Excursion to Bavarian Alps

On our third day in Munich, we decided to rent a car and do some outdoor exploring in the Bavarian Alps.

Keith and our ride for the day, a sleek BMW convertible.

Das Autobahn!

We drove about an hour south to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a small Bavarian town near the German-Austrian border.

We hiked about 30 minutes to Partnachklamm, or Partnach gorge, on the edge of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Our rain jackets really came in handy.

There is a narrow path carved along the edge of the gorge with amazing waterfall views.

Our path ended at this stream on the other side of the gorge.

The Bavarian Alps from the car.

After hiking Partnachklamm, we drove another 30 minutes northwest to the town of Andechs and visited the Kloster Andechs, or the Andechs Monastery. The grounds of this Benedictine monastery were absolutely stunning! The monks have been brewing their own beer for centuries (this is Germany, people!) and it is quite possibly the best beer I’ve ever tasted!

The monastery sits on a hill overlooking the rest of Andechs.

The monastery biergarten.

You could get pretzels at all the biergartens we went to, and they were always this large!

Cycling Munich

We took a bike tour of Munich through Mike’s Bike Tours (highly recommended!), and I’m convinced that biking is truly the best way to sightsee in a large city. We covered more ground in four hours than we ever could in a whole day on foot. Now that I’ve been regularly cycling in Chicago for a year and a half, I’m curious to explore other cities’ cycling culture and infrastructure–any excuse to get me on a bike!

Our trusty tour guide, hailing from southern California.

The bikes. I’m not typically a fan of cruisers, but these offered a few speeds and provided a comfortable ride. The balloon tires helped to cushion the many cobblestone paths we encountered.

Theatinerkirche (Theatiner church)

Inside the beautiful Theatinerkirche.


We enjoyed the tour so much that we came back a few hours later to rent bikes for the rest of the afternoon and used the time to explore more of the Englischer Gartens. It’s similar to Central Park in size and includes miles of paths, biergartens, tennis courts, small lakes for paddle boating , and even a meadow for nude sunbathing!

Yes, you can even surf in the Englischer Gartens! Who says you can’t catch waves in landlocked Munich?

Another travel first happened while we were biking through Englischer Gartens–we got separated! We started making our way back to the starting point in the gardens, when I got stuck making my way around a large group of cyclists, and lagged behind, thinking I could just speed up and catch up with Keith. Well, before I knew it he was further and further ahead of me and completely out of view. I kept cycling , thinking he would stop and wait for me, but accidentally went down a different path. Within a few minutes I realized we had gotten completely separated, with no cell phone access and no way to find each other.

I was tempted to start panicking, but luckily stayed calm and realized the best thing to do would be to find my way back to the bike shop since that’s where we were headed anyway. Unfortunately, Keith had the better city map with him and mine only contained the central area of Munich, and the southern edge of the Englischer Gartens. Luckily there was a garden map and directory every quarter mile or so, and I stopped at every single one I came across until I slowly made my way to the edge point of the gardens where we started. Then I was able to use my city map and found a direct route back to the bike shop using two main roads. I also stopped at nearly every intersection to check the cross streets against my map.

I made it to the bike shop about 40 minutes after the whole ordeal started, and Keith had been waiting there for me about 10 minutes. We both had the same instinct–just head back to the bike shop! I felt so relieved to have found each other again, but strangely exhilarated and proud of my way-finding skills.

Magical München

After an early morning flight from Copenhagen, we arrived in Munich, but had four hours to kill before we were able to check into the hotel. We dropped off our bag and, in bleary-eyed wonder, took on Bavaria’s capital.

More coffee was a must.

Marienplatz, Munich’s “city center”.

We climbed thirteen flights of stairs like these to reach the top of Saint Peter’s church…

And were rewarded with a breathtaking view.

Walking through Viktualienmarkt, an open-air market near Marienplatz.

A stop at the iconic (and touristy) Hofbrauhaus, beer hall.

Hofbrauhaus biergarten

Dinner at  Schneider Weisses Brauhaus

Bavarian feast

Why, yes, you can buy Legos from a vending machine in Munich’s central train station.

We ended the night at the Augstiner Biergarten. A two-handed grip was essential for me.

Foreign travel is often a humbling experience–between the jetlag, language barriers, long hours of walking, and demands of way-finding–but today I experienced a sense peace within the chaos. Just let go of this false sense of reality that says everyone else knows what they’re doing but you. Look around, and I promise you’re not the only one.

A short stay in Copenhagen

Greetings from Denmark! Below are some snapshots of our brief visit to Copenhagen before continuing to the main legs of the trip.

Strolling along the Strøget, a popular and pedestrian-only shopping street in central Copenhagen.

We walked to Nyhavn, a waterfront canal, lined with sidewalk cafes and pubs.

Enjoying a Carlsberg at Nyhavn.

The early evening light was magnificent!

Jetlag calls–next stop, Munich!