April 25, 2017
I just got back from Munich and wow, was it incredible—my favorite city I’ve visited this semester. I can definitely see myself living in Germany one day. Here, some thoughts on why I liked it so much.
I get the sense that incredible infrastructure is found throughout Germany, but it’s worth emphasizing just how great the public transport is. I was able to buy my tickets using the MVV app, which was incredibly easy. The city also offers steep group discounts, and easy transport to the airport. Train cars are a mix of old and new (old on the U-Bahn), but are uniformly clean. The only city I’ve been to that rivals this quality of transport is Copenhagen. Budapest’s system is extremely comprehensive too (and there’s really nothing to complain about), but Munich won me over because all of its trains are electric, and the S-Bahn is suuuuper fast. If the H5 that I take every morning were that fast, my commute would be way shorter. Also, like most things in Budapest, the system isn’t super clean.
There were also some very beautiful ads in the subway. Though Munich isn’t Germany’s hippest city, there’s an emphasis placed on beauty in public spaces.
En route to our third day of Springfest, Jane, Joyce, and I discussed how we didn’t feel that we had really been having fun while traveling, and that Germans really seem to value the idea of leisure. While I wish it were that Americans simply aren’t good at having fun, I think that we have a lot of societal issues that preclude us from prioritizing leisure. In particular, a huge number of Americans are unable to make ends meet, so it’s inconceivable that drinking in a biergarten is given priority over, say, healthcare, or housing, or food. But despite the German proclivity towards fun, their economy is the strongest in Europe. I’m still in awe of this fact.
Hungary has an insane escalator game. These things are janky, a little dangerous, and super duper fast. Once you realize that escalators should be faster than just walking up steps, slow escalators become unbearable. Some escalators in Germany barely moved at a crawl. I have a feeling that this pet peeve is going to plague me for years to come. One thing that’s cool though—lots of German escalators will stop moving entirely until you step onto them. Freaky at first, but more eco friendly and probably safer. I’m a fan!
I was caught off guard by the total lack of wifi at restaurants and coffee shops in Munich. I luckily was on Vodafone HU’s very cheap EU data roaming, but was still shocked when not one of the places we ate had a wireless network, password-protected or otherwise. In Budapest, nearly every restaurant has one, and they’re always password protected. I’ve definitely been spoiled by that.
The cash situation in Munich was also quite surprising. While I understand why businesses at Springfest were cash only, I was surprised that almost every restaurant was, too. In Hungary, I pay for nearly everything on my phone (or Watch⌚️), because the standard payment terminal there accepts PayPass technology. It felt silly fumbling for money all the time—I really wonder why card usage is so limited.
I had such a great weekend in Munich. These three days really made me regret passing on Berlin. I need to get there soon.