September is a great month to be in Europe and, if you are a beer and fun aficionado, Munich is a great destination. Oktoberfest brings music, colorful costumes, and lots of beer to the table, so you are sure to be entertained. Our Munich stop was brief in 2022, but thoroughly enjoyable, and we got a very quick taste of the city preparing for festivities.
Four years passed by without a European vacation! We took off on our RV trip in 2019 and then 2020 happened. Next, we moved to Colorado, then finally bought a fixer upper, so it was September 2022 by the time we got to visit Europe again.
Leading up to our trip this time, it felt a bit different to me: I was still excited but also a little unsettled and perhaps not as eager to get away from “home” as I was while living and working in Knoxville, TN. We worked hard to make our newly found “home” in Colorado cushy and cozy if not luxurious or big. After feeling rootless for a few years, we finally started settling in. We also found ourselves wishing our neighborhood friends could join us on our adventures abroad.
The trip started with a last minute flight cancelation from Lufthansa; the pilots went on strike, so our Munich to Bucharest flight went bye bye. As soon as I saw the update the day we were supposed to fly out of Denver, I called my trusty travel agent at Lutetia Travel to get her help. Luckily, she worked her magic and secured the last two seats on a next-day flight, which meant an overnight layover in Munich.
At the airport, we ended up with a two hour delay because our plane had AC issues. The delay would have made us miss the original connecting flight in Munich anyway (if that flight hadn’t been canceled first), so it all worked out I guess. I have to give United Airline crew credit for something that really should happen a lot more: the captain asked the passengers without connecting flights to remain seated and allow for those in a hurry to get off first.
I love direct flights! Nine and a half hours after we took off from Denver, we landed in Munich. It felt great to stretch our legs and breathe in some fresh air.
We took the S8 train into town (you can buy tickets at an automated kiosk in the airport but it can be a bit confusing, so we asked a local for help) and found our hotel (free night compliments of Marriott rewards). The first order of business: a long shower. Then, naturally, food! We walked over to a neighborhood restaurant called Rusticana. The place is small, so we were lucky to find two seats at the bar. I loved the cozy atmosphere and the smell of BBQ! We thought about being good and getting some salads but… whom were we kidding? We devoured a proper serving of ribs, alongside a loaded baked potato, and washed it down with a tall Dunkelweizen (traditional Bavarian wheat beer)—ahhh! Franziskaner Dunkel (dunkel means dark in German, while weizen means wheat) is a smooth/creamy, malty, and full-bodied beer, with both herby and fruity hints. Yum! Satisfied and tired, we walked back to our hotel where a good night’s sleep ensued.
NOTE: If you want to know more about the different dunkel beers of Germany, here is a good summary.
Refreshed, we indulged in the generous continental breakfast spread and sipped on satisfyingly strong European coffee. We took a walk through the city—you know you’re in Europe when you see cobble stone streets! We admired the colorful architecture and sampled delicious pastries. And we managed to get lost. Luckily, a friendly local walked with us for a while, getting us on the right trajectory again.
We checked out of our hotel and hopped on the S1 train to the airport. The check-in line at Lufthansa was ample (their website, app, and phone check-ins were not available—grrr). We gave ourselves enough time to deal with that, so after we finally checked in, we had a bite to eat, including some free French fries, compliments of a friendly Irish traveler (he ordered just before us and fries came as a side with his meal; he didn’t touch them but offered them to us, so don’t judge!).
Our next stop: HOME, Brasov, Romania (via Bucharest), then Greece, once again. But more on those trips later.
On our return path, we stopped in Munich just for a few hours, enough to catch a train to Marienplatz, the heart of the city since 1158. At the center of the square stands the imposing town hall with its Glockenspiel—a moving figurine clock, each with its own story and significance. Featuring 43 bells, the clock is not only one of the largest in Europe, but also one of the most popular sights in the city. The clock rings and the figures dance daily at 11 am and 12 pm, and at 5pm between March and October.
We had hoped to connect with some friends who were on their honeymoon, but their train got delayed and we missed them. We did have time to grab some coffee and a pastry at Woerner’s café on the plaza (food = OK, service = meh).
While we were admiring the costumes and music of the Oktoberfest participants which started trickling in toward various festivities in town, I noticed a photographer who might have been Jordan Matter (?), who specializes in photographing dancers.
We were sad to miss Oktoberfest and glad that our friends would be able to enjoy the festival (especially since they are beer enthusiasts). If you are curious about the festival’s beginnings, Oktoberfest began on October 12, 1810, when the future King Ludwig of Bavaria (Munich is the capital of the region) married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. In good form, they invited the entire city to attend the celebration, which included a large feast and horse races. The celebrations became a recurring tradition, which over the years grew to include other fun activities, including drinking a LOT of beer (about 2 million gallons are consumed over the period of 2.5 weeks).