Here is my report from this week’s stay in Munich, the capitol of Bavaria in Germany.

Arrival in Munich

  • Gate: Upon arrival at the gate, we were told to stay seated until our row is called. The flight was de-planed in groups of 5 rows at a time, to allow for social distancing.
  • Border: Crossing into Germany was as simple as ever. No questions were asked by the border guard. Quick look at my passport and I was inside Germany.  Unlike my last trip a month ago when I had had to fill out a health form before being allowed off the plane, this time It was the border guard who gave me a flier from the German government explaining how this country is handling cases of COVID-19 infections and where to go if I were to display the symptoms.
  • The Airport: Munich now offers free and voluntary COVID-19 testing to anyone arriving or departing. Once inside the terminal, follow the signs to the center and have a test done. No appointment is needed and results are emailed within 6 hours. As of today, the airport conducted over 2,000 tests and ALL tests have been come back negative!  Everyone at the airport was wearing a mask.  I took the public train from the airport into the city and masks were mandatory but no one was there to enforce that rule.
  • Hotel Check In: I was asked to wear a mask in all public areas. Before we were given room keys, our small group was asked to confirm that everyone who was sharing a twin/double room lived in the same household. It was explained to us that the Bavarian health rules require that customers must stay in separate rooms if they are not from the same household. I have used this hotel in the past because it is small and it is always clea, and because it has served one of the best hotel breakfasts anywhere (before the pandemic). To my surprise, morning breakfast was almost as good as I have grown accustomed to, except everything was served wrapped and on individual plates. The breakfast room had 50% fewer tables to allow for social distancing.  During our 4 days here, the breakfast room was never full; at most 4-5 tables were used at the same time (out of total of 10).

The City

  • Munich is as beautiful as ever. This is a great city to enjoy and to explore any time of the year. It is even better to be here now, with fewer tourists.
  • The name of the city comes from German plural noun for “monk.” The city was founded by a group of monks and served as a spiritual center for Bavarian region as early as 10th century. The city crest has an image of a monk with outstretched arms and the sleeves of his habit dropping down, forming a letter M.
  • The city is the center of German Catholicism and boasts many impressive churches that testify to its glorious past and its present importance as the pilgrimage destination to many Catholics!
  • During our stay, the city was not crowded. I think that it is mainly due to fewer domestic tourists and close to zero arrivals from the US and Asia (these two groups alone easily account for almost 50% of tourists during a typical travel season).  I had encountered only 2 American couples and 3 Asian couples during my time in Munich.
  • Since I prefer to explore the city without crowds, it was very easy to move around and to discover new places in the city: the English Gardens (Munich’s version of the NYV Central Park) and the Olympic Park.
  • The mini-mountain that I have visited for the first time in the Olympic park is now hands down my favorite place to relax and to enjoy sunsets when in Munich.

Lessons learned

  • Hop-on hop-off city sightseeing buses are running regular schedule.  I counted only about 20 people on each bus.  Buses are set up to carry 50-55 people at a time.
  • Museums and sightseeing destinations are opened, but with shortened opening times. Masks are required.
  • Public transportation is running as usual. Again, masks are required.
  • Restaurants are open. Outside dinning has been a norm in Munich for a very long time (the city is famous for its beer gardens!). With social distancing guidelines, tables are spaced out. Locals and few tourist are enjoying good food outdoors. Weather was great – sunny and low 80s each day of our stay here
  • Prices: with many EU countries have lowered taxes and fees on services and goods.  So, Germany is actually less expensive right now than during my previous trips Everything cost at least 15% less.
Tomorrow, we are off on two-days trip through the entire Romantic Road.  Will send updates form that trip next.
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