Trip Start Feb 26, 2009
Trip End Mar 13, 2009

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Thursday, March 5, 2009

   Ahhh, a full night's sleep.  Before passing out like old fart's at 8:30 last night, we found a brochure for a free walking tour of Munich, and we decided we would do that.  It turned out to be a great choice.  After 12 hours of sleep I was ready to see Munich!  We had breakfast at the hotel (buffet - certainly magical words for the FA) and then we walked to the center of the city.  Munich is a city of over one million people, but it is an amazing skyline because there are no skyscrapers.  There was an ordnance passed that no building in Munich could be taller than the Frauenkirche, which is 100 meters tall.  During World War II, 80% of the inner city was completely destroyed in the bombing.  The law was upheld through the rebuilding, and so Munich does retain much of its small-town feel.
   We walked through an archway onto the Karlstrasse, which is one of the main streets and walkways into the center of the city.  We did some window shopping (shoes!) and bought some batteries for my P.O.S. camera, which was burning through them faster than I could eat schnitzel.  The meeting place for the free tour was in front of the New Rathaus in the Marienplatz, which is the main square in front of the Town Hall.  I know I am overusing the word "amazing" in this blog, but the whole scene was awesome!  I took a panorama picture, but it ended up looking like something from a Picasso scrapbook . . . 
   Claudia and I found our tour guide for the day - Luke, who is from Devin, England.  Luke really fits the British stereotype - snarky, sarcastic, and a incessant passion for tea.  (Well, I don't know about the tea part, but I just figured . . . )  The tour was great for two reasons: one, the whole scene of Munich was grand and impressive; and two, Luke.  Luke was great because you could tell he really loved history.  He was very objective as well; he didn't put his own personal opinions into the tour.  The group of about fifteen began right at the New Rathaus, which is actually older than the Old Rathaus.  The Old Rathaus was destroyed in WWII and therefore rebuilt, while the New Rathaus made it through.  It was here we had our first test of the "Real or Replica" game, where we had to decide if the building was real or a replica.  There are two indicators - smoke damage and bullet holes.  If a building is blackened and has bullet holes in it, it is real.  Pretty easy, even for an American!  (My overseas friends will chuckle at this I'm sure.)  We stayed outside and at 11 a.m. watched the Glockenspeil go through its motions as it played through the two stories - one of the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V and the other of the Cooper's Dance.  At the end an owl comes out and instead of "hooting" like an owl, it sounds more like a crow.  Luke loved the owl and its "cawing".
   The group then went inside of the New Rathaus, where Luke discussed at length the history of Munich and of Germany, and how it lead to World War II and the destruction of the city.  We followed along towards the Frauenkirche, or the Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady.  Supposedly the Devil helped build the church in record speed - as Luke told the story he chose me to portray the architect, who he aptly named K-Dog (actually it was Jörg von Halsbach who was the architect).  K-Dog got to deal with the Devil on the church steps.  Sweet.  Inside the cathedral was massive - it can hold up to 20,000 people!!  It also is another spectacle of extravagance - gold and impressive statues everywhere.  After the Frauenkirche, we walked to the Peterskirche, which is the oldest church of inner city, from before 1158!  The tower has a total of eight clocks - Luke said so that the Germans can tell what time it was from any angle - that was his joke anyway!  It was here we learned about the holy beer mug - one time one of the crosses on the tower blew off and the city elders hired a man to climb the 400 ft. up the tower to fix it.  It wasn't quite put back in the right spot, but he decided to have a celebratory beer nevertheless.  Once finished, he tossed it from the church and supposedly it landed without breaking.  The story goes that the Catholics claimed it as a miracle and made the beer stein a Holy Relic.  Awesome.
   After a Starbucks break in which I demonstrated once more my complete inability to speak anything related to German, we continued our tour.  We walked past the Old Rathaus again and saw where Hitler, Goebbels, and others planned Kristallnacht.  We continued down the street and arrived at the Hofbraeuhaus, which is perhaps the most famous beer hall in the world.  It was commissioned in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, so it's been around for awhile!  The one interesting story of many is actually about the fact that for a long time, there were no bathrooms in the Hofbraeuhaus - also, women were not allowed in other than the "Beer Wenches".  In order to maintain their place at the table, the men would just drop their lederhosen and piss on the floor.  After the smell became unbearable, they built trenches under the tables and every fifteen minutes the "Beer Wenches" would dump water down through the trench and wash it out, which leads to the name of the lower hall - The Wash.  Later on, a man invented a walking stick that had a funnel-like top and a tube around the stick - the men could just pee into the funnel of the walking stick and it would drain down into the trench (this avoided the ever-troubling "splatter" effect from the men on the other side of the table).  And yes, we are eating here later tonight.  Yum.
   We continued through more old streets and city squares, until we arrived at where in 1923 Hitler was almost killed during the failed Beer Hall Putsch.  He was trying to overthrow the Weimar Republic and the government in Bavaria, but his forced pacts with some of the "Powers that Be" in Munich fell apart and his group was beaten.  His bodyguard, Ulrich Graf, took eleven bullets and fell on top of Hitler in the middle of the street (Graf lived).  We finished the tour nearby - everyone had a great time and Luke was extremely knowledgeable.  Remember - New Europe Tours.   There is the shameless plug for this blog - but if you have the chance, do it!  We were freezing by the end of the tour though, so we found a restaurant nearby right at the Marienplatz - more beer and schnitzel of course.  Claudia had some Apfelstrudel (which is apple strudel for you non-German speakers . . . like me) and that was really good!  
  That night, we went to dinner at the Hofbraeuhaus.  We were upstairs, and we enjoyed some great Bavarian beer and food.  I tried the Urbock (which is a stronger, seasonal beer at 8% alcohol content), and then I got the one liter mug of the Dunkel.  Both were delicious, as was my  Beerbrauersteak.  Claudia had Leberkaese, which was somewhat like bologna.  Everything was wonderful!  While we were waiting to meet a client of mine, I was having some ice cream and was about to ask for the check in German, but thankfully I cleared what I was going to say with Claudia first.  I had completely screwed up the words and was going to say something that wasn't even a word.  I will be hearing "Kommizai" for a long time to come.  Finally, we met the client of mine who is originally from Munich, he happened to be in town while we were, so we met him and some of his colleagues.  They were at a restaurant, but we were stuffed from earlier so we just talked for awhile and then headed back to the hotel to crash after a long day of fresh air and beer!!
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Where I stayed
A&O City Hostel And Hotel
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