Month: September 2020

More Parks… and a Visitor!

Autumn in Munich continues to be warm and sunny, so we’ve been taking advantage to get out and about. Last weekend we caught the bus to Nymphenburg Palace, the main summer residence for the former rulers of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach. The palace itself is bigger than Versailles, and you approach alongside canals that flow into a large reflecting pond with a fountain.

The day was so beautiful, we didn’t even bother to go inside! We’ll save the interior for the winter. The park attached to the palace is enormous, and consists of both a formal French garden as well as an “English-style” wilderness (like the Englischer Garten). It was lovely to explore the shady tree-lined paths!

Rodd at Nymphenburg

We saw quite a bit of wildlife! There were plenty of ducks and geese, of course, but we also spotted large fish in the two lakes. We were also stunned to come across a small deer grazing. It seemed remarkably unfazed by people…

We made the looooong hike to the far end of the park. I had been looking forward to seeing the Grand Cascade in action, but unfortunately it was dry! Not sure why that was. Still, we had fun sitting on a bench near Athena and enjoying a snack. You can see all the way back to the palace if you squint.

Grand Cascade - dry

The park had several “pavilions” – miniature palaces that served as hunting lodges and tea rooms and bathing houses. Mythological figures featured heavily in the decorations, and we had fun trying to identify each of them. The Apollotemple stands opposite the Badenburg, and we wandered around the lake to visit both.


We were delighted at one point to find a small cataract, complete with Pan playing a flute and a goat lounging nearby…

Pan’s Glade

As we completed our giant circular tour of the park, we ended up back at the formal French gardens near the palace. The statues were gorgeous against the blue sky and the flowers in bloom.


Us at Nymphenburg

I even spotted Dionysus… 😂🍷


On the way home, we walked to another well-regarded ice cream shop: Patagon Helados. This was Argentinian ice cream – never had that before! It was delicious… 🍦

Patagonian ice cream

Fast forward a week, and we had our first visitor – Rodd’s old uni buddy Scott! Scott’s lived in Germany for many years now, but had only spent limited time in Bavaria. We gave him a tour and took him out to dinner at the local Wirtshaus Friday night.

Rodd and Scott

Since Scott had a car with him, we decided on Saturday to go somewhere a bit farther afield. We headed to Oberschleissheim to the Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim, an aircraft museum at a historic airfield. It was about half an hour’s drive from our house, and when we got their at lunchtime, we spotted a sign pointing to a “Biergarten am Flugplatz.” We headed off on foot down the indicated road, wondering the whole time where the heck we were going to end up. Fifteen minutes later, we popped out at an amazing little beer garden literally next to the runway, complete with a live oompah band. We had sausages and beer and watched as gliders were yanked into the sky with a mechanical winch (like giant kites). It was SO FUN and surreal at the same time.

Biergarten am Flugplatz

We also toured the museum itself, which had like 70 airplanes from the dawn of aviation up to the present day.

Today for our last day we headed to the Westpark, since the Snook and I had only previously explored half of it. We crossed Garmischer Strasse and headed to the far western section. The park was full of people having picnics, riding bikes, grilling sausages, and just enjoying life. We enjoyed seeing the four Asian gardens remaining from the International Garden Expo in 1983, including this gorgeous Thai-Sala.


We brought a picnic ourselves and enjoyed it in the park’s biergarten overlooking the lake. The Snook was intrigued by the stall selling fish cooked on sticks over charcoal, and I reckon at some point he’ll actually try it!

We then wandered home, enjoying the warm sun and the beautiful flowers. I don’t know how many more of these weekends we’ll have left, but it was lovely to get to spend it with an old friend!




Settling in

This past Tuesday we packed up all our stuff from the AirBnB in Maxvorstadt and piled into a taxi van to Theriesenhöhe. Later that night, finally emptying our suitcases, I was suddenly hit by a wave of sadness. It didn’t feel like vacation anymore.

Thankfully a good night’s sleep helped, and we have been slowly settling in over the past few days. We really like the neighbourhood. Theriesenhöhe is to the west of the Altstadt, about 1.6mi (2.7km) from the city center. We are walking distance to two different built-up areas with shops and cafes (Schwanthalerhöhe and Ludwigvorstadt), but our particular bit is quite residential. There’s decent public transport (buses and U-Bahn stations), and as we learned last week, there are also several lovely parks close by too.

Our building

Our building is part of a fairly new complex, and we have a large apartment over two floors. (It’s bigger than our house was in Australia!) We were won over by the space – with a big kitchen and two guest rooms that we can use as offices – as well as the outdoor area. It’s also furnished, which saved us the trouble of having to go out and get furniture.

Note: the photos that follow are a mix of my own and ones from the real estate website, because the ones there were really good!


That’s the view as you come in. Instead of central heating, it’s got heated floors throughout. No air conditioning though – it seems that’s really uncommon in Germany. There’s a bathroom to the left and a guest room on the right, destined to be the Snook’s office once our stuff arrives on the boat. (We’re figuring out how to disassemble the bed so that we can easily put it back together when guests visit.)

A lot of the places we looked at had tiny kitchens. I guess maybe people don’t cook as much as we do? This one has a full-sized fridge/freezer. Only a ceramic hob though… (We’re already missing our induction.)


The styling isn’t super to my taste – there is a lot of wood happening here, and what’s with the red LED light fixture? – but it’s growing on me. We’ve been eating breakfast at the bar, which is fun. Today we had a surprise delivery of a bouquet of flowers from my friend Kelly (who is looking after Petey back in Sydney), and aren’t they so pretty?? ❤️💐

Dining table

The doors off the living room open up onto a small patio with some outdoor furniture and plants. There’s also a sunken lawn with some benches. Beyond that is a lane with a steady stream of pedestrians, runners, and cyclists going between the various parks. We were thinking it would be nice to get some bamboo to screen off the patio and create some privacy, but it would also ruin our lovely view. 🤔

Today we decided we needed to rearrange the living room slightly to maximise TV-watching comfort. That said, we’re a little worried that our big TV (which is on the boat from Sydney) is going to be a tight fit in that stand when it arrives!

Living Room

When we were deciding which apartment to get, I sent the real estate link to my friend Hannah who replied: “I love how all these places have winding staircases. It’s like the fanciest thing I ever imagined having in a house AND YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE IT!!” 😂 The rest of the rooms are upstairs…


So here’s a funny thing we learned about German beds – they’re usually two mattresses pushed together, with two separate duvets! Together they’re actually slightly bigger than our Queen bed back in Australia. I’ve just ordered a mattress topper to add some extra softness and to cover the join in the middle…

There’s another really big guest room that will also double as my office and craft room. (The sofa folds down into a bed.)

We’ve also got a big master bathroom with a large tub and a shower, and a small laundry room.

Oh! And I forgot the best part of all… NO TOILET SHELVES! 😂

It’ll be really nice once the rest of our stuff gets here and we can start to personalise it a little more. Hopefully next year people will be able to travel again, and some of you can come experience it in person. ❤️

Exploring Munich’s Parks

So it turns out that we don’t get the keys to our new apartment until tomorrow, which meant we didn’t need the weekend for moving house after all. With the sun shining and two days with nothing to do, we headed out to explore some of Munich’s parks.

The Englischer Garten is a massive public park in the middle of Munich, bigger than Central Park in New York. It’s named because it’s in the “English-style” of garden, aka rambling and informal as opposed to rigid and geometric. We walked over from our AirBnB and started at the southernmost end. There were lots of other people enjoying the warm weather, including many folks on bicycles. (I really want a bike!)

One of the popular activities is surfing in the Eisbach. This is a man-made brook off the Isar river, and at one point it comes out from a tunnel and forms a standing wave. Surfers with short boards queue up and literally jump onto it, one at a time, riding for about 20s before they fall or jump off and are carried down the waterway. A large crowd had gathered to watch. We stood for a short time, trying to maintain 1.5m distance, but it was difficult given the small space. Definitely something that would’ve been more fun to cram in and see in non-Covid times!

We wandered down shady paths along the brook, amused to occasionally see a couple daredevils swimming down it. (You’re really not supposed to; people have occasionally drowned.) Eventually it got smaller and split off into streams, with lots of little bridges across it and tiny man-made waterfalls. It was really charming and lovely.


We popped out into the sun at the Chinese Tower. This wooden structure was built in the 18th century but burned down in WW2. It was rebuilt, and now the area around it has a large beer garden. We were tempted but realised that downing lots of beer would very quickly cut our walk short!

Chinese Tower

There was no way we were going to see the entire Garden in one day, so we turned south at this point back towards where we started. At one point, we spotted a bench and sat down to eat some snacks. It didn’t take long to realise we were near the Schönfeldwiese, the famous meadow where nude sunbathing is allowed! FKK TIME, PEOPLE. Actually we only spotted a couple middle-aged dudes, who seemed to be having a nice time. The Snook was not yet tempted, but I suspect perhaps next summer he may change his mind…

We left the garden near where we entered and headed home towards Maxvorstadt. “Man, I wish I had some ice cream,” I hinted. The Snook suddenly remembered that one of his colleagues had mentioned a really excellent ice cream parlour, Ballabeni, that was conveniently on our way home. We could see the queue out the door, but thankfully we only had to wait about 15 minutes. (They were strictly limiting the number of folks inside at any given time.) The Snook got a selection of sorbets, while I enjoyed a few of the ice creams. Lovely way to finish the day!

Sunday was cooler and rainier. Our new apartment is in Theresienhöhe, so we decided to scout out the neighbourhood. We took the underground (which meant we had to figure out how to buy tickets using the MVV app) to Schwanthalerhöhe station and then timed how long it took to walk to the house. Happily it’s under ten minutes! We’re very close to the Deutsches Museum Transport collection as well as Bavaria Park. We walked back to Schwanthalerhöhe to find our nearest grocery store and check out some of the local cafes. (Since it was Sunday most places were closed.) We’re also not far from the Theresienwiese, the giant Showgrounds that would normally be gearing up for Oktoberfest right now. (Sadly, due to Covid it’s not happening this year.) We were worried at first that being this close might be bad, but our residential area is on the other side of where public transport would be dropping people off, so we reckon it’ll probably be okay. I wonder if next year we’ll be able to hear it? The grounds are immense. This photo captures less than half of it…


We then headed over to Westpark, a large park just southwest of our apartment. There’s an elevated pedestrian and bike path to get to it, so you don’t even have to go on the street! (I really want to get a bike.) We walked all around the waterway in the east section of the park. There was a group of older men and some little kids sailing remote control model boats on the Moll-see, which was super cute.


We were getting hungry, so we headed for the Hopfgarten, a large beer garden in the park. To our surprise it was pretty much empty, just us and another couple. However the nice guy at the kiosk was able to supply me with a giant pretzel and the Snook with a plate of schnitzel, so we were pretty happy. I asked the guy why it was so empty, and he said it was just that rain was forecast. The previous day it had been packed! Normally there are even bands playing music here.

We then headed back to Theriesenhöhe to catch a bus back to the English Gardens, where we were meeting up with some locals at the Seehaus beer garden. This was a part of the park we didn’t see on Saturday, and it was a little emptier with the cooler, wetter weather. I could see the Seehaus on the other side of the lake…


We were meeting up with an Australian couple – Rachel and Roy – who I’d randomly been introduced to a month earlier. It was Rachel’s birthday and she kindly invited us to join them along with some of her colleagues and friends. We met Germans, Americans, some more Aussies, an English guy, and a Korean lady. It was a lot of fun, and the Snook finally got to order his first Maß of German beer. (I had one too.) Eventually it started to rain so we headed home, footsore and sleepy from 1.5L of beer each. 😂


What’s really crazy is that we’ve still only seen half of the English Gardens! There’s a whole other giant section we didn’t even touch. I feel so lucky that we’ve got the time to explore these beautiful places in the months ahead…

Deutschland – One Week On…

Hard to believe we’ve already been here for a whole week! It honestly still feels like we’re on vacation. I’m sure reality will set in soon.

That post caused some hilarity on Twitter amongst Aussies who hadn’t heard about “the poo shelf.” I remembered them from my summer in Germany 20+ years ago, but we hadn’t encountered any on our brief stay last year. To my (initial) delight, our AirBnB bathroom features one. Yes, your business is right there if you want to check it out. I’m told it’s great for, you know, spotting potential digestive issues. For now, Rodd and I are still at the “averting one’s eyes” phase. 💩

Anyway, we spent our first weekend isolating in the apartment while waiting for our Covid results. We sat on the balcony when we could, but it was pretty rainy so we mostly vegged on the couch and watched Netflix. We managed to get groceries and beer delivered so we could cook, though the AirBnB kitchen is pretty tiny. We also discovered Lieferando, a delivery service like Uber Eats, and managed to order in some delicious schnitzel.

And then on Sunday… there was a minor emergency. We ate lunch and then were sprawled on the sofa, pretty much exactly as above. At one point, Rodd went to stand up and immediately swore. The floor – pretty much everything you can see in the photo below and MORE – was covered in water. We both jumped into action. I was worried it was the rain coming in the balcony door, but we realised quickly it was actually coming from the kitchen. There was no visible source at all. While Rodd scrambled to find the water shutoff valve, I grabbed every towel in the place and threw them down. I found a bucket in the closet and we began painstakingly sopping up the water with the towels. We worked for more than an hour, and we must’ve emptied that bucket 10 times. We also contacted our host, who messaged back later to apologise and arrange for a plumber the next day. In the end we learned that the kitchen had been recently renovated, right before we arrived, and the fittings for the kitchen hot water weren’t correct. It’s all fine now and nothing was damaged, but man, that day suuuucked. We were both so sore and tired from cleaning it all up. Fun adventure, eh?

After the flood

Thankfully, brighter things were on the horizon. Sunday night we both received our Covid test results, which were thankfully NEGATIVE. The weather also began to clear up, and on Monday we were finally able to go out into our new city. We went for a brief walk around Maxvorstadt, which is where we’re staying. It’s full of students, cafes, shops, and museums. It felt so odd after months of isolation in Sydney to see so many people around, sitting at restaurants and enjoying life. (While only some folks wear masks while walking around, it’s mandatory to wear them when you go into a shop or enclosed place.) We ended up wandering to the nearby Königsplatz, which had a small summer festival set up complete with a Ferris Wheel. I managed to order us a “Käsekrainer” (cheese kransky) and Currywurst, which we ate in a small biergarten. It was lovely to get out into the sunshine.

Biergarten and currywurst

On Tuesday I officially started my new job, and I’ve spent the last few days getting to know my team and working through my Onboarding plan. I am basically wearing two hats: as a manager I’m looking after the AWS Emerging Markets DevRel team, which currently includes Central and Eastern Europe as well as sub-Saharan Africa; and as a developer advocate, I’ll be helping the team covering Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. I did manage to find the AWS office today, but I haven’t been inside yet. Hilariously, none of my team are actually here! They’re all spread out all across Europe. But I’ve met some of the local folks in the marketing and solutions architecture teams, and they’re going to show me around hopefully tomorrow.

AWS Office

The other big news is that we may have found an apartment! We went to check out three of them, and we’ve decided on one. I’ve just sent off all the docs to the letting agency, so fingers crossed we get it and we’re able to move in soon.

Did I mention it has multiple guest rooms? 😉

IT Career Energizer Podcast

Way back in 2018, I got an email from Phil Burgess at the IT Career Energizer Podcast inviting me to come be on his show. I’d only just started my role at AWS and wasn’t sure whether I was allowed to do such things, and frankly I was busy just trying to keep my head above water. So I regretfully declined, but I kept Phil’s email in my inbox, promising I’d get in touch again when the time was right. Two years later, stuck at home during Covid isolation, I reached out to Phil and he graciously extended the invitation again. We recorded this past June, and the episode just went live this week! I hope you enjoy it.

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