On the way to Georgia this May we had a 8 hour layover in Munich. Hot diggety dog—a layover in Munich! A chance to see Munich seemed like a special treat, since, even though we’d transferred at Munich Airport a dozen or more times, we’d never actually visited the city itself.
In anticipation of our layover visit, we broke one of our all time sacred traveling rules: we checked our bags. Of course it made sense not to attempt to sprint from Munich’s airport and back wearing our backpacks. HOB, however, practically had a stroke at the check in counter, worrying that he’d never see his stuff again.
This fellow, from Munich’s New Town Hall, accurately replicates HOB’s facial expression as he watched his backback slide out of site on the conveyer belt at O’Hare airport.
Our flight to Munich was delayed an hour, but fortunately I’d purchased our transit in advance, so we hit the ground running. You can buy a day pass for the entire Munich transportation network online for €23.20, a remarkably good deal since it can be shared by a group of 5 adults and 10 children. There are two S-Bahn (suburban trains) connecting the airport to the city center. Every 10 minutes an “S1” or “S8” line departs from the station between terminals 1 and 2 and arrives in Marienplatz around 45 minutes later.
The first thing we did after emerging from the train was find food.
A quick stop at Vinzenzmurr, a Munich chain serving prepared hot food, was just perfect. We filled up for €3 each and then stopped in the supermarket inside the Karstadt department store for groceries to get us through the next leg of our trip.
Now, time to see Munich! Back in Chicago, I had checked one of my favorite guide books out of the library and photocopied a walking tour of central Munich, but when I looked for it in my day pack it was missing. (Cue sad trombone). While I never found out what happened to that walking tour, I did have a brochure from the tourist office, so we cobbled together our own tour of nearby sites.
Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) is tourist ground zero.
HOB, pretending to look around but really worrying about his checked luggage.
We stopped in the Frauenkirche, but I promise we did not violate any rules. (By the way, congrats to Munich for having the only rules signs with an up-to-date image of a cell phone).
Maypole at the market.
Almost time to go back to the airport, full of questions:
- What do people in Munich have against fedoras?
- And Scotty dogs?
- Who eats ice cream with a knife and fork?
- Remember what I just said about Munich’s signs having up-to date depictions of cell phones? I take that back.
We followed the man with bad posture down to the S-Bahn, where we promptly caught a train….in the wrong direction. A helpful resident saved us from missing our flight by gently suggesting we were going the wrong way. Danke schön nameless rescuer of hapless Americans!
Are you planning a layover in Munich? Well, you’re in luck, because Germans make everything easy for travelers. In fact, Munich has a website just for layovers. I also highly recommend the website Sleeping in Airports, which has loads of helpful information about getting to and from Munich airport. It’s a great idea to photocopy a guide book walking tour, that is, if you don’t lose it. Oh, and be conservative about your travel times, since you might just get on a train going in the wrong direction. A layover visit on the way into the USA is dicey—there’s extra security for inbound flights and you’ll need to a lot more time to get to your gate.
Finally, there’s plenty to do inside Munich airport, the most visitor friendly airport in existence. In fact, if the need strikes, you can purchase these marital aids inside the men’s room. (HOB has been telling me about these products every time we have a layover in Munich. After vigorous protestations on his part about how sketchy it is to take a picture in a public restroom, HOB finally snapped this photo for me). Makes you look at the shape of those white asparagus in a whole new light. ‘eh?
P.S. On arrival in Tbilisi we were united with our backpacks just fine since we were flying Lufthansa, my favorite airline. Germans just don’t mess this stuff up.