Complete transparency: Munich is one of my favorite cities in the world. Over the course of repeated trips there in the past decade, I’ve come to love this place. The culture, parks, museums, beer gardens, food, all of it… this is one of the very few cities I would move to without reservation.
This was a short visit, only a few precious days, so the only plan was to take it easy and enjoy being there. In the afternoon on a sunny, warm spring day there aren’t many places – in the entire world – I’d rather be than in a Munich beer garden, my feet tired from hours of wandering around. We got to do just that, repeatedly, and it was great.
To me, Munich strikes the right balance between urban and natural. It’s liveable in a way megacities can’t be, but cosmopolitan enough to keep city-lovers happy. It’s a pleasant city that draws tourists, but it’s not a “museum city”; one of those European Disneylands dependent on tourism and living in the past. There’s beautiful old architecture, but it’s not ubiquitous… given its history and the dynanism of its economy, the cityscape is constantly changing and remaking itself. It’s not stuck in time…in a good way.
It’s a cliche amongst urbanites in America to look up to European cities and wish we could be more like them. For the most part, that’s unattainable: we don’t have preserved medieval old towns or grand boulevards, and it’s not reasonable to build them now. I’d like to see more North American cities aspire to be like Munich, though. It’s a goal that I think is realistic given the appropriate investment and commitment. I don’t mean to replicate Munich exactly; only to take cues from their land use policies and infrastructure planning to create more vibrant and pleasant…and ultimately, more liveable, cities.
Our picture album is here.