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Three days in Munich

Three days in Munich

One of the reasons we agreed to this relocation to Germany was the chance to travel around Europe. My husband goes to Münich often for business, so before school started, we decided to tag along.

three days in Munich with kids

I know we’ll be in Munich again, so we didn’t try and cram everything in. I find travelling with a seven year old is a lesson in picking a few things and taking your time.

Marienplatz, Munich
Marienplatz, Munich

Thinking about Oktoberfest with kids? It’s fun! Check out Babies & Backpacks for her experience taking her kids to Oktoberfest

The Englisch Garten

This huge park is in the middle of the city, and easy to reach by transit. There are many many playgrounds, and we just stopped at three or four as we wandered. Elliot’s favourite was right next to the big biergarten surrounding the Chinese Tower. You can ride a beautiful carousel from 1905 for €1 a go. Terrifically, no adults are allowed on it, so you can sit for a minute.

Surfers on Eisbach canal, Munich
Surfers on Eisbach canal

Check out the surfers on the Eisbach canal at the far south end of the park. It’s mesmerizing.

Englisch Garten, Munich
Englisch Garten

If you’re exhausted, you can flag down one of the pedicabs for a ride or a tour. It’s not cheap – €35 or so will get you a tour. A cheaper option is taking out a pedal boat on the lake, it’s €10 for half an hour.

Carousel in Englisch Garten, by the Chinese Tower
Carousel in Englisch Garten, by the Chinese Tower
Playground by the Chinese Tower, Englisch Garten
Playground by the Chinese Tower, Englisch Garten
Biergarten by the Chinese Tower, Englisch Garten
Biergarten by the Chinese Tower, Englisch Garten

The biergartens serve the usual bratwurst, french fries, soft pretzels (brezeln), sauerkraut, onion salad, and potatoes – as well as giant vats of beer. You can bring your own food as well, so if you’re planning to make a meal of it, swing by a REWE or Edeka beforehand for some vegetables.

Hellabrunn Zoo

Easy to reach by bus, the zoo can easily take up a whole day. There are several playgrounds, and a little mini theme park called Kinderland complete with ride-on cars, a minitrain, a beautiful carousel, and a digger. Kinderland involves buying tokens for the rides, so keep that in mind.

Carousel in the Hellabrunn Zoo
Carousel in the Hellabrunn Zoo

In the middle of the zoo there’s a biergarten right next to the biggest playground. There’s also a sit down restaurant on the terrace above if you’re looking for burgers instead of sausages.

Looking for a short excursion from Munich? Brittany from October Acres loved Berchtesgaden
Biergarten in Hellabrunn Zoo
Biergarten in Hellabrunn Zoo
Feeding the acrobatic pigeons at the Hellabrunn Zoo
Feeding the acrobatic pigeons
Hellabrunn Zoo, Munich
Hellabrunn Zoo

It’s worth checking the schedule of feedings and shows before you head out. The shows are in German, so if you don’t speak the language it’s a bit less interesting. We watched the acrobatic pigeon show, though, and it was fun anyway. The pigeons kept landing on people’s heads!

Our favourites were the Bat Cave, where the bats fly around your head and occasionally bump into you, and watching the penguins zip through the water.

Ask at the entrance gate for a map in English, and one in German to practice your animal names!

Taxisgarten, Munich
Taxisgarten, Munich

We visited Taxisgarten, a local biergarten recommended by my husband’s colleagues. Again, it’s furnished with a playground, and features the usual food options. It’s beautiful on a warm summer evening, with lights strung up in the trees. You can bring some of your own food here too, so bring some extras if your kids are like mine and will only eat Brezel.

How to get around >> Fellow Canadian Christina lives in Munich and has the full lowdown on how to navigate the Munich public transport system.

Where to find playgrounds >> should you be in Munich and need to find the nearest playground, try this great searchable outdoor playground (spielplatz) database. You can plug in your children’s ages and where you are, it will give you the closest playgrounds. It’s in German – I’m sure you can find your way through, but if you’ve got the Chrome browser with the translation plug-in it makes it very easy.

 

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Pick your own flowers, or Blumen selbst schneiden

Pick your own flowers, or Blumen selbst schneiden

For our first six weeks or so in Germany, we’ve been living in a little town one over from the larger one where we found a flat. That means to get things done, including banking, going to interesting shops, or just little adventures, we tend to head into Heidelberg rather than the sleepy bedroom community where our temporary flat is located. The stretch in between the two towns is full of small farms and pastures.

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We kept passing this one field with rows of flowers right by the road, and a sign advertising Blumen! with ‘selbst schneiden’ underneath. A quick google turned up details about this lovely practice all across Germany. Blumen selbst schneiden or selbst pflücken are like little u-pick fruit fields but for flowers. They are equipped with some knives hung from a post and some twine, and a secure box for leaving your cash.

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I finally had a chance to stop this evening, and there were lovely zinnias and dahlias ready, as well as a huge row of sunflowers. Flowers were priced at a reasonable 30 cents a stem (or so, I think the sunflowers were more), and everything was clearly signposted. But what a lovely idea! This is so common there are websites dedicated to mapping these fields across the country. I’m looking forward to finding more of these around our new home.

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Oh yes, we actually moved here

Oh yes, we actually moved here

We’ve turned the corner now from everything feeling like a long holiday to more like a new home. Though we’ll be in our temporary flat for another month, and I know I’m royally sick of everything I packed. We ordered a pile of new books for Elliot, as I didn’t really pack all that many for some reason.

We’ve met some American families in our local playground, though Elliot was doing well figuring out how to play without much of a shared language too. Once he starts school and picks up some German, it won’t be an issue. Other families we’ve met are all on fixed-term contracts, so I’m aware we’ll all be saying goodbye in a year or two. We’re here on a permanent transfer, and that changes our outlook somewhat. It’s funny how our years in England have helped us feel less at sea. Even if it’s just knowing what a TV license is, and what paperwork will probably be required for various things.

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The weather has been hot and sticky, and air conditioning is not really a given anywhere. Living in London and Vancouver, though, where it also gets periodically hot and AC isn’t standard, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for us at least. Having a washing machine in our flat is lovely though, considering how much of our small stock of clothing we work through when it’s this hot.

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Nothing is open on Sundays when it comes to shops. It’s incredible how much I depend on grocery stores being open whenever when I suddenly realize I need something. We’ve quickly learned to do a checklist on Saturday morning – do we have enough food? Is there anything we were planning to buy this weekend? Because it better happen on Saturday or it’s not happening at all! IKEA is closed, the hardware store is closed, everything is closed except places like pools. It’s meant to encourage family time, and in a way it does, because there is literally nothing else you can do. We are learning to save up activities to do on Sundays. This weekend, we’re heading out to a medieval fair to watch jousting and sword fighting.

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On immigrating, again

On immigrating, again

Moving across the world is one of these things that’s hard to comprehend until you’ve done it. It does feel a bit like a holiday, but a kind of weird holiday that involves buying coffee machines and opening bank accounts.

Last time we did this, we were on our own. I could mope around the Victoria & Albert museum thinking about things after I had sent out a million CVs. Drink tea and eat moderately good scones in the basement cafe.

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This time around we’re both more experienced and have an awesomely brave little person with us. And oh yes, everything is in German. So much is similar though – smaller cars, houses all clumped together with drastically different decorating styles, the first floor being the floor above ground, front gardens being entirely tiled and everyone parking there, high streets for shopping, mobile phone suppliers, eating dinner later, and all that.

There’s loads we don’t know of course – namely how to speak German very smoothly. I am getting better at asking people where things are, understanding when they ask me questions, and apologizing. The danger of asking someone where something is in German, is, of course, receiving a torrent of high-speed Deutsch in return. The ‘quiet times’ is a bit odd – when you’re not meant to do laundry, make any loud noises or do any hammering are understandably from 10pm, but also from 1pm-3pm every afternoon, and the entirety of Sunday. Because napping. And family time.

But I’ve learned important things like how to google where to buy things, in German. Google Translate is my very best friend.

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Here we go!

Here we go!

Two and a half days to go until we get on a plane for our move to Germany.

We’ve already been out of our apartment for two days, with seven suitcases overflowing around my mum’s house. I know there are people out there who can live for six weeks out of a single carry-on and a small envelope or something, but I’m not one of them.

Two of the seven suitcases
Two of the seven suitcases

Having done this before, including living in corporate accommodation far from where you will eventually find an apartment, I know a few things will happen not long after we get there:

There will be an hour-long grocery trip in which I will maybe start crying, and at least two people will stare at us for speaking with an accent/different language. Just so you know, this happened in Maidenhead, a town just west of London, when we first moved to the UK. I will also come home with maybe ten things, one of which will be something completely other than what I thought. It will take three more trips to sort it out.

We’ll watch TV in total incomprehension, but delight in the total bonkersness of our new country. And will quite quickly learn the words for car insurance, savings, act now, and the days of the week.

We’ll kind of forget one morning that we moved to Germany until we hear someone pass by our window chattering away in German.

Our old apartment on its way to being emptied
Our old apartment on its way to being emptied

One nearby restaurant will become our favourite, and the staff will be kind, recognizing us after the second visit. If the staff are immigrants as well, we’ll discuss visas and work permits and who we left behind. And then they’ll tell us where the best place to buy light bulbs is and not to go to that bakery down the road because everything is stale.

Wish us luck, and here we go!

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