Munich Unveiled: Navigating the Bavarian Capital

September 27, 2016. Excitement swirled within me as we embarked on our German adventure. As the plane soared through the sky, the majestic mountain peaks breaking through wavy clouds hinted at the enchantment awaiting us. While I had caught glimpses of mountains in Spain and Andorra before, viewing them from the airplane provided a fresh perspective. Against the gloomy backdrop of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, Bavaria’s vivid colors took me by surprise, painting a picture of unexpected splendor.

Our official destination was Memmingen, a pragmatic choice dictated by the presence of budget airlines. With no concrete plans for Memmingen, we promptly boarded a bus bound for Munich. The journey unfolded before us, with scenes of endless solar panels dotting the landscape – a friendly nod to the Inter Solar event happening in Munich, where solar panel manufacturers showcase their latest innovations. The lush green fields, reminiscent of the “Alpen Gold” Russian commercials of my youth, added to the surreal allure of the Bavarian countryside.

Upon arriving in Munich, I clung to a kind of a plan, a shaky one though. Hindered by the absence of internet access, my navigational skills were put to the test. In hindsight, the lack of technology forced us to observe our surroundings more keenly, uncovering hidden gems among the unfamiliar streets. Munich welcomed us warmly, its cozy streets evoking a sense of home that resonated deeply within me, echoing traces of Pskov and Saint Petersburg.

Prior to our journey, I had earmarked a spot for lunch – Augustiner Bürgerheim. Even now, years later, the memory of that meal lingers, the taste of beer-infused sauce etched in my mind. Though it may not have been a Michelin-starred establishment, it captured my heart with its authentic Bavarian fare. Perhaps it was the novelty of a beer-based sauce that enchanted me, a testament to the culinary delights awaiting exploration in Munich.

Following our satisfying meal, we made our way to our Couchsurfing host’s home, an experience that initially filled me with anxiety. The concept of staying in a stranger’s house without payment seemed daunting, but engaging conversations with our gracious hosts quickly dispelled my fears. While I entertained the idea of being as a host myself, it never materialized. Nevertheless, I cherish the opportunity to welcome friends into my own home.

As we strolled the streets en route to our host’s house, I couldn’t resist capturing snapshots of Munich’s charm. In a nearby park, a monument caught my eye – ‘der Schmied von Kochel’, or ‘The Smith of Kochel’. Steeped in Bavarian folklore, this figure embodied tales of heroism and rebellion, a symbol of defiance against imperial oppression. It was a fitting introduction to our first day in Munich, setting the stage for the adventures that awaited us at Oktoberfest the following day.