Friday, October 9, 2015

Munich Day 1

We didn't set an alarm on our first day in Munich, but we woke up at around 7:30 am.  We got around and ate breakfast at the hotel - which was great.  They had an extensive selection of sausages, eggs, bacon, baked goods, deli items and fruits.  I also got a pretty darn good cappuccino.  :)

After eating, we set off for a Munich City Walk, guided by Rick Steves.  We walked back to the train/metro station and hopped on a metro to city center: Marienplatz.

Munich metros were far better than Paris.  The cars were cleaner, the stations were marked better, and each stop was announced audibly.  Also, the layout of the system was well thought out: all metro lines stop at the popular inner city stops, so as long as you're staying inside the inner city area, you can get on any metro car to take you up or down the line.

So walking up out of the metro tunnel, we immediately saw this:

Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) in Marienplatz - built in the 1800's

The glockenspiel on the New Town Hall
We were standing right in Marienplatz, looking at the amazing Neues Rathaus.  Luckily, we arrived early enough in the day that it wasn't crowded, so we took some photos and admired the view.

If you walk through Neues Rathaus, you emerge into a neat courtyard that looks like this:

In Marienplatz, there are a few other notable fixtures:

Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) - Was built in the 1300's, however it was heavily damaged by bombs during WWII and was rebuilt, so it actually looks newer than the New Town Hall.

Also, Mariensaule, or Mary's Column, was erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of the Thirty Years' War.  On top is a statue of the virgin Mary.  At the four corners, are statues of cherubs defeating the city's 4 adversaries: war (a lion), pestilence (a cockatrice), famine (a dragon), and heresy (a serpent).

We walked a few blocks and admired St. Peter's Church: - We were not allowed to take photos inside and for some reason I can't find an outside photo!

St. Peter's is a beautiful old church, being build as it currently appears in the 1300's.  The spot on which it stands was previously a church and monastery which originated in the 1100's.  After those buildings burnt down, the church was built.  This spot is presumably the originating point for the whole city of Munich.

Next stop: Viktualienmarkt.  This is a modern-day market with a lot of history.  The city has protected the area from high taxes and chain stores, so it remains possible for small local farmers and tradesmen to set up shop here.  We browsed around, and found some AMAZING food selection, from fresh produce to meats, cheeses, hops, and of course beers!

Viktualienmarkt May Pole
Amazing food.  Makes me want to cook!
Not even sure what all that food is!!  Like the purple puff??!

Here, we were able to find some goodies: some of the most amazing grapes I've ever tasted, a pretzel, and a beer for the boss.

Well hydrated, we continued our walk.  Next we saw the Jewish Synagogue.  It was built from 2004-2006 for the Jewish Community of Munich, which of course was a big step in religious equality.  Its doors feature Hebrew letters depicting the 10 commandments.

Next, we walked along the streets toward our next stop: the Asam Church.  I took the next picture just to show the atmosphere.  Munich has a lovely pedestrian-only inner city area, which makes strolling the streets easy.  The high temperatures during our time here averaged 62 degrees, so it was cool, but nice out.  It was mostly cloudy.  We were thankful we'd decided to bring sweaters and jackets.

But back to the Asam Church: this is a church built in the 1700's by the Asam brothers.  They had intended it to be their private church, but resistance from the city made them make it open to the public.  The brothers decorated the church themselves, even painting the frescoes.  They studied under Bernini in Italy before returning to Germany.  Inside, the church is small, but jam-packed with beauty.

Chris standing in front of the Asam Church.

The overwhelming church interior.
Next, we made our way toward St. Michael's Church, seeing one of the many horse-drawn brewery carts in the road...

The Hofbrau Cart

St. Michael's Church is a Jesuit church right in the thick of things in downtown Munich.  It's a beautiful building, built in the 1500's.  It still gets me that everything is so much older in Europe!  Below the church are crypts containing the remains of many important Germans, including kings, dukes, and even the daughter of Empress Elizabeth (whose palace we toured in Greece).

The beautiful high altar at St. Michael's.
The next stop was the famous Dallmayr Deli.  We didn't take any photos here, but this is probably the best delicatessen in the world.  There were chocolates, baked goods, coffees, fancy meats, cheeses, premade foods, a full restaurant, and a liquor store.  We stopped here and just browsed all the fine foods, and we bought some pine cone schnapps here!

Up next: Hofbrauhaus.  This is one of Munich's oldest and best known beer halls.  It's symbol is a crown because it was the "royal brewery" for centuries.  Now, the house is a tourist destination.  For the fun of it, we walked through the house, and it was a crazy atmosphere.  Lots of tourists, lots of music, lots of beer, and lots of noise.  Very festive though!

We walked back through downtown, catching some lunch at a tiny little sandwich shop called Ringlers, and seeing another brewhouse cart:

And the cart's home...

We also took a little time out for stein shopping - Chris had decided that he wanted one for his souvenir.  So he looked and looked.  Have no fear, he finally decided on one.

Another picture I took: check out this ivy covered house (it was near Hofbrauhaus)

With the major sights out of the way, we only had one more stop for the day...The Residenz and Treasury museums.  The Residenz is the former royal palace for the Bavarian monarchs.  It contains 10 courtyards and 130 rooms.  We did a quick tour, and took a few pictures:

Up close photo of a fountain in one of the courtyards - if you look closely you can see it's nearly entirely made of shells.
The Residenz Antiquarium - the largest residence hall north of the Alps.  I'm sitting near the middle of the photo.
The Baroque ancestral gallery
I'm not sure of its name, but this is a beautiful tiny room filled with mirrors, gold leaf, and tiny blue and white vases.
Another view of the antiquarium.

Then we toured the Treasury, which houses the jewels and treasures of the Wittelsbach dynasty.  Royal insignia, crowns, swords, goblets, goldsmith works, rock crystal, ivory work, icons and numerous other treasures like precious tableware and toiletries are magnificently presented.  Here are a few of our favorites:

The treasury was very impressive.  I kept thinking how hard it would be to put a price tag on all those things for insurance reasons!  They're nearly ALL invaluable.

After the museums, we set out on a mission to find the boys a souvenir, but didn't have much luck.  Disappointed, we returned to the hotel.  A very nice manager there directed us to a toy store and a place where locals go to eat dinner that was very close to the hotel, so we went and did those things and then went back to the hotel to rest up for Oktoberfest tomorrow.

A word about Germany: I found Munich very livable.  We never had trouble communicating in English, many people spoke well.  The metros were great, the climate was fabulous, the homes quaint, and the parks were beautiful.  There was a lot of tourist traffic of course, but I think outskirts of town would be lovely.  I felt much less wary of pick-pockets here, for some reason.  The atmosphere was jovial and celebratory, probably helped having Oktoberfest happening.  We really enjoyed it.

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