This past weekend, I grabbed an Iberia flight with my friend Laura and spent Thursday night through Sunday morning in Munich, located in the Bavaria region of Germany.
My main reasons for going were two-fold: as a self-proclaimed beer fan, I wanted to check out the world’s “beer capital” and after having been to Berlin two years ago, I wanted to add another German city to my repetoire and compare the two. This trip was fun – we crammed a lot into a short amount of time – but a mysterious flu bug kept my beer drinking to an embarrassing minimum (at least it wasn’t E. coli, right?). Here’s the re-cap on München:
lodging. We stayed at Wombat’s City Hostel located right in the city center and literally steps from the main train and underground station, Hauptbahnhof. This proved to be incredibly convenient. Wombat’s had some key perks: a lively bar, a cheap and full breakfast, a comfortable lounge, computers, and an array of available tours, day trips, and a friendly staff. The cons were there, too – it was a pretty fratty crowd. Don’t get me wrong, I like having fun too, but every 22-year-old guy on his first trip to Europe who “likes a good drink” stayed there and was drunk by 7:30 p.m. I’m sorry, I run on Spain time, and that was mildly comedic. We stayed in a 6-person dorm which was sort of loud at night, but for the money I’d say Wombat’s is a great bet.
walking tour. Our first item on our to-do list was the “free” walking tour sponsored by Wombat’s. I think the “tours for tips” strategy deserves some sort of social psycological analysis – I bet more people go on the tour and tip 10 euro than would go on a tour if they were charged that, or even less, from the get-go. But I digress. Our tour was led by Ozzie, a half portuguese, 1/4 Bavarian, 1/4 Dominican guy with a sick obsession with all things Munich (he wore lederhosen, I kid you not). He made constant comparisons between Munich and Berlin which were helpful, and he threw in a lot of interesting facts. I enjoyed seeing the Glockenspiel Clock Tour, the Hofbräuhaus (where we learned the Nazi party began in 1920 – creepy), and spotting the 4 buildings in all of Munich that survived WWII. Crazy.
fun facts. When Laura and I first got to Munich, we couldn´t figure out why people weren’t jay-walking! In Spain, no one waits all the way for the light to change green, people dart across whenever they please. Not the case in Germany. Later we learned that crossing before the light changes can result in a 40 euro fine! Other facts we learned on the walking tour: it is illegal to do the Nazi salute in public, many historic events occurred on November 9th (confusingly referred to as 9-11) including Kristallnacht, and the Munich airport takes the “liquids in a small plastic bag” rule seriously. My opaque makeup bag was a flagrant violation and they confiscated my toothpaste and a few other things. Thanks a lot, Spain, for teaching me that rules are pointless.
olympic fever. In order to satiate my inner Olympics nerd, we trekked out to the Olympic Village (1972 – Summer). These games were particularly noteworthy in that they ended in tragedy – 11 Israeli athletes, officials, and coaches were taken hostage and killed by eight Palestinians of a movement known as Black September. (I first learned about this in the 2005 movie, Munich). It was definitely eerie to see these sites in person, especially with looming BMW headquarters in the background). Also worth noting: Munich is pressing hard in their campaign to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. If they get it, they will be the first city, ever, to host both a summer and winter Olympic games as well as the World Cup (2006).
The rest of our time in Munich proper was spent sight-seeing and hitting up a beer garden or two – we crammed all of this basically into one day to make room for a day trip to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle… post to follow 🙂
Have you been to Munich? Favorite spots in Germany?…