Roam the streets of Munich and beyond to get acquainted with the city's rich culture and history.
Fast food is injurious to health. Hours after arriving in Germany, our friend was stepping off the sidewalk in downtown Munich to cross the road into a popular fast food restaurant, when he slipped and twisted his ankle.
What followed was a ride in an ambulance to the hospital, with the friendly paramedic helpfully pointing out the sights along the way after he learnt we were tourists, and an in-depth lecture on the state of unemployment in Germany.
Following his advice, we embarked (injured friend in tow) on a whirlwind 48-hour tour through Munich.
11 am: Stop by the extraordinary food hall — the Viktualienmarkt — which has existed for almost 200 years. It is spread over 22,000 square metres and houses a mind-boggling range of fresh produce, breads, cheeses, meat, desserts and everything in between. Most tourists come in, pack a picnic basket and head out to the English Gardens.
12 pm: The English Garden is a large urban public park that stretches across the river Isar from almost the city centre to the north-eastern city limits of Munich. Though not as famous as Central Park in New York, the English Garden is one of the world's largest urban public parks covering 3.7 square kilometres.
The main attraction of the garden is its large lake. By the lake, you will find Seehaus, a large beer garden or you can hire a pedal boat to take a leisurely ride on the lake. Most people prefer to give Seehaus a miss and walk up further to the Steckerlfish stand that serves delicious roasted fish on a stick.
English Gardens, Verwaltung des Englischen Gartens München, Englischer Garten 2. Phone: (0 89) 3 86 66 39-0; Fax (089)3866639-23. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3pm: With 18,000 items spanning nine centuries, the Bavarian National Museum is one of Europe's most important centres of art and culture. Apart from paintings from the various periods such as Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque, it also houses furniture, clocks, stoneware, porcelain and miniatures.
For more information and tickets log onto www.bayerisches-nationalmuseum.de/Engl/b.htm.
Most museums in Munich are closed on Mondays, including this one, so check before going.
6 pm: Walk around the area surrounding the central train station, with its hip stores, restaurants and internet cafes, it's buzzing at all hours of the day. You can also consider taking the hop-on hop-off bus tour of the city that starts opposite the train station.
A pass costs about 26 euros (about Dh133.12) and is usually valid for more than two days and it is a great way to zip through Munich's attractions such as the National Theatre, Opera House, Residence Museum with Treasure Chamber, the Olympic Park and the BMW world headquarters.
9pm: Staatliches Hofbrauhaus is a famous beer hall founded in the late 16th century, which has become a must-do on the list of every tourist. You have to be pushy to get a table — it is available on a first-come-first-served basis. Dinner portions are huge (especially the mixed platter of sausages with mashed potatoes).
Don't go if you expect polite service and a quiet atmosphere — this is loud and boisterous Munich at its best — with lots of singing thrown in. Hofbräuallee 1, Munich; Phone: 89-92105-0. www.hofbraeuhaus.de; e-mail: email@example.com
Do not ask the information desk at the central Munich train station for any help, the woman we asked was not very forthcoming with recommendations about things to do for tourists. She actually said that there was nothing to see around Munich. Only after furious searching on the internet (there is an Easy Internet Café right across the train station), we discovered a number of beautiful castles surrounding Munich that can be seen in a day.
I would recommend King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle, nestled in the Bavarian Alps. The grand living room and throne room are breathtakingly beautiful, but what makes your day are the sweeping views of the mountains and the fairytale atmosphere that surrounds the castle.
The castle is near the Forggensee in the Allgäu, very close to Schwangau. You can take the train, bus or drive there. Entrance tickets can be bought only at the ticket centre in the village of Hohenschwangau below the castle. For detailed directions and information go to www.neuschwanstein .com/english/index.htm.
Nymphenburg Palace is not as visually stunning as Neuschwanstein, but is impressive nonetheless. It was built between the 17th and the 19th centuries and was a summer residence for the Bavarian kings. Don't forget to stroll through the gardens and the stone hall, which occupies over three floors of the central pavilion and has beautiful frescos on the ceiling.