We’ve written before about our amazing experiences with long layovers (usually renamed “stopovers” when you’re able to leave the airport and explore!) and this night in Munich deserves a place in the hall of fame of incredible layovers.
Here was the set up
Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) sent us an alert for a $420 round trip flight to Portugal for Christmas week. We were intrigued, but after digging, we realized we weren’t going to get there direct. That’s okay, we don’t always need to fly direct, but because we only had a week, we didn’t want long travel days to cut into our time in Portugal. There were a few options sub $450 on the capital one portal (originally I was going to book through the portal to use up my $300 travel credit), but they all had horrendous layovers. I’m talking 10 hours from 8pm to 5am in London- that’s the worst of the worst. So we left the portal and went to our trusty Google Flights to see if there was something the portal was missing- and we found many different options. The one we went with: a 3 hour layover on the way to Portugal in Munich (enough time to get a weisswursti and wheat beer for breakfast) and a 16 hour layover from 5pm- Noon the next day on the way back. The kicker? The departure day was New Year’s Eve. Pair an overnight layover with a free hotel certificate I had been holding on to for a few years and we were capping our trip with a New Year’s Eve in Munich!
And after what felt like $100 euros in transportation…
The thing you can’t forget about when talking about layovers is the transportation costs. Getting to and from the airport is usually priced at a premium. First off, they are far from the cities and secondly, travelers have no choice but to pay the premium so the prices remain high in most situations. In our case, it was about $13 a person each way, so total was $52 just to the airport and back. We also took trains around the city to get to the event we bought tickets for. First we had to go pick up the tickets (3.70pp), then we had to get to the event itself (3.70pp), then (thankfully) we could use our event ticket as a train ticket to get back to the hotel at night. All in all, we spent $68 just to get around.
We got to the Tollwood New Year’s Eve Party!
If you aren’t familiar with Bavaria, you may not know that Tollwood is THE venue for Oktoberfest (ironically celebrated in September). So we were pretty excited to check out this legendary venue. I’m not sure what we thought the event was going to be, but it didn’t quite meet our expectations. There was only one (very large) tent that served food with about 5 food booths and one large bar in the middle. I was hoping for a pretzel and some currywurst, but none of the food booths served German food. The booths served: African, Nepalese, Burgers, Greek and Thai Food. While I love each of those cuisines, it wasn’t totally what we were expecting. Drinks were also somewhat difficult to come by. There were many bars set up, almost all in very crowded tents, and had fairly long waits. We’ve also found that sometimes people in other parts of the world don’t necessarily have the same “rules” around waiting in lines and there was a lot of chaos around that, especially as you got towards the front.
However, even through some of the more disappointing aspects of this party, we still had a great time. There was live music all night that was fun to dance and sing to (most of it was American cover band music!). And we were treated with an incredible fireworks display at midnight that could be seen 360 degrees, all around the party. And those fireworks didn’t stop for our entire journey home! People in Munich love their fireworks (even though they are technically illegal in the city-center, it didn’t seem to be stopping anyone!). Overall it was a very fun night and an experience that we won’t soon forget!
But before we go home, we have one last mistake to make…
This was a total newbie mistake, but on our last morning we decided to check out the hotel breakfast. Because the room was booked on a free night certificate, breakfast wasn’t included but we didn’t have much time before we needed to head to the airport, and it was New Year’s Day so we felt it would be difficult to find food outside the hotel that early in the morning. The breakfast looked good (buffet style) and we opted to have it charged to the room- without asking the price. The breakfast buffet ended up costing us 50 euros and while it was good, it wasn’t that good. While we were annoyed, we chalked it up to the experience and boarded our flight back to the US with full bellies, and great stories.
So there you have it, our New Year’s Eve in Munich- a little addition to our week in Portugal and Spain. While it was short, it was a great experience, especially because it was just a layover on another amazing trip.
So while we might still prefer flying direct for short (7 or less days) international trips, we will never pass up a layover this good! What do you think? Would you book a purposeful layover on a trip?