With Rosita and Peter
Our first full day in Munich turned out to be a memorable one, thanks to the congenial company of our two dear German friends, Peter and Rosita. This is the first time we've seen these Munich natives in several years, so it was a bit like a family reunion.
As a little background, Rosita has an aunt now living in Edgewater, Florida, who is/was a life-long friend of Dee and her mother (now deceased). Over the years Peter and Rosita have paid many visits to Florida, which is where we met them. We've always "threatened" to visit them, if and when we ever made it to Munich, and this year it finally happened.
Today Peter and Rosita graciously invited us for lunch at the Hofbräuhaus, Munich's world famous biergarten and restaurant, which is located very near Marienplatz, the city's main square and tourist mecca. Their home is about 3 miles away from our rented apartment, so they took a bus to meet us in front of our place around 1:30 PM. After a round of hugs and bonhomie
, they suggested a walk to the Hofbräuhaus, a distance of about a mile. It was a perfect day for walking, with
partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low-to-mid 60s, and Peter set a pace that we could manage comfortably.
The route Peter chose to our destination allowed us to explore some interesting sights along the way, one of which was the Viktualienmarkt, a daily food market and a square that developed from an original farmers' market to a popular market for gourmets. This market reminded us very much of the Naschmarkt in Vienna, which we visited during last year's trip.
Spread out over 240,000 sq. ft., 140 stalls and shops offer flowers, exotic fruit, game, poultry, spices, cheese, fish, juices, etc. Most of the stalls were closed for the Ascension Day holiday today, but the on-site Biergarten was in full swing, with many of the raucous revelers wearing traditional Bavarian garb (men dressed in Lederhosen
, women wearing Dirndl
), while hoisting large mugs of beer to wash down grilled sausages, chicken, sauerkraut and other specialties being delivered to the tables.
When we reached the Hofbräuhaus around 2:30 PM, the ground floor and outdoor terrace area were packed with merrymakers, enjoying their food and beer to the music of a brass Oom-pah band dressed in traditional costume. The sights
New Town Hall
Marienplatz (St. Mary's Square)
and sounds of this colorful venue are unforgettable, and we could only imagine the atmosphere here during the annual Oktoberfest celebrations. Founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, the Hofbräuhaus is one of Munich's oldest beer halls, but is actually a brewery owned by the Bavarian state government.
We went upstairs to a more sedate section of the restaurant for a table, where we lingered over our typically-Bavarian meals (pork, dumplings, cabbage salads, asparagus soup, etc.), along with much interesting conversation, before Peter led us toward the Marienplatz.
As mentioned above, the Marienplatz (or St. Mary's Square) has been the main square of Munich since 1158. It is dominated by the stunning New Town Hall (Rathaus), where over 400 rooms house the offices of the mayor and the city council. Built in Neo-Gothic style between 1889-1906 to replace the Old Town Hall (located on the eastern side of the square), its massive facade is over 300 ft. long, with a main tower that soars 255-feet into the sky.
The Glockenspiel incorporated into the facade of the tower is a major tourist attraction in its own right. Each day at 11 AM and 12 PM (as well
New Town Hall, Marienplatz
as 5 PM in the summer), it chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th-century to the amusement of mass crowds of tourists and locals. It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures.
The top half of the Glockenspiel tells the story of the marriage of the local Duke Wilhelm V (who also founded Hofbräuhaus) to a lady from Lorraine. In honor of these nuptials there is a joust with life-sized knights on horseback representing Bavaria and Lothringen. You can probably guess who wins the joust every time.
This is followed by the bottom half of the display, and a second story--Schäfflertanz (the coopers' dance). According to myth, 1517 was a year of plague in Munich. The coopers are said to have danced through the streets to bring some cheer to the local populace. The coopers remained loyal to the duke, and their dance came to symbolize perseverance and loyalty to authority in difficult times. The whole show lasts somewhere between 12- and 15-minutes, depending on which tune it plays that day. At the very end of the show, a very small golden rooster at the top of the Glockenspiel chirps quietly three times, marking the end
of the spectacle.
We arrived a few minutes before the 5 o'clock performance, along with several thousand other onlookers. Like a bunch of meerkats, we all fixed our eyes on the Glockenspiel until the appointed hour arrived, and the brief performance began. As the crowd trickled away, we made a brief stop for ice cream before starting the journey back to our apartment.
On the way, Peter and Rosita suggested we take a look at the Asamkirche (Asam Church), a church with a Baroque façade that is integrated into the houses of the Sendlingerstraße and swings slightly convex outward. Although the church was built in a very confined space (66 feet x 24 feet), the interior turned out to be quite impressive, and well worth the visit.
Our friends accompanied us back to our apartment to take a quick peek, then departed to catch a bus for home. What a memorable day! Many thanks to Peter and Rosita for their willingness to shepherd us around so many interesting sights and places today. Dee's Comments:
Today was Father's Day (as well as Ascension Day) here in Germany, which are celebrated as a national holiday. Our friends came
Near Sendlinger Tor
to our apartment, and then led us on a pleasant walk toward the main square, with some interesting sights along the way, including several beer gardens with many people wearing traditional costumes. Our lunch at the famous Hofbräuhaus was both enjoyable and relaxing, plus we had the opportunity to chat a little bit.
Peter and Rosita acted as our private tour guides today, and we learned so much from them! We returned home around 6 o'clock after walking about 2 miles, but what a lovely day!
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