Friday, 4 November 2011

Europe Tour- Munich, Germany

Since the beginning of this semester I have been on my toes. I know now that attempting to read your coursework is a real drain of your time. I have also been busy with other activities on campus. My father saved me from premature graying when he suggested a week-long trip around Western Europe. I convinced my professors of the necessity of this trip, packed my bags and left the remote corners of Semenyih to the shores of Brindisi. It took me four flights and two sleep-less nights to reach Brindisi (My mom joined me from Cochin. From there we flew to Rome via Doha and then to Brindisi.)
The travel plan was already charted out by my Dad- three countries in a week. Two days in Germany, four days in Austria, two in Switzerland- Parfait!!
 30th Oct : We flew from Brindisi  to Verona (In northern Italy) early in the morning  and from there we took a train to Munich (Muenchen). 
It was four hours of travel through picture-postcard scenes. Our train rambled through the great Alps, we passed tiny European villages with green pastures and rolling hills with cows grazing on them...(The setting reminded me so much of Dil Waale Dulhaniya Le Jaayeenge , and of course I had a middle-aged version of the Kajol-Sharukh jodi with me for entertainment :D) 
We could guess we were in Austria when we saw the plains. I was now seeing what I studied in my geography textbooks back in school! The architecture was also a pointer. There is a marked deviance from the Italian architecture. The churches can be mistaken for mosques with their prominent domes. Of course the most obvious difference is the language. The names of the stations changed from Bolzano and Bressanone to Innsbruck and Worgl. We were willkommened  in Germany by box shaped houses and buildings. In a train journey that lasted less than 6 hours I had seen three different architectural styles!
Once in Munich we checked into our hotel- Hotel Wallis- and set out to explore the city in what little day light was left. Btw, on 31st Oct all European countries set their time one hour back. So now the sun sets at 4.45 pm :D
It was freezing cold outside. However, after 8 months in boiling Malaysia I embraced it with shivering hands. Our walk led us to a Pakistani Restaurant where we had excellent Chicken Shorba which warmed us up from the very inside. Afterwards we took a tram ride to see the city by night. Back in the room- jetlagged souls that we were- we collapsed into our beds
Next day we decided to take a Hop on-Hop off bus tour around the city as we had just one day and absolutely no clue about what we need to and can see in Munich. It turned out to be a pretty good idea…

Munich is the capital of the state of Bavaria. It is one of the biggest and most populated cities in Germany. Munich has a lot of history to its credit, some parts of which are dark. It was one of Hitler’s strongholds when he was in power. The first concentration camp was built a few miles away at Dachau.
What’s impressive about Munich is how it was rebuilt, to its current grandeur, after it’s almost total destruction in the 2nd World War.Walking along the streets of Munich today you can’t but admire how in just 6 decades the city has restored its past glory.

It’s amazing how the past and present go hand in hand in Munich. While the city still has it’s gardens, fountains, monuments and squares, it is also a business hub with headquarters of some of the world’s leading automobile companies. I never knew BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works (As opposed to Beloved My Wife :D)

Our first guide in the Hop on- Hop Off, Ursula, was a pretty dynamic German lady. While talking about the beer-obsession in Bavaria she said, ‘Half liter of beer a day keeps a doctor away in Bavaria’. You can see people- old and young, men and women-sitting outside cafes and in restaurants talking over gigantic mugs of beer and digging into greasy hot dogs and burgers.
Our first stop was at Hofgarten. We hopped off there and made way into the famous English Garden. It’s a huge garden, one of the world’s largest spread around an area of 3.7 km.
It’s a beautiful place! And autumn made it all the more beautiful. Yellow, orange, crimson red, sneak peaks of surviving green leaves…on dark trees, falling, gently swaying in the air and scattered on the cobbled streets…It somehow made the monuments look grander. Many people find autumn depressing. I find inspiration in it. Autumn is nature shedding it’s past…it’s somehow nature’s way of telling us that nothing is worth clinging on to, for in the end there is always spring, rebirth-regeneration, new beginnings…

We spent a good two hours in the English Garden, even then we couldn’t cover even half of the sights there. We were informed later that the garden’s (artificial) stream is popular among surfers (Apparently they surf even in winter!)
After a cappuccino break we hopped in again. Next stop: Marienplatz. This is one of the city’s main attractions. It’s a huge square buzzing with tourists and tourist traps. The square houses the new town hall- Nueus Rathaus. It’s a grand structure built in the gothic style.

 It took almost 3 decades for the completion of this hall. Moving ahead from the square you’ll see streets lined with branded outlets- Zara, H & M, Mango… There were quite a few sales on so the place was really crowded. From there we proceeded to Viktualien Market. It was built as a substitute for the Marienplatz which was the city’s first shopping area.It’s a huge square with various kinds of food stalls. 

It was surprising to see so many people around even though it was a weekday…There is also ‘bier garten’ here where people sit nursing cold beer. There are hundred of wooden chairs and tables set out for visitors to have a quick bite on. We stopped for a small meal of grilled fish from NordSee and pickled olives from a local herb shop.

The next stop was the Nymphenburg Palace, It is one of Germany’s many palaces built on sprawling grounds, set amidst calm lakes. This was the summer residence of the Wittelsbach family.

 Apparently, the palace wasn’t big enough to accommodate their guests also, so they built a few guesthouses also near it.
It was here at Nymphenburg palace that Bavaria’s ‘Fairy Tale King’ Ludwig II was born. He is known so for his penchant for commissioning the building of many extravagant castles in and around Bavaria. Some of which have, apparently, served as inspiration for Disney castles.

Our last stop was at the Olympia Stadium, the site for the 1972 Summer Olympics. It still seems in pace with the modern world with its unique tent like design. 

The sporting facilities are now open for public use. The area around the stadium has been landscaped beautifully with lakes and pathways. There were families and couples there, kids chasing ducks and some crazy people jogging in shorts in 7 degree Celsius. We strolled around Olympia till sunset and then set back to our hotel room.

Despite our resolve to cut down on desi food and try some local food, we found ourselves in another Pakistani restaurant at dinner time. This time to pay a ridiculously over priced bill with an extra 20% ‘service charge’. Needless to say the server didn’t receive any tip.
Next day we had till mid day in Munich. After a ‘full-filling’ breakfast offered by our hotel we set off to Marienplatz to see the ‘Glockenspiel’. (It’s a traditional ceremony followed since 1908 and witnessed by thousands everyday. It involves life-sized figures on top of the tower, enacting Bavarian folk tales, set to musical tunes.)

With this we wrapped up our stay in Munich. Packed our bags and off we went to Salzberg, land of Mozart….More about it in the next post!

Auf Weidersehen for now!


  1. Wow... Germany sounds cool. Post about Salzberg ASAP please :)

  2. vielen Danke,gute geshreibt..Auf Wiedersehen.
    bis spater

  3. nazreen.
    thousands witnessed the glockenspiel !!! i am relieved and happy , that the "family trait" is handed down and in safe hands :p

  4. good read! did the sr SRK &K jodi paint the town red?

  5. Thank you moothamma! comments! :D

  6. wwwwaaauuuuu....vry nice...pic..