May 14, 2018

Munich for Kids

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After our time in Switzerland, we landed in Munich, Germany to kick off the next leg of our Europe adventure. And if I did not know it before, I do know now that the bustling city of Munich is chock-a-block with attractions for kids!

Now I fully understand when visitors say that they always seem to run out of days before they run out of things to do with children in Munich. From a giant cuckoo clock to an opulent palace, incredible museums to sprawling gardens, Munich is packed with all the right ingredients for a perfect family holiday... especially if you go during the Winter season with all its Christmas Markets in full fective glory!


Here was what we got up to in Munich:

Marienplatz


I love Marienplatz, the main square in Munich. It is just so full of vibrant energy, with shops, restaurants and old architecture all around. Especially so, since we visited in December which meant the festive spirit was in the air due to the Christmas Markets!






But my favourite is Munich’s giant Cuckoo Clock, the Glockenspiel which houses motorized figurines.


Every day at 11am & 12pm during the Winter months from Nov to Feb (An extra 5pm show happens during other months), a performance of motorized figurines dance, joust, and twirl around the inside of the tower. The performance lasts about 10 minutes and ends with the chirp of a cuckoo bird. It is just so darn charming and old-school... especially amid the falling snow ❄!

I love Marienplatz, the main square in Munich. It is just so full of vibrant energy, with shops, restaurants and old architecture all around. But my fave is Munich’s giant Cuckoo Clock, the Glockenspiel which houses motorized figurines. . Every day at 11am & 12pm during the Winter months from Nov to Feb (An extra 5pm show happens during other months), a performance of motorized figurines dance, joust, and twirl around the inside of the tower. The performance lasts about 10 minutes and ends with the chirp of a cuckoo bird. It is just so darn charming and old-school... especially amid the falling snow ❄!!! Swipe left to catch a snippet of the dancing. . #munich #münchen #marienplatz #Christmas #market #christmasmarket #glockenspiel #glockenspielplatz #cuckooclock #clocktower #rathaus #rathausplatz #germanytourism #visitgermany #germany #germany🇩🇪
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I have to give a special mention to Ratskeller, a restaurant we dined at Marienplatz. But this is no ordinary restaurant - it is in fact a large cellar restaurant dating from the 19th century!


Offering not just a traditional Bavarian meal, it is an experience walk down the curved staircase into another world and step back in time for meals.


In fact, they even have two rooms located side by side with one being HEAVEN and the other HELL.



As expected, the rooms are hugely popular and are always fully reserved. Well, no matter since we were here for the food... and the pork knuckle and schnitzel certainly did not disappoint!




See what I mean? Burp.


Nymphenburg Palace


An opulent and sprawling complex of many buildings, pavilions, museums and an extensive outdoor garden, Nymphenburg Palace is as close as it gets when it comes to fulfilling Ale's princess dreams.



The baroque palace in the west part of Munich was the summer residence of the Bavarian monarchs. Five generations of Wittelsbach rulers were involved in the construction of this stately ensemble, which houses several outstanding collections.

With its lavishly decorated interior and the famous "Gallery of Beauties" commissioned by Ludwig I, the palace is one of Munich's must-visit attractions.


Among the highlights are the former bedroom of King Ludwig II and the impressive banquet hall with fine ceiling frescoes by Johann Baptist Zimmermann.


Ale was shocked to see how thick the mattress actually was! I think the story of 'The Princess and the Pea' came to her mind. LOL.

Oh, and do set aside some time for the sprawling 299-hectare-large landscape garden which offers not only a leisure walk but also additional architectural gems, hidden sculptures, and picturesque streams and lakes.


BMW Welt & Museum


Even if you are not a car fan, the sheer number of cars on display here will send your pulse racing. First things first though, the BMW Museum and BMW Welt are two completely different buildings. The former is an automobile museum which traces the history of BMW and its cars and is ticketed (10 Euros, or 24 Euros for 2 adults and 3 children).


We did not enter the museum... because I found out that the BMW Welt is FREE to visit for everyone!


Here, visitors can experience all the brands and products of the BMW Group – including BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and BMW Motorrad – under one roof and my, what a collection of cars!



The great thing about the BMW Welt is kids (and adults) are free to hop into any car and onto any motorcycle they like. Well, except the Rolls-Royce ones for obvious reasons.


There is even a Junior Campus section for kids where they can discover the world of mobility using all their senses.


It consists of three interlinked areas: in the Campus Portal, for which entry is free of charge, kids can find out for themselves what the idea of "mobility" is all about though a series of interactive exhibits.




At Campus Laboratory and Campus Workshop, in-depth workshops are held, involving research and experimentation - and children even get to build their own cars, naturally under the supervision of educationally trained staff. Registration is required for attendance at the workshops.

Deutsches Museum


The Deutsches Museum in Munich is one amazing museum, with everything covering the areas of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and more. It's like one giant science centre!

One particular novel exhibition was the Mining section which took us through a 400m-long journey with three-quarters of it being underground! It offered us a realistic impression of the atmosphere in a mine and we learned more about the mining techniques from the 16th century to the present as well as the not-so-ideal conditions below ground.


But that was not all - from practical lightning displays via the high voltage area through the ability to get inside a giant human cell, there were just so many exhibits to keep the monkies enthralled! The boys particularly enjoyed the chance to test their mathematical skills in the practical interactive area, while Ale loved the special King's Kingdom section.


Specially for kids aged 3 to 8, this area consists of various hands-on activities for kids to dabble in unstructured free play.



Actually, I think the area appeals to kids above 8 years old as well... because the boys ended up spending most of the time here too. While I just sipped my coffee in a corner. Bliss.

Allianz Arena

Since we were in Munich, how could I pass up a chance to visit the Allianz Arena - FC Bayern Munich's home stadium?


We signed up for the Arena Tour which included a 60-minute tour of the stadium with a guide and access to the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt, the biggest club museum in Germany.


As we were early for our guided tour, we toured the museum first and I don't think I have to tell you how thrilled I was to be stepping into the stadium of one of Europe's finest football teams.


The country’s biggest club museum takes visitors on a journey from the foundation in 1900 through to the historic treble in 2013. Numerous trophies, outstanding exhibits plus innovative media technology come together at the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt to provide an impressive mix of information, emotion and interaction.


Think the monkies were pretty excited too.


The highlight had got to be coming face to face with the Champions League trophies!


For younger kids, there is even a playground in the form of a home to keep them occupied while the parents are busy with snapping photos... like me.



The guided stadium tour consisted of visits to the middle tier and main stand lower tier of the stadium, Press conference area, Dressing rooms, Players' tunnel, Mixed Zone/media area and the stadium exterior.




It was conducted in English and a great informative way to see the 'off-limits' areas of a football club. The Champions League theme was played while we were in the Players' Tunnel and all I can say is "Goosebumps!".



You will probably need a total of 2.5 hours to make your time at the Allianz Arean worth it and if you are planning a visit, I recommend pre-booking your guided tour tickets online beforehand as each time slot has a quota of 30 tickets.


Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

If you are wish to see a different (and somber) side of Munich, I strongly recommend paying the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site a visit.


The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site was the first of its kind opened in Germany by Adolf Hitler's Nazi government in 1933. It saw more than 200,000 people being imprisoned here during the Nazi regime, more than 32,000 perished due to starvation, illness, or execution and was also used for medical experiments conducted by the Gestapo (Secret Police)


The only entrance to the concentration camp is through the Jourhaus, or guardhouse, where visitors will see the motto "Arbeit macht frei" on the wrought-iron gate beneath the archway. Translated as "Work will set you free", the irony of the phrase is many people had walked through the gate thinking they might be freed if they did good work but the truth is far from that.


We had a chance to walk through the corridors of the camp prison which was a little eerie, to be honest.



In addition to serving as a prison, the bunker was the camp's torture center. Double walls were used to suppress the sound of prisoners' screams.


I wouldn't recommend it for kids below 7 years old, as the experience can get pretty intense with graphic images and the walk-through of actual prison cells and dormitories. But it was extremely sobering especially for the boys, because it is hard to imagine that human beings are capable of such cruelty. Visiting it made us how lucky we are to be today.


Entry to the memorial site is free but there are audio guides and guided tours which are chargeable. We just walked on our own, which is manageable as all of the information panels are in English too. Well worth a visit to see a different side of Munich.

Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour

A good way to tour Munich is to purchase a Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour ticket which allowed us to plan our own perfect Munich sightseeing itinerary by hopping on and off the bus at various attractions like the Nymphenburg Palace and BMW Welt - places that are not exactly easily accessible by public transport.


What's more, the bus tour also comes with informative commentary in English. All we had to do was to plug in the provided earphones into the jacks at our seats and we were good to go!

Our Accommodation

We spent 3 nights at Hotel Cocoon Hauptbahnhof, which is located a mere 3-minute walk away from the Munich Central Train Station. Extremely convenient location and a fantastic hotel but what sealed the deal for me was that it was a alpine-themed hotel!



It's as if someone had read our minds and knew that we are missing our time at Mt Titlis in Switzerland.



Lovely cosy wooden style alpine look combined with funky retro-design, and the room came with 2 queen-sized beds - just enough for my family of 5.



An even more quirky feature of the hotel is its lift simulates a cable car ride up the mountains! No wonder the monkies didn't want to take the stairs even though we stayed on the 2nd floor.


Even we spent a total of 6 days and 5 nights in Munich, it felt as though we had barely scraped the surface when it comes to visiting all of the family-friendly attractions the city has to offer. Perhaps a return visit soon? *wink*




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