Subtour 2: The Great Cities of Europe. 0425 Fairy Tale City (Germany 001—new)

Munich Travel Blog

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The bus ride to Stuttgart was a lot of fun. Had a lot of social interaction which kind of made up for the rather lonely days in the Paris suburbs…

 

First there was the talkative French guy next to me who loves travelling to Morocco for all the wrong reasons… Then a young German-American guy in front of me joins the conversation… He’s actually a classical composer who was just accepted into New York’s renowned Guillard School of Music… Then girl on the other sides joins the conversation… she happens to be an American opera singer who’s mother is from the same town in Mexico where I grew up!

 

Everybody agrees that I shouldn’t get off in Stuttgart, but just stay on until Munich instead… So I finally give in…

 

I have some very interesting discussions with the composer fellow and opera singer.

We talk about what it’s like to be bi cultural, something we all have in common …… It’s fun to chat with and learn from musicians that are completely out of my league.  We talk about classical music and whether or not it’s good that it be fused with pop music…

 

Then, a Moroccan fellow behind me needs to talk to the driver who only speaks German.  So I translate for him from Arabic to English, then the German American translates from English to German--  and back again… a humourous little moment…

 

So we cross through Southern Germany through lush forests and past imposing factories… Fortunately we get off the autobahn for while so I can get a feel for what small German town are like… The average village doesn’t have as much character as a typical French village, but they still beg to be explored… The question is how to travel from town to town without spending too much…

 

Finally we reach the outskirts of Munich… Not far away is the Munich’s famous innovative football stadium which changes color depending on which team is winning…

 

It looks like I’m a bit far to try walking to the center of town, and since I’ll only be here for one day, I want to be sure I see all the cool stuff.

So I head over to the sparkling clean train station.

 

No turnstyles here… I can’t help but think of how much money I’d save if I just didn’t bother to buy a ticket…

 

And then, I get off the train, and step out of the station of Marianplatz, straight into a fairy tale…

 

Right in front of my is this enormous, elaborately decorated building that looks half castle, half cathedral (it’s actually the “New Town Hall”) the bells are chiming a melody and carved life size figures are popping out of various openings and spinning around… The plaza is packed with tourist who I guess come here exactly at this time for this daily event…

Then to the right is a fairy tale style castle town… In fact, all the buildings around look like they came straight out of a fairy tale.

 

Some people might scoff at Marianplatz as a cheesy tourist trap… But for a guy just arriving in Germany with no idea what to expect, to happen on Marianplatz, just at the time of the chiming of the bells, this experience is priceless…

 

Thanks, guys for convincing me to stay on the bus until Munich

 

In contrast with Paris, Munich has a very cozy feel.

  All around this “heart of the city” is a labyrinth of alleyway with treasures hidden around every bend.  There’s a very tall brick cathedral with sort of onion domes at the top of each tower.  At first seems a bit out of place in this German city, but as I’ll soon find out, Munich is really a blend of several cultures and architectures.  Inside the cathedral are groups of life size sculptures depicting scenes of battle and victory…

 

I continue on down the main pedestrian street, past buildings with red flowers bursting from every windowsill, then out through a castlelike gate to a large fountain area--  a popular fountain to run through on a hot day like today. 

 

I’ll come back to the explore the old city a bit more later, but for now I need to see if I can find the Eurolines bus station to get my ticket to the next town.

 

I head on north through the very modern train station and wander around to where the bus station is supposed to be--  only to find that it’s still under construction… And it’s started raining.

.. but I won’t let this spoil my wonderful day in Munich

 

I finally find the ticket office and book an overnight bus to Vienna.  I also find out the that hostels are a lot cheaper here than in France--  as little as 12 Euros a night even in the middle of summer.  So if I wasn’t on this bus pass thing, I’d definitely want to stick around this area a bit longer…

 

I wander around the north area of town, which has a lot of Turkish fast food joints and more of an ethnic mix to it.  The Turkish sandwiches in Germany are the best in Europe--  and a lot cheaper than in France… so it looks like I won’t been eating canned food today…

 

I head on back to the Old Town where a 17 member drum and brass band is busking in front of the north gate… Quite a sight to see!  Back inside the old city I find one of the most lively busking strips I’ve ever seen.

  A couple of fellows are pulling in quite a crowd belting out popular rock tunes… One fellow is playing an ancient medieval instrument… Then in an enclosed area with good acoustic a couple of classical violinists are showing off their skills…

It’s really a refreshing sight to see.  Here it seems stopping and listening to a busker is part of the Munich experience. Buskers are not just glorified beggars here… they are part and parcel of the charm and beauty of this city. 

 

I ponder on whether or not to join the Munich busking club.  It would be fun--  and I might be able to make a bit of money.  The problem is that I only have one day here in Munich, and quite frankly, I’d rather spend that day exploring the city than stuck in one spot.  If I’m going to busk I’ve got to do it right.  It takes time and a lot of energy to build up a crowd and hold their attention… Right now, I’d just rather use that energy for other things…

So instead I opt to head across the river and play my songs on a peaceful little island in the middle…

 

Afterwards I explore the quieter neighborhoods on the west side of the river, past a seemingly endless park area peppered with biergartens…

 

A much different feel here than in France… For one thing,  bicycles rule here.

  I’m not afraid of cars here--  they’re extremely careful about pedestrians.  But I am afraid of the bicycles--  they barrel down their bicycle lanes at full speed… woe to the pedestrian who gets in their way…

Elections are nearing and I notice a poster of a lady candidate showing her riding on a bicycle doing her grocery shopping… clearly I’m a long ways from Pennsylvania where people snicker at the loser riding his bicycle to work…

 

 A bit farther up ahead I find a plaza with a beautiful church with a needlelike spire and a tall pole with multiple coats of arms on in…

 

The back near the river, I find a magnificent Roman style monument/fountain/pillar overlooking the city…


Then back over the river, I see a bunch of people looking down into the river so I go to see what’s going on. 


And that’s when I discover “River Surfing”.

 

Here’s how it works: you have a rushing river that hits a lot wall of sorts creating a wave.

  Guys (and one girl) line up to takes turns trying to “surf” that wave.  If they do it just right, they can ride the wave indefinitely rather than get swept downstream.  A couple of the guys can even do tricks and spins…

It’s pretty cool to see a sport I’d never even heard of before.  I guess, since Germany doesn’t have a surfing beach, they’ve decided to innovate…

 

On into the city, I wander about exploring the splendid architecture and gardens of south… cathedrals from different periods… Another Roman style building blended with modern steel and glass--  usually these kinds of fusions don’t work, but here I think it does…

Then I head down to the arch at the south end, then back up through the university area with fun little bars, cafes and restaurants lining the sidewalks…

 

…And on into the evening… I take another tour all around the old town not wanting to waste a single minute… And then finally catch a train back to the Eurolines station at the edge of town…

 

It’s been a beautifully refreshing day.

  The old town that reminded me of the fairly tales I read  growing up… The variety of architecture…. The bicycles… the river surfers… experiencing a very different culture after exploring 49 French towns… and of course, doner kebabs…


I definitely want to spend more time here in Germany

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photo by: AleksandraEa