March 21, 2012

Locals know better

“Mallorca ist das 17. Deutsche Bundesland”

There is a common saying in German that claims that Mallorca (a Spanish island of the Balearic Islands that is located in the Mediterranean See) is the 17th region of Germany. You may know that Germany is divided in 16 regions (Bundesländer) and the saying claims that Mallorca is the number 17th.

If you have not been to Mallorca you may wonder why is it so? The reason is because Mallorca has (and has had for decades since 1960) such a large influx of German (and English) tourists that you could say that the small island (that has a surface of approx 3500 km2) have been invaded by Germany (always in the good sense). If you walk around the island, most of the restaurants, shops and businesses have German speaking staff, the menus are translated into German and the eating schedules are adapted to German times (meaning that you can have lunch from 12pm and dinner from 5.30pm). 

For many years, the Germans have loved this island so much that many of them have bought summer houses or have retired to Mallorca. And thanks to this love, the island has experienced a strong economical boost since the 60´s that has brought new infrastructures, new opportunities to start up new businesses and of course new jobs. So thank you Germany for that! And in return, yes, you may call Mallorca your 17th Bundesland (figuratively speaking of course).

But today I did not want to talk about Mallorca alone but what I am telling you is relevant because: Mallorca, as well as Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, etc. are attractive cities to visit for the Germans. 

Spain has been the second most visited country on earth after France for many years. Then USA started a very aggressive, smart and attractive promotion campaign and they gained the second place, replacing Spain, then China came in and Spain was pushed back to the forth place. 

In any case, second, third or fourth, Spain remains a top tourism destination and so, I get many questions about: local tips.

Local tips: what is that? In my opinion is a list of places to visit, restaurants where to eat and stuff to do that you do not usually find in a travel guide. I am a huge fan of the Lonely Planet guides but the truth must be said: the locals know better.

In Europe every city is so close (in comparison with the USA and Australia) that when someone says: I am visiting XXX city, he/she is probably only going for a weekend, so when giving local tips, the list of places, restaurants and stuff to do should be short. In my opinion, three suggestions max for every category.

In Munich, if you check the Lonely Planet guide, the official Munich site or whatever other travel guide about the city, I would say that if you could only pick three, these would be the ones in my opinion:

Places to visit (advised by most of the travel guides):

1.-Althe Pinakothek (if you like art) or the Deutsches Museum (if you are more into technique and science).
2.- Marienplatz, Frauenkirche and Viktualienmarkt (all three within a 5 min walk).
3.- Odeonsplatz, Theatinerkirche and Hofgarten/Englisher Garten (with surfers).

Restaurants (advised by most of the travel guides):

1.- The Hofbräuhaus, of course.
2.- Any of the other German typical restaurants (Agustiner Brauerei, Pschorr, Spätenbrauerei etc.).
3.- Das Glockenspielcafe in Marienplatz for a nice cake and tee with a sight to the main square of the city.

Stuff to do (advised by most of the travel guides):

1.- Oktoberfest.
2.- Go to the Englischer Garten for a walk, for a ride with the bike, for sun bathing or for a bier in the Biergarten.
3.- Go to a soccer/football game in the Allianz arena (if you are a sport fan) or to the Olympic park for a concert.

All of them are great tips but what if you find that you have a bit more time and you want to do some local tips that are not in the guides… 

I have put together some local tips for Madrid, my home town and they seem to be working. So far, seven people have tried them and all have thanked me enormously after coming back from Madrid. Now, I know Madrid far better than I know Munich, but after almost a year here, I am going to try to select three local tips for each category that I would have loved someone gave me when I first arrived here:

Places to visit:

1.- Das Amerika Haus in Karolinenplatz. This is the cultural centre for the USA and Canadá in Munich. The cultural program is usually extraordinary. The last seminar I wanted to attend there was “The Politics behind the Simpsons” but it was all sold out.

2.- Die Bayerische Versicherung Exhibition Hall. Their exhibitions are usually for free. In March they have one of a photographer that accompanied Marilyn Monroe and others VIPs.

3.- Das Literaturhaus: I love going there for a coffee while I read the news and enjoy the nice quiet spot where they are located. Their cultural program is usually also very interesting. 


1.- For dinner, something out of the ordinary for a change: the Blue Nile in Schwabing, traditional Etiopian food to be eaten with your bare hands. (Check Eating out in Munich for more details).

2.- For lunch: go and enjoy a sandwich and a coffee in the Elisabeth market in Schwabing. (Check the Grocery List for more details).

3.- For brunch/breakfast or lunch: the Victorian House. (For more details read Eating out in Munich).

Stuff to do:

1.- “Let´s do a Barbie” as they say in Australia, go out and barbecue!. I will write more about barbecues very soon. (Barbecue in Munich).

2.- Go sunbathe at the Isar beach. Imagine that you are on a beach somewhere else (not in Germany) take your towel, your sunglasses, your sun cream and prepare some sandwiches: it is summer in the city baby! (Sunbathe in Munich)

3.- Enjoy an real German beer with friends sitting outside on the grass in Gärtnerplatz. This is very common during spring and summertime. In the evenings, the Kirk Bar (Corneliusstrasse, 16) sells beers to take away. 

I am sure that you are reading this post and thinking that you would give other tips, likely they would be far better than mines and that means two things: 
1.- you need to send these tips to me :-)
2.- you are becoming or have become local and you should be proud!

Any other ideas and tips for local advice?

Related posts: