Munich, or München as the Germans say, was our first taste of the famous Bavaria (Bayern for Germans!) region, known for its traditional culture and lots & lots of pretzels and beer! It was technically the weekend before last, but with work starting for Corey and Jon’s week in Belfast, we’ve been a little too busy to blog until now.
The first night we visited Munich’s oldest brewery, Augustiner Brauhaus, to have local beer from a massive beer mug and converse with some friendly local Germans (who, for the record, had at least 4 litres to our 1…). The outside bier garten with seats for 5,000 serves beer from wooden barrels along with a selection of tasty German food. It was a great way to start our time in Munich!
For the first day, I was a solo explorer again as Jon was in a few work meetings. I began as touristy as possible in Marienplatz, the heart of the city overflowing with bier hauses, shopping, outside cafes and tourists. Upon entering the square, it’s immediately clear that the Neues Rathaus, or New Town Hall, is the prime attraction of this area. One moment I’m walking along a strictly pedestrian street with Zara on one side and the classy (but nicely flowered) men’s department store Hirmer on the other, and then BOOM there is one of the most intricate Gothic structures I’ve ever seen. There were hoards of tourists standing there open mouthed at the impressive building with one of the biggest Glockenspiel’s (sort of a life-size cuckoo clock) on the front. I made it through the tourists and paid 2 Euros to take the elevator to the top of the building’s tower, where on clear days they say you can see as far as the Alps. I was able to get some great shots (becoming quite a pro with Jon’s camera & multiple lenses) of the square below and the English Garten to the north.
Down one church, up another. I walked across the square a bit to reach St. Peter’s Church, which has been the sacred religious site since 8th century monks lived there. This one had no elevator, just 299 creaky and windy steps. The view of the New Town Hall was beautiful from above, and I was impressed until I gathered the courage to push open the heavy church doors and saw the interior. Wow. No words, just a photo and a lingering memory of the full 310 AD skeleton of Saint Munditia Patron Saint of Spinsters.
After my little church tour, I took a well-deserved rest and lunch at Viktualienmarkt, a gourmet food and farmer’s market that puts our cute Düsseldorf Carlsplatz market to shame. Packed with sausage, cheese, fresh caught fish, juices, herbs, flowers, wood trinkets, fruits, veggies and of course, beer, I tried to sample as much as possible. The afternoon was spent at the Englischer Garten, considered the largest public garden in the world – bigger than Central Park. It was packed with tourists, the most around the ‘wave’, watching surfers in wetsuits brave the shallow water to show off their moves. On the way back, I wandered through the city’s Hofgarten with an impressive pavilion in the center. Inside the pavilion there was a man playing beautiful classical music on a Grand Piano.
The next day we headed out to the BMW Museum – about a 15 minute cab ride from the city – and explored the hundreds of cars, and even boat, featured. We loved the crazy cars from the current special exhibit – MINI from Britain. After, we walked around Olympic Park, site of the 1972 Munich Olympics, where a small carnival was being held. The park was in serious disrepair and our cab driver had grumbled about it being used for nothing ever since the Olympics. Made us pretty glad Boston passed it up! Our stay in Munich wouldn’t be complete without another visit to a bier haus, so we closed out our trip having some beer and pretzels. 🙂