Bavaria, Germany

I lived in Germany over the course of a better part of a decade. My heart and soul are so connected to the country that at times I do forget that I am not actually from there. When I lived there I lived in the northern part of the country, only moving between states a few times. If you don’t know much about Germany, it is split into 16 states – the one state that is usually showcased as stereotypical “German” is Bavaria. The rest of Germany is quite different and wearing Lederhosen or a Dirndl would encourage laughs or stares. The part of Germany that I knew was especially removed from this, being closer connected to fishing and the sea than trekking through the mountains. Therefore, Bavaria or Bayern seemed so far away and like a completely different country. The architecture, dialect, cuisine, and topography were all so drastically different than what I was used to in the north.

Fun Facts:

  • Bavarian Leberkäse, literally translated as “liver cheese” contains 0% liver. Other variants around the country must contain at least 4% liver.
  • The oldest still-operating brewery in the world is the Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan (Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan). Operating since 1040, the brewery is located in an old Abbey in Freising, Germany. It’s located super close to the Munich Airport, so if you have a layover there it might be worth a quick trip.
  • BMW actually stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works. The blue and white circle logo represent the bicoloured Bavarian flag. The company headquarters are located in Munich and has their own postal code: 80788.

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When visiting Bavaria I always made a point of visiting smaller centres and getting outside and explore nature, as there are some very pretty towns and breathtaking areas in that part of the country.

Favourite places:

  • Regensburg – Strangely called Ratisbon in English, Regensburg is a city that is dear to my heart. Being the hometown of a good friend, I am lucky to have spent quite some time in this city. The old town is a UNESCO heritage site and is home to the largest medieval town north of the Alps. The Danube runs through the city, allowing for some really beautiful biking/walking paths. Just east of the city is a neo-classical hall-of-fame building titled “Walhalla”. Overlooking the Danube, this building honours famous German politicians, scientists, artists, and sovereigns.
  • Rothenburg ob der Tauber – If I could use one word to describe this city it would be “picturesque”. There is something really whimsical about the character in this town that it almost feels like you’re in a fairytale. The old city walls surround the half-timbered houses that are crammed together in a hodgepodge of colour and architectural style.
  • Mittenwald – Nestled snuggly at Austrian border near Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze, Mittenwald is your stereotypical Bavarian village. The town is located just outside the Karwendel natural preserve – the largest mountain range in the Northern Limestone Alps. Here you can access some incredible hiking, mountain climbing, and mountain biking in areas that offer stunning vistas and historical connections.
  • Bamberg – Home of my beloved Rauchbier (smoke beer), Bamberg is a city in the northern part of the state that has some beautiful half-timbered architecture. The old town is also a UNESCO heritage site because of its authentic medieval architecture. It’s definitely worth visiting a brewery that serves smoke beer if you do visit, one in the downtown core is Schlenkerla.
  • Nuremberg – Famous for being the location of the Nuremberg trials following the Second World War, this city has been the home of a number of important events and individuals. This town has a kick-ass Christmas market that should not be missed. Being one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, there is a wide variety of events, snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. The smell of bratwurst and gingerbread linger through the air, and with a warm cup of Glühwein (mulled wine) in your hand you’re all set to wander around and get into the holiday mood.
  • Munich – How could I forget Munich? The capital of Bavaria and home to FC Bayern München and Oktoberfest, Munich is a well-known hub for tourists in Germany. Some not as well known gems in the city include surfing on the Eisbach river, six  designated nudist zones, and the Spring Festival that is known as “Oktoberfest’s little sister”.

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Favourite Food/Drink:

Bavarian food was always my favourite. It’s incredibly hearty and delicious – with really distinct dishes in comparison to the north. Some of my favourite dishes include Schweinsbraten (roast pork), Weisswurst (white sausage), Knödel (boiled dumpling), Germknödel (a yeast dough dumpling dessert), and Leberkäse Semmel (literally, liver cheese bun). Be sure to give one of these dishes or another typical Bavarian dish a try if you visit!

As you can probably guess, Bavaria has some incredible drinks that are well worth a try. From dry Franconian wine to smooth Weissbier (wheat beer), there is something to make anyone’s tastebuds water. As previously stated, the Rauchbier in Bamberg is one of my favourites, and Bavaria has tons of breweries to give you plenty of options to try. Bavaria has more than half the breweries in the country! By the way, if you’re a fan of Radler (beer and lemon-lime soft drink), Bavaria is also known for Russ (wheat beer and lemon-lime soft drink).

 

Getting around:

Trains! My favourite mode of transportation has always been the train. I love how you can just sit back and enjoy the ride, converse with friends, or get up and walk around all at one’s own leisure. In Bavaria there is something known as the Bayern Ticket, or Bavaria Ticket, with the Deutsche Bahn (the German rail company). This ticket allows you to travel as much as you want in a day within the state on the regional trains (categories: S, RE, IRE, and RB) starting at 25 Euros for one person. This ticket also allows you to travel to border towns, such as Salzburg and Reutte in Austria or Ulm in the neighbouring state of Baden-Württemberg.

Apart from trains, there are also really cheap buses with Flixbus or carpools that make transportation a really simple thing in Germany as a whole.

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Special events:

Everyone knows about Oktoberfest. I’ve been myself and although it was a fun time when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t attend again. If you are wanting some tips about Oktoberfest, what I can tell you is definitely have a plan with your friends on where to go and what to do if someone gets lost. It’s pretty inevitable that someone will indeed get lost from the group. Other than that I would say it is better to go during the week (since there are less crowds), be prepared to stand in long lines, or even visit the aforementioned Spring Festival to get a taste of the event. Also, not everyone likes beer! If that’s the case for you, Bavaria has a ton of wine festivals that might be right up your alley!

What I am more fond of would have to be the Christmas markets. I will have to write a full post on how much I love Christmas markets and which ones are my favourite, the traditions surrounding them, and what I like to buy and consume. The Nuremberg market is a classic, but there are a number of other beautiful Christmas markets throughout the state that are worth a visit. Most markets are in cities and towns, but the Waldwipfelweg (treetop way) is a skyline walkway that showcases the stunning winter wonderland alongside a traditional Christmas market. Another special one would the the Christmas market on the Fraueninsel in the Chiemsee, a stunning freshwater lake. The only way to get to this Christmas market is by boat!

Some other worthwhile events to attend would be the Gillamoos, one of the oldest fairs in Germany (since 1313), where you can experience the strong Bavarian culture in the small town of Abensberg. This festival takes place around the first Sunday in September from the Thursday to the Monday. Another fun event would be the Bayreuther Festspiele (Bayreuth Festival), a music festival where, instead of modern day music, they play operas by Richard Wagner. It is very difficult to get tickets, so if you’re interested start researching now!

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