May 30, 2012: Walking München

We slept in some this morning.  We have been debating what to do today.  I am convinced that we need a day of downtime, but Dominica is in favour of hoping a train somewhere to go see a castle or another city or something.  In the end our sleeping in pretty much resolved that question.  Originally we had been planning on going to see the famous “local” castles but the cost is really high to do this and the castles are really quite silly – the one is a real castle but only marginally interesting as castles go and the other is a never used castle built pretty recently and while it is beautiful and kind of interesting it is interesting only from an architectural standpoint and has zero historic significance and the interior was never even finished.  It was used as the master for the Disney castles but that is its most important cultural influence ever and as it is really just a facade the Disney castles are actually more important and just as authentic.  It exists only to be a tourist attraction so I’m more than willing to pass on that.

We had thought about doing Salzburg or someplace else today but that would be a lot of traveling and just to hop off of the train, walk around until we are exhausted and ride the train back.  That is a bit too stressful for us at this point.  Best to stay local here in München for our last day and just enjoy where we are and maybe relax just a little bit.  We will be in Austria for the next four days – no need to go there a day early just to be someplace new.

So we did breakfast down in our hostel.  It isn’t bad but we didn’t allow ourselves enough time and I didn’t even manage to get a second cup of coffee at the buffet because Luciana was needing to walk around so much that I had to spend all of my time watching her.  But the food is decent and Dominica really likes it because they have all you can eat yoghurt and müsli.

Once we were ready to face the day I looked into using the local tram system to get us back to the Marienplatz but discovered that that was too costly and complicated and required so much walking that it made no sense at all.  So I finally convinced Dominica to give walking a try.  She is tired of walking everywhere but we definitely need to keep up the exercise with all of the food that we are eating.

The walk to the Marienplatz really was not bad at all.  Dominica’s goal for the day, however, was to see the performance of the famous city hall glockenspiel here in town and our only hope was to make it for the noon performance as we missed it yesterday and it we would be out of town before it would do it tomorrow.  It was twenty till noon when we left the hostel and it was estimated to take thirty minutes to get there on foot.  So with Liesl in the stroller and Luciana strapped to me we booked hard through the streets to see if we could get there in time.  This turned what likely would have been a nice, casual walk into a practical race, but we made it just in time having to run past the amazing city center fountain that was along our route.

The glockenspiel was pretty cool but not as cool as the one in Bern in the clocktower there.  This one is only about one hundred years old but is more elaborate.  There was a huge crowd in the city plaza to watch it.  Still amazing, though, all of that clockwork movement and music.

Before we left the plaza we took the girls to see the living statue there.  Liesl was a little afraid so did not get her picture taken with him but Dominica did.  So once we have good Internet access maybe people will get to see that.

From the plaza we went on foot searching out the famed public market that is sponsored by the city.  It has the outdoor beer garden that Rick Steves shows on his television show and that people often talk about.  It took some doing but we found it without too much of a problem.  We love our open air European markets and are getting pretty good at navigating them and buying food there so we did that.

We picked up fruits, cheese and some hot sandwiches and headed for the beer garden where you can bring your own food (and everyone does) as long as you buy your beers there.  The city sponsors the beer and puts all of the local breweries on rotation to support them.  A pretty cool idea for the city to do and a great use of city resources.  The place is packed and helps the brewers but also supports the market too making it a hot spot of activity.

Getting beers at the market is easy.  There is a stand in the middle of the garden and you just walk up and grab as many as you want as they have them already poured for you.  The price for a half litre is the same as half the price of a litre so there is no advantage to getting a smaller portion – this is a standard means of not promoting drunkenness throughout Europe but a novelty to Americans where good behaviour is seldom encouraged proactively.

The beer was excellent as was our food.  Dominica and I each had a half litre of the local beer.

After our lunch we went back and hit more of the market.  We found a local maker of Turkish delight so we picked up twenty Euros worth – not a trivial amount of Turkish delight even from a high end, hand made local maker.  I have had Turkish delight before but never a variety of it and Dominica has never had it at all.  This was the perfect place to introduce the girls to it as Turkish cuisine is an important one in Germany much like Mexican is in the United States or Indian in the UK.  Without actually going to Turkey this is likely the best that we will find.  And it was quite excellent.  We had the seller just hook us up with a variety that he picked out.

While we were getting the Turkish Delight, someone stopped and asked us in English what they were selling and we got into a conversation with her – and she turned out to be from Austin, Texas!  We are finding it really amazing how often we are running into people from someplace or another related to us.  Two girls from Utica yesterday, two women from Austin today, a whole family from Denton, Texas last week.  It just keeps happening over and over again.  It is really neat making connections with new people from back home when abroad, though.  Helps to keep things interesting.  We had a really nice conversation in the market.

We shopped for a while longer then returned to the beer garden but got no beer.  We just grabbed some fish from Nordsee, the fast food place that I ate at while in Germany in 2009, and ate it at a table and took the opportunity to use the facilities there.

Even though we had not been out for very long we were feeling pretty tired so decided to return to the hotel.  Today really did need to be a “down” day.  So we took a much more casual walk back the way that we had come.

We stopped at the fountain this time and since it was hot Luciana and I stepped into the fountain mist for a bit and cooled off.  Liesl declined.  I think that she was a little nervous at the force of the fountain.  It is a huge fountain but really gorgeous.  One of my favourite fountains ever.  Tons of water and all at level so that you can walk into it.  I’m sure that on really hot summer days that it is a popular place for kids to run and play.  Today people were gathered around it but no one was actually going into it.

On the walk back we ran into two students from Illinois and we walked and talked with them for a while since they were going our direction.

We had been on the look out for good gelato but never found the shop that we wanted all of the way back so as we passed the hauptbahnhof we ran in and got gelato from the place that we like in there.  The gelato is excellent there but the guy who dips it is really careless and your cone is falling apart before you take your first taste.  So you have to be careful and a double is the largest that you can get there safely.

We got back to the hotel and it was probably heading towards four o’clock.    Everyone was tired though.

Dominica had to spend the evening packing as we leave for Hallstatt, Austria tomorrow.  She is really starting to hate every piece of clothing and anything else that we have with us.  She is also regretting the number of places that we are going.  The pain of moving is wearing on her more and more each time and she is dreading each future move all the more.

My job this evening was to go down to the lobby a few times and attempt to get some updates out and, if possible, some of our pictures.  Our pictures have been backing up on us and it takes me many hours to get even a handful of pictures uploaded from here.  That is both annoying and stressful as we try to get things done while here.  It is veyr hard to do anything when we have to spend so much time doing the most trivial tasks online.  Email, Facebook, Flickr, SGL, Kidding Around Europe… we had plans to do so much and we can barely get to anything.

I wrote for a while tonight and at least got a few things posted.  SGL is up to date and only today’s update itself did not get completed.  I got maybe fifteen pictures uploaded.  A good number considering the pain involved but a ridiculously small number overall.

While I was down in the lobby the second time (I had to come and go depending on what the girls were doing as far as sleeping) a crowd appeared so I moved to the bar area to get away.  While in the bar area some kids came in to play pool and I was in the way so I moved to the bar itself and ended up hanging out with Marlene who works the front desk in the evenings and had checked us in the first night and one of the girls that I had seen this morning at breakfast and one of the other front desk girls as they were all hanging at in the bar.  We probably hung out, along with the bar tender, for an hour.  Marlene was from Berlin and only moved to München recently for work.  The girl from the breakfast buffet had moved up from Lake Constance (or there abouts) and was not a local either.  I believe that our bartender was actually local.  Bavaria is a place that a lot of people move to for opportunities, it is very affluent.  We had a good time, though, and I learned more about the city and region.

Some Canadians came in and joined me at the bar, two guys from Montreal and a girl from British Columbia.  We hung out for another hour or so and had a good time.  They invited me to go out to the beer hall with them but I knew better.  I’ll be hurting tomorrow if I go out late tonight.  And I already had four large beers in the hotel so going out would be a major drinking night, it isn’t like I didn’t have a half litre at lunch too.

So at eleven thirty (yes, that early) I went up to the room to go to bed.  Everyone was already asleep so I just fell into bed.

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