September 27, 2015

Munich: Toys, Markets, and Chocolates

It's not often that I've been able to repeat my travel experiences. Paris was a giant exception to this, plus my annual volleyball camp in Holland, an accidental two visits to Rome within six months of each other, and our random short trips to London.

Besides Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and London, where else in Europe had I gone more than once?

I can happily now add Munich (as it is essentially our new Paris) to that list, and our list of repeat places is only going to grow this year. I see it as a good thing; we are finding our favorite locales, and, instead of trying to constantly "one-up" each previous destination, we are thrilled to have really found new homes away from home.

It was Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and London. Now add Munich. Soon to add Madrid (Christmas) and the Algarve in Portugal (May) again. This is a pretty good line-up!


I hadn't really taken an evening off from volleyball yet, and, with no German lessons this week, it was the perfect opportunity to get to Munich before it gets too cold.

But, for September, it was cold. I wore boots, jeans, a sweater, a coat, a scarf, and mittens all day. I used to be able to say, "No scarves until October." Not in Bavaria!

Vilsbiburg is about one hour and fifteen minutes from Munich by train, but you have to change trains in Landshut. It's "inconvenient," but at least the trains run once an hour in both directions and it can be timed out well enough.

I mentioned the Lander ticket strategy on my post from the Baden-W├╝rttemburg in 2014. I will mention it again. I will continue to mention it until every traveler to Germany is made aware of it. In any region, or state, or "Lander," in Germany, you can pay 23€ for a day pass to go anywhere in the region.

It was great for me today, as a normal one-way ticket from Vilsbiburg to Munich costs around 20€! But it gets better - you can travel in a group of up to five people, and it's only 5€ for each person after the original 23€. Do the math, if you want, or just trust me that this is a great way to explore Germany!

I had one task to remedy from my original weekend trip in 2012. I had to go to the Toy Museum.

The Spielzeug Museum is housed in the tower of the old city hall in the main square, Marienplatz. I entered through an opened wooden door to a spiraling castle staircase. There are only three exhibit rooms, but the arrangement is full and adorable.

The Toy Museum takes you back to your own history and memories of presents under the Christmas tree, dollhouse worlds, Barbie outfits, and miniature figurines that our imaginations could entertain for hours.

True confession: I totally went to see the Barbies. The general nostalgia (antique toys in a medieval tower!) was awesome, too, don't get me wrong. The Spielzeug has Barbies #1, #2, and #3, plus the original twenty-one outfits from the first Barbie doll in 1959. I had no idea that the first Barbie was literally white, like the color of a wall. The clothes were fantastic, showing the style of the era and how much vintage and retro clothing have come back into style today.

After my self-guided tour of the toys was finished, the museum host at the Spielzeug advised me to take a walk through the Viktualienmarkt. (This is why it's good to talk to strangers.)

"Hello, my favorite area of Munich, it is so delightful to finally meet you."

I don't know why the Germans feel like they need to do Christmas markets if they already have a daily market like this one, complete with fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, coffee, spices, cafes, flowers, bakeries, and so on. I'll be eating every meal in Munich at the Viktualienmarkt because it's like the Christmas markets everyday.

After snacking on fish and chips in the market area, I found a bathroom and wifi (a.k.a. Starbucks). Google has always been there for me whenever I've typed "best hot chocolate in [name city]."

In a corridor to a hotel, the Chocolaterie Beluga is tucked into the diagonal, serving one of my favorite things in a very fun way: the chocolate cube. Over thirty choices were staring back at me, and I loved at least ten of the options. But the Sea Salt Caramel cube won me over in the end, and it was absolutely delicious. The cool thing is that you can buy the cubes to take away, so I can "re-visit" Beluga at least four more times at home now until I get a chance to return.

My day didn't end here, but I'll wait to give you my impressions of Oktoberfest in the next post!

Munich: Toys, Markets, and Chocolates on iOS & Android
Find the rest of my navigational GPSmyCity app article cities HERE.