Sunday, September 12, 2010

Munich, part I

  After I finished my work in Zurich, I had a couple of free days.  I had planned to do a three-day hut-to-hut hike in the Alps, but the weather was too cold and rainy for that to make sense, so I went to Munich and visited my friend Markus, a YSSPer from this summer.  This was great fun.  The first day, we just bopped around Munich seeing the old city and such.  We started out at a big gate in the city wall:

  I'm not really good at that hold-the-camera-pointing-towards-yourself thing.  Anyhow, our first stop was for a traditional Bavarian breakfast at Markus's favorite spot:

  A traditional Bavarian breakfast is this:

  That's white sausage, sweet mustard, a pretzel, and a wheat beer.  This was a Thursday morning, perhaps 10:30 AM.  Literally every person in the place was having the Bavarian breakfast; that is why people come to this restaurant, apparently.  So before noon on a weekday, everybody in the place had a big glass of beer on their table.  Welcome to Germany!  It's a wonderful breakfast actually, and the beer is really part of it; it is the ingredient that makes all the other flavors work together.  We had two sausages and one pretzel each,and thus fortified, went out into Munich to see the sights.  Oh, but first, the stained-glass windows in the restaurant:

  The place is really more or less a temple to beer.  By the way, Markus clarified a long-standing point of confusion for me.  Hefe-weizen is beer made from wheat; weizen meant wheat (and hefe means yeast).  Weissbier is "white beer"; weiss means white.  But weissbier is not actually white, in general; it is actually just another name for wheat beer, and wheat beers can come in many shades, up to and including black.  So a weissbier might be a black beer.  Hefeweizen and weissbier are actually synonymous, and the likely explanation is the similarity between "weizen" and "weiss"; probably "weissbier" is just a linguistic corruption of "weizenbier" or some such.  In any case, the beer was lovely, very fruity and flavorful.

  Next stop: the Hofbrauhaus.  We didn't actually have any beer there, but this is a pilgrimage spot that needed to be seen; if I came to Munich and didn't see the Hofbrauhaus, I could not hold my head high:

  It has a beer garden outside:

  And an area for musicians inside:

  Apparently every evening there is traditional Bavarian oom-pah-pah type music all night long, but they hadn't gotten going yet.

  Next stop was the old Town Hall:

  Next to the old town hall is a very nice market with a musician playing a hammered dulcimer (which I used to play!), and, yes, a beer garden:

  Those cheeses look amazing; the blobby ones at top center with black mold growing across them are really something.  I didn't get to try any, sadly.

  At the center of the market is a maypole of sorts which is a totem to, yes, beer:

  This pole is donated to the city by the six main beer producers of Munich, shown in the bottom picture. This is apparently a long-standing tradition, and they make a new pole every ten years or so, and it always stands in the market square.

  Now we climbed to the top of St. Peter's (306 steps by Markus's count) and saw some views over the city:

  St. Peter's dates back to 1294, yow.  The first photo above shows the "Women's Church," which I think might be called that because it's dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, but that was a bit unclear.  The second photo is the new Town Hall, not to be confused with the old Town Hall seen earlier.  The third I don't remember the name of; the fourth is a temple to Diana I think; you will see both closer up later.  The last two are just random views across the city; note the Alps can be seen in the distance!

  Now we walked to the new Town Hall for a couple of photos:

  Onward to a sort of monument to the military conquerors of Bavaria, if I'm recalling correctly.  Hitler gave his first major speech from the steps of this monument, apparently:

  I forgot to back up and get a photo of the whole monument, but these statues were inside a sort of triumphal arch, which you can see on the left in this next photo:

  So now we were at the yellow church that we had seen from the top of St. Peter's.  In we went.  I think this might be my favorite church from my whole summer in Europe:

  Just pure white everywhere.  Wonderful.  Take that, Stift Melk!

  Now we walked northeast through the old city, through gardens and monuments:

  Eventually we reached our goal.  You guessed it: a beer-garden.  We passed several other beer-gardens on the way, just so you know.  But this one is special, being set around the foot of a Chinese tower:

  Perhaps Markus has that annoyed look because I insisted on photographing the food before we ate.  :-> I had two kinds of sausage with sauerkraut and beer.  This was easily the best sauerkraut I've had; it had little bits of meat in it, and spices, and was much tastier than the plain pickled cabbage that one generally gets as sauerkraut in the U.S.  The sausages were also good; the red one had a sort of ketchup/bbq sauce on it, and I had the white one with mustard.  The beer here was HB, from the brewery we had visited in the morning.  Yum!

  After lunch we went to an art museum; I'll do a separate post about that.  Here's an arch of triumph en route to the museum:

  The inscription at the top translates to "Bavarian Armies."  There are so many monuments to war in the world, and so few monuments to peace.

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