Wilkommen Munchen! It’s our second day in Munich, first day of feeling rested. We toughed it out yesterday to avoid feeling jet lagged for the entirety of our trip and, I must say, we were quite successful and maintained the usual manic level of activity normally reserved for the first and last days of any highly anticipated trip. Our pension (Pension Jakobsplatz) is wonderful. Christophe the owner checked us in bright and early yesterday before giving us a rundown of the immediate area as well as recommending some great spots for eats later on. We ventured out – sans shower, hello 8 hour plane-ride stench – to take advantage of a Sunday i.e. 1 euro entrance fees to the museums. Luckily for Adam we decided to visit only one – the Nueue Pinakothek – which holds a wonderful collection of paintings from various artists and had a special gallery full of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet and Renoir. I was so excited to see Van Gogh so early on in the trip and we found that we preferred Van Gogh’s paintings, which are aggressive and passionate in the way the paint is so thickly and chaotically applied, to Monet with his softer touch. Fearing the same treatment we received by the museum staff in Florence we did not try to sneak a camera in, but as we saw a lot of others taking no-flash pictures right in front of the museum attendants we kind of wished we had!
Not wanting to fall asleep on the nice park benches outside of the museum (believe me, we were close) we decided to trek out to Olympic Park where the 1972 Olympic games were held. Here we saw tons of people seeing the sights, rollerblading, playing putt putt and watching the swans in the lake (I swear it wasn’t just me). We had heard from a friend that the Turm (tower) offered a great view so we took the crazy fast elevator to the top to see what we could see…and yes, it was amazing. The Alps are the only backdrop to Munich and we were lucky enough to be at the top right as the sun was starting to set and offered wonderful views to top off an otherwise overcast and cloudy day. After we had had our full we wandered back and made a last minute decision to go to the Englischer Gartens, a HUGE open space somewhat similar to Central Park (but they serve biers and have a designated “nudist meadow”). Feeling disoriented we wandered into said meadow….just kidding, had to see if you were still paying attention. Anyhoo, we walked to the famed Chinesescher Turm (Chinese Tower) and Biergarten and enjoyed a huge 1 litre Radler (a delicious local lager with lemonade!). We also had the world’s biggest pretzel sans mustard (I told you we were disoriented) and enjoyed the live music and people watching.
For our first German dinner we went to the Frauenhoffer, a Bavarian spot for locals according to our wonderful host Christophe. Right he was, but between a minimal English speaking waitress, roughly translated menu and Mandy’s “sprechen kein Deutsche” we had a great dinner of Nuremburg style sausages, potatoes, delicious sauerkraut (YUM!) and a simple broth soup. We both thought the food was so warming, but not just by way of temperature. Perhaps it had to do with our last few meals consisting of airport food, cold sandwiches, and jet lag but this food truly warmed you straight through – honest and simple.
Today we felt much more rested and, after a quick breakfast and chat with Christophe, we headed out again to see the sights. We waited in eager anticipation of the famous Glockenspiele (along with every other tourist), checked out some shopping, and took some great photos of the neighborhoods in Munich. I quickly realized that while lampposts may have been my inadvertent theme of Italy, dead trees seemed to be framing all of my photos here, thankfully Adam reworded that ever so artistically dubbing my new theme “resting trees” (as in, they aren’t dead, they are resting…could’ve summed up how we looked yesterday). We grabbed a quick sandwich from the local cafeteria and meandered back to the gardens. Here we happened upon a group of surfers in the middle of Munich. Apparently at the start of the river that goes through the Englischer Gardens there is a concrete barrier that creates crazy waves and surfers – very experienced ones mind you – are allowed to surf one at a time. There must have been six or seven total due to the unseasonably warm weather (Thank you thank you thank you!) all taking turns trying to do ridiculous tricks on a river sided with rock and concrete. Definitely my version of an extreme sport! We kept up our walking which led us, magically I guess, back to the biergarten where we enjoyed some more people watching and drinks. We saw some awesome hairstyles and fashion (read: mullets and cut off studded jean jackets complete with fumanchu) and tried out my horrible German skills on an unsuspecting couple who took a minute to even realize that someone was talking to them. Ah well.
Thoroughly sunned out we headed back to our neck of the woods by way of the U-bahn, another awesome example of how great public transport can be. After a quick freshen up we checked out an Afghani restaurant directly below the hotel. Adam’s parents visited this restaurant when they were in Munich and loved it so we had to try it out also. The food was really delicious and flavorful, having never had Afghani food before we weren’t sure of what to expect but were not disappointed. Not feeling quite ready for bed yet we headed back out to see the tourist trap that is the Hofbrauhaus – actually a pretty awesome building and story considering that it was the first brewery in the city of Munich after a man with influence got sick and tired of having to import his beer back in the late 1500’s. The building is a solid city block wide and walking in at night is actually pretty intimidating as you are greeted by a huge dining hall full of benches, people, and noise. Oh the noise of this place! After walking around for a bit we finally spotted a bench that had an available spot and snagged it. Happily we were soon joined by two Germans who were in Munich on business. They were great company and we shared some laughs and beers while listening to a crazy man laugh like a hyena and the Lederhosen-clad band strike up some tunes (which, sadly, did NOT drown out the hyena man).
That brings us up to about now where we realize that we’ve spent more money on beer than food and more time out walking than inside (both good things in our books!).
Tomorrow our rough plan is to visit Dachau, a WWII concentration camp, and enjoy our last day in Munich before heading to Prague.