My mother and I took the train from Zürich to Munich. The ride was not too bad, only five hours. It was nice to be able to watch the scenery go by and not have to worry about anything. When we got off the train we followed the signs for taxis until suddenly, the sign disappeared. We were completely lost. A man heard us talking about what to do and he told us to follow him and he walked us all the way to the taxi stand. It was a bumpy start but a good one too. We got to our hotel, Hotel Platzl. This hotel was in the perfect location. It was walking distance from almost everything. After we got ourselves situated, we decided that we would take a walk around. My mom had been to Munich a long time ago and had some ideas of where she wanted to go. We walked to the Marienplatz. This is the main square in Munich. There are shops and cafes, but it also has the Glockenspiel. The Glockenspiel is from the 16th century. It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. The top half tells the story of the marriage of Duke Wilhem V to Renata of Lorraine. There is a joust and not to give anything away but the same knight always wins. Then on the bottom half is a representation of the coopers’ dance. This can be seen at 11am, 12pm and 5pm.
After we watched the Glockenspiel we decided that we were hungry and my mom knew of a place she wanted to go, called the hofbrauhaus. This place became one of my favorite places in Munich. As soon as you walk in you can feel the life of the place. The energy hits you like a strong wind. There is music playing, people talking and the largest beers I have ever seen. Something that I really liked about this place were the tables. They were really long picnic type tables. You can sit where ever you want and you have sit with other people. We sat down at a table with four other people and I was finally able to order myself a gigantic beer! We also got food. My mom and I, drank, ate and were having a fantastic time.
In the middle of our dinner two more people joined our table. They started talking to each other and I immediately knew the language, it was Russian. I can pick up that language so well because of the many calls I have been present for between my best friend and her mom. So, I asked them where they were from and we started talking. They were very friendly and nice. The four people we originally sat with noticed that we were talking with the women from Russia and started talking to us as well. These four were from Mexico. The sweetest people I have ever met. The first thing they said to me after they found out I was American was, “No Wall.” I said I know! We do not want the wall either. We talked for a while longer about this and that, until the girl from the group stopped and said you know they are good Mexicans, right? I felt my heart-break. I know they are good Mexicans, it was so sad she had to defend her countrymen from someone who is making wild accusations.
The Russian women finished their dinner and beer and said goodbye. They were quickly replaced by two Bavarian men, in full lederhosen. They were both pretty drunk. One of the men who sat next to my mom turned his head and the long feather on his hat almost hit my mom in the face. She went to knock it out of the way. That was a mistake. The man who sat next to me, lost it. He yelled at my mom saying, you never touch a Bavarian man’s hat! It was disrespectful and he yelled on. Surprisingly, after that interaction we got along and talked with them for a while as well. The man next to my mom was hammered at this point and started playing the spoons and didn’t speak anymore. The man who sat next to me talked and talked. He bought us a shot and we had a really pleasant conversation. Before he left, he took off his hat and gave me a pin with the Bavarian crest on it. I was really moved because if it is coming from the hat it must be important. I took it and shortly after they left so did we.
The next day we went on an excursion to Ludwig’s castles, but that will be its own piece.
The day after that was the day my brother was arriving. He wasn’t arriving until the afternoon so we had some time to tour. Something that is famous in Munich are their markets. There was a big market called Viktualienmarket, ten-minute walking distance from our hotel. We walked around and saw the local produce and crafts. In the center of the market was a large beer garden, with the long picnic tables and new I would have to come back here. I looked at my brother’s flight status and he was an hour delayed. This meant more touring. My mom and I ended up getting a little bit lost but it was a blessing in disguise. We got to see so many things as we were trying to find our way to Maximillian street, which is the big shopping street in Munich. However, it got to the point where we needed to go back to the hotel to wait for my brother and I ended up having to use maps on my phone. It turned out that we were two blocks away from Maximillian street and it was the street we needed to take in order to get back to the hotel. Perfect!
We met my brother in the hotel and made him go out and see the city right away. He is not much of a traveler, but it was my goal to make him one on this trip. I do not think I succeeded. I took him back to the market so that I could go to the beer garden. He was not thrilled with the idea but I was going to make him see it. We sat there for a while, met some new people, then we decided to walk around some more. We took him to the Marienplatz, saw the Glockenspiel again and then ate dinner at the Ratskeller.
The next day was another excursion, which will also be its own post.
Our final day in Munich was an exciting one for me. One of my friends from college, who is from Germany, was coming for the day to visit! We met her yet again in the Marienplatz and from there we went to the English Gardens. I had been wanting to see them since I had gotten to Munich. The gardens are huge! However, there were two very specific things that I wanted to see in them. First, the surfers and secondly, another beer garden.
There are little rivers that run through the gardens and in some of them they have man-made surfing areas, which I was determined to find. After Nastja asked a few people where to go, we were able to find a surfing spot, called Eisbach. I was so excited and I could have watched them for hours. The river could not have been more than 20ft wide, with a little wave. There were two lines of surfers, one on each side of the river. The surfers would take turns, going one at a time and only taking about one minute max, going back and forth. If a surfer did a cool trick, the surfers on the shore would hit their boards. I have never seen anything so respectful. No one stayed longer than they should, even if they were still standing and no one went out of turn. It was amazing. No wonder they have the stereotype of being efficient.
After staring at the suffers for 15 minutes, we decided to go find a beer garden. There are three beer gardens in the English Gardens but I heard that the best one was called the Chinese Tower, so we went there. It is called the Chinese Tower because there is a big tower with Chinese architecture. Who would have guessed? There are food stations where you can get all different of types of German food and best of all, the beer station. I got Kasespatzl, which is the German style mac and cheese. It was very good. We ate and talked but then it was time to walk back because Nastja had to go home.
On our way back we got to see more of the gardens. The nature is lovely, but it can be obstructed by people’s nakedness. Well mostly naked old men. Nudity is very much allowed so be prepared. There are also swimming areas and many other activities one could do in the gardens. I said goodbye to Nastja and to Munich as well, because we were leaving for Prague the next morning.