On final approach to Munich
Our United flight made a huge u-turn over Bavaria and we came into MUC from the east. Other than a little wind buffeting just before hitting the ground this was an extremely smooth comfortable flight.
Things were going a bit too smoothly. In fact, we arrived in Munich a few minutes earlier than expected. Our hotel for two nights in Munch would be the LetoMotel München Nord just two U-Bahn stops from BMW Welt and across the highway from Olympic Stadium. Check-in time wasn't until 2pm and now we had almost 7 hours to kill.
Going through passport control was not pleasant only because there were only two agents and a couple of hundred passengers waiting to go through. This took at least twenty minutes. The positive side being that our luggage was already on the conveyor belt when we got to baggage claim. As soon as we walked out of the customs area we were greeted by a huge crowd on the other side of the fence. I immediately spotted a guy proudly holding up an Ipad with my name. This was our driver, Josef, who would be taking us in his BMW 735i luxury car to our hotel compliments of BMW. With typical German efficiency and courtesy he grabbed Gail's bags and took us out to his awaiting limo.
Traffic was relatively light and we were at our
Munich Airport (MUC)
The weather didn't look too promising as we taxied to the gate.
hotel much too quickly. By ten o'clock we were already at the front desk, told that our room wouldn't be ready until after 2 o'clock and allowed to check our luggage in a safe room while we killed time downtown.
My internet research paid off again as we wasted no time finding the U-Bahn (subway) stop at the opposite end of our block. Thanks to Google Earth I could virtually walk down this same street on my home computer. I knew it well. We walked right up to the ticket machine and bought a three day Family Ticket for 29.60 Euro. At 2.90 Euro per person per ride I determined this would be our best value. We ended-up easily getting our money's worth. It's amazing to me that there is no one checking to see if you actually paid to ride the MVV Transport System. It's strictly on your honor but stiff fines will result if you get caught. All we had to do was validate our card on our first ride then never had to take it out of Gail's wallet again.
We rode the comfortable subway car 9 stops to the big
Riding in luxury
It didn't take much to encourage our courtesy limo driver to unwind all that BMW power as he ferried us to our downtown Munich hotel. I was really impressed with the GPS system in this car. As things tuned out, mine would be identical.
Marienplatz station in the center of the shopping district. I hadn't really planned this day's activities. We spent some time soaking up the ambiance of old Munich and did a little window shopping as we strolled down the pedestrians-only Kaufingerstrasse. I was most interested in a couple of farmer's stalls where they were selling fresh strawberries and white asparagus. I had completely forgotten that early May was “Spargel” season in Germany. It was on virtually every menu we encountered over the next 16 days. Spargel soup, Spargel with ham, Spargel with potatoes, or Spargel with salmon. I'm surprised they didn't offer Spargel for dessert. They are obsessed with white asparagus. I was too.
I don't mean to sound jaded but I felt like we had already seen and done everything there was to see and do in this part of Munich. The weather was already fairly warm and I was wishing I had packed short pants. But that first day I didn't see anyone in shorts except a few obvious tourists. Everyone else was dressed immaculately. I decided that wearing shorts in Germany must be verboten except in high Summer.
Neither of us was
Exiting the Marienplatz U-Bahn station
A familiar sight for any who have traveled with us on an EF Tour. This is the meeting place every time our groups come to Munich. The fish fountain.
hungry yet but I was feeling a bit parched. We decided to walk over to the Viktualienmarkt which is Munich's version of a farmer's market. More like a beer garden with nearby gourmet shops. Before noon we were sitting down and sipping our first Bavarian beers of the trip. We came up with a rather brilliant strategy: instead of getting those humongous 1 liter mugs of beer as tourists are won to do, instead we stuck with half liter sizes. This way the beer we could continue drinking cold beer rather than letting it heat up to room temperature in one of those gigantic Steins. This philosophy served us well throughout the trip.
Even though neither of us was particularly hungry we decided to each order a bowl of Munich's specialty sausage, Weisswurst. These veal sausages are normally eaten at breakfast so we used that as an excuse to order them now. They were absolutely delicious especially with the sweet mustard that accompanied them.
There was free WiFi offered by the city of Munich so we took advantage to tell friends and family that we had arrived safely. And told them to eat their
Gray skies but not for long
Within minutes the clouds cleared and the weather got significantly warmer. Almost too warm.
hearts out because we were already sitting down to a couple of beers. Once we finished I jokingly texted our German tour guide/friend Jurgen telling him that we were waiting for him in the Viktualienmarkt. The last we had heard from him he was either in the Canary Islands or on Sardinia hundreds of miles away. As usual there was no reply from him.
We stayed for a couple of beers simply watching all the activity around us on this bright sunny day. Sheltered beneath towering leafy chestnut trees we watched as beer truck after beer truck delivered kegs of Munich's finest to the various beer and sausage stands. After our second round of beers we discovered that we could save an Euro per beer by simply walking over to the bar instead of having a waiter bring them. We watched group after group of Chinese school kids pass by with plates full of smelly fish from the Nordsee seafood restaurant behind us. We observed how few people wore shorts and how many were attached to their mobile phones. It didn't use to be that way. One thing everyone seemed to be enjoying was the beer. The
Obligatory Rathaus photo
For once we didn't opt to hang around to watch the medieval knights joust at the Marienplatz clock tower. No fun when you know beforehand who the winner will be.
lines never stopped.
We couldn't sit there forever even though we wanted to. We took a walk through the stalls in the marketplace almost wishing we could take something back to our room to cook it. But why cook when there were so many great restaurants in town? When two o'clock rolled around we decided to take the U-Bahn back to the LetoMotel to check-in and sleep off the beer. We rarely nap on that first day since the effects of jet lag are worse if you do so, but we could barely keep our eyes open.
After a two and a half hour nap we once again boarded the U-Bahn to head down to the Marienplatz. We both agreed we wanted to have dinner at the Augustinerbrau restaurant back on Kaufingerstrasse. We did a little more window shopping as we walked up the pedestrian-only zone. There were a surprising number of people sitting outside at the outdoor dining restaurants. The places looked packed. We figured we had better get inside the Augustinerbrau pronto. We had to walk to the very back of the very crowded beer hall to find an open table.
Spargel, Spargel everywhere
This was a pleasant reminder of what I could expect to see on every menu from here on out. White asparagus served with anything and everything. And yes, our pee did stink afterwards.
No sooner did we sit down than a solitary man came and sat at the opposite end of our table. It seemed a little odd because there was another totally empty table next to ours. As the night drew on we realized he had a thing for our Bavarian waitress. One thing we noticed this time around – no waiter or waitress ever introduced themselves . We didn't need their names nor did we have to explain whether we had ever eaten there before. We both ordered our half liter beers. I had had about enough of the wheat beers so I went with the beer that made Munich famous – a lager. Gail stuck with her Weissenbiers for nearly the entire trip.
I started my meal with Spargelsuppe, white asparagus soup. Course number two was cheese Spaetzle which was delectable and quite filling. I couldn't finish it. As with all our meals in Germany, there was no need for dessert. Between the beers and huge portions we never went hungry. All around us large groups of folks spent their evening drinking beer and chowing on big old pork knuckles and white asparagus. This was
Time for some liquids
In Munich that means beer.
Gemutlichkeit. They made a night of it. It took us awhile to get the attention of our waitress to pay the bill. She was extremely busy.
When we finally got out of there we headed back down the shopping street where all the stores were closing or had already shut for the day. We spent a nice interlude watching a very talented quintet of street musicians performing classical tunes in front of a department store. Ten o'clock at night in the big city and we didn't feel the slightest bit nervous. Even the crowd on the subway ride back to our hotel seemed non-threatening. The only sign of any law breaking at all were the two smokers standing two floors below our hotel room chatting until well after midnight.
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