After checking out Budapesta and Vienna in the previous article, it’s time to move forward with our 30 days vacation around Europe and our next stops were Munchen, Verona and Trieste. It was actually Munchen that started our entire vacation since a good friend of my wife – a mother she met online – was traveling to Munchen from Australia and they had to meet. It was well worth it, that’s for sure!
But let’s not waste any time – we’re going to cover three cities in this article and I am sure you’re curious to know what were this Romanian’s impressions about Germany and Italy – I visited both countries for the first time, so I was really excited!
We arrived here in what I think was the best AirBnb rental in the city if you are a single guy. It was a real man cave: a huge flat screen TV, a set of PlayStation consoles and a ton of games to play and a shelf with enough drinks to get the entire city drunk. I loved it there, even though I didn’t take advantage of any of the goodies. We had some exploring to do!
We first went to the BMW Store/Museum where we dreamed a bit about our next car. We’re driving a Dacia Logan which is probably at least 5-6 times cheaper than the cheapest BMW we saw there… but one can always dream, right?
After the Visit to the BMW Museum, we explored the nearby Olimpya Park which was absolutely beautiful. Even though I am on a strict diet, I couldn’t stay away from eating a half meter / 20 inch wurst and then chillax a bit right on the grass in the park. It’s really different than Romania where you are still not allowed, in most cities, to even step on the grass in parks. Here, there were tons of people enjoying the great weather, out for a picnic or just drinking a few beers and eating some sandwiches. It was great!
We then took Eric to see Aqua World which was really amazing – and one of the few attractions that he really enjoyed. It was my first real aquarium, so I was happy like a kid seeing the sharks swim over me and all the other amazing fish. A must try thing if you get there!
We walked a lot in Munchen and visited some of the landmarks in the city center as well. I liked everything, especially the size of the square where Hitler was holding his speeches. I saw that on TV, but being there and seeing how humongous it all was… that was impressive!
We also spent 15 minutes waiting in line to buy ice cream from what’s considered the best ice cream in the city and we absolutely loved it. Of course, we forgot to take a single photo of it, so you have to trust me on this one!
Finally, after we met my Wife’s lovely friend and her family, we decided to visit the Nymphemburg Palace. Rookie mistake: I looked on the map and decided it’s an easy walk from home. It wasn’t, so when we finally got close, my little boy Eric was already tired and cranky so we didn’t actually get to see it and the nice gardens behind. But we still saw it from pretty close and left something to do for the next time we visit this great city.
All in all, Munchen was exactly as I had expected it to be: beautiful, filled with attractions, tourists everywhere as well as locals. Plenty of eating options, from cheaper, student-like pubs that were only open during lunch time to the fancier restaurants (we didn’t get to visit those). The city is spotless clean, it seems that there are more bikes than cars and you easily see that the quality of living there is pretty high. Munchen is considered one of the most expensive cities in Germany, but for what we did there, it was not scary. I loved it and it does fight Budapest for my favorite destination from this trip!
I was a bit scared about Verona: people had told us that there’s nothing you can do there and it’s a poor choice of a city. We were also somewhat away from the city center, so I had all the reasons to worry. Fortunately, it was all great: we stayed in a huge, bright apartment with a huge balcony where we usually had diner, people watching and enjoying every second of it.
Indeed, the attractions are limited mostly to the city center where the small, narrow streets and old buildings make you feel like living in the past century (and I don’t say it as a bad thing at all). Brightly colored buildings, flowers everywhere… it was a joy for us to explore all the streets and just admire the buildings and small restaurants.
We had to be real tourists and we visited Julietta’s balcony which is, obviously, over-hyped. We got there early, so it wasn’t over-crowded as well, but it’s usually packed there and there’s really not much to see. But when in Verona, you have to see Julietta!
We did miss an important attraction: Castel San Pietro, but it was up some hills and decided it would be too much for our little baby. So we just took some photos from far away and enjoyed the Castelvecchio (old castle) which was closer to the city center.
Verona was another pleasant surprise for me. People used to tell us that the Italians are rude, loud and uneducated, but it was not the case. We found them extremely warm and polite, we never had trouble finding somebody who speaks English and they were always willing to help with tips and advice on what to do and where to go next. I loved it!
…and we finally got near the sea! We spent 4 nights in Trieste because I thought that, since it was the middle of May, we might get some good weather and beach time. I was wrong, which made our stay in Trieste less exciting. We were also down with a cold for half of our stay which made us hate the windy, cold weather even more and probably find the city less interesting than it actually is.
The truth about Trieste is that it doesn’t have much to offer, unfortunately. Our host, when recommending things to see, was basically: “In Trieste, go here and there. Then you can go to 40 kilometers left to see this, then go to Slovenia to see that.” Of course, we did not.
They do have the Miramar Castle which is absolutely beautiful and also has some great, great views – and we were fortunate enough to visit it when the weather was pretty much decent. The castle was actually built by Austrians – and you can see throughout Trieste the influence the Austrians had over the architecture. It’s almost like you’re not in Italy!
We also tried to visit another castle (forgot its name) and climbed endless hills and sets of stairs to finally get there, circle it two times and find out that there’s actually no entrance to it – it was basically just a fortress that wasn’t impressive. But it sure help keep us fit during our journey!
I was extremely happy to eat some of the best pasta in my life (a delicious salmon/shrimp combination – and this come from somebody who’s not the biggest seafood/fish fan), while my wife was unlucky enough to try the crappiest pizza ever – an Indian pizza recommended by the cook. Curry, a ton of turmeric and cumin… that was strange indeed (but all the other pizzas we had in Italy were great – just to make that clear!)
All in all, there is indeed not much to do in Trieste. Even the beaches are outside the city – rocky, narrow beaches, that is – and the city itself doesn’t really feel like Italy thanks to its Austrian history. One or two days are probably enough to see everything it has to offer – and make sure you visit it during the summer, when the weather’s a lot better!
This would be it for Munchen, Verona and Trieste. Stay tuned for the next episode, where I will be covering our stay in Croatia!