We got to Munich in the late afternoon/early evening and checked in to our hotel. It was definitely one of our nicest on the tour. It was an NH hotel and it was very modern and spacious. We got settled and then went as a big group to the famous Hofbrauhaus for dinner. I was so excited to go here after reading on many blogs about how so many people had such a great time when they went. The Hofbrauhaus is a brewery and was founded in 1589 and is one of Munich’s oldest beer halls. It was HUGE. There were so many people and it was so lively and fun. At one point, dozens on dozens of people in traditional clothing walked past our table singing and playing instruments (at least I think they were playing music… there was a lot of beer flowing!)
We all sat at several big tables and ordered our 1 litre steins of beer. I got the wheat beer (Weissbier) and it was delicious! I’m not the biggest beer drinker, but it was actually so good. I really enjoyed it. We also shared a few big, soft pretzels. I was in my element. I love fresh pretzels. #carbsoncarbs. For supper, I ordered the traditional pork knuckle. Lots of other contiki blogs recommended this and so did Alex, our tour guide. It was a huge, HUGE piece of slow cooked pork leg with crispy skin served with a thin gravy and a potato dumpling that was almost like a giant gnocchi. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the dumpling, but the pork was delicious. However, it was so much food and I don’t think I could eat even more than a third. It wasn’t terribly expensive though, and because Germany was supposed to include a dinner, Alex had given us each 15 euros for our meal. Jacinda shared a bit of her potato salad with me. I love German potato salad and I don’t know why I didn’t think to order it for myself. It was so good.
We had such a good time at the Hofbrauhaus. We all had so much fun laughing and joking and drinking and eating. It was definitely one of the best nights I’ve ever had. I bought a glass HB stein as a souvenir. We took a bunch of group photos outside trying to do handstands and different poses. One of the girls on our tour, Bianca, is an acrobat, and she took awesome handstand pictures everywhere we went (and everywhere else she travels–check out her instagram, @whereisbanx), so she wanted to try to get a huge handstand picture. Most of us couldn’t handstand, but we still had fun taking the pictures.
On the coach ride back to the hotel everyone was in great spirits and we were all dancing and singing along to the music and we had the greatest time. Meagan, from Saskatchewan (who reads this blog, Hi Meagan!) had her birthday today, so after celebrating at the Hofbrauhaus, most of us hung out for a while at the hotel bar to continue the celebrations. It was such a great night.
We started our morning with a bike tour around Munich. I was very nervous about this, as I only started learning how to ride a bike when I was 10 or so, and had ridden a bike maybe three times over the course of my life, the last time being when I was 12. Yeah, yeah, judge me all you want. It was never my thing and I was a scaredy cat. After lots of encouragement from everybody, I did the crazy thing and did it anyway! And it was so successful! There was only one time where I crashed in to a pole and I came out alive! The rest of the time I was cruising around the city streets with relative ease and having the time of my life seeing this beautiful city. At times, I had some trouble keeping up, but it went a million times better than I could have ever expected. I was so proud of myself and had so much fun. I was so happy to be facing a fear in a new favourite city with some of my new favourite people. It was amazing, and getting a bike is now a priority for me. I would love to get one just like the one I rode, a beautiful turquoise beach cruiser.
Our bike tour guide, Kyle, from Mike’s Bikes was super funny and gave a great tour of the city. I highly recommend doing one of their tours. They definitely seem to cater to a young crowd. We saw lots of cool things, including the ‘White Church’ (Theatinerkirche), lots of parks and monuments. Outside the Residenz building on Odeonsplatz are a set of brass lion statues. Kyle told us that we should rub them for good luck. We did, and as we were walking around them, we noticed that EVERYBODY who walked by did the same, tourists and locals alike. You could tell who was a Muenchener because they would rub the face without even looking at them, continuing to chat on their cell phones and staring straight ahead. One lady who did this noticed us nearby and told us to rub at least three of them. It was so funny. You’ll notice in my picture that the face where you rub is completely clean, while the rest of the statue is weathered. Goes to show just how much attention it gets!
We also went to an outdoor beer garden that was built like a Pagoda and it was in the “English Garden.” It was called Chinesischer Turm. It was 10 am and we ordered beer and food. When in Munich? I ordered the Weissbier again, but this time I got a half litre. (I tried to be a little bit responsible as a I rode around on a bike for the first time in a foreign city without a helmet. Do as I say, not as I do, kids!) I also ordered some potato salad, because as I mentioned earlier, I love the German stuff. Kyle told us that lots of Bavarians have beer at breakfast.
After the beer garden, we went to see the surfers on the waves of the river. So cool! People have been surfing there since the 70’s and it’s the world’s largest urban surfing spot. After this, we had free time to explore Munich. We saw the glockenspiel and walked around through the market stalls. I bought a cheese pretzel and some silver pretzel shaped earring as my Munich souvenir.
After this, we got on the coach and headed to the Dachau concentration camp. It was absolutely surreal to be there, in a place where such horrors occurred. It was very somber and I felt like I could cry the whole time. Still, I have always taken an interest in WWII and the holocaust ever since I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was in grade 4, so I felt very lucky to be there and have such an educational experience and to realize yet again, just how lucky I am. I couldn’t believe how big the concentration camp was. More than 30,000 prisoners died there. We spent a few hours there, reading the exhibits and walking through the many buildings. I spent a lot of this time by myself. I didn’t take any pictures, it just didn’t feel right, but you can read more about Dachau here.
After Dachau, we started our drive to Hopfgarten, Austria, which I will write about in my next post.
Love, Kate Bray