Munich’s Hirschgarten: A ‘How-To’

Shane says that if I were to have a superpower, it would be the power of awkwardness.

I have the uncanny ability to make any seemingly normal situation perfectly awkward. How? I’m not entirely sure, but I can generally feel it coming on, and the more I try to make the situation less awkward, well, naturally the more awkward it gets. Why do I mention this? Because my superpower was in full force a few weeks ago when we tried the Hirschgarten.

Turns out, there’s a particular *fLoW* of events, and, as a Hirschgarten newbie, I managed to navigate them all incorrectly.

So, please accept my gift – a ‘how-to-avoid-feeling-like-an-idiot-and-successfully-get-a-beer’ guide to the Hirschgarten.

Technically, the Königlicher Hirschgarten (aka Royal Deer Garden) is a large park west of Munich city center, but it’s renowned for its beer garden that holds up to 8000 people (in non-coronavirus times). This makes the Hirschgarten the largest beer garden in Bavaria, and it’s speculated that it may be the largest in the world.

So, about that beer…

Register your contact details.

Typical coronavirus procedure these days. You can register on paper, but they also encourage you to register online and scan the QR codes around the garden to keep better track of who was actually where. It’s a big place, ya know!

Self-service or table-service?

We opted for self-service, but table service is also an option. Just look for the tables with yellow napkins.

What type of beer?

Augustiner, Franziskaner, or Hofbrau?

Helles, dunkle, or weissbier?

You’ll need to decide before you commit to a line. The primary beer of choice is the Augustiner helles, which flows like water from the most prominent beer stand (Schränke 1). If you’d prefer Hofbrau, then you’ll have to opt for table service, and dunkles, weissbier, and non-alcoholic drinks are served from a separate stand.

Stand 2 with less popular drink options.

Grab a glass…

If you’ve opted for the helles, then grab a glass! Half and maß (1 liter, ‘mahss’) glasses are available in cabinets adjacent to the beer line. For dunkels, weissbier, and non-alcoholic drinks, the glass is provided when you order.

Give it to the beer man and keep on moving!

Approach the counter, hand over your mug, and the lovely beer man will serve you up! The Augustiner beer is served out of traditional wooden kegs, which I thought was super cool, but don’t linger too long! The beer man will scold you for holding up the line. Also, if you want a radler (part juice, part beer) then serve the juice yourself from the tap as you first approach the counter, then pass along your glass.

Oh, and its cash only!

Claim a spot!

Success! You’ve managed to get your beer! Now, just claim a spot under the chestnut trees and enjoy. Be sure to take a loop around, though. There is a souvenir stand, a space for live music, and (of course) a deer garden!

Deer in the Royal Deer Garden.
A live band in the time of corona!

Tip: Be careful how you hold your maß!

Good: by the handle.

Bad: with your hand through the handle.

Those bad boys are heavy, and I ended up with bruises between my thumb and pointer finger!

Foooooood.

It wouldn’t be a true beer garden experience without food. Traditionally, you’re allowed to bring outside food but not outside drinks. You’ll see this a lot, where groups bring elaborate picnics (table cloth and flowers included!), so feel free to pack a snack. Otherwise, check out the self-service food stands with ribs, currywurst, frits, pretzels, obatzer kase (highly recommended), and other various salads. For dessert? There’s ice cream and an entire sweets stand. You’re bound to find something.

Refill? Then wash & repeat!

I won’t lie. The first maß goes down too quickly. Need a refill? Rinse your glass out at one of the many wash stations and head back to the counter!

Practical Info:

How to get there: From Munich Hbf, grab an S-bahn (1 – 4, 6, or 8) to the Hirschgarten stop. From there, it’s ~10 – 15 min walking.

Cost: Entrance to the Hirschgarten (park and beer garden) is free. 1L beer is €7.40, and food prices vary, but aren’t unreasonable. For example, we paid €5.50 for a large pretzel and obatzer dip. The self-service food and drinks are cash only, but an ATM is available within the garden.

Opening Times: The beer garden is open from 11:00 – 24:00.

Rating: ✅ (Highly Recommended!)

The Hirschgarten has been our favorite beer garden so far. The atmosphere is relaxed and cheery, it’s in a beautiful park, there are tons of options for food and drinks. If you’re looking for a true Munich experience, this is worth the effort!

If you don’t want to go to the beer garden, the park itself is also very nice. Lots of playgrounds, BBQ areas, and open spaces to relax on a warm & sunny day.

Now that the weather has cooled off, I guess we will have to wait until next spring to go back. Until then…

Tschüss,

Whitney

Munich Guide: Pasing

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been so focused on experiencing (and sharing) Munich city center, that I haven’t talked much about our little neck of the woods – Munich, Pasing!

Pasinger Marienplatz.

Pasing is a district in west Munich and feels like a city of its own (because it originally was). It has a lively center, it’s own official city park, and even it’s own version of the Marienplatz. To top it off, it’s easily accessible from (as I’ve dubbed it) big-Munich. You can be Marienplatz to Marienplatz in 30 min by tram or by bicycle, or 15 min on the S-bahn. Pasing is also ~20 min by bike to the LMU campus where Shane will work, so essentially, we chose to live in Pasing for the location.

Tell you more about Pasing? Gladly!

It has a mini-Marienplatz.

Technically called the Pasinger Marienplatz.

Pasing is growing quickly – construction is king right now.

As I mentioned before, Pasing once was an independent city. The Marienplatz in Pasing, inaugurated in 1880, was originally designed to mimic the Marienplatz in big-Munich. In 1938 Pasing was annexed by the Nazis to become part of Munich, and the central square was renamed to avoid any confusion. The square has been redesigned over the years with the addition of trams and adjusted traffic patterns, so it doesn’t feel so prominently central anymore, but it’s nice to see.

It has the 4th busiest train station in Bavaria,

number one being Munich Hbf.

The current train station.
The old train station with the Arcaden (the mall) in the background.

Despite not being a true square, this part of town feels much more ‘city center’ than the Marienplatz. The main station used today was built in the 1950s, but if you exit the station and turn right you’ll find the Alter Pasinger Bahnhof, the old station. Built in 1847-48, it’s the oldest surviving railway station in Upper Bavaria (according to the plaque on the building) and now houses (to my nephew’s delight) a restaurant called Alex. They had a pancake brunch menu so I expect Alex (the restaurant) must be good. I suppose Alex the nephew isn’t so bad either… even more so if he made me pancakes. I digress.

It has it’s own Maypole,

or Maibaum in German.

I love these maypoles! A quick history, in case you’re unfamiliar (as I was). The hoisting of the maypole is a spring-celebration tradition in Germany & Austria, but they aren’t unique to these areas. Variations on the tradition also occur in places like Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden. In Germany, the tradition dates back to the 16th century where villages would strip a tree to create the pole then decorate it with village symbols. Each year on May 1st, the pole was erected (manpower only!), the keg was tapped (Maibock), and a party to celebrate Spring ensued (May Day)! The tradition carries on today, but not every city (or village) will erect a new maypole every year. For instance, the last maypole in Pasing was raised in 2017.

It’s also tradition to steal the maypole of neighboring villages. This seems a little hard to imagine given their size but as May 1st approaches, villages will organize community watches to keep their maypoles safe! As recently as 2017, a group from the town of Neufinsing managed to steal big-Munich’s maypole! Their ransom? A life-long table at Octoberfest. This was denied, so they settled for the traditional meal and free beer on May Day.

The Pasing maypole is located at Wirtshaus Franzz. How it ended up here, I’m not so sure, but they have a beer garden so you can reward yourself for the effort.

Speaking of beer gardens…

You’ll find no shortage in Pasing!

A plus side to getting a little bit out of big-Munich? Beer prices drop. You can expect to pay €3.60 for a half-liter, €7.90 for a whole. Do expect to pay in cash, though, or have a minimum charge of ~€10 to pay by card.

You can walk off the beer in the Stadt Park,

(aka: the city park)

I really enjoy Munich’s city parks. They are all over the place, and you genuinely feel like you’ve escaped the city. The Pasinger Stadtpark is no exception. The Würm River runs through the park, which makes for an excellent swimming spot for humans, doggies, and beavers!

Pick some flowers along the way,

I don’t know if this is unique to Pasing, but there are multiple honor system pick-your-own flower fields! We’ve seen fields with a flower mix, tulips, and now sunflowers. As the sign says, Wir dürfen gepflückt werden (we can be picked!). Just drop some change in the bucket and pluck away!

and visit a castle!

Blutenburg Castle. I’ve blogged about it before. It’s a lovely walk (or bike ride) if you’re in the area. You’ll find signs for Blutenburg in city center or as you leave the North entrance of Stadtpark.

and lastly… when you’re in Pasing you can visit

The MALL!

Ha! Now, if you’re really into malls or shopping then get yourself on out to Pasing, because the Arcaden has everything you could ever want! The only reason it’s on my list is that 1) we haven’t lived somewhere with a mall in a very long time and 2) we go there every week because that’s where our closest grocery store is. I will say they have a very impressive food court, which includes Five Guys. Also not something we expected to see here.


Practical Info:

How to get there: From Munich Hbf, take any of the S-bahn trains to the Munich-Pasing station, or hop on tram 19 or 29.

Cost: Obviously, it’s free to explore the area! Beer & food & mall goodies not included.

Opening Times: Most everything is closed on Sunday (as is much of Bavaria), otherwise, the hours for restaurants/beer gardens are pretty standard and close around 23:00. The Arcaden is open from 9:30 – 20:30 daily, except Sundays.

Rating: 🧡 (if there’s time)

Obviously, I give it a personal rating of ✅✅ for living, but if you have only a short time in Munich I would prioritize other things. Although, it may be worth considering a hotel or Airbnb in Pasing versus the city center to save on accommodation cost, but still be well connected.

Still need convincing? Pasing has built in trampolines. Game. Changer.

Tschüss,

Whitney

Munich Guide: Olympia Park

Our trip to Olympia Park was an accident.

Ok, kind of. I mean it was on ‘the list’ and we did intentionally bike there, but our original plan was to go swimming in the Isar river. That plan was foiled once we looked at the radar. So instead, we decided to check out Olympia Park, which offered some shelter in case a thunderstorm rolled through. To be honest, there’s a lot more to this park than I expected. Despite the name, it never really clicked that this was where the 1972 Olympics were held. Yes, its a big (and beautiful) park, but it’s also home to all of the old stadiums!

As I mentioned, the park complex itself is quite large, 850,000 m2 to be exact, and the general layout and architecture were inspired by the Bavarian alpine hills – lots of blues, greens, and natural landscaping. The leisure activities seem quite endless. Today, you can tour the stadium complex, take a walk (or bike ride) through the park, sunbathe by the lake, see a movie outdoors, or drink a beer in one of the beer gardens, to name a few. Here were our highlights.

The Olympic Tower

I would venture to guess that the most noticeable feature of this park is the Olympic Tower, which was built in 1968. Yes, you can go up! No, we didn’t – thanks to the coronavirus most tourist attractions with small spaces are still closed. It’s still nice to enjoy, even without going up, and can act as a homing-device while you wander as it’s centrally located.

The Olympic Stadium

We didn’t realize that you could tour the old Olympic stadium. Actually, we were on our way home – we had biked a full circle around the park when Shane suggested to at least go look through the gate. As we were gawking from the outside, I noticed that a couple was walking INSIDE. If we had taken ~30 sec to look around instead of straight ahead we would have noticed the entrance. Regardless, we got in and it was great! You can do a self-guided tour (with free audio guide) or a guided tour. We opted for the self-guided tour and the whole stadium essentially to ourselves.

Olympiaberg

A nice view of the Olympiaberg from inside the stadium.

Interesting fact: the Olympiaberg (Olympic mountain) is man-made. It’s actually built from the rubble created from the bombings during World War II. Now, at 56m (183ft) tall, it’s one of the highest points in Munich. 56m doesn’t sound that bad until you bike it, which we did. The view was worth it, though.

Proof that we biked to the top.

The Park

Obviously, it’s better in person.

Don’t miss out on the park itself! There are tons of well-maintained paths for pedestrians, bikes, scooters – you name it! After you’ve conquered the “mountain”, take a left as you come down the path. The fields there have a great view of Munich and you’ll run smack-dab into a beer garden! After admiring the view (and refueling on beer & curryworst), you can follow the paths to the other side of the park and look at the old Olympic Village. I suggest looking from a distance though, because the old village is now used as student housing!

Tip: Walk the lake path.

We didn’t, and should have because Munich’s Walk of Fame is there (similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame). It started in 2003, and now has over 100 hand-prints and signatures from German and worldwide celebrities.

Olympia-Alm Beer Garden

The Olympia-Alm beer garden started off as a beer kiosk during the Olympics in 1972. Now, it’s the highest beer garden in Munich – a whole 564m (1850ft) above sea level! At max-capacity (during normal times), it can hold up to 200 people, putting it in the ‘small’ beer garden category – the largest can hold 8,000. If this doesn’t suit, then there are others, for instance the Beer Garden at the Coubertinplatz.

Tip: Order at the counter and it’s cash only.

1972 Massacre Memorial

During the Olympics, a Palestinian terrorist group attacked the Israeli team. They took 11 athletes as hostages. All the athletes and one West German police officer were killed. The end goal was to secure the release of 234 Palestine prisoners being kept in Israeli jails. Today, there is a memorial to the massacre, and it’s worth the quick stop to hear the story and learn about the victims.


Practical Info:

How to get there: From Munich Hbf, take the U2 to Hohenzollernplatz. From there it’s a ~15 min walk, or catch Bus 59 to Ackermannbogen then a 5 min walk into the park.

Cost: Visiting the park/Olympiaberg is FREE! Of course, some of the attractions have costs: the tower (€9), the stadium (€3.50), Olympia-alm beer (€3.20 / 0.5L).

Opening Times: The park itself is always available. Attractions closing times vary: the tower (23:00), the stadium (16:00), Olympia-alm (22:00).

Rating: ✅ Highly Recommended!

Olympia Park is huge, and we really only scratched the surface. Nearby, are the BMW Welt (showroom) and BMW Museum. Between those two attractions and the park, it would be easy to spend an entire day in this area of Munich. Did I mention there is a Rock Museum and an aquarium out there too? Something for everyone!

Tschüss,

Whitney

Munich Guide: Blutenburg Castle

Technically, Schloss Blutenburg.

We take a lot of walks these days. Well, honestly, we’ve taken a lot of walks since March when the coronavirus restrictions started. Shane is still unable to work due to coronavirus delays, so we’re still walking! Lucky for us, we have a new neighborhood to explore, and Schloss Blutenburg happens to be within walking distance!

Duke Albrecht III, the Duke of Bavaria-Munich, built Blutenburg as a hunting lodge in the west of Munich. The castle, located between two arms of the River Würm (which runs through Pasing, our town) dates back to 1432. He also built it to house his secret wife, a commoner named Agnes Bernauer. Unfortunately, their marriage was discovered by the Duke’s father, who declared Agnes a witch and had her murdered – thrown off a bridge into the Danube River, to be exact – in 1435.

Over the years the castle has been in the hands of many (the Duke’s second oldest son and some private leases), but eventually fell into dis-repair. In the 1970’s, an association was formed to restore the castle, and it’s now open to view, with a small museum, a cafe, and most famously, the International Youth Library which houses over 500,000 children’s books in 130 languages.

Practical Info:

How to get there: from Munich hbf, catch one of the many S-bahn trains to Obermenzing bf. From there, you can take a bus (#143) to the Blutenburg stop, or walk ~20 min. If you’re in the Pasing area, I recommend walking. The walk follows the river and there are signs to guide you.

Cost: Free! €3 to visit the museum.

Opening Times: Daily, until 6pm. The chapel closes at 5pm (summer months) and 4pm (winter months).

Rating: 🧡 (if there’s time)

If you’re in the Pasing area, it’s certainly worth the walk. If you’re looking for something a little ‘off the beaten path’ then this is also for you.

Tschüss,

Whitney