Just before the Danube River cruise, we arrived in Munich from Vienna using Eurail passes. We had a few hours in the afternoon on a Friday before heading out to Augsburg to visit a friend for the night and then a full Saturday and Sunday morning in Munich again before using the Eurail pass to get to Passau for the Uniworld cruise. Munich is most famous for its beer culture, I suppose, but we were pretty pleased with the historical buildings and the atmosphere of the place. It is not Vienna, that’s for sure. Do not step out in front of cars; they won’t stop like Vienna. It’s maybe a bit more gruff, fewer smiles, and not as light, but make no mistake, Munich is a must visit.
Just a ten-minute walk east of the Munich main train station (Munich Hauptbahnhof) the best of the old city starts to emerge. You can store your bags at Munich train station if you are just planning to pass through and visit Munich’s greatest hits.
Inside St. Michael Church.
For 2 Euro you can see the coffin of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and numerous members of his family. These are all metal coffins, some of them quite impressive in their details.
In keeping with “I (go to) see dead people,” here’s another bit of funerary fun. This is the impressive cenotaph (no body) of King Louis IV of Bavaria (also known as the Holy Roman Emperor, King Ludwig IV the Bavarian). This is right inside the Frauenkirche, the cathedral of the archdiocese in Munich. An impressive two tower church marking the skyline, it is also close to a couple beer gardens.
Spaten Brewery. I drink a bit of Spaten Optimator whenever I am at the Memorial Union back in Madison, lakeside behind the University of Wisconsin. They have a beer hall and beer garden there. Cool, I know. So I was at first excited to see the original brewery, then dismayed to find they had been bought out by another of the world’s bastions of beer mediocrity. Screw you, Spaten-Löwenbräu-Gruppe Belgo-Brazilian Anheuser-Busch InBev! And so rather than patronize them, I went with the brewer loved by the locals: Augustiner. The only big brewery still locally owned. So what if they couldn’t make me invisible with a liter.
Check out that Munich skyline. Here’s some modern architecture in front of some old-school churchitecture in front of snow-capped mountains. Awesome.
My Munich buddy Chris shows me what a Schnitt is. With an Augustiner, I might point out.
I find it funny that town hall in German is a Rathaus. Quite the convenient pun if you don’t like your mayor. But the Munich Rathaus will bowl you over. I just kept shooting photos over and over again, trying to get it into a wide lens. I wish more people made more buildings as cool as this.
The Marienplatz stop on the U-bahn and S-bahn takes you right under (surprise) the Marienplatz which is the main square of Munich and the site of the Rathaus as well as some patio seating with beer with a view of it. Expect street musicians and other performers.
Details from the Munich Rathaus.
One of the bell ringers at the Rathaus. The Rathaus Glockenspiel does a little bell show every day at 11 a.m. Watch for pickpockets as you stand gobsmacked by the story that unfolds – complete with some jousting. The show is repeated at noon and 5 pm in summer when tourism is in full swing.
The Munich Town Hall at night.
The view from the nearby bell tower, which costs about 1.50 Euro to allow yourself to nearly kill yourself with steps. And look! Is that the Rathaus? Can’t. Stop. Photographing.
Yes, it is an actual bell tower, and here I can prove it.
And then I suppose one merits a beer after climbing such a tower. Plenty of that to be found. Most beer halls are bound to a particular brand of beer, so choose wisely. Most serve food as well of the pretzel and schnitzel variety.
My friend Michael (n0t a Münchener but a Frankfurter), shows his beer strength with a traditional German challenge. The photo may seem blurry, but that’s about how it looked to me after the first liter.
Seriously? Yes, seriously. There is no small amount of Bavarian pride around here, and we saw at least half a dozen elderly locals seemingly just wearing some traditional clothing around town. This stuff does NOT come cheap. The pants are supposed to be real tanned deer-skin.
In case you missed the Munich Rathaus.
Forget all those buxom blonde Bavarian babes in the Oktoberfest posters. All our servers were of the sterner, more matronly variety, and any orders that were mixed up, we just ate and kept quiet about it.
Local politics: an anti-Nazi demonstration in Munich. More photos of that event right here.
Back with more Munich and a walking tour of Sophie Scholl, a famous Nazi resister back in the 40s here in Munich…