24 Hours in München

8:00 PM – Dinner.  There are things I love about German cuisine.  Kartoffelpuffer for example (potato pancakes) with applesauce I could eat just about every day.  A good apple strudel in a vanilla cream sauce, an excellent schnitzel, nürnburger sausages, potatoes in almost any form, and fresh bread.  However, not all my students shared this love of all things starch.  By the end of the 4th day, they were ready for “anything but schnitzel, fries and potatoes.”  Hence, Turkish food.  Germany has one of the highest concentration of Turkish people outside of Turkey (in fact, after those of German descent, the next highest population living in Germany are Turkish immigrants).  In turn, Germany is a great place to enjoy Turkish eats.  I had never eaten Turkish food before this night, but had read great reviews of a little place, which I found out later, was a short walk from the train station in a slightly sketchy neighbourhood, right around the corner from what seemed to be a very popular strip club.  Trip Advisor did not mention this to me.  However, it did say it was great for groups and served good food, and was accurate on both accounts.  Note, whether in the restaurant or on the streets, there is never a lack of people trying to sell you SOMETHING.  On the streets it is usually selfie sticks, and inside the restaurants it is often flowers.  One of our students failed to heed my warning, and ended up paying €20 for 4 roses.  Always someone out there looking to make a euro of a naive tourist.  Don’t let it be you!

11:00 PM – Sleep.  Can’t function with out a little bit of shut eye.  Fortunately by the end of the day I was so exhausted I fell asleep while trying to check my email.  Not as funny as it sounds.  The iPad I was holding up fell and hit me in the head.  Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened.  They should come with warning labels.

8:00 AM – Frühstück.  The best of all German inventions.  While the small B&B’s do it best, even the biggest hotels pride themselves on a good breakfast spread.  Often comprised of  bread with jams, nutella, cheese or meat, an egg, yogurt and/or fresh fruit and caffeine of choice (I go with a cappuccino), and a glass of juice (orange – always orange for me).   Things like pancakes, omelettes and waffles are not consider breakfast foods in Europe (lunch, dinner, dessert or snack, depending on the country).  Given my love for fresh baked warm bread and an excellent strawberry jam, a slow, well-savoured breakfast is one of my favourite parts of the day.

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10:00 AM – InMunich Walking Tour.  The first time I visited Munich was also the first time I did a city walking tour.  Before that, I trusted guide books and internet research to show me the way.  When I travel I really want to be more traveler than tourist.  I want to live like the locals, and engage in life and customs as they would.  However, in order to understand a city, and those customs, sometimes it helps to have a live guide to help show the way.  In addition, a great guide will help you find the history and stories of the city that aren’t so easy to find without them.  I prefer a walking or biking tour, and those that are limited to small groups.  Large crowds getting on-and-off of 60 passenger buses rarely get the personalized traveler-over-tourist experience that I am hoping for.  For this tour we booked a private guide (given that we were already a group of 30), and we given Jon, who was fantastic.  He took us through St. Peterskirche, and told the story of the deal the architect made with the devil.  He then fooled the devil, who was angry, stomping and leaving his footprint in the entry way.  We then wrapped around through the golden alley, to a square where there use to be a large Nazi monument and flags.  When the locals walked past, to work, or the market, they were legally required to stop and salute.  Those who did not support the Nazi party use to sneak through a nearby alley, to avoid this requirement.  However, often there were guards on the other side, which to catch and arrest those who would not obey.  Today there is but a plaque to remind us where this monument stood, and golden stones running through the alleyway to follow the path of those who’s could only defy the Fuhrer by attempting to deviate through an alley.  Hard to imagine what it was like in Munich during this time.  Our tour continued through the squares, alleys, Viktulienmarkt and eventually to the famous Hofbraühaus, which has an upstairs beer hall that Hitler used to hold weekly meetings.  The famous beer hall was founded in 1589, and is a staple in the city, to both locals and tourists.  On this particular trip, as chaperones, our visit was focused on the halls history, and not on it’s beer.  Both our tour with Jon (through InMunich tours) and one we did in 2013 (through Radius tours) were excellent.  I highly recommend a walking tour, especially if it’s your first time in Munich.  Unlike Berlin or Nürnberg, the WWII history in Munich has been hidden.  Without research or a guide, it’s hard to know where to look.  If you are the kind who loves history (and if you are especially interested in WWII history), a guide is a smart choice.

2:00 PM – Biking.  Many European cities (and countries) are very bike friendly.  We have found that Europeans overall are more environmentally aware (using bikes and public transit), health conscious (walking and biking), and enjoy the fresh air.  Cities are well centralized, and big cities all have well maintained parks and public green spaces.  Also, one added bonus, many of them are FLAT.  Munich is no exception.  So the majority of our group hopped on traditional “relaxing” Germany touring bikes, and enjoyed a “leisurely” ride through the English Garden, past surfers in the river, Chinese towers in the centre, and locals enjoying picnics and beers in the open air.  Now, Ray considers this to be a leisurely ride, but when I ask many of the others who were trying to keep up, it was more like a 3 hour marathon.  This was my second time to Munich, and both times biking through the park on a Saturday afternoon with the locals was very very high on my list of things to do.  However, first time around we got snowed out, and this time around I missed out due to the fact one of my students was ill.  But don’t worry – next time Munich.  Next time.

6:00 PM – Dinner.  Not truly a trip to Munich without getting to enjoy the Hofbraühaus.  And though beer wasn’t on the menu, ham hocks and strudel were.  Also, traditional Bavarian music, and musical whipping – a first for me.  They did a great job being organized and easily accommodating a group reservation (not always easy to get when travelling with 30), and we had front and centre seats in the very beer hall we toured in the morning (that one that Hitler met in).  So historical and scrumptious.  A true Bavarian experience.

And there you have it – 24 hours in Munich.  In summary, food, sleep, food, walking, biking, more food.  Just about perfect to me.

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