InterRail #14: Majestic Munich (I mog di!)
Having left Verona bright and early, where the sun was out and shining, we pulled into Munich Hbf at just gone 2pm where the skies were thick with grey clouds. After dropping off our things in the hotel we set off for an afternoon in the nearby city of Augsburg, which you can read about here. The following day we set off with the aim of exploring Munich, the majestic capital of the southern German state of Bayern. A few summers ago, I was lucky enough to spend four weeks in the city attending a language course at the University, with the mornings spent in lessons and the afternoons out exploring the city with fellow students. Munich was ridiculously hot that summer, with temperatures hitting forty degrees and a lot of time was spent hopping from one patch of shade to another, dodging the baking sunshine and of course, topping up the liquids in the various Brauereien (Breweries). This time, however was a very, very different experience. Unfortunately the weather had not improved since the previous day, and on exiting the hotel we were greeted by rain and cold winds. We made a beeline for department store Kaufhof, across from Karlsplatz (Stachus) where we tucked into a welcome continental breakfast, which made a pleasant change from the sugar and calorie packed pastries we had feasted on in Italy.
After a very German breakfast of bread rolls with salami and other various toppings, we ventured out into the cold and made our way through Karlstor, one of the old town gates, and entered the Old Town. We headed along Neuhauser Strasse, past the Bürgersaalkirche and the Richard Strauss Brunnen and on to the mighty Marienplatz. There were plenty of people out and about taking the opportunity to window-shop, sight-see or just soaking up the atmosphere of the old town. Having resisted the temptation of a Dirndl during my previous trip, I decided that for the sake of ‘when in Munich’ it was time to, at least try one on, so we headed into the discount store on Neuhauser Strasse and began the search.
For anyone who isn’t quite as clued up on the German traditional dress, or Tracht, includes the Dirndl, a kind of dress with apron, for women, and Lederhosen, leather trousers, for men. In earlier times, each of these ‘tracht’ signalled which particular social groups an individual belonged to, which legal status they held (married, single), and also their origin or trade. Nowadays, the term purely refers to any garment similar to those of rural communities.
After a successful Dirndl search, we left the shop and made our way down the street to Marienplatz, the location of the cities old and new town hall, passing the famous Frauenkirche on the way.
We finally made it to Marienplatz, which was, as always, packed out with people, not helped by the construction work going on in the square. Not many of my pictures from this visit did the beautiful building justice, so here are a few pictures from my previous trip.
From Marienplatz we made our way to the world-famous Hofbräuhaus, which I had failed to see the last time around. As expected the place was full not only with those drinking but with tourists of every nationality parading through the building on their guided tours. Luckily we soon found some seats and after a lengthy wait we ordered drinks and an early lunch. It was certainly a busy place and seemed to typify all that was Bavarian, the waitresses in their Dirndls, many of the locals in Lederhosen or with their felt hats, decorated with feathers. There was even a band playing to add to the atmosphere. The menus were colourful and described some of the history of the building, its artwork and some staggering statistics, including the fact that the Hofbräuhaus could accommodate up to 3500 guests.
Leaving the crowds behind we walked out of the centre going past the Residenz, the Hofgarten and then along Ludwigstrasse to Geschwister Scholl Platz and the university.
This was the University where the activists belonging to the White Rose group of political activists strove to resist the Nazi party and eventually paid for their protests with their lives. As part of the memorial to these students tiles representing images of some of the political resistance leaflets were embedded in amongst the paving slabs just outside of the university itself.
From the university we made our way to the vast Englischer Garten for a stroll around. Despite the cold, there was still a scattering of visitors throughout the park, watching the world going by on a park bench or enjoying a beer by the Chinesischer Turm. After a rather short walk about, we decided that it wasn’t getting any warmer and therefore it was time to make our way back to the hotel and look for somewhere which would provide us with our dinner.
A combination of the cold, spring weather and the short amount of time that we had to explore the city, meant that we weren’t able to visit everything that the city has to offer. Speaking from my previous experience, Munich definitely has something to offer every taste and interest, a generous handful of museums and galleries, shops, tourist sights and places to eat. With a bit more time to spare it’s even possible to border hop across to Salzburg in Austria or visit the fairytale castles of King Ludwig II.