Friday, July 3, 2015

Munich – In Which There are Lederhosen, Munich is Lovely, and We All Drink Beer.

After the morning’s events, we all needed some time to recover, and what better place than a sidewalk cafe in the Marienplatz area of old town Munich, a super easy place to get to using public transportation. The system here is amazing, much as it is in other parts of Europe. It really makes our transportation woes even in a city the size of Vancouver seem a bit pathetic. Just build it already and watch what happens when people can move around with ease. We made full use of the Munich S-Bahn and U-Bahn systems as well as the buses and had very little trouble getting anywhere, from our hotel to Dachau and back downtown it was all a breeze, and a cheap breeze at that. One day tickets that we purchased in the morning for 8 euros were good until 6 pm the following day! There are also no complicated ticket checking systems – you buy your ticket, have it validated at an efficient date stamping machine, and you’re good to go.

Anyway – I digress. We got on the U-Bahn (underground) and popped up right in Marienplatz, to this view:


I am a huge fan of these large European squares; you may have heard me go off about them before. What a great idea to have a central focus for a town: a place were everyone can meet, sit at one of many outdoor cafes, shop, eat dinner, and people watch for hours. It was pretty much our plan to do exactly this, with a quick trip up the City Hall Bell tower to start.



Rival Bell towers.

Apparently, the view to the square below was pretty cool; I wouldn’t know as I had my face pressed to the cool stone walls. Fortunately Zoe took a picture for me:


This was followed by a quick trip to the Cathedral. I know very little about German Religion or architecture so everyone was spared a lecture. There was no sightseeing or photos allowed so we left to study a different type of religion: beer and cafes. In Germany, you can order a beer if you are 14 and with a legal guardian. I wasn’t sure how this would go over with Terra’s actual legal guardians so I ignored her pleas to allow her to order her own beer and instead, my mum let them pose for photos with hers, and even take a sip.


We sat in this cafe in the inner square of Marienplatz for an hour or so, enjoying chocolate cake and iced tea, and soaking up the atmosphere. And right on cue, as soon as we sat down, an accordion player started up, and it wasn’t even annoying.


As hard as I had tried to divert their attentions, the girls had spotted the shopping as we got off the U-Bahn and so we spent the next couple of hours browsing the shops (sorry about the platform boots, Chris and Cheryl), and looking for that most Bavarian of fashions, Lederhosen. Now, a word about Lederhosen: I had thought, mistakenly it turns out, that they were a bit of a joke. This is not the case. On numerous occasions we saw men walking around, talking on their mobiles, or hanging out with friends, and wearing lederhosen. Some were even wearing the little peaked caps that go along with them. Apparently, according to a Bavarian man I was talking to, a good pair can cost $2000! The more worn they are, the better,and the practice of passing down your lederhosen to your son is encouraged.


This group were all wearing Lederhosen, with one exception. I tried to be unobtrusive in my photo taking but clearly failed at that as the guy in the red shirt was on to me.

We eventually tracked down a Lederhosen store where I considered purchasing a pair for my friend, Pepi, but unfortunately they were prohibitively priced. Sorry, Buddy.


i briefly considered purchasing myself one of these little dirndl numbers but, well, you know…the colours were all wrong. We browsed around for a while longer checking out the sausage stands and cuckoo clocks (which I really wanted to buy) until we had worked up an appetite again.



Fortunately, the perfect restaurant presented itself to us, complete with jolly frauleins, sausages on the menu, and of course, beer. I finally relented and let the girls order a dealcoholized beer each, and even had one myself. There are usually two or three on the menu (dealcoholized beer, not girls), and they have them on tap as it is quite popular here to intersperse one’s beer drinking with the dealcoholized version in order to make the night last longer.


We can all see where this might go.


I’ll just say there were a lot of selfies taken that night. And as it turns out, Zoe didn’t really like hers so Terra had two (beer, not selfies – she had about a hundred of those). Sorry Chris and Cheryl but when in Rome…

We did also eat dinner. And dessert – those girls can sure put away the dessert. We rolled back to our hotel, The New Orly (certifiably boutique as confirmed by the glass vase of green apples on the reception desk), which is situated in a fabulous residential  neighbourhood of leafy streets and beautiful buildings that mainly escaped the bombing during WW2. It’s only two stops from the main station and four from the Marienplatz. We thoroughly enjoyed our walks there in the morning and evenings, although the separated bike lane system is similar to Amsterdam’s in that it shares the sidewalk. Here in Munich, if a pedestrian strays into the bike lane and causes an accident, the fault is automatically with the pedestrian. We had a couple of close calls but figured it out pretty quickly after that.


Our rooms are teeny tiny but have everything we need, and the bed are comfy, but the best thing about this hotel is the amazing breakfasts that are included. I know I have been going on about breakfast but they have been a highlight of this trip. The Germans really lay it on with everything from a fresh orange juice press and endless oranges, to champagne cooling in a bucket, to smoked salmon coleslaw, lox, all manner of cheese and cold cuts, pastries, eggs and bacon, hot and cold cereals, yogurt, any kind of coffee  and tea you could imagine, fresh fruit, and salad. We spent a fair amount of time loading up each morning.

Anyway, I digress again but this is all to say that we went to bed with a lot to think about, and looking forward once again to breakfast and our last full day in Europe, which was to be spent in Salzburg, Austria. I was especially looking forward to this as I had us going on an organized tour by train, which meant that finally, I would be able to follow someone else around and let them figure out which train and where is the bus stop and what time is it anyway. I had been promised that the tour guides for this company (Viator) were knowledgeable and funny, the tour used public transport not huge buses, and there were no headsets and earpieces, nor would the guide be carrying a flag for us to follow. There would be a history lecture on the train (YES!) and a walking tour of the city followed by free time. It sounded like the perfect end to our trip and I was so looking forward to it I had trouble getting to sleep. No one else did though and the girls were snoring in no time.

More tomorrow!

Danke for screeching,



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