ON OUR RECENT TRIP to Munich, my husband and I had one agenda — to experience the age-old traditions of Bavaria in Southern Germany. Food and drinks took high priority, along with visiting the heritage sites. Opting to stay close to the heart of Munich (near Marienplatz) — where all the action happens — paid off for us. From royal palace to gothic churches to local food market to beer houses, all was within walking distance of Marienplatz.


At Marienplatz, we couldn’t help but admire the intricate gothic architecture of New Town Hall, also known as Rathaus. In particular we were intrigued by this clock chime in the background which is a famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel re-enacting two different stories from 16th century Bavarian history.


The best view of Marienplatz we saw was from on top of St. Peter’s Church which also gives 360 degree views of the city. In the same frame, you can see New Town Hall (Rathaus), Old Town Hall and Frauenkirche with its two domes soaring in the sky.


There are half a dozen Gothic churches within a few hundred meters of Marientplatz. Frauenkirche, Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) and Asamkirche (Asam's Church) are some of the famous ones but Heiliggeistkirche, a lesser known church pictured here, turned out to be our favorite. This Gothic church had the most interesting pastel palette in its interiors, unlike any we had ever seen. Right outside this church is the local food market called Viktualienmarkt.


Walking on the streets of old town Munich had a unique charm; the German spires are so distinct. Don't forget to look behind you, sometimes the most beautiful streets are the ones you just walked past.


We continued our heritage tour by visiting Munich Residenz which was a former royal Palace of Bavarian Kingdom. The best part was that it is only 5 minutes' walk from Marientplatz. The baroque galleries, Hall of Antiquities (which is pictured here) and the sparkly treasury in this palace took us back in time.


Nymphenburg Palace was next on our list to continue exploring history of Bavaria (Southern Germany). The Palace was about 30 mins away from Marienplatz, but an easy train/tram ride. This summer residence of Bavarian rulers truly welcomed us in style with a bevy of swans at the entrance. King Ludwig II of Bavaria was born at this palace.


There are several elaborate rooms in Nymphenberg palace, but our favorite was a central hall full of crystal chandeliers. There was plenty of sunlight beaming into this hall to sparkle up the chandeliers.


We took one day to explore the countryside and see the best-preserved castles of the Bavarian kingdom. We pulled over on our way when we saw this fairytale sight of Neuschwanstein Castle from the village of Schwangau. Who can resist walking in these flower fields leading to a castle on the hill?


It took us almost 2 hours to get to Neuschwanstein Castle, also known as the Swan Castle, built as his residence by King Ludwig II. We took a tour of the castle to learn more about its history. The view of the castle in this photo is from Marienbrucke, which is definitely worth the extra hike for such postcard views.


Next door was another castle called Hohenschwangau, which was built first in the area by King Ludwig's father. We took a tour here as well and loved the interiors of this castle better as it had been inhabited more than Neuschwanstein. In this photo. you see Hohenschwangau Castle surrounded by Austrian Alps -- from the balcony of Neuschwanstein.


Just a 5-min walk from the ticket counter of these castles was Lake Alpsee at the foothills of Austrian Alps. We used our time in between castle tours to take a boat ride on this lake.


Before returning back to Munich, we decided to stop in this small town only 10 mins drive from Neuschwanstein. This cozy little town of Fussen was a great choice for dinner and to experience German culture in remote areas.


Finally, we were back at Munich experiencing life like a local - having beer in the English Garden pictured here. Germans take pride in their heritage, and making high quality beer is a tradition that dates back thousands of years in history of Germany. The best way to drink in beer gardens is by sharing an outdoor table with strangers on a sunny day.


We ended our trip with beer off the tap at Hofbrauhaus. It was quite refreshing to drink freshly brewed beer without any hops in Germany. Drinking beer, munching on pretzel, and enjoying German folk music -- all good things came to an end in the best possible way.