Meet Erin McCall, former Expat

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Why did you move to Munich and how long were you there? We moved to with Nate’s (my husband's) job at BMW and spent 2 years in Munich.

What was your favorite thing about living abroad? What did you learn? This was our second time living in Germany. We love the German lifestyle — they love to be outdoors and do not wait on the perfect weather to get out there. Our German friends are very active with a wide range of hobbies from mountain climbing to mushroom foraging. It made for very interesting conversations and outings!

Favorite beer garden? Hands-down: Hofbraukeller at Wienerplatz. This beer garden is on the edge of the English Garten, filled with Chestnut trees that are strung with white lights when the sun goes down. There are two playgrounds — one is especially for little kids and is completely enclosed with child minders who will watch your kids and do activities with them.

Our second favorite is the beer garden at the Chinese Tower. It has live music on the weekends and is directly in the middle of the English Garten. Also worth mentioning: Seehaus and Hirschau.

Best day trip from Munich? Koenigsee! It is around a 2-hour drive from Munich and the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. It is nestled in between huge mountains and the color of the water is just breathtaking. The boat will take you to one of two stops (or you can try to fit in both). There is a beautiful old monastery that is now a restaurant at the first stop. You can have lunch and then take a swim. Or, you can continue on to the second stop to hike to a waterfall and a hidden lake. Koenigsee is close to Salzberg and Berchtesgaden, so a great area for a side trip from Munich.

We also loved hiking in the Wilde Kaiser (a group of mountains in the northern Alps about an hour outside of Munich).

Favorite eats? We loved Haidhausen Augustiner because it was in our neighborhood. The food is delicious, the service friendly (which can be hard to find at the more touristy spots towards Marienplatz) and the crowd local. We also loved the Burger House (because we are American and we missed home sometimes!) Their burgers rival anything we’ve had in the U.S.! Seriously!

Without kids, we loved Zauberberg. An amazing 7-course meal paired with wines. Also very good: Theresa Grill and (The) Burger and Lobster Bank. For a great lunch, I loved Playa. Not far from the main tourist area between Marienplatz, Sendinglertor and Karlzplatz. It has a very varied menu.

What German food could you not get enough of? Where was your favorite place to get it? Schnitzel and Kase Spaetzle at Haidhausen Augustiner or Hoffbraukeller at Wienerplatz.

What did you do rainy days? What’s the best time of year to visit?
There are a lot of rainy days in Germany. Luckily, Munich has a lot of great museums. We frequented the Deutschemuseum, the BMW Museum and the Children’s Museum.

Fall is my favorite time in Germany! It is exactly what fall should be; crisp air, blue skies, colorful leaves and everyone is outside! Summer is also very nice in Munich, but the weather can be a bit unpredictable. It can be rainy and chilly in the mid-50s or very hot (with no AC) in August. December is also a great time to visit Munich to take advantage of all the Christmas markets in the city. January- April… Stay home!

Any tips for traveling in Germany? What to do and what not to do?
As with any trip to a foreign country, be flexible and respectful. The people of Munich are very friendly and helpful. They are happy to give directions or help you get on the right train. They are used to tourists and also a large expat community.

The Germans also have extensive training for almost every job. Take advantage of it. Go to the fruit/ vegetable stands and let them pick out the best piece of fruit for you. Ask for a suggestion at the wine and cheese store. They will listen to your preferences and find just the right thing. I miss that expertise and pride in one’s job now that we’re home!

Best wine bar? It’s a shame to drink wine in a region known for it’s beer!

Best place to take the whole family? The English Garten. You can rent bikes, paddleboats, a horse-drawn carriage, go for a walk, play soccer, watch surfers (yes, in the middle of Munich!), lie in the sun… It’s the perfect way to spend a day. (and of course, there are many beer gardens to choose from there also!)

Hottest people are where? Munich is a city of very attractive people. Maybe it’s because of the university or all the international companies that call Munich home. If you want to see the people who feel the hottest, go to the banks of the Isar river close to the Chinese tower. There you will see the naked sunbathers that the English Garten is known for!

Coolest thing about Munich? Everything foreigners know and love about Germany is from Bavaria; lederhosen, dirndls, huge pretzels, delicious beer, Oktoberfest…  You can get all of that in Munich. It is also such a pretty city and very easy to navigate with public transportation. There is also always a celebration or festival! Oktoberfest and Christmas Markets, of course, but also the Starkbierfest, Fruhlingsfest, Volksfest… there is always an occasion to celebrate in Munich.

What’s your perfect day in Munich? I loved spending the day in the English Garden. We would start at the surfers, walk through the fields, have a picnic, kick the soccer ball or throw the Frisbee, and then finish up at the Chinese Tower’s beer garden with a beer for the grown-ups and Apfelschorle for the kids.

On my own (without the kids in tow), I liked to shop on Kauferingstrasse by Marienplatz and also hit the Viktualienmarkt to find great things to make for dinner.

In your opinion, if Munich were a pair of pants, what would they be? Slim-fit, perfectly tailored suit pants.

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