Munich

Munich is a weird city. It's quite large and very busy. It doesn't seem to have a lot of old buildings though. Most of the buildings were bombed into smithereens during WWII, but I also think that the Germans just pulled down a bunch of buildings after the war using bomb damage as an excuse.

Marienplatz (the big central square) has a great Gothic style Rathaus (town hall) with a very large glocken and figuren spiel (bells and animated robot figures) in the clock. A few times a day the figures march around in a circle in front of the king and queen of Bavaria and then a jousting match takes place. Funny how the horseman carrying the colors of Austria (red and white) loses the the horseman carrying the colors of Bavaria (sky blue and white)...

I went on a bicycle tour of the city with 18 other people and a Scottish guy. 14 college aged girls and 4 guys. At one point we were in the Englischer Garten, which is like Central Park. Our guide pulled us off onto a small meadow next to a fast- moving small canal (it was maybe 5' 6" deep and 15 feet across. The temp was maybe 45-50 degrees and the current was moving at about 1 or 1.5 m per second).

He said, "OK! We're gonna go for a SWIM! It'll be great and you'll always remember this as the highlight of your stay in Munich and maybe in Europe! Take your clothes off and then we'll jump in and float down to a bridge and then climb out!"

So within 2 minutes I was standing in a park in my undies with a bunch of people (5 girls, 3 guys) and getting instructions as to how to jump in and where to watch out for hazards, etc. The girls were very cool and afterwards one looked at me and said, "You know, I've been in this city for 5 1/2 hours and already I've gone on a bike tour, taken off all my clothes in front 20 strangers and had lunch in a beer garden!"

I thought that was a funny thing to say! :-)

Here are some photos from that day.

The museums are great and so is the Residenz, the palace of the Bavarian kings located right there in town.If one were to go to Munich, I would recommend alloting 2 whole days to see it and, of course, do the

Beer hall thing!

Bavaria has a great tradition in its beer halls. Hitler tried to overthrow the German government in the 20's by inciting a riot in a Munich beer hall (destroyed in the war and then bulldozed with nary a plaque to ID the site), but nowadays the Americans simply try to incite a fat Bavarian hofbrau frau to throw them out by drinking at least 1 *mass* (pronounced "mahss") of beer. A mass is 1 litre. YAHOO! In general you can order a mass of helles (light colored), dunkel (dark) or weiss or weizen (white or wheat) beer. I enjoy them all, thank you very much. I also had a mass of maerzen, which is a light springtime beer that was delicious. You can also get traditional german food in a beer hall, sometimes by going to various counters and picking and choosing or other times by ordering from a menu. I enjoyed this aspect of beer halls very much as well.

:-)

Germany is considered by many Americans as being awash in beer, but in reality only Bavaria is. The other parts of Germany have the gall (Gaul) to charge you the same for a 12 oz bottle as Munich beer halls charge for a mass. The Rhine River Valley region of Germany is a very famous wine area, so they are generous with the wines (sometimes the wine list is 4 or 5 pages long) but they have only 1 beer brand available.

I did not enjoy this aspect of Germany very much.

:-)

And what, you ask, should *I*, the future Stupid American Tourist in Germany, eat for dinner or lunch or breakfast with my mass of beer?

The answer, of course, is

Sausages!

Sausages, called wurst, are the staple food. Various kinds of meats, spiced and stuffed into an intestine are roasted, grilled or boiled and then consumed, usually with kraut and potatoes. I recommend pretty much any of them EXCEPT the blutwurst, which is a truly scary wurst. Do not order it. I am serious. Do not ask me why, just do as I say. Order a bratwurst or a weisswurst instead. Leberkaese on a pretzel is good, too.

If you get tired of sausages (and shame on you if you do) then you can order a

Schnitzel!

Schnitzels are pork cutlets that are usually breaded and then deep fried. Can you guess what you get with them?

Sauerkraut and potatoes!

The type of schnitzel usually indicates whether a sauce is put on it or how it's cooked. For example, a Weinerschnitzel is a breaded and fried pork cutlet, no gravy and the potatoes are sometimes fries. A Jaegerschnitzel is a schnitzel with brown gravy and mushrooms.

If you get tired of sausages AND schnitzels you can go to a pizza place, but the hot tip here is eat it with a knife and fork. You are a Stupid American if you eat it with your hands.

Food in Germany and Austria is "good", but it is not what I would call "gourmet". Very often the mainstay dishes in European countries are "farmer's meals". You know, very heavy meals designed to allow one to go out into the fields and work, or recover from a hard day of laboring for the King (or the Emperor). BUT, it is good food nonetheless. Germans and Austrians eat lots of sausages and potatoes, as well as the famous sauerkraut. Pork is a large part of their diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always available at the market in the square. Sometimes the market is open 5 or 6 days a week, other times just 1 or 2 days. It depends on the city, I suppose. Supermarkets also exist, but they are not the same size as the MONSTER markets we have. People still go to the baker for bread, the fruit and vegetable store and the cheese store. Then they go to the konditorei for a pastry! :-)

As far as my stay there goes, well, seeing college girls in their panties in the middle of a city bike tour should pretty much sum it up for you (it did for me anyway). Seeing college girls in their panties would pretty much sum up any vacation I have, though, so perhaps that isn't such a good image to project.

I will think about that some more and get back to you.