I have to say Munich, our relationship did not start well!
In the summer of 1999 a little over an hour after arriving in Munich, Germany for the first time I was in an ambulance being taken away to Krankenhaus Munich Schwabing Hospital. I had just finished being examined by a doctor in my hotel room. The verdict was not good. I had been on a 16 day Contiki tour around Europe. I ended up spending nearly 2 weeks in hospital in Munich. During this time I saw none of Munich but it did start a love affair with Munich beer that still runs strong today. Each day I would head down the cafe in the hospital in my best hospital pj’s and a t-shirt. I would grab a copy of any English speaking newspaper I could and a drink.
On the second day, I witnessed the person in front of me ordering a beer. Beer in a hospital? No way that would that happen in Australia! I stepped up to the counter and ordered my very first Bavarian Beer in a litre stein with a pretzel. The whole concept of drinking a beer in hospital blew my mind, but how I enjoyed sitting outside with my beer and newspaper. Needless to say, my afternoons were spent napping after this. This became my daily tradition for a good part of a week or more while I was in the hospital. In my time at the hospital, I had met a male nurse called Detmar who helped me with all things English/German that needed translating and organising. Demar even helped me check out and he drove me to the airport to catch a plane to Manchester. I vowed to visit Munich again one day
I did come back to visit Munich
I returned to Munich once again in the Summer of 2003. It was a promise I had made myself while sitting in that hospital 4 years earlier, I would come back I will see Munich. This time with my girlfriend in tow! We were picked up at the airport by Detmar, the nurse I had become friends with while in the hospital. We went straight to Nymphenburg Palace for a walk and an ice cream. Nymphenburg cemented my love of castles and palaces that my girlfriend (now wife Rebecca) and I would continue to seek out on all our trips.
We had our very first spaghetti ice in Munch. Bavarian spaghetti ice cream needs to be seen to be believed. We spent days wandering the city centre, we went to Dachau and immersed ourselves in the history. Munich was the first place in Europe Bec stepped foot on and taking Bec to Munich was special for me, Before meeting me she had never considered travelling internationally. I changed that for her, the feeling of exploring places together is one I remember and hold onto dearly to this day. It’s a feeling now only replicated when we travel as a family.
In 2006 I returned once again to visit Munich, this time with Fiance and a baby in tow! Detmar was there once again to meet us. Once again our first stop was Nymphenburg to visit ‘our’ palace as we refer to it. It was only fitting to introduce our princess baby Willow to the palace. We happened to be visiting at Oktoberfest time. We experience our first Oktoberfest strolled the city with baby in tow stopping to buy fruit on every corner, eating amazing Italian at Bernie’s in the city and going to Hofbrau for the first time and eating the traditional roasted pork knuckles.
The smell of roasted pork and sausage wafts out the doors of Bavarian restaurants. It draws you in like the pied piper playing his fiddle. We spent a warm summer evening at the Taxis Beer Garden where I would have a Franziskaner or Spaten in only a way Bavarians…do by the litre! Baby Willow had taken to loving the giant Bavarian pretzels. Along with the amazing fruit, the pretzels became her staple diet in Munich. 3 of us now loved Munich.
In 2013 I returned with my Wife and two kids in tow! This time, to visit Munich from Poland with Detmar were we had been holidaying and it was Marley’s turn to experience our favourite city. Marley loved Nymphenburg, actually, so much she went twice. Marley loved pretzels so much she ate them every day starting with them for breakfast. Marley decided that the fountain at Karlsplatz was her play place.
Even on a 10-degree day, one could not stop our Marley from getting wet. Oktoberfest once again was on and so was Willow’s birthday. We spent an amazing day at Oktoberfest. Willow tells people I once spent a birthday at Oktoberfest. Willow and I toured Paulaner Brewery, maybe my girl will be a German beer drinker as well when she gets older. Willow and I had breakfast at Hofbrau one morning at 8am, feed Deer at a wildlife park, went on day trips to the royal castles. Experience’s like these with my kids are one’s I will never forget. Marley was now also sold on Munich especially since she could help her mother indulge in her love of Haggen Dazs just off Marienplatz.
We will return to visit Munich in January of 2017 and we can’t wait! I don’t know what it is about this city that I love so much. It feels familiar every time we visit, we find something new to love about it every time we visit Munich. Is it the food, the beer, the history, the culture, the friendly Bavarian people? It’s all above and more it is the intangible that we can’t always see, or touch but a sense that we have that sometimes makes places special to us for no other reason than a feeling. Munich is my feeling