Published: November 14th 2007November 9th 2007
Munich is cool. Beer halls, pretzel girls, oompah bands, lederhosen and magical fairytale castles nestled in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps just a trains ride away, as long as your willing and brave enough to request information from the guy at the information office at the hauptbahnhof, and then proceed to ignore everything he tells you, then it's easy.
Munich had quite a few surprises for us. The first was our hostel..bad surprise. After the week long party that was hostel elf, hanging with mick and claire and tom, ally, and brodi and eveyone, we discovered upon arrival that we'd chosen a bit of a ghosttown called Munich 4 U, literally deserted, and nothing to do. We did end up meeting some cool people near the beer vedning machines over the next few nights, but it was definitely quite a shock after Prague. HOwever this didn't spoil our time in Munchen, if anything it kept us out on the streets, rather than holed up in a hole.
Second surprise; Englischer Garten. Europe's largest city park, named for the fact that it was designed to look like an English garden, and designed by an English gardener.
It is really pleasant, we spent a few days just chillin' by the water-they've got a bunch of streams that run through the park which provided us with endless entertainment, that we would never have guessed was in store for us. Number One. The Larch, no sorry, Surfers.....in Munich. You might be saying right now, "but Munich is nowhere near the sea", and you'd be right. However, Munich is cool and right at the entrance to the gardens, where the stream enters the park, it sort of bottlenecks, which creates a constant wave about five metres wide, 1-2 metres high, being ridden by Munichs best surfers. They just ride it back and forth pulling little tricks and shit, it's fucking awesome to watch, and easy to miss, but lucky for us we seem to wander aimlessly wherever we are, and we stumbled across this, what can I say, unique, site. The other unforseen bonus we got out of Enlgischer Gartens streams has got to be the beer-fishing. If someone had asked me eight months ago if I thought i would end up in Munchen fishing for bottles of beer, they would have at best, gotten a puzzled and confused look,
Augustiner Keller. Our first Mass steins. 1 litre beer, straight from wooden kegs, the way it should be.
followed by some smart ass comment. But alas, there I was. Why? Well, the water is icy cold, and the beers aren't (for some reason in most of Europe, its really difficult to find anywhere that sells cold booze). So, like the genius that I am, i decided that i would put the ball of string that I've been carrying around since India into use for the first time. heres how it works...simply tie the string around the neck of your warm bottle of Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Augustiner or Becks, and dangle your beers in the stream. Leave for five-ten minutes, retrieve your bottles by reeling in your string, and voila, icy cold beer. I have to admit we got some really weird looks from the locals, I don't blame them, if I didn't know what we were doing already, i would have been asking "why the fuck are those tourists carrying round their beers on a piece of string?", but hey, we're Australians, we're allowed to be weird.
OKay now the cool stuff. Bierhalles. Smic, if you and I were sent to heaven together, this is where they would send us. The 'Mass' stein, or 'very fucking large
The Bavarian Alps
Snow. how we missed you.
beer' to you and me, is a glorius one-litre of the good stuff that requires a fair bit of muscular strength to get the bottom-up, but the incentive is strong, and the reward even greater. One or two mass and your night is definitely off to a good start. As you can see by our photos, Niki and I didn't miss out, and made sure we got a nice dose of German beer-drinking in. we sampled a few of the local brews, Hofbrau at Hofbrauhaus, one of the oldest beer halls in Munich, and full of all the sterotypical German stuff, yes there were guys in lederhosn, yes there were girls carrying pretzels around, yes there was an oompah band and yes there were lots of Germans (if not lots of tourists too). We had the good fortune of arriving on the night of a soccer match between Munchen Bayern F.C amnd some obviously sworn rivals, so Niki was welcomed with the honour of the team scarf, adn there was much prosting (cheers, or tisch in our language). If your up for a more chilled out beer hall, the Augustiner keller is really cool, an underground celler that dates back
god knows how long. It was here we got to see the beer guys tap a real keg, none of this gas powered stuff, just good old fashioned hammer and tap, straight into the oak-barrel. Thisrtaditional method, coupled with the purest beer in the world, equals, really good booze, and no hangovers.
Next cool thing, Neuschwanstein castle. brainchild of Konig Ludwig II, 'the mad king'. He had aparently long dreamt of building an authentic medieval castle, and would not let the fact that he was already 600 years too late deter him. And so, in his quest to fulfill his dream, he had an actual castle built in medieval times, completely dismantled, and rebuilt, to his own romantic ideals, up in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, on the site of an old knights castle. It was supposedly the inspiration for the castle from Disney's Sleepng Beauty, and I believe was used in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Its pretty fucking amazing, but if anyone ever goes, avoid the guided tour, our tour guide was one of the most uninspiring, unconfident, illegible, and impatient I've ever come across. I didn't learn a single thing, except that King Ludwig
literally, cellar of rats. not seller of rats, a person who sells rats to another person as it were, that would be stupid, this was a cellar full of rats.
liked swans, which Niki later informed me, she was already aware of. I really recommend going out to see this somewhat bizarre, but ultimately beautiful castle, it's really easy. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE INFORMATION GUY AT HAUPTBAHNHOF! He refused to give us any information on how to get there other than trying to sell us the tour. When wementioned we wanted to go by ourselves, he said it was too hard, he wouldn´t tell us which buses to catch or where rom, how much it cost, and finally after we had figured out how to do everything, he told us that it was closed, which it wasn´t. So if anyone is reading this who needs to know, this is how you do it. Just catch a train from Munich for two hours towards Fussen, about 14 Euros i think, get off the train, and straight on a bus outside the rtain station, this takes you to Howenshwangau, where you buy your tickets (before you walk up the hill)m then its a 30-minute walk up to the castle. Don'tmiss out the Bridge, the view is awesome. So yeah, its easy.
I'd better dash, I'm so far behind on
these blogs, we're in bloody Madrid at the moment, which means i still have to write about Venice and Barcelona before I catch up with myself, and it gets harder to remember things as time goes by. But Munich was cool, hurray for beer, I get the feeling the next two blogs might be a bit shorter. We're not even supposed to still be in Europe, we were supposed to return on Sunday the 11th to our fabulous jobs in Birmingham, but they have forced us to change our plans due to some organisational mistakes on their part. Namely, they gave away our room, so we had nowehre to live when we get back. BUt hey, we get extra holiday. Whos complaining?
until next time....
There are more photos below