret capital of Germany."

Munich's self-imposed image is that of a fun-loving and festival-addicted city-typified by its Oktoberfest. This celebration, which began as a minor sideshow to a royal wedding in 1810, has become a symbol of the city itself. Redolent with nostalgia for old-time Bavaria, it draws more than 7 million visitors each year. For these 16 days every fall, raucous hordes cram themselves into the city to have a good time. Oktoberfest is so evocative, and so gleefully and unashamedly pagan, that dozens of places throughout the world capitalize on its success by throwing Oktoberfest ceremonies of their own. These occur even in such unlikely places as Helen, Georgia, where citizens and merchants reap tidy profits by wearing dirndls and lederhosen, playing recordings of the requisite oompah-pah music, and serving ample provisions of beer in oversize beer steins. No one has ever marketed such stuff better than Munich, but then, few other regions of Europe have had such alluring raw material from which to draw.

A somewhat reluctant contender for the role of international megalopolis, Munich has pursued commerce, industry, and the good life without fanfare. You get the idea that in spite of its economic muscle and a roaring GNP, Munich wants to see itself as a large agrarian village, peopled by jolly beer drinkers who cling to their folkloric roots despite the presence symbols of the high-tech age.

Underneath this expansive, fun-loving Munich is an unyielding, ongoing conservatism and resistance to change, both religious and political. But as a symbol of a bold, reunited Germany forging a new identity for the 21st century, Munich simply has no parallel. As such, it continues to exert a powerful appeal.

1 Frommer's Favorite Munich & Bavarian Alps Experiences

Socializing at the Biergarten: If you're in Munich anytime between the first sunny spring day and the last fading light of a Bavarian-style autumn, you might head for one of the city's celebrated beer gardens (Biergarten). Our favorite is Biergarten Chinesischer Turm (p. 92) in the Englischer Garten. Traditionally, beer gardens were tables placed under chestnut trees planted above storage cellars to keep beer cool in summer. Naturally, people started to drink close to the source of their pleasure, and the tradition has remained. It's estimated that, today, Munich has at least 400 beer gardens and cellars. Food, drink, and atmosphere are much the same in all of them. See the "Beer Gardens" section of chapter 5 for more recommendations.

Enjoying Munich's World-Class Music: The city is home to outstanding classical music; notable are the Bavarian State Opera (p. 142) and the Munich Philharmonic (p. 142). Prices are affordable and the selection is diverse. The season of summer concerts at Nymphenburg Palace (p. 104 and p. 105) alone is worth the trip to Munich.

Nude Sunbathing in the Englischer Garten: On any summery sunny day, it seems that half of Munich can be seen letting it all hang out. The sentimental founders of this park with their romantic ideas surely had no idea they were creating a public nudist colony. Even if you don't want to take it all off, you can still come here to enjoy the park's natural beauty. See p. 112.

Exploring the Zugspitze: There is no grander and more panoramic alpine view in all of Bavaria than that which can be enjoyed by ascending the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain peak in Germany, separating the German and Austrian frontiers. A playground for hikers in summer, the mountain range becomes a snowfield for winter skiers, who enjoy slopes beginning at 2,610m (8,700 ft.). Once you've scaled the heights, you'll feel on top of the world. See p. 196.

Snacking on Weisswurst: Munich's classic "street food" is a "white sausage" made of calf's head, veal, and seasoning, about the size of a hot dog. Smooth and light in flavor, it is eaten with pretzels and beer-nothing else. Weisswurst etiquette calls for you to remove the sausage from a bowl of hot water, cut it crosswise in half, dip the cut end in sweet mustard, then suck the sausage out of the casing in a single gesture. When you learn to do this properly, you will have become a true Munchner. See "A Taste of Bavaria," in appendix A for more on Weisswurst.

Getting Away from It All at the Hirschgarten: For a glimpse of what Munich used to be like, flee from the tourist hordes and traffic to the Hirschgarten or "Deer Meadow." A "green lung" between Donnersberg Bridge and Nymphenburg Park, the area has been a deer park since 1791. In 1890, the largest beer garden in the world was built here, seating 8,000 drinkers. The Hirschgarten remains Munich's most tranquil retreat, a land of towering oaks, chestnuts, and beeches, attracting those with a love of the great outdoors-and especially those who like to pack a picnic lunch or enjoy an open-air game of chess. See p. 112.

Exploring Trendy Haidhausen: Visitors rarely venture into this district on the right bank of the Isar River. For decades it was known as a blue-collar and low-rent sector of Munich. In the 1970s, however, hippies and artists created a cross-cultural scene that made Haidhausen, not Schwabing, the hip place to hang out. Today, it is the place to see and be seen-especially if you're a Schicki-Micki (a club-going Bavarian yuppie), a person who dresses only in black, or one of the Mueslis (European granolas). The place to go is one of the bars or cafes around Pariser Platz or Weissenburger Platz. Take the S-bahn to Ostbahnhof or Rosenheimerstrasse and get with it! See p. 112.

Attending Oktoberfest: It's called the "biggest keg party" in the world. Munchners had so much fun in 1810 celebrating the wedding of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen that they've been rowdying it up ever since for 16 full days between September 21 and October 6. The festival's tent city is at the Theresienwiese fairgrounds, and the Middle Ages lives on as oxen are roasted on open spits, brass bands oompah-pah you into oblivion, and some 750,000 kegs of the brew are tapped. There are even tents where Bierleichen (beer corpses) can recover from drunkenness, listening to soothing zither music. See chapter 9.

Seeking R&R at Olympiapark: Site of the 1972 Olympic Games, this 296-hectare (740-acre) park and stadium is a premier venue for various sporting events and concerts. You can swim in one of the pools, and you'll find all the jogging tracks and gyms your heart desires, even an artificial lake. To cap off your visit, take the elevator to the top of the Olympiaturm for a panoramic view of Munich and a look at the Bavarian Alps. In summer, free rock concerts blast from the amphitheater, Theatron, by Olympic Lake. See p. 113 and p. 114.

Going from Vie de Boheme to Schicki-Micki in Schwabing: In fin-de-siecle (end of the 19th century, or Belle Epoque) Munich, Schwabing was the home of the avant-garde. Artists, writers, poets, and musicians of the era, including Thomas Mann, called it home. Jugendstil (Art Nouveau), the Blue Rider painters, and Richard Wagner made this area the cultural capital of Europe before 1914. A revival came in 1945, as new cultural icons such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder arose. Schwabing lives on, although today it's gentrified and populated by fashion editors and models, along with what have been called "swinging aristocrats." Although you might come here to walk in the footsteps of Wassily Kandinsky or to see where Paul Klee or Rainer Maria Rilke lived and worked, you'll also get exposure to Schicki-Mickies. Walking, strolling, shopping, and people-watching are the chief activities today. See p. 96.

Soaking Up the Wittelsbach Lifestyle: Just northwest of the city center lies Nymphenburg Palace, begun in 1664, an exquisite baroque extravaganza surrounded by a 198-hectare (495-acre) park dotted with lakes, pavilions, and hunting lodges. It was the summer home of the Bavarian rulers. We prefer to visit in either summer, when outdoor concerts are on, or spring, when the rhododendrons are in bloom. Go inside the palace for a look at the painted ceiling in the Great Hall. In such works as Nymphs Paying Homage to the Goddess Flora, Bavarian rococo reached its apogee. See p. 104.

Spending an Afternoon in the Botanischer Garten: If you're not a plant lover, you'll be converted here. Laid out between 1909 and 1914 on the north side of Nymphenburg Park, it's one of the most richly stocked botanical wonders in Europe. You can wander among the 16 hectares (40 acres) and some 15,000 varieties of plants; a highlight is the alpine garden with rare specimens. In late spring, the heather garden is a delight. See p. 112.

Checking Out Market Day at Viktualienmarkt: The most characteristic scene in Munich is a Saturday morning at this food market at the south end of the Altstadt. Since 1807, Viktualienmarkt has been the center of Munich life, dispensing fresh vegetables and fruit from the Bavarian countryside, just-caught fish, dairy produce, poultry, rich grainy breads, moist cakes, and farm-fresh eggs. Naturally, there's also a beer garden here. There's even a maypole and a statue honoring Karl Valentin (1882-1948), the legendary comic actor and filmmaker. Even more interesting than the market produce are the stallholders themselves-a few even evoke Professor Higgins's "squashed cabbage leaf," Eliza Doolittle. See p. 112.

Rafting along the Isar: Admittedly, it doesn't rival the Seine in Paris, but the Isar is the river of life in Munich. If you can't make it for a country walk in the Bavarian Alps, a walk along the left bank of the Isar is an alternative. Begin at Hollriegelskreuth and follow the scenic path along the Isar's high bank. Your trail will carry you through the Romerschanze into what Munchners call "The Valley of the Mills" (Muhltal). After passing the Bridge Inn (Bruckenwirt), you will eventually reach Kloster Schaftlarn, where you'll find-what else?-a beer garden. After a mug, you'll be fortified to continue along signposted paths through the Isar River valley until you reach Wolfrathausen. Instead of walking back, you can board a raft made of logs and "drift" back to the city, enjoying beer and often the oompah-pah sound of a brass band as you head toward Munich. See p. 117.

Taking a Dip at Muller's Public Baths: Mullersches Volksbad, at Rosenheimer Strasse I (S-bahn to Isartor), is one of the most magnificent public baths in all of Germany. This is no dull swimming pool but a celebration of grandeur, fin-de-siecle style. Karl Hocheder designed this Moorish/Roman spectacle between 1897 and 1901, an era of opulence. When the baths opened, they were hailed as the most modern baths in all of Europe, surpassing anything but those in Budapest. Completely renovated, the baths today have a "gentlemen's pool" with barrel vaulting and a "ladies' pool" with domed vaulting. There are also sweat baths and individual baths for those who like to let it all hang out-but in private. Alas, the Zamperlbad, or doggie bath, in the basement, is no more.

Spending a Night at the Hofbrauhaus: Established in 1589 by Duke Wilhelm V to satisfy the thirst of his court, the Hofbrauhaus is not only the city's major tourist attraction but also the world's most famous beer hall, seating more than 4,000 drinkers. In 1828, the citizens of Munich were allowed to drink "the court's brew" for the first time, and it turned out to be habit-forming. A popular song, "In Munchen Steht ein Hofbrauhaus," spread the fame of the brewery. To be really authentic, you drink in the ground-floor Schwemme where some 1,000 beer buffs down their brew at wooden tables while listening to the sounds of an oompah-pah band. More rooms, including the Trinkstube for 350, are found upstairs, and in summer, beer is served in a colonnaded courtyard patio with a lion fountain. The waitstaff, in Bavarian peasant dress, appears carrying 10 steins at once. Pretzels are sold on long sticks, and white Radis (radishes) are cut into fancy spirals. The Hofbrauhaus is where the good life of Munich holds forth. See p. 149.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Frommer's Munich & the Bavarian Alps by Darwin Porter Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps.

1. Introducing Munich.

2. Planning Your Trip: The Basics.

3. Getting to Know Munich.

4. Where to Stay.

5. Where to Dine.

6. Exploring Munich.

7. Munich Strolls.

8. Shopping.

9. Munich After Dark.

10. Side Trips from Munich.

11. The Bavarian Alps.

Appendix A: Munich in Depth.

1. History.

2. Munich's Architecture:

3. A Taste of Bavaria.

Appendix B: Glossary & Menu Terms.

A. Glossary.

B. Menu Terms.

General Index.

Accommodations Index.

Restaurant Index.

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