A Trip To Munich

As we drew closer to the airport for landing in Munich, Germany I could only see green plains and fields for miles out my window. There were barely any roads and the ones I did see barely had any cars on them.

Once we got into our taxi to head to our hostel, I just looked at out the window and was so surprised over how modern everything was. We passed the Olympic Stadium (we asked our cab driver what it was) that looked like tents but instead they were metal and it was huge! Driving through the streets, it reminded me of any other city in the U.S., with only one exception. There were dirndl and lederhosen clothing shops on literally, every single corner.

We arrived super early in the day on Friday so we had time to check out the BMW museum that was only 20 minutes from our hostel. Let me tell you, I know nothing about cars nor do I have much interest in them, but this place was soooo cool. Lines and lines of thousand and million dollar cars everywhere! You were able to sit inside them and check out all the awesome features. They also had their smart cars and motorcycles on display too. It took us about 2 hours to get through the entire museum (oh, it was also free so that was a huge plus too). We ended up eating lunch in the small cafe of the BMW museum until we headed back to our hostel for a bike tour of the city that we signed up for.

We all got our own individual bikes through Mike’s Bike Tours (they’re located in Amsterdam as well) and it was all American kids my age on the tour with us. Our tour guide was a spunky, short girl, probably around 22, who was absolutely in love with Munich. She knew everything about it and made it interesting. Riding on my bike on the roads and through paths was so much fun because I haven’t ridden a bike in I don’t know how long. I forgot how much fun they are!

Our first stop was the Marienplatz, the central square of Munich. It’s been the cities main square since 1158. The squares most incredible building is the New Town Hall or the Neues Rathaus in German. Its constructed began in 1867 with a Gothic Revival architecture style. If you keep walking down this road, it is the main shopping street of the city.

Next, we were brought to the Residenz, a former royal palace home to the Bavarian Monarchs. It contains 10 courtyards and 130 bedrooms, it‘s a very long in length, but not very tall, gold color building. Today, it apparently holds one of the most beautiful art exhibits, which visitors can go in and see. After a quick history review, our tour guide took us on our bikes to take a tour in the courtyards of the Residenz. We were brought into the Brunnenhof fountain courtyard that suddenly turned from the pavement on the street to white cobblestone floors. There’s a bronze fountain the middle with human sculptures all looking at themselves in mirrors, which is why it’s jokingly now called the ‘selfie’ fountain. Residenz is huge so we were brought to one more courtyard that was just an open area surrounded by the buildings of Residenz.

After we got through Residenz, our tour guide suggested we go check out the famous Theatine Church. There was some kind of construction going on the outside of it, but as soon as you walk in, you’re surrounded by white marble, white details with the sun shining into it. Granted, I’ve been to dozens of churches studying abroad in Italy, but I honestly have to say this has to be the most breathtaking one I’ve been in yet.

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After this, we rode our bikes to the second largest beer garden in Europe. To get there, we rode through the English Garden. This was just wide and vast fields of grass with trees and a stream following through it. Thousands of people were laying out enjoying the sunny day, playing games and such. We rode right through with such awesome scenery. We got to the beer garden of Chinesischer Turm, meaning the ‘Chinese Tower’ in English. The Chinese Tower is a high wooden structure that has 5 stories and is all open. When we arrived, an orchestra band was playing traditional German songs on the 3rd level. Surrounding it, about 7,000 tables filling with people drinking beer out of those huge mugs, eating large pretzels and chicken. There were several types of beer to choose from including light, dark and a lemonade mix of beer. I got the light and it was delicious along with a huge pretzel to fill my appetite.

After an hour here, we had all forgotten we had to ride our bikes all the way back (not without purchasing one of the gigantic beer mugs for 2 euro, of course). We took a quick stop at one of the water passageways of the one stream that flows through Munich. The water passage has two huge pumps in the back of it, pumping water out creating these choppy waves. The government added these pumps because the stream is normally still, and around the time of when the Olympics were coming to Munich, the government didn’t want all the bugs and mosquitos that came with it. So, they installed these pumps.

Then, an American surfer came to Munich and noticed these choppy waves in the stream, so he decided to put two wooden panels at the bottom of it to create one big, constant wave in the stream. Ever since, this has become a sport for locals and I had the opportunity to see them in action! About 4 on each side of the wave, the surfers would take turns to jump in and surf until they fell off their board. It was so much fun to watch, and we weren’t the only ones. People were drinking beers and listening to music while watching the surfers do their thing.

That night, my friends and I headed over to Springfest, the biggest festival happening in Munich at the time. We got there as the sun set and the entire place was already bustling with huge beer tents, carnival rides, people dressed in dirndls and lederhosens (us, as well). We decided to save the rides for the next day so we just headed over the beer tents and grabbed dinner while enjoying some of the awesome German beer. Before we left, to finish the night, all the lights were turned off, including on all the rides. I could’ve sworn the power had gone out (and we got kinda scared for a minute) then we just heard fireworks! It was a great way to end the night.

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Saturday morning we headed to the festival in our dirndl outfits really early. Our first stop was the beer tent to get food and enjoy those beers again. Then we were off to the bumper cars, the huge swings, the ‘himalaya’ (which made me remember why I hate carnival rides) and a bunch of upside down roller coasters. The food (the pretzels specifically) the music (the German national anthem was played every 5 minutes) and the atmosphere was such a good time. I definitely suggest if you’re going to Munich in the spring, definitely plan it around Springfest.

The Beer Tent

The Beer Tent

Early on Sunday, we decided to head to the Dachau Concentration Camp, which is something I’ve wanted to see and experience for a while now. It was a 45 minute train ride from Munich and absolutely worth it. There isn’t much to talk about, except what came with walking through this camp, which was just a wide mix of emotions. I walked through the corridors and prison cells of the ‘special prisoners’, the Nazi’s barracks, the sleeping barracks of the victims, the court yard the Nazis would hold ‘role call’ for their prisoners and the most upsetting place, the gas chambers. I left Dachau with a heavy heart and somber emotions.

Dachau

I’m really happy that I got to see all different aspects of Munich, it was an incredible city and overall a sweet surprise. However, next time I plan on visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle, the castle that inspired Disney thats only about 2 hours outside of Munich!

Kelsey Maloney is a student at the University of Rhode Island and an official API Blogger. Kelsey is studying abroad with API in Rome, Italy.

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