Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 14-Munchen

Our day started bright and early as we figured that early morning was a the perfect time to explore Munche's famous open-air market, Viktaulienmarkt (and we might not have been willing to pay for the pricey B&B breakfast). Open air markets are one of my favorite European features. I love the vitality, the wide range of products (they had the cutest miniature fruits), and the small feeling that you're on a treasure hunt. Of course we had to try every type of pesto--and that may have become part of our breakfast, along with a bag of cherries, and eventually a crossiant.

I loved the mini fruits. Isn't that baby pineapple adorable?

Munchen City Museum
It gave a wonderful overview of the city's 850 year history--it's beginning as a salt town, it's home of the counter-reformation against Luther, to eventually rise as the capital of Bavaria. Though the thing that stood with me the most was that the German's have a strange sense of humor, and a fascination with puppets and the circus.

Yes, they had a creepy fun-house

There were ROOMS of puppets.

St. Peter's Church
While St. Peter's church may contain the most relics outside Rom-- we were there for the view. It was 306 steps up a narrow winding staircase, but the breathtaking view from the top was worth every bit as it provided one of the best views of ALL of Munchen.

At the top with the New Towne Hall and the famous glockenspeil in the background.


This little man (on top of the New Town Hall) is Munchen's symbol. Munchen actually means "of the monks." It's been the symbol of Munchen since the 1300's and today is found throughout the city--on manholes, signs, and of course buildings.

Looking down onto the Marienplatz, or the city's main square

The odd tower in the background was built for the 1978 Olympic Games
On the walls of St. Peter's were all these old tombstones (actually I found them all over Germany). Over time graves were removed, but famous headstones were kept and placed on the churches wall.

Munchen's central town square is just beautiful--especially since most of these buildings had been demolished during WWII and painstakingly rebuilt to their former glory. Besides the beautiful buildings, you come to Marienplatz for the glockenspiel. This large, it has 32 life-size figures, recreates a royal wedding from the 16th century and is complete with dragon and the barrel markers doing their famous post plague jig.

Normally we ate lunch on the run, but today we didn't. It was nice to people watch and observe the city.
We ate lunch right under this guy.
The Residenz
The Residenz is the home of the Wittelsbachs' family who ruled the kingdom of Bavaria for over 700 years. It's an impressive building with room after room of ornate, and over-the-top, baroque rooms, but even the most impressive building starts to look the same after a while.

The Residenz grounds

By far, my favorite three things we did in Munchen were the last three things we did--the bike ride along the Isar River and through the Engligh Gardens, the dinner at the famous Hofbrauhaus, and watching the world cup game with thousands of German fans.

Bike Ride
Munchen is a city designed for bikes and it seemed like EVERYBODY biked and I loved it. Everywhere you went, you couldn't get far from the dinging of the bells letting people know to get out of the way. With no set path, we had fun exploring the city. We spent a good portion of our time biking along the Isar River, which surprisingly was wonderfully wooded and quiet. Eventually we ended up in the English Gardens which reminded me of home (aka London) and reminded me how much I miss beautiful gardens.

While in Germany, I really wanted to go to a beer hall--much like I wanted to go to a pub when I was in England--because I wanted to watch tuba players, eat traditional German food, and see energetic drunk people.
The Hofbrauhaus, is one of the oldest and incidentally, the most famous beer halls and it provided everything I wanted in a beer hall. It was packed with tourists and regulars alike (the regulars actually have designated tables with these cute little signs). It was loud. The oompha music was charming. The food was very Germany. And I loved every minute of it. I loved watching people clank their glasses together at the end of a drinking song. I loved that it brought together different people at different tables and the belief that if you've had dinner (or a drink) with a stranger they became a friend.

The musicians

Our food. It wouldn't be a complete meal without a pretzel and in our case, apple juice.

World Cup Match Germany 1-Ghana 0
Europeans love their football, and Germany is no exception. It was wonderful to join that camaraderie that magically appears. Something I learned was that football means beer (and lots of it), pretzels, and brautworst--and all three were consumed in large quantities. Because we'd been required to give up our water bottles at the entrance, by half-time I was so thirsty--especially considering we had to be at the place almost an hour before it started. So I went looking for some water. Not seeing any listed on the signs, I finally asked the one of the workers if they had bottled water. She was dumbstruck that I wanted water and said,"This is a football game, we only have beer." And it was very apparent that she thought I was slightly strange for not wanting beer. Luckily, Taylor was able to find some apple juice. At one point I thought about taking my picture with my much needed drink, but as it was the same color and in the same containers that the beer come in, I decided against it.

Watching the match with about two-three thousand fans.

Our B&B
We stayed at this charming, old hotel. Complete with creaky floors, hand painted furniture, public bathrooms, and of course the naked people roaming the halls. Got to love Europe!

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