The third stop of our European adventure was Munich, Germany. James and I definitely had interest in seeing some part of Germany during this vacation but I happen to have a friend who is like a sister to me who lives in Munich so it was a no brainer! Franzi was my older sisters German exchange student when she was in high school. My sister and Franzi had a special connection and she instantly became a part of my family. We had visited Germany as a family when I was a preteen and so I was so excited to see Germany as an adult.
On our way to Munich, we caught a ride with my friend Kalia and she took us into Cologne, Germany. She had mentioned she had visited the Cologne Cathedral and how stunning this cathedral was. We decided we would stop for lunch and to see this huge gorgeous cathedral. First, we walked around the outside of the Cologne Cathedral grabbing pictures and staring at the awe of the architecture. This was a popular spot as there were people all around taking in the beauty. We then went inside and were able to see some of the cathedral from in the front.
After we spent some time here, we found a lunch spot along the Rhine river and enjoyed some classic German dishes and some beer! Kalia was so sweet to drive us a little further to a train station where we then hopped on a train to Munich!
The first thing we did when we got to Franzi and her husband Stefan’s flat in Munich, we spent the evening sharing drinks and catching up. I hadn’t seen Franzi since my sister’s wedding in 2016 and since then Franzi had a wedding and her first child! We had a lovely evening of food, drink, and the best company. Franzi had helped us plan the rest of our trip and what we needed to see, do and eat while we were in town. She had recommended that we do a bike tour through Munich to be able to touch on a lot since we didn’t have a ton of time here.
The following morning we woke up and had some food before heading out to the bike tour. We went through Mike’s Bike Tours and had a great experience. We accidentally missed our train and were a couple minutes late but were able to still get into our scheduled time. The tour took us all over the city and touched on a good amount of history. In the middle of the tour, we stopped for lunch at the Chinesischer Turm located in the English Garden. This place was such much fun and we enjoyed some traditional German food and my favorite German beer (Radler…YUM!). We sat at picnic-like tables and chatted with other people on our tour. After a delicious meal and a drink we got back on our bikes and rode through more of the English Gardens. The English Gardens are 417 acres of gorgeous park that is very popular! After riding through the park we headed through the city to finish out our tour. This was such a great way to see a city and we absolutely loved it!
After our bike tour, we met up with Franzi and her son Leonard at Olympiapark or Olympic Park. This park was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics and now is used for the public as an open park and for events. In the park is Olympiaturm which is a tower with an observation deck on top that gives you a lovely view over the city of Munich. James and I paid to go to the top of this building to see the city from above. It was really cool to see all the red-topped buildings, very unique.
Afterward, we came down and walked around more of the park with Franzi and her son. We found a nice shaded spot near water and all took a seat and chatted. Franzi and I can talk for hours so we had plenty to chat about and catch up on. Leonard was about a year old and so he was so curious and eager to explore. We spent half the time trying to keep him from heading to the water, he is a water lover!
Franzi told us about a great dinner spot near their flat and so we decided to make the trip back towards their home. We got the restaurant and they were pretty full, so we found a table outside and shared it with a woman. That’s one thing we loved about Europe is that most places are shared seating and so joining others at their table is part of normal life. It’s also such a great way to socialize over food and drinks. Franzi ordered us some traditional German dishes and we enjoyed those over some beers. They were such large portions it looked like we barely made a dent in them! We grabbed some shots of Franzi and Leonard here before calling it a night.
The following day, Franzi’s husband, Stefan, had made it back into town and we all went over to the Isar River to enjoy the sunshine and the water. We had the best time swimming in the river and snacking on fruit and German cheeses. Stefan showed us what locals do at the river, which is walk up the pathways and then hop in the river and sit down letting the current carry you back down the river. It sounds simple, but it was so fun and refreshing. The Isar River is snowmelt from the Alps and the water felt so great on a hot summer day in Germany! Franzi’s parents, who live in a small town a bit away from Munich, were in town for the afternoon and ended up stopping by the river to say hello. Wow, it was so great to see them as I haven’t seen them since I was last in Germany over 10 years ago! After we were worn out from the sunshine and swimming we headed back to Franzi and Stefan’s for some dinner.
The boys went out and picked up doner kebobs which are Turkish sandwiches. We were told that there is a strong Turkish community in Munich and that their sandwiches are very good. They didn’t disappoint and we enjoyed dinner and time together with my German family! After Franzi’s parents headed out, they put the baby to bed and we spent the rest of the night chatting and enjoying a bottle of champagne. This was the first time James and I had real champagne and holy moly was this stuff delicious! We had a lovely view of the sunset and enjoyed watching the sun slowly drift into the horizon together.
It quickly became our last day in Germany before we headed out on an overnight train to Italy! We got off to a late start and everyone agreed we would go to the Isar River again for a little swimming. We weren’t on the river long before the worst part of our whole European adventure happened. James was trying to swat away the bees that were bugging us and ended up getting stung on the thumb. James and Stefan were standing a bit away and so I had no idea what was going on! Stefan mentioned to him that he should “suck the stinger out” to help with the bee sting. *insert facepalm and shocking face* The nurse in me killed to hear this and James quickly learned his lesson. Apparently, James is allergic to bees and so not only did the sting cause his hand to swell immensely but he put the sting right to his mouth which led to his lips swelling. This freaked us all out and we ended up leaving the river and heading back to the flat. James was not looking well and he had hives head to toe and the swelling wasn’t slowing down. Looking back on it now, its kind of funny but at the time we were all worried about him! After a cold shower and some Benedryl, James felt well enough to take the train to Italy. We said our goodbyes to Franzi, Stefan, and Leonard which was harder than I thought it was going to be and I definitely cried! We will miss them so much but are so thankful for the time we got to spend with them during our time in Munich, Germany!