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Sometimes called the "Village of One Million" Munich is a southern city located near the Alps. This wonderfully charming 800-year-old city is the capital of Bavaria and the home of the world-famous Oktoberfest. Despite its name, munich,events:Oktoberfest starts in late September and spills into the first week of October — dancing oompah bands and food dominate. Be prepared not only to drink but also to eat: You’ll have your fill of sausages that is for sure but experiment a bit — whole oxen for instance are cooked on giant spits. While the food is good, fest goers never let it distract from the main focus of the festival: beer. The city is filled with thousands of casual and committed beer drinkers guzzling foamy brew for days on end. If this sounds like heaven by all means go and enjoy it but if it doesn’t avoid Munich at all costs during this time. Book Munich,accommodation:hotel space well in advance for Oktoberfest. But don’t think Oktoberfest is the only time Munich celebrates. The pre-Lenten celebration of Fasching is equally popular. It goes on for days with all sorts of costumed parties and festivities.

Munich is an important cultural center with special opera, theatre, ballet and concert seasons. It also has Munich,museums:museums and galleries on every imaginable subject (including one about unusual museums). Some interesting ones are the German Theater Museum, Museum of Mankind and Nature, the Residenz (Egyptian Art and the crown jewels) and the Valentine Museum. The Deutsches Museum is the largest science and industry museum in Europe. The Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek (art museums) house extensive collections of medieval to modern European painting. The Lenbachhaus Gallery also has an exceptional collection of expressionist paintings (Kandinsky Klee Macke Marc).

The Englischer Garten is a nice place to relax and watch the citizens of Munich take their walks or tan in the sun (often topless sometimes wearing even less). In the midst of the gardens are the Kleinhesseloher See, a small lake with a cafe that serves refreshments, and a Chinese Tower and Monopterus (a Greek temple).

The town itself is easy to get around thanks to an excellent Munich,Getting Around:subway, tram and bus system. Visit the Nymphenburg Castle, a large baroque 17th-century palace that doubles as the Bavarian China Factory, the botanical gardens and the Olympic Center north of Munich, built for the 1972 Olympics. Be sure to see Kaufingerstrasse (great shopping street stretching from Stachus to the Marienplatz) and the Schwabing District with its arty atmosphere smart boutiques antique shops lively nightlife and a stellar selection of restaurants bars and discos. Continue shopping at Viktualienmarkt an open-air marketplace where everything from gingerbread cookies to fresh fish is available. Other attractions are the Hellabrunn Zoo, the Munich,beer gardens:city’s beer halls and beer gardens and the Rathaus a 19th-century Gothic city hall with a glockenspiel (performances daily at 11 am noon and during May-October 5 pm).

One of Munich’s most recognizable structures is the twin-onion-domed Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). The old exterior provides quite a contrast to the stark white interior rebuilt after war damage gutted the church. BMW aficionados may want to make a pilgrimage to the BMW museum for some history of the company (after all the B in BMW stands for Bavaria and the corporate headquarters are in Munich).

Do spend a day driving around the countryside. Munich also has the airport closest to the German Alps (skiing and quaint Bavarian towns). The town of Dachau is the site of the first Nazi concentration camp. Another day trip relating to that era can be taken to Berchtesgaden. Plan at least two or three days in Munich.


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