Exploring Munich with the locals
Beer Halls are one of the big things you associate with travelling to Munich. However, there is more to Munich than just beer. We discovered beautiful Gothic buildings, iconic cars and surfing during our afternoon tour of Munich.
When we arrived in Munich our hosts took us for lunch at a beer hall as the first item on the day’s itinerary, taking in the highlights of Munich.
We took a brief walk through the old town of Munich, arriving at restaurant with elaborately painted, high arched ceilings. Patrons enjoyed into huge plates of meat, German style and downed large steins of beer, while music from a brass band resonated through the venue.
An oom-pah band played traditional Bavarian music and we were surprised to see many of the locals had donned their traditional costumes for Sunday lunch. We chose the sit outside in the gardens and enjoy the beautiful summer weather for our introduction to hearty Bavarian food, before heading off on our afternoon’s sightseeing.
We enjoyed a few refreshing ales, and large servings of traditional Bavarian meat and potatoes, then as we were leaving our hosts took us on a tour of the beer hall. We were amused to see that the regulars have a “locker system for their personal beer steins. No drinking from a standard glass here.
Neue Rathaus (New Town Hall)
We strolled through the old town to Marienplatz, where the Neue Rathaus (New Town Hall) dominates the town square. The towering gothic stone building was commenced in 1867, with annexes added up until it was finally completed in 1903, when the famous Glockenspiel was installed.
Crowds gather in Marienplatz at 11am and midday, when the Glockenspiel in the tower balcony begins a 15 minute show. Figurines twirl on two levels representing stories from Munich’s history, including a royal wedding, a jousting tournament and traditional dancers. The golden bird at the top ends the show when it emerges and chirps to conclude the show.
Inside the Rathaus we firstly headed downstairs to visit the richly painted cellar vault, home of the Ratskeller, a traditional Munich restaurant, before taking a lift to the top of Munich.
From the top of the 85 metre high tower is an observation deck high above Marienplatz. From here looked down not only on the people in the plaza who looked like ants scurrying about their business, but also panoramic views across the city.
The twin onion domes of the Gothic cathedral, Frauenkirche are an unmistakable Munich landmark, dating back to 1468. The Cathedral was heavily damaged during WWII and has undergone significant restoration since then.
At the entry our hosts pointed out the “Devil’s footprint”, a large foot imprint in the tiles. According to legend, the original architect did a deal with the Devil to finance the construction on the condition there were no windows. The architect had designed the huge pillars lining the knave so they hid the windows from sight. When the Devil noticed the stained glass windows, however he apparently stomped his foot in rage, leaving his imprint in the entry.
The magnificent stained glass window dating back to the 15th century behind the altar leads you down the nave through the towering pillared arches. The sheer scale of the cathedral is truly amazing. Of course we had to head to the tomb of the princes, in the crypt behind the chancel, which is the final resting place for many Bavarian royals.
Surfing Munich style
Surfing is certainly not something we expected to find in a city so far from the sea. When we were strolling through the English Gardens on the Eisbach River we were surprised to come across crowds of surfers lining up to take their turn on “the waves”.
Water flows through the narrow 12 metre wide river at a rapid pace, creating waves in the strong current. Here surfers take it in turns to show off their board skills, athletically manouvering their boards through the water. We spent quite some time enjoying the thrills and spills of the local surfers. BecauseThe currents are very dangerous, so anyone can’t just turn up and ride the waves. Only experienced surfers are allowed to navigate the surf, joining the Eisbach surfing club
Our final stop for the day was at another Munich icon – BMW world.
The four cylinder BMW tower houses not only the head offices of Bayern Motor Werks, but also a museum displaying the technical development of cars and motorcycles.
From the latest racing numbers, luxury automobiles, or the latest in hybrid vehicles, it was all there. We finished off our first day’s exploration sitting in a Rolls, trying out a BMW motor cycle and enjoying a number of the interactive displays.