DAY 9 – Munich, 28 April
I left Nuremberg at around noontime and took the bus to Munich. I did not arrive at Munich ’til around 3 and did not get checked in until about 3:30 or so. This hostel was really nice. Although it was an 8 person arrangement, the dorm was divided into two different rooms with four people in each. I now wish I took a picture.
I spent the first moments after settling in just chatting up with Hao, who was from Australia. He was in Munich trying to find a place to live because he had just gotten transferred there from London where he had been living and working the past two years. Afterwards, I decided to work on some of my homework. Yes, I have homework. I am actually working on some research for my senior thesis this year and I had to turn in my proposal and a report on what I had read thus far literature-wise in regards to my research (starlight deflection by the gravitational field of the sun), so I decided to get that out of the way as it was due the following day and I know I was not going to have the time, or concentration powers, to do it the following day. So I knocked that out and decided to stroll around.
The very first thing to note was this massive brewery right across the street from where I was staying, which was Meininger Munich City Center, and it was pretty central alright.
This brewery, pictured above, was established in 1328! It’s older than the United States! It was really fascinating to me that Germany is this mosaic of living and breathing history mixed in with newer, more modern things. I believe I already mentioned that before, but it holds true in most of Germany. I eventually got around to eating at the Augustiner Brewery the day after, but that’s for later.
It was raining. In fact, during the two days I spent in Munich it snowed for a bit then rained the rest.
I made my way to the fair grounds where there was supposed to be a Frühlingsfest, or Spring Fair. These Spring Fairs, especially in Munich, are there to sate the appetites of those waiting for the larger Oktoberfest festivities.
Granted, despite the rain, there were still people checking out the fairgrounds and getting on rides, albeit not in the throngs you’d expect had the weather been fairer. Also, Hao later told me that it gets really busy at night when people come after work to drink at the beer tents, which I didn’t end up checking out. I actually went around the entire fairgrounds because I had nothing else to do. Making a trip to the center of the city was gonna take 30 minutes on foot and I was not feeling it with everything being wet and all…that and my shoes were getting soaked.
So I decided to stop by Aldi’s, which is a grocery here in Europe that’s popular. It sort of has that Walmart feel where they sell just about everything it seems. I went there to grab some fruit and other snacks to save up money on food.
For dinner I was craving Chinese so I Yelped the best Chinese food in the area and I found this place called Xiang. I decided to go there for dinner, and had MaPo Tofu, which is literally one of the best Chinese dishes in existence and theirs was excellent. Also had enough leftovers for breakfast the next day. It was authentic tasting, based off my experience, and even had that 麻辣 (málà) feel. Basically, what mala is in Chinese is this numbing spicy sensation imparted by Sichuanese peppercorns.
After dinner it started getting dark so I decided to retire for the night and get up early the next day to tour the city.
I woke up early the next day to get a head start. By early, I mean at around 8 because most things didn’t open until 9. I had leftover Mapo Tofu for breakfast, because, why not? There was a kitchen in the hostel so I was able to heat up my food.
The first thing I decided to check out was the Marienplatz, which is the center of town. After grabbing a hot chocolate at the Hauptbanhof I marched in the rain towards Marienplatz. The very first thing I checked out was the Munich Cathedral. The facade was covered in construction so the only photos I took were of the interior, and my, it was gorgeous. Just like every old cathedral I have checked out in Germany, the interior was beautiful. And in this cathedral, we were allowed to go anywhere, unlike say the Cologne Cathedral where I was asked to stand behind all the pews.
As always, it was breathtaking. I enjoyed strolling around and examining all the stained-glass windows as well as the rest of the interior decoration. The altar up front was made of some kind of white marble, beautiful and sleek.
The next stop was the Marienplatz itself. What once was the center of town is now…still the center of town, albeit all the old buildings have been turned into a bustling shopping center.
I spent the rest of noontime around the English Gardens, Germany’s largest inner-city gardens. I didn’t really feel like taking a lot of pictures of this particular places because, yes it was all beautiful and everything was blooming, but everything was wet and there was a heavy downpour around this time. However, I did take pictures of the surfers. Yes, you got that right, there were surfers! By a bridge in the English Gardens is a part of the river that flows into the garden that has waves enough to surf on.
I took a quick lunch of the snack foods I bought the night before (if you must know, it was dried mangoes and peanuts) before taking a long commute to get to the Nymphenburg Palace, one of the biggest sites to visit in Munich. An almost 40 minute commute with trains and the tram station from the English Gardens, it was all worth it.
The Nymphenburg Palace was the summer home to the Wittenburg House of the former Holy Roman Empire. The word Nymphenburg means “House of Nymphs”, and once you are inside you can see why. You are allowed to tour parts of the Palace, which I did, and the inside was even more astounding than the outside.
The photo above was what I would consider the main hallway of sorts. It was gorgeous. There was a group of Italian students behind me so I tried to soak in the quiet as much as possible, looking around at the gorgeous craftsmanship poured into this single room alone. The gold-gilded filigrees, the painting, the chandeliers, everything was a testament to the gorgeous Baroque-style of architecture and interior design. Below are some shots of the interior of the rooms, including a study, the sleeping quarters of one of the ladies, as well as one of the hallways. Pictures don’t do the rooms justice.
The Palatial grounds were equally impressive. They were massive and there were four other smaller castles around the entire palatial complex. I only got to visit two of the four because the other four were quite a walk away from the main palace.
After touring part of the palace grounds, I decided to check out the other museum they had which housed the coronation carriages and gear the horses wore and man, let me tell you, those Bavarian kings were very lavish and extravagant, as you can see in the photo below. It’s cool to look at now but man, I wonder how long it took craftsmen to make such things. There were hundreds of these during the coronation of…erm…I don’t remember which Bavarian king it was, but woodcut prints of the ceremony showed hundreds upon hundreds of these lavish and extravagant carriages.
I took the same long-ish commute back. I stopped by my hostel to change and met two new roommates: Jessie and Jensen, friends from Indiana traveling Europe for two months. They just had arrived from Cologne and will be in Munich for a handful of days. We chatted up a little before I headed for dinner, which miraculously I got into. You see, like I said the Augustiner Brewery is old and therefore it is famous. When I walked in I saw a very, very long list of names for reservations. But before I walked out, almost dejected, because duh, I should’ve reserved, one of the waiters asked me if I wanted a table. I said, yeah, of course. And he showed me to a table. He told me I had but an hour but lo and behold, I was in! And man, the food was good.
Pictured below is traditional Bavarian faire: crispy pork knuckle, which was my favorite, part of a roast duck, a slice of pork roast, and a giant German dumpling covered in gravy. Not pictured is the delicious sauerkraut they had. Because I had a very light lunch I was starved and managed to finish everything.
The rest of the evening I spent just chatting with my new roommates for a few hours into the night. It made us all sad that I had to leave to go back to Gießen for a few days to wait for my passport (where I am right now as I write this) because to Vienna and Prague I go next!