I’ll never forget my trip to Munich because it was my introduction to Europe and Germany being my first trip within Europe outside U.K. And this started the beautiful journey I am still on the path of. Germany really is the country of wonders, despite their history of war and violence it is an amazing modern society, hard working with a lot of focus on quality, efficiency and functionality of life. The first time I visited I expected blatant show off of wealth like UK and The US but German life is rather simple and they derive pleasure from smaller things rather than blatant showing off. (You can still see the mansions with private lakes in Bavaria if you want to satisfy the capitalist inside).
The infrastructure in cities is very good and clean and transport and social links are amazing. Despite their colder stance towards strangers Berlin is at the forefront of world Art and creative industries with and government backs start ups with innovative ideas extensively.
You have a lot of options for entertainment be it the Oktoberfest or the fetish pride or visiting the beautiful gothic castles, Germany has something to offer to everyone and with flights really cheap flying out really is very convenient…
The Racism Factor
Germans are very friendly and nice people once you get to know them but they also don’t tolerate BS. With a lot of German friends I had this in mind so I approached the country accordingly and the experience was positive. Do not expect a heart warming welcome that you’d get in Middle East or Brazil but a slightly cautious but nice interaction that sweeten with time. At the time when I visited I didn’t experience any racism but I imagibe things must have changed slightly since the recent refugee influx and attacks so I’d suggest a cautious approach.
The Gay Factor
Germany is very tolerent when it comes to sexuality so much so that Berlin is the fetish capital of the world. You will come across all sorts with a special fetish pride organized every year. The guys are quite goodlooking especially if you like blonde guys with blue eyes or if you like Turkish guys…
Berlin and Munich both have an established alternative scene with lots of bars and clubs offering everything from BDSM to dark rooms and everything in between. A down side of this is lots of drugs use and a tendency to indulge in risky sexual behaviour but i suppose each to his own.. In terms of hanging out and apps, there are a lot of guys around and with germans obsessed with perfect bodies you can drool over those six pack abs.
The society in general is very tolerant towards homosexuality in fact tolerance is probably the wrong word, they don’t discriminate or judge you based on being gay at least in the big cities..
Value for Money
Germany is a high income developed country but it is reasonably priced. Berlins especially can be quite chea based on where you go and with a flourishing hispter and alternative scene it is quite easy to find cheap and great venues without a lot of looking around. Munich on the other hand can be a little expensive but coming from UK both cities seemed really reasnably priced to me.
I spend 3 days in Munich when I first travelled to Germany and the three days flew by. There’s quite a lot to do and see in the city and around. Similarly I spent a long weekend in Berlin a year later which was just the right time before I got depressed from all the WWI and WWII stuff..
In both my trips i stayed with friends who were living and working in the city. both cities have great accommodation options from hostels to hotels to Airbnb. with the recent crackdown on Airbnb in Germany, you should be cautious but I still see a lot of option on the site for stay and at a very good price.
A really good area to stay in Berlin is around Nollendorfplatz with a vibrant gay scene around and also close to everything and easy to travel around from. Similarly, the area around Sendlinger Tor metro station in Munich is great with good connections and is quite central so a place around this area would be very convenient.
With everything else quite prim and proper the German food is probably the only thing I just couldn’t get myself to like and trust me I have tried a lot. One main reason is Pork and since I don’t eat it, most of the food is out of bounds and whatever is left is quite unappetizing but luckily both Berlin and munich have a good selection of restaurants especially Turkish restaurants that server amazing BBQ meat which I absolutely love.
Another thing to try is schnizel which is breaded parchment of veal usually but sadly even that is a bit bland. If you like sausages however, this is your place to be with sausages of each size and shape easily available every where. I loved this one place which sold amazing veal sauages with sour dough bread and strong mustard sauce so if you find a place serving that, give it try…
Phone & Internet
The phone reception in Germany is quite good within the cities and you get good reception even when underground using the metro. Internet is also fast and good and free wifi is easily and readily available. I used my roaming but if you want to get a sim card you can explore some options here. I saw plenty of shops selling these sim cards and you don’t even need your ID to buy them.
Cash & Cards
Card payments were a bit of a shock for me especially in Berlin where a lot of places didn’t accept cards and we had to go looking for cash machines which were also not very common outside the city centre. It would be a great idea to keep some cash on you for these instances. Munich was much better though with most places accepting cards and quite a lot of cash machines.
There are quite a lot of money exchange shops every where in both cities especially in toutist hot spots but if you are coming from EU, it is the same currency (Euros) or if you are going from elsewhere you will need to convert.
- Book your walking tour in advance for both cities because the companies are in high demand especially during summer.
- There are a lot of reminiscents of WWI and WWII all around both cities and while visiting these places is a must, do prepare to be depressed and alternate your days to keep it balanced.
- Germany is bitterly cold in winter and you should pack accordingly. I generally don’t get cold very often but this was a whole different level altogether.
- A visit to a biergarten (Beer Garden) is a must but they are in high demand and the good one’s are fully booked weeks n advance so an advanced booking is a must.
- If Opera is your thing, Germany has a lot to offer and I would strongly recommend booking your tickets well in advanced with good seats to avoid disappointment.
- Brush up on your cycling skills for Potsdam because that is the best way to wander around in this beautiful town and you can easily rent cycles right outside the train station.
- Don’t forget to try your luck at Berghain in Berlin and if you fail don’t forget to get a ‘I didn’t get into Berghain’ t shirt. 😉