Sunday, July 22, 2012

Munchen our way through Munich

The train ride from Venice to Munich was a 7 hour journey and it was wonderful. Since we are over the age of 26, we had to purchase 1st class Eurail tickets. This means we always have air conditioning, nice seats, and the satisfaction of knowing we don’t have to be around loud college kids. I always look forward to the train rides, as long as it is not the overnight train.

Everything was wonderful except for one thing, we had no idea where we were going to stay. We waited until the last minute to start looking for a hostel in Munich, because we didn’t think it would be as expensive as Italy or France. We were wrong. Most of the hostels in Germany seemed to be pretty inexpensive, except for Munich. Munich was up there with Italy and France, except for one place. The Tent. The Tent was 10 Euro a night per bed on hostelworld. Supposedly, it was just a huge tent. Hostelworld described it as a “100 bed dorm room” in “campsite”. I was sick of bugs, but we put it in the back of our heads as a last resort if we couldn’t find anything once we were in Munich.
We walked up to a hostel, and they were completely booked, but they knew somewhere that had beds… The Tent. It was only about 20 minutes on the Tram outside of downtown Munich, and I’m very happy we decided to go there. There were three circus tents in the middle of a city park. One of the tents had 300 beds, the second about 100, and the third were just sleeping mats which was only 7 Euro. We decided we could scrape up the 10 Euro and purchased the beds.
The Tent had everything we needed. It had nice showers, outlets, a bonfire, a nice cafe with good food, 4 Euro 1 liter beers, good music, wireless, and good people. It was an awesome little piece of Bavaria.
Bavaria is in the southern region of Germany and is known for having a bit of Mediterranean flair. Take Germany’s industriousness, punctuality, and attention to detail then add in a dash of siesta.
The next morning we explored downtown Munich after purchasing necessities such as facewash, toothpaste, and deodorant in the underground metro shopping centers. Things like that had been a chore to track down in Italy. In Munich, we stumbled backwards and found what we were looking for.
Later we saw a cool fountain, went to an outdoor REI like store called “Globetrotter” and visited Frauenkirche (a huge cathedral).
Frauenkirche contains “The Devil’s Footprint”. The legend is the architect made a deal with the devil, agreeing to build a cathedral with no windows in return for enough funding to complete the project. When the cathedral was completed, the builder showed the devil his “window-less” cathedral and the devil accepted the deal as complete. But the builder was a crafty fellow, and there was only one spot in the cathedral where you can’t see windows, which is where the devil was shown. Realizing he was tricked, the devil stomped the floor, leaving “The Devil’s Footprint”, which is an actual footprint in the entrance-way of the cathedral.
But most importantly, we went to the Hofbrauhous House.
The Hofbrauhous used to be the Royal Bavarian Beer Hall and Hitler gave one of his earlier speeches here. Now, it’s just the ultimate cliche of Munich Beer Halls (as Lonely Planet puts it). It had long tables, a beer garden, 1 liter beers, bratwurst and sauerkraut, and pretzels of course. I absolutely loved their sauerkraut here. It was a lot more mild than what I’m used and was homemade, at least it tasted like it was.
We left the Hofbrauhous and headed for the store to find water. In Germany, you pay for the bottle in hopes that the person purchasing the container will recycle and get their money back. So, the water was 1 Euro but we paid 25 cents for the bottle. As a result, you find no containers on the streets and everyone recycles in Germany.
We went back to The Tent and had dinner there as it was much cheaper than going to a restaurant. Dinner at The Tent is different every night and they usually only have about 1 or 2 on the menu. I ordered rice with a creamy mushroom sauce and Bryan had dumplings with similar sauce. We were surprised at how good and “real” it was for a place called “The Tent.”
The next morning I woke up looking forward to breakfast as I always enjoy Muesli, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and coffee. The Tent had these and much more, each with an individual cost. It was 40 cents for a slice of ham and 30 cents for a hard-boiled egg. We purchased the items at their individual prices, and filled our bellies for 6 Euro total.
After breakfast we were hoping to do a day trip with our Eurail passes to the Neuschwanstein castle, unfortunately this day turned into one of those where everything goes wrong. We arrived to the train station 20 minutes after leaving The Tent and realized we forgot the Eurail pass, so we went back 20 minutes to get it. An hour later we were back at the train station and were told the train leaves from platform 30. We arrived to platform 30 and the girl told us it was the wrong platfrom. By the time we asked someone else, our train had already left. Turned out it was platform 30 and the girl was wrong. So, we then decided we’ll check out one of the breweries instead as it was already 2pm.
Bryan had asked one of the guys at the hostel which was the best of the smaller breweries in Munich. The guys said “Giesinger”, looked it up online and marked it on our map. It took us about an hour to find the Giesinger brewery and when we finally arrived, it was nothing more than a brewery. There was no taproom and no beer garden, just six guys making beer. The master brewer came out with his apron and told us he could not let us have any there. Fail.
So, we went to another brewery recommended highly by one of The Tent employees, mostly because we knew there was food and it wasn’t a place many tourists go. Something finally went our way as the food was good, the beer was even better, and the ambiance was what we were looking for. The waiter did not speak very much English, so we deciphered what we could, and again, ordered sausages.
We took some pictures in front of the hops before making our way to a bookstore where we knew had a large English section. Bryan needed to find the fifth book of the series Games of Thrones, and I am finally reading Harry Potter, so I needed books 3 and 4. Success.
We headed back to The Tent and enjoyed some delicious barbecue. They were barbecuing sausages, steaks, corn, and more. I have never eaten so many sausages in my life before, but when in Germany I guess.
The next morning saw us making our way to the English Gardens. The English Gardens consisted of street musicians, several beer gardens, 5 girls on what Bryan and I named octobike (see picture), a couple naked people in the river, people floating down the river, and people surfing on the river. It was quite the spot for people watching and took up most of the day.
Bryan was saying that he tries to be cool and act nonchalant when there’s a bunch of naked people just hanging out in the park, but it’s still surprising. Outside, it’s easy to act cool, but inside you’re head’s saying, “there’s naked people over there! We’re in the park and they’re just hanging out naked!”
Later we tried to find a restaurant we wanted to eat at in the gay district and instead came upon a lesbian festival. Turned out the beer garden was being run by the Geisinger brewery we didn’t have the opportunity to try the day before. We’ll take it. The festival was okay, a couple stands and a blocked off street.
After leaving the festival we found the restaurant but decided it was too expensive, so we went back to The Tent for another barbecue. It was the perfect night to our last day in Munich, but it was time to get a bit off the beaten trail.
We decided we wanted to see small town Germany, next stop Bamberg.
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