Monday, June 29, 2015

Munich Day One

My brother and his girlfriend had travelled from Atlanta to Charlotte, Charlotte to Frankfurt, and finally Frankfurt to Munich. We met the weary couple at the train station when they arrived to Munich on Saturday. Despite the fact that they had been traveling all the day and night before, we took off right away exploring the city. (Americans have to take advantage of our precious vacation days- when we go somewhere, we want to see it all!) Our first stop: the English Garden, which was very close to where they were staying. We stopped at the Beer Garden for some quality German food. This was something I remembered from my previous trips to Munich; the feeling of being constantly full. Bavarian cuisine is very hearty: potatoes, ham legs, sausages, schnitzel, cheese pasta, and plenty of pretzels and bread. It seems no matter how little you actually consume of German food, you still have the uncomfortable feeling of being stuffed. In the Beer Garden, we tried the ham hock, potato salad, several varieties of sausages, and sauerkraut. My brother and his girlfriend are beer drinkers, so they began their trip right with a pint each. My Munich friend was impressed with them. Beer is not my preferred drink, but I do like the Radlers. Radler is a beer and lemonade mix that is much lighter than beer.

We walked the length of the park until we got to the man-made surfing waves. This part of the river that runs through the English Garden was constructed to provide a few waves for surfing. Surfers stand on the sides of the river and take turns surfing one by one on the waves. My friend says there are surfers using this river all year round, even in the winter months.

From the English Garden, we walked to the city's main square, Marienplatz. Marienplatz is an iconic symbol of Munich, home to the famous Glockenspiel clock that performs a musical routine daily from the top of the city hall. We'd have to leave the performance for the next day.

The classic Hofbrauhaus was where we had dinner. This massive beer hall is a must-see stop while in Munich. We squeezed our way into a half empty table. The common seating is something you see in restaurants and beer gardens in Germany, making the most use of space for large crowds. As always, the Hofbrauhaus was full of life, the air heavy with heat and beer aroma. All around our table I could hear English being spoken. It seems every traveller comes here to meet locals or other travellers. We even met a couple of other Americans at our table.

As if that wasn't enough for their first day in Europe, we went to a party at a friend's apartment. He was a friend of our German guide (aka my former roommate) and was having people over at his house. He is Spanish, and therefore, all his group of Spanish friends were getting together at his place before going out. Upon walking through the door of his apartment, I was instantly transported back to Madrid: the bottles of beer strewn about, the cigarette smoke, the loud conversations, and the impressively Spanish way of squeezing as many individuals as possible into one single space. Surprisingly, my brother and his girlfriend met a German guy at this party who had studied a year at The University of Florida. Under normal circumstances this conversation might be prohibited as my brother and his girlfriend both attended Louisiana State University. However, given the fact that we were at a Spanish party in Munich and someone had studied at a fellow SEC school, it was allowed. They tried their best the rest of the night to convince this guy to do another year in the US, but this time at LSU. And so ended their first night of their trip, the girlfriend's first night in Europe. I don't think they were disappointed.

English Garden
First German meal in the English Garden Beer Garden. Prost!

Surfing in the English Garden.
Glockenspiel figures on the town hall.
Siblings in Europe.

Hofbrauhaus for beers and dinner.

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