I'd been wanting to head up to Freising ever since I heard of Weihenstephan, but at just under 40 km outside town in the wrong direction (my internal compass points south to the mountains and Freising is directly north of Munich), I never found the right opportunity. Until last weekend. After a week of bad weather, I was starting to feel a little stir-crazy. So when the forecast told me that there would be a several hour gap in the rain on Saturday afternoon, I called up Emily and suggested we hop on our bikes and ride the Isar trail out to Freising. Emily, being a like-minded soul, of course did not take much convincing, and off we went.
This particular day trip is now on my list of highlights for activities to do with visitors. First, it's a pleasant, flat, two to three hour bike ride along the Isar river. In my opinion, just the right length for a leisurely afternoon bike ride. The Isar trail is wide and gravelly for the most part, running parallel to the river as it wends its way north. On a day such as ours, after several days of rain, the path can be muddy and wet, but it's still navigable on a sturdy city bike (you don't need a mountain bike, though you might want one, if just because it has mud guards). The Isar trail is accessible from the center of Munich, and as soon as you hit the trail, you leave the urban world behind and set out into the Bavarian countryside.
We lucked out on Saturday, because not only was there a gap in the rain, but the sun came out and air warmed and it turned into a pleasant afternoon to spend at the beer garden. So after rolling into Freising, splattered from head to toe with mud, we headed straight to the Weihenstephan Brauerei to quench our thirst with some excellent beer made with centuries of beer brewing know-how (we tried the Doppelbock and Weissbier - both excellent). Then, of course, before we knew it, day was fading into evening, and well, we might as well get something to eat too... good decision. The food at Weihenstephan is excellent. I went with their homemade cheese-stuffed spiced sausages and potato salad, and Emily had a Rösti made with seasonal, fresh vegetables. We were both suitably impressed and proceeded to have a lengthy discussion about how German cuisine is underrated in the international food scene and can be really, really good. These types of places in particular - countryside hotels and brew houses - exemplify what is best in German cooking: simplicity, fresh ingredients, homemade from-scratch techniques, tradition, but also a willingness to experiment and perfect old recipes, and professionally-honed skills in the kitchen.
There's one last reason to take a day trip out to Freising, and that is the city itself. For basically being a suburb of Munich, Freising is a charming town with winding cobblestone streets, a medieval town center, cathedral, and of course the monastery and brewery. One of the oldest towns in Bavaria, and a center of religious importance during the Middle Ages (and still today), it is also a place of historical interest. Pope Benedict the XVI even used to be Archbishop of Freising.
And lest you think you have to ride your bike back another two to three hours after imbibing too much beer, I have good news for you: the Sbahn runs to Freising. So you can carefully pedal back down the hill to the train station in Freising, and ride the S1 back into town (don't forget to buy the ticket supplement to take your bike on the Sbahn, and look for the train cars that are designated for bikes).