Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Munich: A City Saved by Beer || Travel Diary

(Travel Day 31)

May 30 (Day 1)
We walked from the Wombats Hostel drop-off point to our accommodation at Hotel Monaco. As soon as we closed the door to our room we both burst out laughing. Our peculiar reaction was due to the entire hallway and room being decorated with doilies, cherubs and gingham print etc. It looked like someone took a nice idea from pinterest or their grandmothers house, and then went completely over-board with it.  A bit over the top for our liking, but hilarious all the same.
We got changed and went out for Mick's birthday dinner at Augustiner Bierhall. I had roast pork with dumplings, which was good but salty (as it always seems to be in Germanic countries). All washed down with two 1 Litre steins of beer, and pretzels to soak it all up. This was followed by a traditional Apfel struddel for dessert. 


The A team!

Dancing in the water features, as you do...

We all had a really good night, but because we were seated in the restaurant rather than the beer hall, there was less atmosphere than expected. Walking back through the beer hall was where all the sing-song and dance was happening. It was good to know for the next time. A good night had by all. 
We finished the night with shots
May 31 (Day 2)
Since travelling around Europe, we have become big fans of the SANDEMAN's free walking tours. They are always at a good pace, show you details and information you wouldn't find in a travel book and keep you fresh and interested with a bit of humour. Our tour in Munich was no exception to this rule. 

The meet-up point for the tour was a little chaotic as it is in Marienplatze square. This can make it difficult to find friends and tour groups because it is right next to the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, and the tour just happens to start as the clock starts its display, which is also when the square happens to become full with tourists.  

To be honest, I found the display itself rather under whelming (video) and had a good laugh at all the tourists with their cameras fixed on the little moving figures. 

Our guide was "India" and she had plenty of interesting stories about Munich's history and how it has always revolved around beer.

The monks; who originally brewed the beer, were where Munich got its name from. "Munchen, meaning "by the monks" turned into "Munich". 
Munich's city emblem is a monk.

Beer is so important  to Munich, it is said to have "saved" the city from annihilation. By using Hofbräuhaus beer to placate and bargain with the king of Sweden to prevent the city being sacked. 

A church also experienced a "beer miracle" when an intoxicated man climbed to the spire, dropped his stein from the very top and the miracle of the stein remaining intact.

We learnt of the origins of the Nazi party and its connection with the Hofbräuhaus. When we went inside you could make out the old Swastikas painted on the ceiling, which are now painted over and disguised, but you can still make them out at the base of the light fixtures.  

We also learnt about Ludwig 1 & 2, people peeing under tables, Dirndls and Lederhosen, ceilings that are curved like a barrel, Plague dancers, and May poles.
A traditional May pole
We even took a quick trip though St. Peter's Church before finishing up by learning about a building that was almost saved by beer but the locals ended up drinking it on the way, before the fire could be extinguished. As always, the guide kept the group interested and wanting more.
St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church

After all that walking, talking and information, we had a relaxing night-in. With kebabs for dinner and not surprisingly, more beer.

June 1 (Day 3)
We went on a tour around Dachau concentration camp. Dachau is a beautiful ancient city and was here long before the concentration camp was built. Our guide was Gordon (the owner of the tour company). We had beautiful weather even though storms were predicted. Gordon shared stories of the prisoners, the soldiers, and the local Germans who were caught in the middle. Some of his stories he had heard first hand through survivors and their families. With such grim and depressing source material he managed to make the tour very interesting and surprisingly less depressing than expected, almost uplifting at times. He emphasised the determination of the survivors, the people who fought to right the wrongs and ensure that nothing like this will happen again.
The entrance gate. "Arbeit macht frei" is a German phrase meaning "work sets you free."

Concentration camps around Europe during the war

A disturbing sculpture within the camp

Historical photographs of the living conditions.

The modern day grounds

"Do Not Forget"

We finished our time in Munich with drinks and pretzels in the famous Hofbräuhaus. We sat at a table near the entrance which meant lots new, cool people kept on joining our table.
Making friends
More friends!
We ended up staying there for HOURS!

The next morning he headed towards Wildschonau, Austria.

...Skip forward a few weeks...

We arrived back in Munich after touring Italy and Switzerland. As the way our Busabout tour worked out, we needed to go back through Munich again to get to our next destination. So I will include what we got up to here.

We had one last night in Munich, which meant we didn't have a lot of time to work with. So we walked around the Englischer Garten (English Garden), which had a lot of beautiful open spaces surrounded by a river (which had man-made rapids people can surf on)
Englischer Garten
Englischer Garten
I don't normally photograph bins but this one was a solar powered rubbish compactor. Cool!

The river surrounding the gardens

One last stein at the beer garden before saying Auf Wiedersehen to Munich.

Quick Summary (TL;DR)

Duration of stay: 3 nights (+1 night later in our trip)
Was it enough time?:Yes, we feel like we experienced a good amount of what Munich has to offer.
Where we stayed: Hotel Monaco 
Time of Year: May/June
Best memories: SANDEMAN's walking tour and drink steins at Hofbräuhaus.
Worst memories: Not necessarily the worst thing, but being under-whelmed by the Glockenspiel was disappointing.
Top tip: Eat, drink and be merry. If you are travelling and want to make friends, sit next to the door at a beer hall and welcome people to your table. It worked for us.
Next time: I would like to go to Oktoberfest
Munich in a few words: Beer, Nazis, Social
Recommended?: Yes, Munich definitely has it's charms but Berlin is still my favourite German city, Munich is a close second though.
Overall experience: 8/10
Next destination: Wildschonau, Austria.

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