Munich (German: München) is undoubtedly a guy’s paradise. It’s got everything a man could want – fast cars, great beer, fanatical football and cute girls (though I’ll admit to being a bit prejudiced towards Bavarian blondes). Even Hemmingway said “You do not even go somewhere else, I tell you there’s nothing like Munich. Everything else is a waste of time in Germany”. In addition to this, Munich has consistently ranked among the top 10 most livable cities in the World that’s clean, crime free and well organized leading to the nickname Toy Town.
The first thing that strikes you when you arrive is that Münchens (can I call them that?) are an athletic lot. The roads buzz with the not so familiar hum of overenthusiastic cyclists. And do they take their cycling seriously! Jay walkers beware; an accidental step in the cyclists’ lane might earn you an elbow in the face. No wonder, as strange as it may sound, drinking and cycling is against the law.
Apart from the cyclists, the parks are dotted with runners and the river full of surfers (yes surfers). The Englischer Garten (I’d love to watch a German spelling bee) is Munich’s pride and is one of the largest city parks in the World; even larger than Central Park and Hyde Park. Walking around, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a 2 million people city. It’s even easier to get lost in this never ending park that incidentally comes with a stream. However, this is no ordinary stream. A strong current under a bridge creates a never ending wave that makes you want to reach for a surfboard even if you’re not a surfer. Once you’re done with that, you’ve still got options. You can either get your tan on by nude sunbathing on the grass or if you were born with a tan, head to the huge beer garden right in the middle of the park. Burrp..
Everyone who knew anything about Munich kept recommending the museums and so to kill time until beer o’clock I decided to see what the fuss was all about.
Just like Munich’s history, the Stadt Museum is confusing. Numerous shiny artefacts loosely tied together under the banner of Munich’s history adds to the chaos. Given the comprehensive nature of the other museums, the Stadt Museum doesn’t stand a chance. If I were to go back, I’d spend my 5€ on a schnitzel instead.
Erected in 1385 and extended over the next 400 years, the Munich Residenz Museum is the former palace of the Bavarian Monarchs. With 130 rooms on display, the vastness of this museum tends to overwhelm and slowly dull the sense of awe experienced while walking through the first few rooms. Due to the continuous construction over 4 centuries, numerous architectural styles are on display – baroque, rococo, neo-classical and renaissance. Many of the palace’s ceilings were destroyed during World War II but were subsequently seamlessly restored.
Dr. Richard Feynman, notable for his wit (and possibly his Nobel Prize) once said if he could pass only one thing to the next generation he would tell them that all matter is made up of smaller particles called atoms. I’d beg to differ. If we pass on anything, it should be the Deutsches Museum.
From Mining to Aeronautics to Computing, the museum has it all. It would probably take a week to visit all sections. As the largest technology museum in the world, it’s guaranteed to give any nerd a wet dream experience. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic – and the Deutsches museum subtly reminds us of how much magic we’ve created in the last 100 years compared to the previous 2000.
The World famous Bavarian Motor Works. This is where the money is. From futuristic models to timeless classics, this museum is a car and bike lover’s dream come true.
The Kunstareal is the art district in Munich and if you need a crash course in art (and I did), this is where you should be. Of the several museums in this area, I visited only top 3 mainly because art museums aren’t for people travelling on a budget.
The Alte Pinakothek contains paintings from the 14th to 18th century – think Raphael or Leonardo da Vinci. Most of the paintings here are intricate and majestic and each painting tells a story – mostly a religious one. The museum was designed specially to house a 2 storey painting of Rubens Last Judgement.
The Neue Pinakothek contains paintings from the 18th and 19th century – van Gogh and Monet. An impressionist painting by Manet of his friend Monet in his boat studio was one of the most interesting pieces of art I’ve ever seen.
And finally the Pinakothek der Moderne contains ‘masterpieces’ from the 20th century. However, modern art isn’t for everyone and if you’ve got some time to spare, here’s a list of modern art masterpieces that were thrown away after being mistaken for rubbish.
In Munich, if beer is religion then the beer garden is the place of worship. One historian went far enough to claim that local food in Munich isn’t of much importance because it’s just a garnish for the beer. And who am I to argue with that. This is after all the home of the biggest drunken celebration in the world – the Oktoberfest. Beer gardens are scattered all across the city and in some of the older ones, you’ll notice that people have carved their names into the table to reserve their seat.
The most popular beer house (among the camera touting tourist crowd) would be the Hofbrauhaus for its sheer size and its significance in Munich’s history. Since the Hofbrauhaus is over 400 years old, it was visited by Mozart, Kennedy and Lenin. But no one cares about them because a tiny man with a funny moustache notoriously started his National Socialist campaign here.