Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Munich was cool. I'm starting to get to a point, though, where I'm getting tired of traveling, I think. It will be nice to sit down on my couch and watch tv (preferably an ANTM marathon), but I know that I'm not ever going to get a free RailEurope pass ever again, so until Sunday I am going to just keep going.

But, anyway, Munich...
The first night I got there I was really tired, so I just hung out at the bar at the hostel and met these 2 really nice girls from Gothenburg, and we decided to go on the free bike tour the next day. So, at 10 am, we met up with a big group of tourists in the city center and collected our bikes for the tour. Apparently Lenny, the guy who ran the tour, used to work for Mike's Bike Tour, which is a famous tour group. Now, though, he runs free bike tours and it was so good! We got to ride around the city on these really sweet old bikes, the kind that only stop by back-pedaling, instead of walking around in the heat. I was slightly worried about the safety of the pedestrians and drivers of Munich, due to the fact that I had not sat on a bike in years, but after wobbling around the parking lot a bit, I got much better.

We rode around the city, stopping at main buildings and the college aged guy who ran the tour told us all about the history of each place, along with super lame jokes that I'm sure he has been repeating twice a day for a year or so. He was cool, though, and we had a really good time.

We stopped at many of the squares and buildings that were significant in WWII and were involved with the whole Hitler ordeal, but it was nice because he was respectful of the people in Munich who don't like hearing about all the events that went down, so when he told us certain stories about Hitler, we would pull into a less-trafficed area. But we saw the square he marched through, and we saw the location of the famous Beer Hall Putsh.
We later stopped by the square that had the huge mustard colored church (left), which was build to celebrate the birth of a baby boy from some famous king or something (the problem with tours is that if you tune out, then you don't know what anything is), and the government building next to it, or maybe it was a library? City hall? Memorial?(right) . I also learned what all the statues meant, but immediately forgot. Perhaps I should start writing this stuff down earlier.

Our next stop was the HofbrÀuhaus (left), one of the most famous beer halls in Munich. We went to it 2 days later (the 3 guys from NY who I had met in Florence also came to Munich, as well as the 2 Swedish girls I met), and it was so cool! The waiters wore traditional old school German attire, and there was a band playing like polka music or something, and we were served these massive mugs of beer (1 liter each). I had to share one with the girl next to me, because 1 liter of beer is whoa huge. We also shared German sausages and sauerkraut, so I felt somewhere between whoa German and whoa touristy.

But, back to the tour. We rode through the Englischer Garten (designed and founded by and American, not and Englishman, but somehow the name stuck otherwise), which was a garden that I'd love to be able to go back through if I ever was in Munich again. On the tour we stopped at another famous beer garden, which was centered around a large Chinese tower (left). With 7,000 seats, it is the 2nd largest beer garden in Munich. I bought a half liter of wheat beer mixed with lemonade, and a giant German pretzel which I ended up giving most of it away, due to its massive size (above right is a picture of me and Amanda, one of the girls from Gothenburg).

The last stop on our tour was to watch these hardcore surfers on the Eisbach, a small man made river. River surfing is intense, and apparently if they fall wrong, they smash into the concrete below the wave. But we stayed and watched them for a while, and no one was injured so I guess they know what they are doing.

The next day, me and the NY boys and the Sweden girls went to the Dachau concentration camp memorial. The Dachau was the first concentration camp to open in Germany in 1933 and was a prototype for other German camps. In total, over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries were housed in Dachau of whom two-thirds were political prisoners and nearly one-third were Jews. 25,613 prisoners are believed to have died in the camp. We went there with a tour guide, which was both good and bad. She knew a lot about the history of Dachau, but we went a lot faster than I would have liked, and we barely got to see everything.
I took a few pictures, but then I kind of stopped half way through because the whole place was so sad and I didn't want to take pictures of the crematoriums and gas chambers. I did though, take a picture of the memorial statue (above right), as well as the fence around the camp (left). I went to the Holocaust museum in DC, but it was completely different to go to an actual camp, with all the barracks and jail cells and barbed wire fences. I was glad that I went, especially since I had taken a class about the history of Anti-Semitism back in Ireland, but I don't think I can go to another one again.

In all, I loved Munich. It was such a nice city, but I was only there for 2 full days, and I really needed more time in order to see everything. Therefore, it is on my list of places to go back to.