I just completed my first trip outside of Portugal since my move to Lisbon. It’s also my first “international” trip after the start of this pandemic. I was super excited, yet nervous about being in a crowded space – airports, airplanes, trains, restaurants & concert venues, you name it – In the end, my fear was overcome by the great yearning to travel, to be in some place else. So there I went.
I chose the Bavarian region of Germany and Salzburg in Austria because I wanted to see some autumn colours and breath the fresh mountain air before the snow gets there. I was not disappointed.
Living in a Schengen country makes it easy to travel within the area. There’re no passport controls to go through in both (Lisbon and Munich) airports. Three days before the trip, I received an email from Lufthansa with a link to check the entry requirements, and an email shortly after to upload my vaccine certificate so that it can be checked before depature. After that it was just the usual online check-in, going through security at the airport and arrival at the gate for boarding. Everybody is required to wear masks, at the airport and in the airplane. I wore a KN95 mask with a cloth mask (for better fitting) underneath, turned on the ventilation system to full and had it blast the cold air in front of my face. I also kept sanitizing my hands whenever I touched anything and stayed hydrated throughout the flight. You may ask why so careful? Well, I do not want to get sick and get stuck in a hotel room while I could be out enjoying the view or a performance.
Turned out it was a pleasant flight. We left Lisbon a little later than scheduled but made up for the lost time during our three-hour flight to Munich. I even caught a glimpse of the majestic Mont Blanc Massif midway through, from my seat on the right side of the aircraft.
I had plans to base myself in Chamonix this past summer and hike around the mountains, but I didn’t get my resident card in time to make the trip out of the country.
To be honest, I was thrilled to see snow, as that’s one thing we don’t get very often, if at all, in Lisbon 🙂
Once we de-planed, I quickly hopped on the S-bahn and was enroute to my hotel. Unlike in Portugal where a cloth mask is okay in public places, in Germany and Austria, a FFP2 (N95 or KN95) mask is specifically required.
I had booked a late dinner at the best Afghan restaurant in Munich called Chopan.
The restaurant was packed. I wore my mask until the food arrived even though the server told me I could remove it. I had Bolani, a flatbread stuffed with potatoes, topped with rucola and yogurt dressing. This dish is traditionally paired with a yogurt drink called Doogh. That drink hit me with a punch at first because I was expecting something sweet like a mango lassi, it was salty. Once I got used to the taste, it actually paired pretty well with the Bolani and mellowed the dish that followed. Which was Kabuli Palaw, the Afghan National Dish, accompanied by a delicious Afghan spinach stew on the side. The lamb was amazing and spinach stew was creamy and comes with depth of flavours.
Service was brisk and attentive. I was so relieved to finally not have to sit for three hours at a dinner 😀 German efficiency at work!
Since I ordered so much food. I had leftovers packed in a box.
Weather would be nice the next day, I would have picnic in the mountains.
There are two apps that come in handy traveling in Munich and the Bavarian region.
MVV – MVV stands for Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund (Munich Transport and Tariff Association). It is the transportation system in and around Munich, which covers the S-Bahn, the U-Bahn, trams and public buses. The system is divided in 7 zones (M, M-1,M-2…M-6). The M-Zone encompasses the entire city of Munich and in part extends beyond it – Most of the hotels and sights are in this zone -. The airport is in zone M-5. All tickets must be stamped prior to the start of your journey. However: tickets bought at ticket machines on trams or buses as well as OnlineTickets are already validated at the time of purchase.
A Single Ticket, costs 3,40 €, is for a single trip in the direction of the destination with in two hours (in M-Zone). You are allowed to change and interrupt your trip. Return trips, however, are not permitted.
A Single Day Ticket, costs 7,90 € (in M-Zone) and is valid until 6 am the following day. If you’re planning more than 2 trips in the Munich city area per day, it makes sense to purchase the Day Ticket instead.
An Airport-City-Day-Ticket, costs 13,20 €, is a day ticket which includes the journey to/from the airport and in the city area of Munich (validity zone M – 5). If you’re planning to travel elsewhere in the city in addition to the trip to/from the airport, this is the ticket to get. Because a single ticket to/from the airport alone, costs 11,90 €.
Both the Single Day Ticket and the Airport-City-Day-Ticket is heavily discounted for group travel.
You can buy all the tickets at the machines on the buses or trams. But to save the trouble of finding coins, or discovering your card doesn’t work with the machines, or the machines went kaput, it’s better to get the app and use it to get the ticket.
DB Navigator – DB stands for Deutsche Bahn. The network covers all the train travels in the Germany as well as some in an out of the neighbouring countries such as Austria, if you are traveling on Deutsche Bahn, not OBB, for instance. Once downloaded, you can use the app to plan your trip, figure out the schedules, buy the ticket and store the ticket in the app to show to the inspector.
If you’re planning to travel extensively in Bavaria, it’s sensible to get the Regional Day Ticket for Bavaria, which costs 25 € and covers unlimited number of trips within Bavaria in one day, including transportations in the afromentioned MVV system in Munich plus the train to and from Salzburg on the DB network. It does not cover public transportation in Salzburg.
The application is available through your applicable app store or here.
Coming up next: Mountains, Lakes & Castles