We thought to wrap up our two years here with a post about our favorite things about Munich or Germany. Greg wrote most of this and I did the editing.
Our new friends
We made friends from all over the world, thanks to the school, the hausfrauen friends and coworkers. Our last weeks have been filled with goodbyes, but at least with the teachers in the international schools, it hasn't felt like a permanent goodbye. They always say to us that you never know who will show up at your next school.
Efficient and easy trains
Only 5 mintues from our front door was our access to the world. We could buy a ticket to go all around town or for a longer ride that would get to any big city in Europe.
Closeness to a lot of different countries = easy traveling
We had seen a bit of western Europe before arriving, so our focus was on seeing lots of Germany and going east and south. Ayelet had a flexible rule that all train rides had to be under 6 hours in any leg, but we got around that by going far over many days and flying back. That covered some great places like Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and even Berlin (on a fast train).
Delicious breads and cakes
The Germans really do make delicious bread and so many different varieties of it. It's no surprise that almost every main street has at least one bakery for every block, sometimes more. And the cakes are equally great. They tend to be not as sugary-sweet as stuff in the US. We actually had real American-style 'smores at a friends' house the other day and I thought it didn't taste nearly as good as some of the sweets I've had here.
Anyone would be amazed to see a Radl-plan (bike map) of Germany. You can take paved trails to the countryside and into most cities. Many Germans choose this as an affordable and active vacation option. [Editor's note: biking into work was my favorite way to go to work. You see so much more on the way and there are all kinds of people who bike here.]
Everyone is so active
Hiking, biking, walking and skiing are big acitivies in Munich. Back in the U.S. you often need money to undertake these activities in nature. Here in Munich you can get a cheap train ticket for 5 people and explore some of the best areas of the Bavarian Alps.
City is VERY clean.
Sure, Munich has a bit of graffitti like any other city, but children seem to be taught from a young age how to keep a place neat and tidy. The society as a whole does a great job of monitoring itself and even separating waste. When people get a bit messy (big festivals/weekends) the city cleaning crew is very thorough to make up the difference.
Unlike a bar, beer gardens are great ways to enjoy being outside while drinking with your friends. You find these great social gathering points in and around the city. You can bring in your own food and quality beer is served by the liter (think of 3 cans of beer in one-liter mug). People are encouraged to hang out in the shade and talk as the tables are narrow and seat up to 10. You often have to ask strangers if you can share a table on nice days as all tables are full. When you get a new round of drinks, you always "Prost!" to everyone around you. Sometimes even to the strangers at your table!
Being a kid in Germany is awesome.
Most restaurants and biergartens have a child-friendly play area so you are no longer forced to draw with 2 crayons on a place mat. Everyone will help to both watch out for kids and keep them in line. The community really comes together when raising its children. Sports are very organized and common, or can be open and free like pick-up games of soccer or many of the hidden skate parks. Finally there are also tons of festivals with semi-dangerous kid crafts. For example, we once showed up at an event where kids had access to hammers, files, and saws with very little adult presence. No goggles were in sight, and most kids seems to be sharing tools appropriately. All of them walked away uninjured while we were there with a small carving in porous stone.
The dogs are so well-behaved!
From the moment we arrived, it was easy to see that canines are kings in Munich. If you visit, you will most likely see them off leash in public places: on a train, at the mall, running next to a bike, or on a bench in a restaurant.