During my post-semester travels to Germany, I stayed in Munich from Sunday, May 2, through Thursday the 6th, when I went on to Berlin. Despite cloudy and sometimes rainy weather it was enjoyable. The capital city of Bavaria was much more modern than I had been excepting and its “historic” center is actually quite small. I realized quickly I was not as familiar as I thought I was. Like in Stuttgart the Hauptbahnhof was located just on the edge of the center, but was of course much larger. It was rebuilt in the late 1950s after sustaining severe damage in WWII as the rest of the city did, so its exterior appearance is not very pronounced, nor particularly attractive. The train shed is not the grand space of Frankfurt’s main station, but elegant in its own means.
My friend who was also doing some post-semester travel happened to be in Munich on Sunday and Monday so I met up with him and hung out with a number of people staying at his hostel. Monday morning we went on a three hour “free tour” (paid by tips) of central Munich. It actually didn’t cover much area but was extremely informative and gave everyone a really good insight into Munich’s history and culture. It turns out nearly all of the historic center of Munich was ruined beyond repair in the war, but it was completely rebuilt to appear the same as before. This was both hugely disappointing and intriguing at the same time. The central public space in Munich is Marienplatz, which draws crowds daily at 11am for the Rathaus Glockenspiel. Just around a corner is a big market space with a number of different vendors (photo at top) as well as a large beer garden.
Following the tour we ended up going to a beer hall with our guide and several others on the tour. Later on we went to Hofbrauhaus with two guys from the UK that we had met on the tour. For dinner we went to Augustiner beer hall just north of the Hauptbahnhof. This was where I had my first real German meal – wiener schnitzel. It wasn’t exactly the most productive day, but it was cold and gloomy out again, and was interesting getting to know a few other world travelers.
On Tuesday, I spent all of the day going to the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain peak in Germany, which I’ll talk about in the next post. Wednesday, my last full day in Munich, I visited the Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum (transportation museum) in the morning and the main Deutsches Museum in the afternoon with more exploring on foot in between. I, of course, enjoyed the transportation museum, which had a number of historic and contemporary German rail and transit vehicles on display, as well as several cars, bikes, etc. The Deutsches Museum, the largest museum of science and technology in the world, is located on an island in the river to the east of the historic middle. It was indeed large – I went through pretty quickly in maybe two hours, hoping to see more of the city before it got dark or started to rain.
After the museum I took the U-Bahn (urban subway) out to see the 1972 Olympics stadium complex. Neat to see, but it was quite a walk and it had began misting. That evening I strolled around the city center for my last night in Munich. Munich was an interesting city to visit – a modern and influential city with pleasing urban scale, terrific transit, and a rich cultural identity.
See all my photos from Munich here.