Nine Years Ago.
Yes, I said Nine.
It has officially been nine years since I made the decision to pack my two suitcases and my camera, and fly approximately 7000 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean, to move to Germany from my small town in Canada.
I was 22 years old, young, brave and in love.
I am now 31 ( almost 32 ) and still consider myself young, I might even be braver and I am definatly still in love. I am also wiser, stronger, healthier, more experienced, educated, grounded and happier.
What I am most happy about, is that I did not let anyone, or anything, influence my decision to come here. It is difficult of course, to move across the world and start a new life where you know literally one person. But that doesn’t mean it is not possible, nor does it mean that it isn’t the right decision to make. I often imagine my life another way. A completely different life, a way of life if I had stayed. It could have gone in 100 different directions, but it didn’t. It went in the one that I chose.
I do not regret my decision, not one bit. Actually it is the opposite. If I didn’t come, I would have regretted it. BIG TIME. People often ask me how I knew it was the right decision for me. And the answer is: I didn’t know if it was! But I decided to try it anyway. I usually tell these people that the worst that could have happened is that I hated it, and would have had to book a flight home. Big deal, that is exactly what credit cards are for !
Do I miss Ontario? and Canada? = Most defiantly.
And my Family? and Friends ? = Every single day.
And what about all the milestones I am missing? Family Christmas’, Birthdays, Weddings, New Births, Deaths etc. etc.etc. = ALL THE TIME !
But what I like more is my freedom. My freedom to grow, and learn and travel and experience things I would not even come close to be able to do if I had not made the decision to come. I made the decision for me, And not for others.
I like that I can make friends, and work jobs, and grow and live in an entirely new place with a new language and culture. I do not do this to get away from the place I came from, but rather to learn to be the best that I can be, and to share my best self with others. And maybe even to share a bit with the people in the place that I came from.
In the nine years that I have been here, Munich has grown. I have seen it with my own eyes and ears. I, like many others, am not a Münchener. So many of us have moved here for work or love or both. In fact, most of all the people I know were not born here, but have moved here in the last 10 years. I have lived in 3 different homes, in 3 different neighbourhoods in this city, all with their own charm and beauty and people.
When I moved here in 2011, Munich had 1.35 Million residents. Now we are about 1.5 million strong. That’s 115 000 more people! Is this a large or small number you say? Well it depends how you compare it. This number is larger than the population of the entire county where I grew up, but smaller than the number of people who die every day worldwide. Yes, statistics are weird!
And it seems that this city will only continue to grow. I don’t know if I have seen as many cranes in one city, as I have in Munich this summer! It is a large European city. It is sometimes loud, and annoying, and yet it retains a charm, that is hard to achieve in a large city. One that I have rarely seen in any other place I have visited. One that I still love, most days that is.
So, after 9 years of living here. Here is a list of the Top 9 places in Munich to visit or eat, or whatever you wish to do, and why I love them for what they are. In no particular order.
- The Isar River. I do not know how, but this river and it’s daily changing colour and fresh temperatures give me strength. It is very rare that I do not spend at least 30 minutes every week on it’s banks, and for this I am so grateful.
- The Lakes. They are endless, and so close to this city. As soon as I think I have visited them all, I discover a new one. If you have a day off, Just Go! No matter the weather.
- The Trees. This is what every new Munich resident mentions first. Munich is so green! Munich has so many trees! And it is soooo true. They fill the parks, but they also line the streets, boulevards, rooftops and even highways. You notice this especially from above !
- The Books. I have never read a digital book, and I am not sure I ever will. Real books and bookstores are just to great to give up! I buy new and used books, and only keep the ones I know I will read or look at again and again. I sell, donate or gift the others. I haven’t ordered a book on Amazon for years, and will continue to do so in order to support my local shops. There are even many english bookstores in this city! My favourites are Wortwohl, The Munich Readery, The Lost Weekend, Words Worth, and Buchhandlung am Gasteig.
- The Food. But mostly the ice cream parlours. They are open from March to November, and they fuel my summer. There are so many in this city, ( thanks European union for letting Italiens live here ! ) but my favourites are True & 12, Cesarios Ice Cream, Del Fiore, Bartu, and Bali Beni.
- The Beer. Ohh the beer. I remember the first time I tasted a non American/Canadian industry beer. It had taste, and specific flavours. It was creamy and so many other things all at once. I didn’t even know beer could taste that way! Now craft breweries are more popular than ever before, and I am so thankful! Most large, brand name “beer” leaves me bloated and with a headache. So I drink almost exclusively Tilmans in order to support a friend, but there are so many other great companies making tasty products in and around Munich. And believe me, the small price increase is worth it! I would rather drink one tasty beer than three disgusting ones.
- The Bike Lanes. Since the petition last Spring to increase Munich’s presence and name as being the bike capital of Germany, I actually have seen a difference in it’s streets. Yes, there is still a lot of work to be done, but there are also so many nice new bike lanes, labeled with bright red paint popping up all over the cities streets. We still need more of them, and many people need to learn the rules of the road. But this Spring and Summer especially, there are more cyclists than ever before on the streets of Munich, and this is how it should be. Don’t be afraid to go for a ride !
- The Outdoorsie Environmentalists. This is a huge subject, but one so close to me. I am so thankful for all that Munich and it’s residents have taught me about how to treat our planet right. Sure, this city it not Amsterdam. We still have cars, way to many in fact, but the amount of people that care for Mother Earth in this place and how passionate they are about it is so inspiring. It influences my everyday life, and I know I am better because of it.
- The Languages. When I moved here I could speak, read and write fluent English, read and write French at a A1 level, and speak a maximum 10 words of German. Now I speak, read and write German at a B2/C1 level, and read, speak, and sometimes write French, at a B1 level. This wouldn’t have been possible if I lived in a place with only one, or maybe two main languages. This is what Europe is amazing at! Even if you need to learn a new language as an adult, it is possible, if you put a little work into it.
The inspiring American Author, Gretchen Rubin says ” September is the other January ” And I could not agree more. Many of us are starting new jobs, or going back to school. Starting to study in a new place, or maybe starting nothing new at all! And although 2020 is a BIG year of change, I do feel a shift in September, like every year. It is my favourite month for many reasons, but mostly because of the new opportunities it brings, and and the more we grow and live because of them. Happy September Everyone !