*More on that in my food post 🙂
I have a friend studying for the year in Munich and so, although she unfortunately was out of town, we were able to get some excellent recommendations on what to do while we were in the city. Our first stop on Wednesday morning was a trip to Dachau Concentration Camp, which I’ll write about later, so for the afternoon we definitely needed something lighter. That took the form of the Glockenspiel clock in Marienplatz, which was much more entertaining than Prague’s Astro clock and which, for some reason, we found absolutely hilarious. I can only imagine how funny it would have been if we had seen the clock after our later stop to the biergarten in the Englischer Gardens, ha. After the clock finished chiming (it lasted for nearly ten minutes!) we went to a nearby church and climbed the tower to get a view of the skyline of Munich. Unlike Berlin, which was a very modern-feeling city, Munich seemed to me more like the stereotypical German city, also evidenced by the fact that we saw several men wearing lederhosen and a few women in dirndl skirts walking in the streets.
Anyway, we took a trip through the market near Marienplatz, then walked through the garden, talked to a very drunk German man who wanted our advice on a song he was writing (note to German man: “his will is up” does not make sense or mean the same as “his will is strong”), and watched some people playing a pick-up football game in the park. After a visit to the aforementioned biergarten, we went to another famed beer-drinking location: the Hofbrauhaus. I’m planning a post about food later in the week so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I do have a few things to say. One: drinking a liter of beer at a biergarten before drinking a liter of beer at a beer-hall is not the greatest idea (or maybe it is the greatest idea, depending on how you look at it). Two: having a liter of beer also means eating a lot, because you keep ordering things so you have something to eat while you’re drinking your beer. I can’t imagine doing it on a regular basis, but it was definitely a fun experience.
In the morning, surprisingly not hungover, we went to the Residence Museum. “Some of the rooms are closed for renovation,” one of the security guards told us apologetically. “You can only visit about 90 of them.” Yeah, only about ninety. First we took a trip to the treasury to see crown jewels, ornate bowls and chess sets and swords and all number of other items, and various religious items. Then we went into the residence itself, where all of the rooms were covered in gold and rich colours and all of the hallmarks of Rococo style. Rococo happens to be my least favourite things in art and architecture history, so I found each room to be uglier than the last, but it was pretty interesting to see such an ostentatious building. Afterwards, Rachelle left us to head for Rome and the remaining four of us walked around the hofgarten behind the residence, then went back to the market for lunch. We ate giant pretzels, bigger than our heads.
In the afternoon, as the sky grew cloudy and began to rain (making us miss Sevilla’s weather, although we found out later it had rained in Spain too), we took the U-bahn north toward the site of the 1972 Olympics. First we stopped off at the BMW Welt, a showcase of some of the brand’s latest and greatest cars. Cars aren’t my thing at all, but my friends enjoyed checking out some of the sleek and innovative models. Then we walked over to the Olympicpark, with its sweeping, spiderweb-like architecture. That evening, it was back to the beer halls, this time the Weisses-brauhaus. Although we stuck to half-liters this time, it was definitely the best beer I’ve ever had—how can we go back to Cruzcampo after this!?
(Side note: even though I’ve been 21 for nearly four months, it feels a bit weird to be talking about drinking legally and in restaurants. But it’s an important part of the culture, so it’s worth mentioning).
Although there were still plenty of things we could have seen in Munich, my friends and I decided to spend our last day in Bavaria by taking the train to nearby Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is mainly known for two things: it is the birthplace of Mozart, and it is the setting of The Sound of Music. We didn’t have much time in the city (our train arrived at 11 and in order to catch our plane in Munich that evening we had to leave by 4), but we had just enough time to see some of the most important sites. First we went to the Mirabell Palace Gardens, which can be seen during “Do-Re-Mi” in The Sound of Music. Then we saw the building where Mozart grew up and then crossed a bridge into the city center and saw the building where he was born.
A stop at the market in the center of the city led to us eating what I am pretty sure are the world’s largest kasebrezes (cheese pretzels) for lunch. Afterwards was St. Peter’s Abbey, where in the film the von Trapps hid from the Nazis before escaping Austria, and of course Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria was a postulant and where, in real life, Maria and Baron von Trapp were married. Then it was back to the train station and back to Munich—the train was almost a half an hour late in returning, so it was good that we had given ourselves enough time to reach the airport.
A two hour flight, 9 hour layover in Barcelona, and another two hour flight later, it was back to Sevilla. We were lucky to get back on Saturday because Semana Santa is very important in Sevilla, so we got to see several of the processions with their 17th and 18th century “pasos,” or float-like art pieces showing Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Of course, I don’t know about everyone else, but I only felt up for going out to see the processions after a nap.
There are still two more posts to come this week, one about history and one about food, but I just want to say that this is one of the best vacations I have ever had, the perfect mix of fun and learning, with beautiful sights and interesting people. Germany and Prague are both places that I have been hoping to go for some time, and I am so glad that I’ve finally gotten the chance to visit.