Before I yarn about my fun-filled day in Munich, I’m going to have a rant.
At this point in my journey, I’ve travelled over 30,000 km’s by land, through countries with third world transport infrastructure, monopoly currency and language that sounds more like ancient Egyptian than anything else I’ve ever heard. However, it was getting from Italy to Germany that has been the most frustrating leg of this trip I’ve had to take so far.
I’ll summarise it as briefly as I can. Due to the unavailability and prices of trains and ride sharing, I was forced to take a 13 hour bus trip with a German company named Flixbus. These hopeless cretins cancelled my original booking, but still took my money, which I was told would be refunded while I had to book another ticket. In the meantime, the price more than doubled, which they excused by saying, “That’s how our system works. If you don’t like it, pick another company.” In short, Flixbus are the most hopeless, unprofessional, sorry excuse for a company I’ve ever dealt with. There are nightmare stories all over the net about them. Avoid at all costs.
Anyway, after a lengthy ride that began in Pisa, stopped over in Milan and ended up in Munich after a delayed border check in Switzerland that resulted in several African travellers without paperwork being arrested, I arrived in Munich early in the morning where my friend Susanna collected me from the bus station. She’d just finished night shift and I hadn’t slept on the bus so after a bit of a nap she took me on a day tour of this awesome city.
First up we strolled to the centre of Munich, where we walked up to the top of the St Peter’s viewpoint. This gives a good 360 degree view around the city as well as a close up look at the Rathausgalerie.
Munich is full of wicked little attractions and public spots, such as this main garden, where a part of the Eisbch river is engineered to provide waves so surfers can practise without leaving the city/ I’m told it’s always busy here, no matter the day or temperature.
This garden is also home to several beer gardens, a type of place I am partial to spending time at. This is quite a ‘tourist’ one, but it was good fun all the same. While we drank one litre beers and ate huge pretzels with cheese, I looked around while Susanna pointed out certain things which are so very German.
It’s very normal to bring your own food to a beer garden, which the locals do in style, with traditional chequered table clothes and all. There’s a real ‘communal’ vibe around the place; everyone is just there to chill out and have a beer and talk shit. Not a hint of uneasiness or malice to be found anywhere, which I mention because there are loads of parts of the world where large congregations of strangers participating in heavy day drinking sessions will inevitably end in the odd brawl (my home country for one).
Everywhere you visit as a tourist, there are always places that are known as the ‘classic’ tourist places to visit. The Hofbrauhaus is one of these places, and it’s a classic for a reason. I hadn’t actually done much looking into what to do in Munich as I had Susanna showing me around (thanks :P) so I was pleasantly surprised to visit this famous establishment.
When we got there, I had a couple things pointed out to me. Firstly, there were signs above certain tables indicating that those tables are for regulars only; nobody else can sit there. Secondly were the storage cages, where regular patrons lock up their Steins / Mas’ to be used by them only next time they pass by. We walked around for a few minutes before being invited to join the end of a table by some gentlemen who were enjoying several beers. We got talking to them for a while and got told that this group of friends had been catching up at the same beer house every Friday for over fifty years.. that’s fuckin’ awesome! Beer aspect aside, I hope I’m still catching up with my friends regularly like that when I’m in my 70’s 80’s.
I only had the one day in Munich as I left the next morning to head to Heidelberg to see a good friend of mine who I haven’t seen in some time. I’ll definitely be back in the near future (probably for Oktoberfest); the city has a fantastic communal vibe to it which many others can’t compare to. Thanks again to Susanna for showing me round, and thanks for reading!