Episode 17 – Germany with Nadja

Germany (Bavaria!) with Nadja:

Finding your speed limit

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Not to disappoint, but despite the title my story is not going to be a catalog of different speed limit requirements for the German Autobahn (wait…what speed limit?). Instead, what I am going to talk about is how you can explore Germany at your own pace and in your own style – in other words how to explore Germany at your own speed limit.

My name is Nadja. It’s not a very Bavarian name, and sometimes hard to pronounce correctly for people in San Francisco (it’s ‘Nadia’, not ‘Nad Jha’), which is where I have been living and working since 2015.

Before I left Germany (Bavari!)*, almost 7 years ago, the radius of my whereabouts rarely left the ≈70km (≈43m) around Munich, which is exactly the distance to my home village called Kochel am See. 70km is also the same distance from the small 4000 inhabitants village to the Austrian border. So we are talking about the very South of Germany where the Alps start, and where finding a good internet connection is patchy.  

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This is where we start, slowly, at a pace of 10m/h…

Kochel am See is located right at lake Kochelsee (as its name says, as See=lake) and close to lake Walchensee, one of the deepest and largest Alpine lakes in Germany. The area offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as e.g. hiking, mountaineering, windsurfing, biking, fishing, rafting, or ice climbing to only name a few.   

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There is plenty to do and to see for the non-sports-enthusiasts as well, e.g. paying a visit to the Franz Marc Museum (exhibiting local expressionistic art), feeling like a king by listening to a classic concert at Herrenchiemsee castle on an island in a lake, or just relaxing in thethermal bath overlooking lake Kochelsee.

Local specialities directly from a farm or produced in-house are very typical, and not always as unhealthy as people claim German cuisine to be.

My tip: Find a nice spot close to a lake or on top of a hill and indulge yourself w/ a Brotzeit (=a light meal) and cold beer, watching the sunset over the mountains and lake.

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The selection of these several Bavarian locales as examples of slow paced living are of course very subjective, because I am one of those proud Bavarians* myself. Indeed, there are plenty of other  relaxing places across Germany worth seeing as well, e.g. the beautiful North Sea Coast, or the idyllic island Sylt.

Increasing speed to 40m/h…

Now let’s take things up a notch and look at Oktoberfest. The first association people often have with Bavaria is the Oktoberfest, drawing millions of people every year to Munich in September (fun fact: The Oktoberfest only extends a few days into October; most of the event is actually in September).

Personally, I think there are better, smaller events on the countryside, like the Tegernseer Waldfest, but these events are highly dependent on the time of year and the specific town you’re visiting. So if you don’t want to go up to the speed of Oktoberfest immediately, but you still crave a bit more traditional action or music, then ask a local for recommendations on smaller events to visit.

On the other hand, if your mind is absolutely set on Oktoberfest, and you plan to go w/ a bigger group of people, make sure you book a table around March/April to ensure you can snag one of the highly coveted beer tents.

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Personal impressions from Oktoberfest, incl. the traditional gingerbread hearts you can buy, and my favorite sweet treat Kaiserschmarrn

Even without the thrills of Oktoberfest, Munich definitely offers a faster pace of life, but also provides ample opportunities to take a break, breathe, and just be. The Englischer Garten park in the center of the city offers plenty of space to enjoy the summer sun, sit in a nice beer garden, or even surf on the river Isar (not kidding). The nightlife in Munich is decent, and even offers some good EDM or live music. Take a disco nap and head to the clubs at midnight (there is rarely a crowd before then).  

Tip: If you have limited time, but want to see what the city is like, walk up the stairs to Peterskirche; it costs you less than $5 but rewards you with a great view of the whole city.

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Changing to the fast lane…

If you are looking for high-speed I would definitely also recommend bigger cities such as Hamburg or the capital Berlin, with its endless supply of entertainment possibilities. Hamburg’s Reeperbahn is world famous for its entertainment value as a harbour city (just be aware in which street you walk in, as it also doubles as Europe’s second most famous red light district), and you can make the day a night (or several days one night) in Berlin.

These cities aren’t purely party cities either; there is a lot of history to learn from (e.g. Checkpoint Charlie), culture to see and listen to (e.g. musicals in Hamburg, the Berlin Philharmonic), and lovely recreational areas to walk around in (e.g. Hamburg’s Alster).   

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\When to go to Germany – Summer or Winter?

My biased self would say go twice and experience the country during both seasons (ideally all four seasons!). But if you have to choose, and aren’t the biggest winter sports fan, I would say that summer and autumn offer you more opportunities to get in touch with locals and enjoy the broad variety of events and activities – although you may miss out on some damn good Glühwein (aka mulled wine)!

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*When asking Bavarians if they are from Germany, you will likely always end up hearing the critical addition of ‘Bavaria’ in their response; deeply proud, self-evidently confident, and almost surprised why you didn’t ask for Bavaria right away.

Where to eat in and around Kochel am See (pescetarian friendly) – Maps

Lunch/DinnerCake/Brunch/Snacks
Fischerwirt in Schlehdorf (typical Bavarian cuisine)Dorfcafe at Bergblick (my sisters hostel offering house made cake and brunch )
La Pineta (family Friends, great Italian cuisine)Bendiktbeuern Abbey (lovely beer garden at a monastery)
Kochler Stub’n (French-Bavarian fusion)

Where to eat in and around Munich (pescetarian friendly, reservation recommended) – Maps

Lunch/DinnerCake/Brunch/Snacks
Call Soul (Distill their own gin, have really good modern local dishes and cocktails)Kochspielhaus/Backspielhaus(great breakfast/brunch, has several locations)
Faun (Bavarian cuisine)Preysinggarten (have brunch outside in the sun)
Spicery (really good Thai food and cocktails in Munich)Go to Viktualienmarkt and just snack at the stands

Where to go out in Munich (personal preferences)

BarsClubs
The High (Hip hop beats, same owner as Zephyr Bar)Blitz Club (EDM and apparently one of the best sound systems)
Lola Bar (Living room feeling, not really for dancing though)Bob Beaman (also EDM, you see my personal preference)
Zephyr Bar (great gin selection)089 Bar (popular place)

Under no circumstances go to P1 or Heart Club in Munich if you are a decent human being and don’t need a fake sense of ‘prestige’.

What to do around Kochel and Munich

OutdoorsIndoors
Mountaineering to– Herzogstand (has a cable car up and down as well)– Jochberg (view of 2 lakes)– Zugspitze (has a cable car, $$$ though)Franz Marc Museum – won an architecture prize as well
Hikes to Lainbach watefallsA concert at Herrenchiemsee castle (program), needs a car
Ice Climbing – if you dareSchloss Linderhof, also a castle, needs a car
A boat tour on–  Kochelsee, also offers small rentals– StaffelseeThermal bath ‘Trimini’ – be aware of the pure ‘naked’ days!
Partnach Gorge – super exciting, don’t do when rain, needs a carPinakotheken in Munich – vast art
Look/ask for local outside events when booking a stay!Opera in Munich (program)

Where to stay in and around Kochel

At my parent’s B&B or at my sister’s hostel 

Contact: bissinger.nadja@gmail.com

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Melissa

Founder of TravelTalk - a podcast dedicated to sharing stories of locals and expats abroad

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