Munich Beer Halls: Where To Feast In Munich

It is impossible to think of Bavaria without brewed beer coming to mind, and there is a good reason for that: a centuries-old tradition involved in crafting the purest and most delicious beers in the world. And there is no better place to experience that that in one of the many beer halls in Munich. Here are my personal picks for the top traditional beer halls in the city.

Ratskeller

Location: Marienplatz 8 | Inside the New Town Hall
Opening: Mon-Sun 11:00 – 01:00
Reservation: ratskeller.com/

The Ratskeller has symbolized Munich’s lifestyle and gastronomy for decades. With 1,100 seats and 15 rooms in the heart of Munich, its unique environment with neo-Gothic vaults and in the impressive Prunkhof are in themselves a real attraction!

The six vaulted ceilings of this beer hall narrate in forty-eight presentations the history of beer drinking, the “Older and Newer History of Munich” and the “Bockrausch”. The paintings are quite funny and I can assure will you enjoy the stories painted there.

I can’t stress this enough, this place is simply one of the best in the whole city when it comes to traditional Bavarian food. But it gets pretty crowded already around lunchtime, so make sure to make a reservation.

My favorite dish coming from this place is the ‘Ratskeller Grillwürstl-Schmankerl’, a warm dish containing a variety of sausages accompanied by sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.

Der Pschorr

Location: Viktualienmarkt 15 | Near the Viktualienmarkt
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 00:00
Reservation: der-pschorr.de/

Der Pschorr was founded by Joseph Pschorr, a brewer who set new standards to his art. He was the one to invent the first method of cooling beer, over two hundred years ago. In the winter he had long pieces of ice cut from the Isar River, and stored his beer on top of the ice allocated in deep vaults.

The place is really cozy and well lit. It has two levels with plenty of tables ready for small to very large groups. The staff is usually very busy, especially at night, but they manage to be very friendly and attentive to every single customer.

My favorite dish from this beer hall is definitely the Bratwurst. The seasoning is just perfect and the combination of potato salad and sauerkraut match very well the flavor of the sausages. To go with it, I always ask for either a Radler or a Russ’n, which are mixtures of beer with lemonade.

Zum Augustiner

Location: Neuhauser Str. 27 | Between Karlsplatz and Marienplatz
Opening: Mon-Sat 09:00 – 00:00, Sun 10:00 – 00:00
Reservation: augustiner-restaurant.com/

The Augustinian Hermits built the Augustiner brewery in the 14th century, in order to support the economy of their monastery on the Haberfeld. Later on, Anton and Therese Wagner, a wealthy couple from Altaching purchased the brewery, making it the family business that it is today.

Since 1948, Manfred Vollmer holds the tenancy of the Augustiner Großgaststätten, keeping alive the tradition of the monks at the heart of Munich.

Although the place is relatively crowded, it has a nice ambiance to it. The building is one of the few historical places from Munich’s Art Nouveau period which remains unchanged. The staff simply couldn’t be more friendly, even joking around a couple of times.

This is the place I go when I want traditional Bavarian food with traditional ingredients, especially when it comes to pork, like pork knuckle. Apparently, they managed to score high with me in this category.

Augustiner Bräustuben

Location: Landsberger Str. 19 | Close to the Main Station (München Hbf)
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 00:00
Reservation: braeustuben.de/

This beer hall got its name from the term “Bräustüberl”, which in Bavaria refers to a tavern business connected to the brewery in which the brewed beer is served. The Bräustüberl is the perfect choice for someone in a hurry to travel since it is really close to the train station.

The place has a very cozy feel and is known among locals for being a non-expensive option regarding beer halls in Munich. More of a tavern than a restaurant, the atmosphere is definitely different from the other places in town.

My personal recommendation for the Bräustüberl is definitely the Bratpfandl: a mixed pan with the house specialties including duck, pork knuckle, roasted pork, cabbage salad and dumpling with dark beer gravy. And definitely do not forget to order a Starkbier to accompany the main dish.

Hofbräuhaus

Location: Platzl 9 | Couple of blocks after Marienplatz
Opening: Mon-Sun 09:00 – 23:30
Reservation: hofbraeuhaus.de/

Labeled “the world’s most famous beer hall”, Hofbräuhaus is the cradle of the Bavarian tavern culture. Built almost 500 years ago, it has its own brewery, butchery, bakery, and confectionery. All this effort goes to make sure that everything served is typically Bavarian.

The place is very crowded, especially during weekends and holidays, which consequently means that service is a bit busy and your food might take a while to arrive. Also, be prepared to hear some shouting from locals who had a bit too much to drink.

But the medieval architecture, the typically Bavarian frescos on the walls, and the delicious beer really compensate for the crowd. Another plus is that there is live traditional Bavarian music every day, all the year-round (except for Good Friday and All Hallows‘ Day).

Honestly, I come here mostly for the atmosphere and the beer, since the cost/benefit of the food is not the greatest to me. I always order a Maß (1L mug) of Helles Bier, or a glass of Weißbier (usually served in a 0,5L glass) if I am not really willing to drink too much.

Löwenbräukeller

Location: Nymphenburger Str. 2 | Two blocks away from Königsplatz
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 00:00
Reservation: loewenbraeukeller.com/

The name Löwenbräu is first mentioned in the beer catalogs of Munich in 1746/1747. The Löwenbräukeller was then opened in 1883, close to the brewery in Stiglmaierplatz. The brand currently belongs to InBev, the largest brewing company in the world.

This is definitely the quietest and coziest beer hall in town, especially for a brewery of this size. Here is the place to have a nice afternoon talking to friends over some good beer.

Paulaner Bräuhaus

Location: Kapuzinerpl. 5 | Near Goetheplatz
Opening:
Mon-Sat 11:00 – 00:00, Sun 11:00 – 23:00

Reservation: paulaner-brauhaus.de/

Paulaner dates back from 1634 and comes from a very interesting source. The monks of the Munich monastery of Neudeck ob der Au had to craft a very strong beer to help them go through Lent (a period where they have to abdicate from eating). What was left was then given to the poor or sold in the taverns nearby. The beer then slowly started becoming famous throughout the region.

Although the Paulaner brewery has such a long history, the current building only became the Paulaner Bräuhaus in 1928, when Thomasbräu merged with the Paulaner brewery.

The place is very quiet inside, so you won’t hear people shouting everywhere like in other locations. The atmosphere gets even better after dawn, as the lights are slightly toned down, making it a lovely place for a romantic date.

When it comes to the big beer halls in Munich, this one really stands out both from the food and beer perspective. There is only one word to describe Paulaner: wuuunderbar. In my first visit, I ordered a typical Schnitzel and was pleasantly surprised by how much effort they put into making the dish interesting.

As you can see in the picture above, one of the pieces of chicken was crumbed not with bread but with tiny seeds and the other was covered with a cheese sauce, both served with gnocchi. The Helles beer here has a very particular flavor which made me fall in love with it from the first sip.

A Brief Guide To The Munich Train Station

If you are coming into Germany from the Munich Airport or simply visiting another city close to Munich, the chances that you will have to stop at the Munich Hauptbahnhof are pretty high!

The München Hauptbahnhof (Munich Central Station) is the largest station in the city, followed by the Ostbahnhof (Eastern Station). It is one of the city’s main crossroads for different public transportation modes, be it an intercity train or the subway.

General Information

The station has a total of 32 platforms, divided among three main sections:

  • Holzkirchner Bahnhof (Holzkirchen wing station), platforms 5-10
  • Hauptbahnhof (main concourse), platforms 11-26
  • Starnberger Bahnhof (Starnberg wing station), platforms 27-36

Since the station is quite big, the Deutsche Bahn recommends planning for a minimum of walking time between the sections. It recommends 10 minutes from the Hauptbahnhof to Starnberger Bahnhof or Holzkirchner Bahnhof, 15 minutes between Starnberger and Holzkirchner Bahnhof, and 15 minutes between the S-Bahn station and Holzkirchner Bahnhof.

Buying a ticket is really easy. You can either stop by the ticket office or purchase at one of the dozens of machines spread throughout the station.

Important: there is a ticket that allows you to travel within the whole state of Bavaria from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. of the following day with Regional Trains and also use the S-Bahn (Suburban Train). It is called “Bayern Ticket“, and its price is €25 for a single passenger adding €7 for each additional person.

But please keep in mind that the only train type allowed for the Bayern Ticket is the Regional and S-Bahn. Trying to use it in another type of train may cause you to pay a fine!

The Deutsche Bahn Trains

It is not difficult to identify the Deutsche Bahn trains at the station based on color, as the short distance trains are red and the long distance ones are white. Those are then further divided into 5 categories:

  • EC (EuroCity) – International, Regular Speed
  • IC (InterCity) – Long Distance, Regular Speed
  • ICE (InterCity Express) – Long Distance, High Speed
  • RB (Regional) – Short Distance, Many Stops
  • RE (Regional Express) – Short Distance, Few Stops

The ticket prices vary depending on the train type, even if going to the same destination. Many places allow for buying the ticket inside the train, but in Bavaria, it is very important to have them beforehand. Not having the tickets can cause you to pay a fee of €60.

Food Options

If you have been through a long journey already, you will probably be hungry. If you have a long trip ahead, it is best to be prepared and get some food ready, especially if the next stop is in 3 hours. 

Thankfully, the Munich HBF provides with many options. There are dozens of kiosks all around the station with a wide variety of foods, here are some of my favorite.

Yormas

Does your next train depart in 5 minutes? No worries, that is enough time to get a nice sandwich and some juice at Yormas. This convenience store can be found in most of the main stations of Germany and offers very cheap food ready to go.

Rubenbauer Genusswelten

You don’t necessarily need to eat sandwiches and drink soda. At the Rubenbauer Genusswelten, you can find a wide variety of fruits and smoothies to enjoy while staying healthy.

nchner Zuckerl

Aching for some sweets? Close to the station’s main entrance and in front of the ticket office, there is the Münchner Zuckerl, the best place in the station to get local sweets.

Starbucks

Starbucks needs no introductions. The world-known coffeeshop is also at the Munich Central Station, offering from the classic Expresso Roast to specialties such as the Colombia and Guatemala Antigua coffees.

10 Travel Tips That Will Make Your Next Trip Much Better

No one is born an avid traveler, it all comes with experience.

Traveling quite frequently for the past 5 years has given me some insights into what can make a trip great and what can completely ruin it!

So here are 10 tips that will make your next trip much better.

1. Visit Places at Lunchtime

Makes sense, right? While other visitors are too busy having lunch, most historical places in town will at least not be as crowded as in other times of the day.

2. Eat Away From Attractions

Unless you are ready to spend a lot of money unnecessarily, eating close to tourist attractions is not a good idea. Usually, rents around the area are expensive and restaurants need to adjust prices to cover their costs, meaning: same food, double the cash.

3. Sunrises Over Sunsets

If you want an amazing view, either for simple appreciation or taking nice pictures, get up early and enjoy the sunrise. Sunsets at landmarks are usually crowded, which can ruin the experience.

4. Have Backup Documents

Make sure you have copies of your documents printed and on a cloud. It is not fun to be in a foreign country without any sort of documentation to prove who you are.

5. Chargers & Power Banks

Make sure you remember to pack a charger for every single device you are taking, as well as at least one power bank. Charge those devices whenever you have time, and always keep the power bank in your bag. By doing this, you will never be out of battery when you are just ready to take that amazing photo or even to call emergency.

6. Use Google Translate

I still find it amazing that a lot of people do not know about this! The Google Translate app has a camera feature which translates images live. Try it yourself now, you will be surprised. This tip is especially useful in countries which language use a different alphabet.

7. Use Google Maps Offline

Before you leave to your destination, you can always download the locals maps so you can access them when you are out of WiFi. It is better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

8. Protect Your Gadgets

If you take pictures very frequently, you might want to get your camera and other equipment insured. Travel photography involves certain risks regarding location, and the possibility of dropping your camera on a river or even down a mountain is not really the lowest.

9. Be Culturally Aware

Apart from being plain rude and disrespectful, being culturally unaware can also get you into very complicated situations. German restaurants, for example, are known for being credit card averse; so not bringing cash can lead to a very awkward situation.

10. Beware of Scammers

Every city has a couple of cliche scams which are quite common in touristy places. Do a bit of research prior to your trip to become more familiar with the tricks that thieves commonly pull in that location. Also, do not carry stuff on your back pockets, that is just asking to be robbed.

 

BONUS  TIP 

11. Book Flights Early

Booking your flights 2 to 3 months earlier will make it easier to find cheaper deals. Also, make sure you use applications such as Skyscanner to find the cheaper days in that month to go to your desired destination.

How I Save Hundreds of Euros on Flights (And You Can Too)

How much do you usually spend on travel, especially with plane tickets?

Research says that a typical vacationing U.S. family spends about 44% of their travel budget with transportation. Yearly, each American household spends on average $3,304 on airline fares alone.

Do these numbers scare you? They definitely should!

These large spendings come mostly out of lack of research. But to be honest, researching trips does take a lot of time and effort, especially since the information is usually spread out on many different websites.

Luckily, there are applications such as Skyscanner to help us out.
I have used it for the last two years, and it has seriously saved me thousands of euros so far.

Choosing a Travel Destination

The most common usage of the application comes from its search engine capability: you simply put your current location together with the desired destination and it shows you the best deals for that specific place.

I use it a bit differently, though.

Instead of searching for a specific location, I leave the field open, so the application shows me which locations have the cheapest flights in that specific month.

By doing this, I can always find insanely cheap flights to some amazing places.

Yes, the prices in the image are for a both-way trip.

Choosing a Travel Date

The next step is then to choose the travel date.

The number shown in the last image is just an estimation which takes into consideration the cheapest available travel option, but no one will pay 5 extra days of accommodation just to save 20 euros on a flight deal.

Now a little bit of effort is required.

I usually look for a cheap departure day and then see for how cheap I can get a return day 2 or 3 days afterward. In the following example, it worked mid-week from Tuesday to Thursday.

And this is how you fly to Dublin paying only 50 euros, practically the price of a pair of jeans.

These prices are really accessible even for someone working part-time, which was my situation when I first started using Skyscanner.

I hope this little tip will help you get out of the paper that trip you have been long waiting for.

“Sardica Mea Roma Est”: A Brief History of Bulgaria

When it comes to archeology, Bulgaria is not really the first country to show up in peoples heads. Most people will think of Greece or Egypt, but it is safe to say that Bulgaria is one of the richest places in the whole world regarding this topic. Apart from prehistory, Bulgaria holds a past which involves Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, and Ottomans.

Prehistory

Located in the Balkans, Bulgaria has a clear view of Asia Minor. It is believed that it was the cradle of European agriculture, given that the technology regarding crops and animals moved in the European direction through modern-day Turkey. The Bulgarian Neolithic started in 6.000 BC, the south of the country is filled with remains of this period.

National Archeological Museum, Sofia

Around 5.000 BC, the people living in the region started experimenting with metal, mostly copper and gold. Many graves were found containing metallic objects, some with simple copper, others with lots of gold. This is believed to have led to big economic and political disparities between inhabitants of cities, probably causing some degree of conflict.

Greeks & Thracians

Thracians are first mentioned in literature in Homers Illiad, as allies of the Greeks during the Trojan war. The interactions between the two cultures are believed to have started in trading colonies close to the cost of the Black Sea. The cities of Burgas and Varna started as these trading colonies and exist until today.

National Archeological Museum, Sofia

Thracians were incredibly interested in Greek culture, while Greeks strongly profited from Thracian metallurgy and fighting skills. No wonder many Thracians fought alongside Alexander the Great.

Romans

In the first century AD, Thracian lands on the south banks of the Danube river came into Roman occupation. In the fourth century AD, these lands would have even greater importance, given the close distance to Constantinople.

Serdica Ruins, Sofia

There are Roman remains all across Bulgaria. During excavations for the construction of the new Sofia subway system, remains of the city of Serdica were found in good condition. The Thracian settlement was given the title of town by Roman Emperor Trajan, and the city fortress built by Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Constantine the Great used to say ‘Sardica mea Roma est’ (Serdica is my Rome). He considered making Serdica the capital of the Byzantine Empire instead of Constantinople.

Bulgarians

In the sixth century AD, these lands were invaded by Bulgars, under the command of Khan Asparukh. He attacked Byzantine territories in Moesia and dominated the Slavic tribes which inhabited the region. They reached an agreement with the Byzantine Empire, signing a peace treaty in 681. This peace treaty led to the foundation of the Bulgarian Empire.

National Archeological Museum, Sofia

Although pagan for the first two centuries, Bulgaria eventually became Christian, founding an independent Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the region. The rulers also wished to modernize their language, Cyril and Methodius are the Christian missionaries responsible for the creation of the new alphabet. The alphabet was so efficient that it was later adopted by Russia and Serbia.

Tsar Samuil Monument, Sofia

The Bulgarian Empire reached its maximum extension under Samuil, his energetic reign restored Bulgarian might on the Balkans, responding aggressively to any attempts to invading Bulgarian lands. Although the Empire was dissolved after his death, he is regarded as a heroic ruler in Bulgaria.

Ottomans

For five centuries the Ottomans occupied Bulgarian lands. During this period, many Mosques and villages were built by the Ottomans, as well as many bridges across rivers, in order to facilitate commerce.

The period itself is not well seen by Bulgarians. The occupation motivated them to unite in all matters, both social and economic. A Bulgarian monk called Paisius of Hilendar wrote the Slavonic-Bulgarian History, a piece of text compiling the great feats of the Bulgarian people. The book had such an impact on Bulgarians, that they started rising against Ottoman rule. Examples of heroes of the liberation are Hristo Botev and Vasil Levski. Levski himself was captured by Ottomans and executed because of his plans of liberating Bulgaria. An Orthodox coalition led by Russia resulted in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, which eventually ended the Ottoman rule over the Balkans.

Soviets

On September 9th of 1944, the Red Army crossed Bulgarian lands and started a new period in Bulgarian history. Bulgaria would now become a Communist State. Although independent, it had very close ties to the Soviet Union. The Communist Party was forced to give up its political monopoly on 10 November 1989 under the influence of the Revolutions of 1989. Zhivkov, the communist leader of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, resigned and Bulgaria embarked on a transition to a parliamentary democracy.

The Mystical Kukeri: Bulgaria’s Guardians

Need to get rid of some evil spirits? Bulgarians have an ancient and mystical tradition which helps them keeping these bad fellas away. Every last weekend of January, people gather in various parts of the country to perform a magical ritual that dates back millennia.

This is known as the Surva Festival, most characteristic of the city of Pernik, where people dress in sheepskin and wooden masks, as the Kukeri, to drive back to the forest all illnesses. The name kuker has been derived from Latin cuculla meaning “hood, cowl” or cucurum, “quiver” (i.e. in the sense of a container; an abbreviation of koukouros geros).

The Origins Of The Bulgarian Kukeri

The custom in Bulgarian lands has a long and rich history, it dates back to the times when the Thracians ruled these lands, where it was celebrated during the days of the Thracian god of merriment Dionysius. It was mostly a celebration of the agricultural new year, associated with plowing the fields.

The Surva Festival celebrates the passing of winter and the onset of summer fertility. And what better way to do it than wearing scary masks and huge costumes to scare away any ill-intended spirit trying to ruin your crop.

Most Kukeri masks have a wooden frame, multiple threads, pieces of multicolored fabrics, mirrors, shiny sequins and many other elements. They have to make it uglier and scarier to scare away evil.

The most ancient are the masks representing the species of ram, goat and bull. Their obligatory presence in the Surva Festival proves the thesis that the festival itself is originally related to the ancient worshipers of Dionysius

The Bulgarian Kukeri Mythology

Although the Surva Festival has its roots in Dionysian rituals, it adopted a more Bulgarian face with the passing of time. It started involving other Bulgarian mythological creatures apart from the Kukeri, as well as a narrative to teach morals to the young.

Legend says that hundreds of years ago, the land was plagued with evil spirits, which tormented people undisturbed. These demons were led by the most terrible of all creatures: Chuma, the plague.

Living was a constant state of despair, and no one knew how to solve the issue. But one day, mythical creatures known as the Samodivi water nymphs felt too sorry for us humans and decided to help… in their own way. The animation The Golden Apple explains it in a lovely way.

The Kuker’s Magical Bells

Not only it is visually appealing, but most of the attractiveness of the festival also comes from the sounds it creates. Since the legend states that the Kukers magic bells drive the evil spirits into the woods, to this day the same bells are used and can be heard all over the city.

The bells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each different frequency created by these bells is said to scare away a particular type of evil spirit. If you wish to one day experience this first person, prepare youself for the amazing sound!

The Pernik’s Surva Festival

The Surva Feestival is not only the biggest festival of Bulgaria, but also of the entire Balkan peninsula. Every year, it counts with close to 6.000 participants divided into around 100 groups from every folklore region of Bulgaria. Also important to notice is that it also involves participants from other European countries, as well as Asian and African.

The city of Pernik has been hosting the Surva festival since 1966. In 1985 the festival gained international-event status. In June 2009, Pernik was proclaimed as the European capital of Surva’s and Mummers.

And don’t get things wrong, the contestants come here to win! The awards for the three first places are the mystical gold, silver and bronze Kuker masks. The categories of the competition are the following:

  • Maintenance of the Local Tradition
  • Group Attractiveness
  • Masks and Costumes
  • Training in Tradition
  • Comprehensive Presentation
  • Best Mask (Child and Adult)

A Living Bulgarian Tradition

The Surva Festival is still alive after centuries, surviving many wars, occupations and the Christianization of Bulgaria. It is the pure expression of the culture of a people who suffered greatly throughout history, but managed to keep their sense of identity. Definitely worth seeing with your own eyes.

Why Venice Is My Favorite Place In Europe

I have been all around Europe so far, with only a few exceptions. But to me, Venice has to match. The Serenissima has a completely different feel to it, unlike any other European city. The architecture, the maze-like alleys, the lovely aperitivi, the people… They all contribute to the magic of the place.

My Take

Perhaps I saw the city with different eyes since I lived there as a student. Everyone I met had a passion and dedication towards their intellectual and artistic affairs. No utilitarianism was seen. The conversations were filled with grace and melody as if thesis, antithesis, and synthesis were complementing notes on a musical scale.

The summer and autumn days are filled with tourists, to the point that it gets difficult to walk around the city. There is noise everywhere, as well as a slight price inflation. But when winter comes, the city becomes almost desert, and then, its dream-like properties start to reveal themselves.

The winter light in this city! It has the extraordinary property of enhancing your eye’s power of resolution to the point of microscopic precision—the pupil humbles any Hasselblad lens and develops your subsequent memories to National Geographic sharpness. The sky is brisk blue, the sun, escaping its golden likeness beneath the foot of San Giorgio, sashays over the countless fish scales of the lagoon’s lapping ripples; behind you, under the colonnades of the Palazzo Ducale, a bunch of stocky fellows in fur coats are revving up Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, just for you, slumped in your white chair and squinting at the pigeons’ maddening gambits on the chessboard of a vast piazza. The espresso at your cup’s bottom is the only small black dot in, you feel, a miles-long radius.

joseph brodsky

Republican Glory

The architecture of the city is original and stunning. At every step, you are overloaded with classical Venetian gothicism shamelessly displayed in colossal buildings, giving you a taste of its former Republican glory. A perfect example of this is the Palazzo Ducale, the home of the supreme authority of the Venetian Republic: the Doge.

A Place To Dream

I have never experienced such a degree of dissonance between reality and imagination as the one I feel every time I step foot in this city. Everything in it is so unlikely to happen, and yet it is there. So, if one day you would like to get lost in another world, visit Venice.