It was time to leave France and the French language for now and head into Germany! We arrived in Munich around noon. The weather was pleasant. The Western European heatwave was subsiding. We headed to our hotel which was not too far from the station. Our hotel was in a very hip area, right near the Sendlinger Tor, a beautiful historic city gate on the south-western edge of Munich’s old town.
Our first stop was lunch. We ate at a restaurant right near the hotel, in front of Tor. We were planning to buy 1L glasses of beer in traditional German fashion, but we actually hadn’t drank any alcohol on our trip yet due to all the illnesses. Therefore, we had to ease ourselves into the booze and shamefully our first beer in Germany was only a 500mL glass. We were the only people at the restaurant drinking such small beers.
We quickly headed back to the hotel because we hadn’t been able to find anywhere to do our laundry yet, and it was time. On the way we visited a cute little fruit vendor and bought absolutely delicious, sweet and cheap cherries and raspberries.
With laundry in hand, we asked the hotel receptionist where to go. She directed us to a place behind the hotel. Upon arrival, it appeared to be more of a dry-cleaner. We dropped our laundry back at the hotel and decided hand-wash would be the way to go from then on.
It was time to start exploring Munich! We headed towards the Marienplatz, Munich’s main square, which was a relatively short distance from our hotel. The Marienplatz is home to the magnificent Neues Rathaus, or New City Hall, a delightfully ornate and grand building. The New City Hall is also home to the famous Glockenspiel, which is a little merry-go-round of happy dancing figurines which performs for the crowds a few times a day.
Nearby was the Viktualienmarkt, a market showcasing Bavarian fare, local and exotic produce, cured meats, sausages, breads, cheeses, and candied fruit.
We proceeded north via Munich’s main shopping strip, Neuhauser Straße, until we reached the grand square Odeonsplatz, whose focal point is the epic loggia Feldherrnhalle. This is the site of the 1923 Hitlerputsch, or Beer Hall Putsch. The incredible thing about Europe is that you have so many opportunities to stand where something monumental once occurred.
It was getting late so we decided to head home. We passed the Karlstor, another historic city gate, but of a very different style to the Sendlinger Tor.
We arrived back at our hotel ready to watch the first game of the World Cup. After the game we headed out for a small dinner on the strip of Thalkirchner Straße. The street is full of bars and attracts a crowd of young intellectuals, or university students if you will. We ate a delicious New York-style pizza slice whilst drinking a beer and watching the sophisticated youngsters enjoy their Wednesday night.
The following day, we decided to have our first day of absolute nothing. By that I mean that we didn’t want to plan any sightseeing and we just wanted to relax after a week and a half of walking several kilometres per day. We came to realise that Munich is actually a rather small city and a place that was easy to see the main sights in only a few days.
But we ended up doing something anyway. Firstly we stopped for a quick breakfast at a traditional Bäckerei. So cheap and so good.
Across the road was the most amazing church I have ever seen in my life. Asamkirche, or St Johann Nepomuk Kirche, is an unpretentious baroque church on the outside, but upon entering, is the most beautiful, gilded, extravagant and ornate church in the world. Quite possibly the best attraction in Munich.
We decided to spend the rest of the day at the Neue Pinakothek art gallery. This was a good decision, because the gallery was pretty amazing and we were able to see works by the likes of Van Gogh (and his damned lily pond), Klimt and Degas. Our first European gallery visit was a good one.
On our return to the city, we walked through a park and came to realise the rumour about Germans sunbathing is parks is very true. We passed the grand Königsplatz and Glyptothek, grand structures located to the north-west of the old town. We returned to the Neuhauser Straße for a spot of shopping, and then it was time to return home to rest our feet. On the way, we visited a supermarket. We were amazed by the low cost of groceries in Germany. I had been observing the prices of Milka chocolate in every country we visited, and so far, Germany was the winner of cheapest chocolate, at about $1 per bar (Australia’s chocolate is about $4 per bar. We do suffer so). Cheap chocolate means an excellent place to consider moving to. Beer is also cheaper than bottled water. We were enthralled.
Our last German dinner would be typically German. I ordered spätzle (a sort of cheesy noodle), which is probably my favourite German food ever, but I’d only ever eaten it outside of Germany. It was yummy. Our dinner was finalised with a delicious apple strudel. All massive servings too, as seems to be the norm in Germany. No complaints from us.
We ended our night with another World Cup match, accompanied by a pretzel and two Munich beers.
Germany, you will be missed.
P.S. Happy 100th post to me!