Biere et bretzels

Trip Start Jan 17, 2010
Trip End May 18, 2010

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stop Four: Munich, Bavaria, Germany

We left Prague Wednesday morning and took an express bus (yes, a bus...we didn't realize that until we reached the train station) to Nuernberg and then transferred (by train, this time) to Munich. The bus ride was actually very nice, except for when we crossed the border into Germany. The border patrol stopped our bus to check passports and they just took our passports and disappeared for about 15 minutes. We seriously thought we were being scammed, but luckily there was no need to call the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Very bizarre moment.

Wednesday evening was very chill. We ate at a J.W. Augustiner BrauMunchen restaurant with traditional Bavarian food. Augustiner is the largest beer distributor in Munich (there is 6 beer companies total). However, Thursday was our exciting day in the city. We decided to try out a free walking tour offered by our hostel, which is probably one of the best decisions we made this whole trip. The tour guide, Ozzy, was young, very knowledgeable and took us to everything that one would want to see in Munich. We saw the Glockenspiel and its noon show (very cool). We visited the Hofbraubaus (largest state-owned beer hall in Munich). St. Michel's church, which is the hometown church of the current pope. I learned so much about Munich, it was absolutely ridiculous. (Below, I've listed some of the facts I remembered from the tour). After the tour, the guide joined us for beer and a snack at one of his favorite local Bavarian restaurants. We sat for another 2 hours and discussed everything, from his family background, to the physical differences between Germans who live in certain areas of the region, etc.

Wednesday evening, we met two Australian girls and Thursday evening (after the tour) they joined us, an Argentinian we met at our hostel and a group of 5 Brits for dinner and beer at one of the most famous beer halls in Munich: Augustiner (a different Augustiner than the restaurant, there's over a dozen of these in Munich alone). I tried two half liters of some local beer, some cheesy dumplings and a Bavarian pancake with blueberries for dessert! My friend Kenny drank an unbelievable 8 liters of beer (not in one sitting, lol). After the free walking tour, he and Ozzy (our tour guide) went to 6 different Bavarian bars to taste the differences between the 6 breweries. Let's just say, I could never do that! The food was all very good at the Augustiner. And of course, since we are drinking beer, there were baskets of bretzels (pretzels) on the long tables for all. A great night. 
Cultural Insights:
Differences Between Berlin & Munich:
-Berlin: has the Berlin Wall and their city symbol is a bear. *NEVER ask about Lederhosen and oompa bands in Berlin (that is not their culture, it's Munich's) and they get extremely upset.
-Munich, Bavaria:
Flag is White and Blue (not Blue and White-thats Greece)
City Symbols: Lion and Catholic Monk
5 Seasons: 5th is April-October (Beer Drinking Season lol)
6 Major Beer Breweriers (started by monks)
All beer halls close at midnight, must have public toilets and charge fees if you get sick in their restaurant (fees can be up to 50euros!)
Average liter of beer = 6 euros
In Bavaria, beer is not made with preservatives. Therefore, once you pour a beer from the tap or pop open a bottle, you have 20 minutes to enjoy it before it loses flavor. (That's why I drank two half liters at Augustiner, instead of one liter. I wanted to take my time to enjoy the flavor!)
Beer gardens have long tables and chairs with chestnut trees planted around. If a table has a cloth on it, you must drink the restaurant's drink selection, however you can still bring your own food.
Everything in the town was bombed during WWII except:
1) Towers of St. Michel's
2) Glockenspiel
3) Odeonsplatz
4) Maximilianstrasse
Therefore everything you see in the town is 60 years old or less. Thanks to the documentation done by Hitler and the Nazi's (one of the few good things he did), architects were able to re-create almost everything in exactly the same way it was before the war. That's why everything looks extremely old, but really isn't!
-State owned beer hall, where Hitler convinced Bavaria to stay united with Germany (thus helping him take control of the country). Here he did many of his major speeches and committed treason.
-3 daily shows with 4 songs. Characters move: two jousters, France vs. Prussia (Represents the Franco-Prussian War), guess who wins. lol Also, there are dancing barrel crafters or koopers. Due to the Black Plague, a recession began in Germany and people couldn't afford beer. Therefore, the koopers made a living by dancing in the streets for money.
St. Michel's Cathedral
-Church of the current pope. Bavaria is a very Catholic region, therefore everything is closed on Good Friday (including beer halls!) There's a story that the architect made a deal with the devil to complete the cathedral in a short period of time (20 years). The devil agreed, if the architect didn't create any windows. The architect did anyway, but when he went to show the devil his finished project, he had the devil stand in the one spot (in the whole church) were you can't see any windows (due to his placement of columns). Therefore, now there is a footprint stamped into the floor, representing where the devil realized he was tricked.

New Vocabulaire:
In German, they tend to take several words and combine them into one large word. For example, "Bratwurst"= "brat" meaning roasted and "wurst" meaning sausage
*Therefore when you say you don't like "brats" you are actually saying you don't like "roasted." lol

Final stop Zurich!
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