München : Bikes, beers and the mad king of Bavaria

Trip Start May 06, 2008
Trip End Jun 06, 2008

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Monday, May 19, 2008

A passport, as I'm sure you know, is a document that one shows to  government officials whenever one reaches a border between countries, so the officials can learn who you are, where you were born, and how you look when photographed unflatteringly.  – Lemony Snicket

Day 12 : 19th May 2008 (Monday) Bikes, beers and the mad king of Bavaria

After breakfast at the hotel, Glynis and Ashok headed out to finish whatever they had to do while we headed to the river thinking we'd take a cruise. The weather was not the best, it was cold and rainy so we chucked that plan and headed to the Mirabell palace and gardens of the Sound of Music fame where the children sang do re mi. Nice statues, good fountains, what else could we ask for from a garden... We then took a leisurely stroll along the river and then headed back to the hotel to pack. Met up with Ashok and Glynis and headed to the station to pick up the Einfach-Raus-Ticket (used the automated machine, it charges 2€ more than it would have cost from the manned teller), and we got on the 12:11 Regionalbahn RB 30024. It was relatively empty, and the rest of the gang, people of little faith, made me ask the conductor if the ticket I had bought was really valid on that train for the four of us. Of course she agreed with me and said it was, and we settled in for the ride. Now, it was Glynis' job to tick off stations (since she'd had experience doing it on their way to Salzburg), but I think she was dreaming or something. The train hit the München Ost, then everyone got ready getting their stuff and getting off the train. (Poor Gl, she will forever be blamed for this debacle although we were all idiots, we saw  München and jumped off the train like our pants were on fire...) We exited and Godwin said he knows where the hotel is, we can walk there, its close to the station and don't bother looking at the map. So we were like, alright, and we started following him.

Walking with our bags on our back for a while, I started getting the feeling something wasn't right, and he was starting to look a little confused as well. We seemed to be in a residential area, not a soul in sight, no shops, nothing. There wasn't even anyone to ask for directions. Hmmm... So out come the maps and we're trying to figure out where the heck we are, and fast, because the plan was to take Mike's Bike Tour and we had to be at Marienplatz at 3pm. Finally, we see this nice man walking with a toddler strapped to a stroller and ask him where he thinks our hotel is. He says there aren't any hotels in this area, and he's very concerned because we seem very lost and I don't have the hotel's telephone number. Nice. Peachy. Finally, I realized we got off at the wrong damn stop. We should have gotten off at München Hbf which is a 10 minute train ride away. We run back to the station and hop on the next train in that direction, run to the hotel, yes literally run, dump our bags at the reception, consult the map for the quickest way to get to far end of Marienplatz, and decide the quickest way is to run. We caught the tour in time, the guide Adam, was just starting to give an introduction to the city and he said there was room for four more. He was very knowledgeable and actually quite funny, and he made all that history fun. He talked about Ludwig II, the mad king of Bavaria and the mysterious circumstances he was killed under.  We went and picked up the bikes and the tour began. We went by the famous Hofbräuhaus Beer Hall on am Platzl (and I thought we should come back and visit it later), National Theatre on Max Joseph Platz and the Residenz of the Wittelsbach Family (very pretty).

We then made a stop at Odeonsplatz defined by the creamy-yellow baroque church Theatinerkirche St Cajetan. Adam explained it was built by lector Ferdinand Maria and his wife, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, as a gesture of thanks for the birth of the long-awaited heir to the Bavarian crown, Prince Max Emanuel, who was born after six daughters. The interiors are really beautiful, everything inside seemed brilliantly white. Adam also said that rubbing the shields of the lions flanking the entrance of the palace outside is supposed to bring luck so of course we had to go rub... In a courtyard nearby, there were people playing some game with large silver balls, we watched a while but couldn't figure out what they were doing. (Nicole later informed me that they were playing Bocce, whatever that is, so I can safely cross that off my mysteries list. Solved.) Anyways, Adam was very  informative, and kept giving us lots of tips and pieces of history. He said all the gold mosaics in the city face west to reflect the setting sun.

From here we rode through the Hofgarten, where Adam stopped briefly to tell us these were the royal gardens of the Residenz and that the pavilion in the center was the Temple of Diana - Goddess of Hunt. From here we moved on to the Saatskanzlei, formerly the Bavarian Army Museum, where we stopped for a while and Adam talked about the White Rose Movement -  a non violent anti nazi resistance group and about a German student named Sophie who was caught distributing anti war leaflets at the University with her brother. They were both killed. Apparently, there's a movie about it called the last days of Sophie. He also said that in the University, there is now a moving tribute to the students who were killed in the form of ceramic tiles on the floor printed with slogans and made to look like the leaflets they were distributing.

Anyways, from here we went along Ludwig Strasse and Schwabing Bach through the English Garden. And it is huge, bigger than New Yorks Central Park. And pretty, with shaded paths, bubbling brooks, ponds with swans and of course, beer gardens. Adam informed us that in the summer, nude sun bathing was the rule rather than the exception. So sad it was a cold day. Apparently, its called free body culture. We also saw a piece of the Berlin Wall. The stop at the beer garden was good fun. Of course we had to order beer and sausages. When in Munich and all that. The other riders were very friendly, and everyone was having a good time. Adam took a picture of the four of us. The ride post the eating and drinking session was mainly along the River Isar, and we stopped to watch the surfers at Surfers Bridge. There is a wave produced by the water pumping mechanism at the mouth of the artificial stream that the surfers try to ride as long as they can, even though it is supposed to be illegal. Fascinating to watch.

From here we went by the Luffwaffe (Nazi Air force) where he talked about the falcons (don't remember what exactly about the falcons he was saying). It was all very fascinating. We stopped next to the Isar to look at the Friedensengle, the Peace Angel Monument, which Adam said was erected after the Franco-Prussian War ended in honor of the Bavarian Army. It shows the Goddess of Victory whose right hand has an olive leaf and left the statue of Athena (at least I think thats what he said). Again, it faces west to catch the rays of the setting sun. We were almost at the end of our four hour tour which took us past the Maximilianeum - the Bavarian Parliament, the Gothic Lukas Kirche (the only protestant church in the center), the Deutsches Museum, the Volksbad (indoor pool) and the Isartor which is the eastern gate of the city wall from the 14th century. We had thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Fantastic way to see the city, learn some history, especially if you don't have much time. We'd done these tours in Paris and Amsterdam as well, and this one was just as good.

We then went to find somewhere to eat, and of course Glynis and Godwin, who are mad about middle eastern cuisine, went and found a Lebanese place near the hotel. Ashok also had to make some phone calls as his sister was due any day, so after dinner, we headed back to the hotel. We hadn't realized until now that the ground floor of the hotel had T&A bars and strip clubs and sex shops. Only when the neon signs were all lit up did I see them. Earlier in the day, we were so hell bent on catching the tour we had just run past them. What was nice was the free internet in the hotel. Tomorrow: Neuschwanstein.

Steps walked: 18618
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