Lessons Learned in Munich.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I've loved hashing out these pictures and stories from our Euro-romp, but I was getting a little tired of the repetitive posting style of "So we did this, and then we did this, and then we did this..." Neither of us had been to Germany before, save the Frankfurt airport once, so Munich was a whirlwind of cultural differences and surprises around every corner.

1. Remember how we were kinda freaked out by all the WWII Nazi remnants in Salzburg? Enter, Munich - the birthplace of the Nazi party and former home of Hitler. I kept my camera in my bag an unusual amount whilst in Munich because, well, I just flat out felt weird about taking photos of where Hitler used to strut around. I know that coming to terms with history and moving on through it is part of how we progress as a society, and as Dumbledore wisely said "Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself," we just had a hard time saying things like "OOOh I know Nazis used to have speeches here, but quick - take a cute photo of me!"

2. Surprise! Nudity is legal in some parts of Munich. On our first evening, we made our way to the English Gardens after reading many recommendations to do so. Upon our arrival, we "oohed" and "aahed" at the vast landscape of greenery and streaming rivers in front of us. I pulled my camera out of my bag just as Rach slowed her pace and said something along the lines of "Uhh...I think that guy is naked" Sure enough, there was a man laying in the buff not too far from our path. Trying to stifle our giggles, we picked up our speed and kept going. Until...we saw another man in the nude..and another...and another... My camera went firmly back in my bag and we distracted ourselves from the man who decided to stand up fully naked about 6 feet away from us by staring at the dogs playing off in the distance. Munich gave public nudity in six designated areas the green light back in 2014, and we just happened to accidentally walk straight through one. Fully clothed, might I add.

The English Gardens are larger than NYC's Central Park and have surfers, a Japanese tea house, beer gardens (naturally), a Chinese Tower, biking and walking paths, and an open air theatre. 

Nearby Hofgarten, no naked people spotted.

3. "Everything we see is a LIE!!!" - Rach. Jokes aside, Munich was 82% destroyed during WWII, so while everything looks pretty old, the buildings themselves are mostly from the 1970s. Along with the other big German cities, they took the approach to rebuilding from a city-wide vote: we can either rebuild the city as it was, or go in a new, modern direction. While Berlin opted for new and modern, Munich chose to go back to how it was. The one positive thing that the Nazis ever did for Munich was documenting every inch of the city with photographs when they realised that war was imminent, giving the citizens a perfect image of what to build. 

4. Going on some sort of tour will give you insight into all the Easter eggs hidden around every corner. As we were at the end of our holiday (and scraping the bottom of our wallets) we opted for the Sandeman's free walking tour on our second morning in the city. The 3-hour tour completely flew by and we learned so many things that we completely passed by without blinking an eye the previous day. Our guide pointed out the best places for spƤetzle (SPOILER ALERT: YUM), cannon balls nestled in church roofs, farmer's markets, old myths and legends, Oktoberfest facts, and led us straight to the Michael Jackson memorial...which is a thing across from the hotel he used to stay at.

Shoutout to Rach for capturing this one

5. Seeing a city from above is still my favourite thing. We went up the new town hall in Marienplatz, the city's main square since the beginning, for for these views. You can also go up St. Peter's Church - third photo down with the pointy spire - but it'll cost you 299 steps of walking, whereas town hall includes an elevator. Both are only a euro or two for entrance, St. Peter's is the only fully panoramic viewing tower, as town hall's had a column around the back keeping you from making a full circle.

Frauenkirche, or Church of our Lady where legend has it the builder made a deal with the devil where the devil would agree to finance the church on the basis that no windows were built to celebrate "darkness". The builder agreed, but tricked the devil by positioning columns in front of the windows so he couldn't see them from where he stood in the foyer. Once the church was already consecrated, the devil realised he had been fooled and could not enter the church. Furiously, he stomped his foot into the ground and a black footprint remains in the stone and is one of the few parts of the church to survive bombing during WWII. Historians can't confirm nor deny that he was a size 9 in Converse All Stars.

6. I could survive on pretzels and beer. Yep.

What surprises have you had from a city?

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