Day 7, 06.30.2009: Munich
We left Nürnberg early in the morning to take the high speed train to München: about a 2-3 hour ride. The train itself was far more comfortable than I expected, other than the fact that we couldn’t open the windows and were stuck breathing stale air the entire time.
When we were finally able to return to the open air, our first stop was the Olympia Turm, or Olympic tower. I could see the entire city of München from 185m high up, or about 240 feet in US measurements. I didn’t leave time for my acrophobia to kick in: 30 seconds of furiously snapping photos, and then scrambled back inside. The tower hosts a pretty neat Rock n’ Roll museum on the observation deck. Showcased that day were pants worn by Freddie Mercury. My inner/outer Queen fangirl squealed quietly. There was also a gold record autographed by Elvis. My favorite part was scrolling through a jukebox sitting in the corner.Such timeless music.
We then went to Marienplatz, which is essentially the city plaza and center. Its centerpiece is the Rathaus (or city hall). Beautiful, old Gothic architecture. All of us split up at this point to find food. I was so thankful that my Gastvater (host father) packed me some snacks, because there was absolutely nada for a vegetarian to eat. Chocolate and brownies all day!
After lunch, different groups formed based on who wanted to see what. The problem was that all the U-Bahn and S-Bahn (city rail) passes were in the hands of our Gastgeschwistern (host siblings), so we couldn’t just roam about freely like most of us wanted to. The group I went with stopped first at the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady). Stunning stained glass windows stretched to the top of the ceiling, typical of most European churches I’ve seen. No less beautiful though. 🙂 We also ventured down underground into the tombs where past bishops lay. I always find it slightly creepy that these are part of the tourist attractions.
We visited the Residenz, or royal palace, next. It’s enormous. I would suggest a good 4 hours there, whether you enjoy history or not! Superfluous amounts of sparkling artifacts and ornate rooms to marvel at. Explored a bit of the Hofgarten (palace gardens), with a pretty little dome in the middle, before settling on the grassy lawn in front of the Residenz.
Our group spent some time sun tanning and listening to street musicians before heading to the Englischer Garten (English Gardens). Make sure you have your walking shoes on when you visit Munich, because it was over a 30 minute walk to the English Gardens! Half of us were rather excited to see the infamous patch of the gardens where public nudity was legal; however, the other half of the group wanted to watch surfers ride waves in the canal. I guess river canals are as close to good surf as you can get when you’re a mostly landlocked country. A couple of our group members who wandered off did manage to snag a couple views of people on the nudist clearing. Reminds me of the now-defunct Tufts tradition, the Naked Quad Run. 😛
The strangest of all the places we visited was the Haus der Kunst (house of art), which is primarily a modern art museum. I can’t say I understand contemporary art at all. Burned into my memory forever–in the most unfortunate way–is a painting with two naked men wearing gas masks, one sucking on a long, plastic tub shoved up the other’s behind. Never forget. The less graphic and disturbing piece was a yukata made entirely from needles, which was actually pretty cool.
Our day of scrambling through Munich came to an end at the world-famous Hofbrauhaus. Tons of high expectations were built up leading up to our visiting the popular brewery. I was slightly disappointed with the fare offered. Although the whole point is to try the beer, that was of least interest to a junior in high school (me). My parents have taken me to enough alcohol and beer tastings that alcohol wasn’t some mysterious or forbidden fruit to explore. What I wanted to try was the Dampfnudeln: plum cake with glaze. It was the cheapest thing on the menu and ended up being terribly dry. My friend’s Apfelstrudel, however, was delicious. Next time I’ll just get the beer.
Before we returned to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), we swung by a really stunning church, Michaelskirche. Highly recommended–I think it’s currently under construction as of 2014. Crazy to think we saw everything we did in a span of 5 hours, including time allotted for meals. The ride home went by so much more quickly, since there were more tables on the train and we were able to sit down and play cards. Learned BS, spoons, and Kemps properly for the first time ever. My friend and I won the majority of the games. Beginner’s luck I guess? 😉