Munich and the English Gardens

We arrived in Munich by overnight train on a Sunday.  Unfortunately, Sunday is typically a dead day, so many stores and restaurants were closed.  The streets were largely empty, and ended up going into a hotel at one point to ask for suggestions on places to see.  Motivated by the wonderful weather, though, we were determined to explore Munich with what limited time we had.  When we left, I had mixed feelings about Munich.  The city is gorgeous and full of history, but the food left much to be desired.

Having arrived in the city at around 7AM in the morning, we knew immediately that we wanted our first stop of the day to be the English Gardens.  In Amsterdam, a friend and I used the free wi-fi at an Apple retailer store to look up potential attractions at our future destinations.  For Munich, we read great things about the English Gardens, and the pictures created even more excitement.

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The English Gardens is a massive 900 acre park – bigger than Central Park in New York – that can be described with nothing other than breath-taking.  Since it was fall, the leaves on all the trees were gorgeous shades of green, yellow, and red.   By far, this was my favorite place that I visited on our entire trip.  There are walking paths, rivers, ponds, and lots of open green, grassy areas.  We thought it would be fun to have a breakfast picnic in the park, and we were glad that we ended up saving some of the cheese from Amsterdam.  Coupled with sun-dried tomatoes, pesto spread, a tomato spread, and a freshly baked baguette, the cheese rounded out a simple yet tasty breakfast.  We ate at a spot by a river, and the ducks were quick to come out of the water and beg for food.  They came in swarms!  The ducks don’t attack, but they are persistent and will quack incessantly for food.

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After breakfast, and feeding any crumbs to the ducks, we set out to walk around the English Gardens.  The park is divided into multiple areas, with cultural structures such as a Japanese tea house, a Greek temple, and a Chinese pagoda.  There weren’t many people in the park when we went, probably due to the early time and off-season tourist month, but I appreciated the fact that the park wasn’t crowded.  We didn’t have enough time to see the entire park, but we managed to stop by a few places.

Eventually, we came across a waterfall.  A couple running the park told us that the waterfall is actually pretty famous, so of course we stayed to marvel and take pictures.

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Apparently, there is also another waterfall that surfers like to frequent.  We didn’t get to see it, and we wished that we had known sooner because seeing people surf on a mini-waterfall sounds pretty interesting.

After a few hours, we left the gardens to scout out a place for lunch.  Going into the Munich’s central area, we found many stores closed and hardly any people on the street.  As we were walking around, we happened to pass by this church.  At 12 PM, the church bells rang, and there are moving wooden figurines at the top that put on a performance.  The scenes included dancers, jousting, and the royals.

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The only restaurant open that we found was a place called Weisses Bräuhaus, a beer hall.  When we went inside, the place was filled with people.  There were old men dressed up in lederhosen decorated with medals, and a group was playing traditional music.  It was lively, and we ended up sharing a table.  Luckily, the place had an English menu, but we still weren’t quite sure what to order.  The two gentlemen who we were sharing a table with helped us out.  They also told us that it was quite common for everything but beer halls to be closed on Sundays, and people usually come out starting around 11 AM into the beer halls to socialize until dinner.

Based on the their recommendations, we ordered the baked Camembert, mushrooms in cream sauce, and the Bavarian Peasant’s Feast.  The baked Camembert could have been heated through a little bit more, but the cranberry sauce made it taste better.  Furthermore, the deep-fried parsley that came on the side was a fascinating addition but added no extra flavor.

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The mushrooms in cream sauce came with a semolina dumpling.  The dumpling wasn’t very flavorful, but it was acceptable when covered with the cream sauce and mushrooms.  One girl thought the dish was too salty, though.

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The Bavarian Peasant’s Feast was the biggest let-down.  The dish is a selection of meats cooked in various different ways.  There’s a roasted meat, what tasted like a picked meat, another dumpling, and also sausages.  The sausages were quite nice and had a subtle spicy undertone, but all the other meats were not very appetizing.  The roasted meat was too salty, and, to me, none of the flavors on the plate matched well together.  In addition, we were given a large mound of sauerkraut, which covered half the plate.  The sour juices from the sauerkraut overpowered anything it touched.  In total, we paid about €28 for the entire meal and were left with a bad first impression of Bavarian food.

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After lunch, we went to the Nymphenburg Palace, which served as the summer palace for the Bavarian rulers during the 18th and 19th centuries.  The parks are free to visit, but visitors must pay to see the main palace and also any park palaces.  Nymphenburg is enormous, and the rich colors of the palace makes you wish you could own some of the furniture.  All the rooms have been elaborately decorated with paintings and gold-trimmed wall panels.  It was also unfortunate, but it was also here that I encountered an extremely racist young mother who made Asian eye faces and “Chinese” sounds whenever she saw us.  It was frustrating, and I was appalled to see that she did it blatantly in front of us and in front of her young child.

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Dinner required more wandering around to find an open restaurant.  Finally, we found a sign pointing down an alley for a restaurant called Opatija.  Having snacked a lot throughout the day, we didn’t eat a big dinner.  I had the oxtail soup (€5) and tomato salad (€5.10).  The oxtail soup was a little on the salty side for me but was still rich in flavor.  The clearness of the broth was remarkable, and there were a few small pieces of beef at the bottom.

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The tomato salad, while generous with the tomatoes, was a too heavy on the balsamic.  By the end of the meal, my lips became chapped from all the acidity.  There were also too many raw onions, which didn’t help the already acidic salad.

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Opatija was just ok.  The service was good, but prices were a little high.  Also, the restaurant’s pastas, salads, and soups were nothing special.  If you are willing to pay more, their fish dishes looked impressive, but I can’t vouch for how they will taste.

Weisses Bräuhaus
Tal 7, 81673
Munich, Bavaria

Opatija im Tal
Rindermarkt 2
Munich, Bavaria


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