Bavaria 8/10

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Gettin our "oom-pah-pah" on in Bavaria...

Munich Marienplatz Rathaus

This marked the first visit for both of us to Bavaria. Our stay was a month or so before the madness of Oktoberfest, but we visited two of the largest and most famous beer gardens, and were unimpressed. The food was just okay and although we're used to smokers in Europe, the cloud of cigarette smoke hanging over the beer gardens was as thick as molasses. Surprisingly, I found the beer all over Bavaria just average, although there was certainly a lot of it everywhere. Maybe I just didn't know where to find the best. The wonderful town square area in Munich was bustling with crowds day and night. Our side trip to Salzburg, Austria was a highlight.

Friday, August 20th - Munich

Our train from Prague to Munich was the best of the trip - fast and uncrowded, arriving ahead of schedule at at 2:30pm. At the DB ticket office at Munich's Hbf we figured out the best local pass for our visit - a 3 day S & U Bahn group pass. We took the S1 from the Hbf, connecting to the U6 to Nordfreihof which was right next to our hotel, the Renaissance Munich. The hotel was inexpensive and adequate with one fatal flaw - no air conditioning. After a quick turnaround, we took the U6 back to Marienplatz (large picture above), the town's square and the center of most activity. A short walk away we grabbed dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and got our first taste of Bavaria's ubiquitous 1 liter mugs of beer (first picture below). After a dusk walk around town (second picture below), we retired for the night.

Salzburg, Austria Mirabell Gardens view to fortress

Munich Hard Rock Cafe toast

Isar gate at dusk

Dachau Arbeit gate

Dachau memorial statue

Saturday, August 21st - Dachau Concentration camp memorial & Munich's beer gardens

After a late breakfast at the hotel lounge, we took the U6 and S2 30 minutes to Dachau where we boarded the #726 bus to the concentration camp memorial site. Entering as we did at Sachsenhausen, through the "Arbeit macht frei" gate (third picture above), we started in the massive museum. In my opinion, the Dachau museum is way overdone with thousands of artifacts like shreds of shoe leather and tiny scraps of paper that by their sheer numbers actually distracted from the larger message of the memorial. The clerk at the entry shop said we would need 4 hours to cover the museum before entering the grounds - we took 25 minutes, which was plenty. The grounds were impressive in size, but almost all the original buildings were gone. Relatively new memorials dominated the landscape (fourth picture above). We spent about an hour covering all of the grounds (first picture below), then headed back to the Dachau station where we had lunch before returning to Munich.


I'd heard that every Munich tourist has to try the Hofbräuhaus at least once, and we didn't want to be the exception. The Hofbräuhaus is a massive indoor and outdoor beer garden and restaurant that they say can hold 5000 people. I don't doubt that. We found the Hofbräuhaus directly across from the Hard Rock Cafe, a few blocks from Marienplatz. The picnic table seating was uncrowded in the mid-afternoon and the menu was varied, but was dominated by authentic German dishes. We sat down just as the oom-pah-pah band was starting their break (second picture below). My liter mug of dark beer was just okay, but the service and food were remarkably good for such a touristy and large place. We returned to our hotel to rest for a while and then headed back out on the U6 to University where we walked across the huge park to the equally huge outdoor Chinese Beer Garden (third picture below). We found the lines too long, the food and beer bad and the cigarette smoke cloud asphyxiating. Returning to the University area, I took a long exposure fountain shot in front of the main building of Ludwig Maximilian University (fourth picture below). Still not tired, we boarded the U6 again to Marienplatz where we walked the busy Saturday night square, met a dog called a Slovensky Cuvac that looked remarkably like a smaller version of our Great Pyrenees Charlie, and then finished our day with a late night snack.

Dachau fence & barracks spots

Hofbräuhaus interior

Chinese Beer Garden

Ludwig Maximilian Univ.

Sunday, August 22nd - Salzburg, Austria - Hohensalzburg Fortress & the land of Mozart

Our Czech Republic & Germany Eurail passes covered some border towns, including Salzburg, Austria, so we decided to take a day trip there. The train to Salzburg took 80 minutes to cover the 90 miles from Munich, arriving just before noon. We bought Salzburg Cards at the station, which weren't as much a bargain (25€ x2!) as they were a convenient way to skip ticket lines the rest of the day. We took bus #1 from the train station to Old Town and began walking towards the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which can be seen from almost anywhere in town. We stopped at the Salzburg Dom (first picture below) before entering the bustling town square perched directly below the fortress (second and third pictures below).

Salzburg Dom interior

Salzburg square artwork

Hohensalzburg Fortress panorama

We took the funicular up to the fortress, which had a commanding view of the city from its tiered walls (first and second pictures below). The inside of the fortress complex was interesting, but didn't require a lot of time to see everything worthwhile. After taking the funicular back down, we navigated the narrow streets of Old Town (third picture below, map in Craig's hand) to Mozart's birthplace (fourth picture below). After a quick visit there, we walked across the river to Mozart's residence which was another quick tour. Continuing along the north side of the river, we entered Mirabell Gardens (large picture top of page right) which had a nice long distance view all the way to the fortress. We caught the bus near the gardens back to the train station where we found a little bar across the street for drinks and a snack before boarding the return train to Munich. Back in Munich around sunset, we took the S1 from the Hbf to Marienplatz where we found Killian's Pub, a relaxed hole-in-the-wall place with pub food (the Fat Bishop sandwich was great) and the best beer of the whole trip, ironically an Irish Ale - Murphy's Red. After dinner, we returned to our hotel and packed for our trip to Cologne the next day.

Hohensalzburg Fortress overlook

Hohensalzburg Fortress Salzburg city view

Narrow streets

Mozart's birthplace

Click on the button below to continue with us to the end of our trek in the city of Cologne, back in Germany's Rhineland

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