I want you to picture one of those scenes in the movies where a character is being hypnotized, and the person doing the hypnotizing wants him to picture “a happy place” in order to make him enter the state of hypnosis. A place where all is forgotten but love, happiness, joy and freedom, and you can unwind. We all have our own ideas about that perfect place. For every single one of us, it has different qualities. However, regardless of those differences, and of how unattainable that image seems, there is indeed a place like that on Earth, which is quite capable of fulfilling everyone’s “perfect image”: Munich. Last time I left you with the aroma of “Gebrannte Mandeln,” and today I want to pick up from where I left off.
One thing I have noticed in general is that almost everyone enjoys the first few hours of a snowfall, or at least the first moments. But that joy fades into a form of resentment after the very same snow that reminded us of a fairytale spectacle in its initial pure and untouched state starts leaving stains on our boots or pants, and makes it harder for us to walk on the pavements due to fear of getting splashed by a car. I am among those who usually do not enjoy snow too much, because you can’t perform any outdoor activities—I am not talking about activities like snowboarding, but rather things you can do in the city, i.e., walking, running or even having a barbecue with friends—and you always have at least three layers of clothing on due to the cold. Now, I can’t possibly offer any solutions to the latter—the fact is, we do have to wear multiple layers of clothing throughout the winter—but I do have a solution for the first problem: experience snow in Munich.
“Müncheners” enjoy every phase of snow from its first fall to its melted state because the city always stays clean. I have never seen any other city that appears magnificent under all weather conditions, but Munich really manages to look beautiful, and clean, irrespective of the weather, even when rain is pouring down on the city or snow has covered every single spot in the Englischer Garten (make sure to see the English Garden, by the way, once you’re in Munich). It was nearing the end of August when I first went to Munich, and out of my faith in the hot summer days, I packed everything “summery,” from flats to white shorts and jeans. I walked around all day long in the rain in my ballet flats and white jeans, and not a single spot could be seen on my jeans afterward. Try walking down Tunalı in the rain or snow, and see what happens to your jeans (even when you are wearing boots, your jeans somehow end up stained). Additionally, unlike many cities, Munich does not turn into a ghost town in the snow, but rather gets even more crowded. From senior citizens to the youngest members of society, the pedestrian zone is always full of people.
And while we’re at it, I advise you to visit Munich in December because of the magnificent Christkindlmarkt—Christmas Market—and weird Krampus rituals in the city center. Krampus is a mythical Alpine creature, and basically an evil form of Santa Claus; instead of rewarding the good kids, he punishes the “bad” ones. The Krampus ritual that I am referring to basically consists of people running around in Krampus costumes for a day or two in December to entertain both locals and international tourists. You see, Oktoberfest is not the only time of year when you should visit this city. Bavarians are quite successful at organizing any event, incorporating elements from their traditions into an international environment.
Munich is also a divine place if you want to eat good food, from the open buffet food court on the rooftop of Oberpollinger, to Maredo—a critically acclaimed steakhouse—and even to Wienerwald. That’s right, Wienerwald is actually good in Munich, probably because Munich was the restaurant’s place of birth. And I especially enjoy the original restaurant in Munich, as it was the first place that I ordered my food completely in German, while also making small talk with the waiters. Maredo, the brilliant steakhouse, offers not only dainty and mouthwatering steaks, but also the most elegant yet informal and relaxing atmosphere, on top of incredibly tasty appetizers and side dishes.
One thing that really surprised me was how appreciative the Bavarians are of tea. They love tea, and I don’t mean just simple black tea, but every kind and flavor. And they do not stop at merely appreciating it; they also have great local tea and coffee shops, in addition to Dallmayr (which was originally a delicatessen rather than just a tea shop), where you can find the tastiest biscotti.
Munich is also heaven for “perfume enthusiasts.” I know it sounds odd, but my dad and I are among that clan; we always seek out the local or authentic perfume stores and find the most interesting scents of the most brilliant perfume designers. Additionally, as an avid jazz album collector, my dad believes that Saturn in Munich—there are Saturn stores everywhere in Germany—is a great place to find what you can’t anywhere else.
And while in Munich, it would be unwise to disregard science and not visit the world’s largest science museum, Deutsches Museum. My brother’s preoccupation with science, physics in particular, was sparked in that museum when he saw the gigantic plane and automobile exhibition, the live demonstration of the Faraday cage and the nanotechnology exhibition (which was being expanded at the time of our visit).
Last but not least, please visit the Romantic Road and Neuschwanstein castle, which is on the Romantic Road, while you are in Munich. Most of the Romantic Road is in the state of Bavaria, with a small part in Baden-Württemberg. This area is claimed to have inspired the great Grimm Brothers in writing many well-known tales: Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and so on. As for Neuschwanstein, it was the prototype for the castle depicted in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” film.
I wish you a happy week!