Munich, Germany

We had visited here in 1996, and I had worked here for Siemens in the late 1980's, but we had not been back for quite a while. We have some very good friends who live here and we wanted to introduce Germany to our teenage son, so staying here for a week was an easy decision.

Munich is the capital and most populous city of the second most populous German federal state of Bavaria, and, with a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city of Germany after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar (a tributary of the Danube) north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany (4,500 people per km²).

If you have never been to Germany, or if you have never had the opportunity to have good German friends, then I would invite you to increase your German knowledge by clicking here to read about German Culture at the "Live Science" website.

If you have never been to Munich & either you are planning a trip there, or you just want to know more about it, here are some good sources of information;

Drive from Annecy, France to Munich

How we got to Munich

On this European Driving trip, we had been Annecy, France for most of a week and our next stop was Munich. Our drive there took us through Switzerland via the E25/E27 and E60 allowed us to cross into Germany at the southern end of the Bodensee. We drove north on the E60, and then eastward to Munich on the E54.
And this begins the portion of the trip, where Suzette (our Tom-Tom mapping device) really earned her stripes. We had rented a condo, in an area of Munich that would give us easy access to not only the subway, but to bus & tram service as well. This condo unit had underground parking, but we were not familiar with the streets there.
The first issue that arose, is that our Tom-Tom device insisted on taking us to Klenzestraße, as though it was a two way street, which it was not. Since we had an excellent Munich street map, we were able to navigate our way around the block, and to drive into the street with the correct driving orientation. Getting back to our rental was a constant challenge throughout the week, complicated by the direction we would re-enter Munich as each day trip was over.

Augustiner Keller Beer Garden

Our first outing, was to the Augustiner Keller (one of the largest & oldest Munich Beer Gardens) for dinner with old friends in Munich. Since it was Jeremy's first trip to a German beer garden, he was fascinated by the people, the food items, especially the HUGE pretzels, and the enormous amount of beer being consumed, etc.
NOTE: This image is the property of BBB via Wiki Media
NOTE: Click here to display a Google Map of the Augustiner Keller Beer Garden on Arnulfstrasse.

 Quick Beer Garden History Lesson 

Beer Gardens were invented in Munich during the 19th century and there are now approximately 120+ of them in & around Munich. The beer garden concept was quickly embraced by the major breweries.

Click here to view the Wikipedia Page regarding Beer Gardens.

The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

The next day, was dedicated to another friend in Munich that we worked with in the 1980's. He had started a new Chauffeur Service Company (First Class Chauffeur Service), and offered to take us around the city in his new Volkswagen Phaeton. This was an interesting way to see Munich, and even though I have been there a huge number of times, going around the city with someone who lives there and knows how to drive there, is a treat!

Surfing in Munich

Our German friend started the tour, by taking us by the world famous Eisbach River surfing spot. Many years ago as Munich grew, the old river channel was forced into an underground tunnel, which allowed the city of Munich to "grow" over the tunnel. And this produces a river outlet spot with considerable water pressure, as shown in this picture.
The surfers line up on the bank, and step in as the previous surfer steps out, or falls off. It is truly amazing to watch, as these guys are seriously good surfers and they put on a great show! This is not a spot for surfers who are not extremely experienced, because one does not paddle to catch a wave, you jump on your board and the wave propels you immediately!
If you want to see some interesting videos of people surfing the Eisbach, search for it on YouTube, or click here to view an existing video (thanks GP McGee).

 Quick Facts 

The Eisbach is an artificial stream that runs through the English Garden, Munich's largest public park. The surf wave is located at the southern edge of the park, next to the Haus der Kunst. The wave is about 1 meter high and about 12 meters wide with a flow velocity of about 5 m per second.

The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

Oktoberfest Grounds "Theresienwiese"

The next stop was at the Oktoberfest grounds, where workers were busy constructing the festival tents that will house each "tent". Back in the day, each tent represented a Munich Brewery, however this is no longer the case. Nonetheless, each tent will offer food, beer and ompah bands to sing along with! And just for the people who do not like beer, there is usually a "wine tent" as well.

The first image above, shows the Theresienwiese as it is being prepared for the Oktoberfest festival, this picture was taken in July and the festival starts in the last week of September - so it gives you a good idea of how much work remains to be completed. In the center of image #1, you can see the "tents" being constructed which will house the beer gardens and restaurants. If you do not understand the use of the word "tents" in relation to the Festival, I suggest you click the "tents link" to go to Wikipedia and learn what it means.

The second & third images above, are of the "Ruhmeshalle & Bavaria Statue" which is part of an ensemble which also includes a hall of fame (Ruhmeshalle) and a stairway. It was commissioned by Ludwig I of Bavaria, with the specific design being chosen by competition. It was cast at the Munich foundry of J.B. Stiglmair between 1844 and 1850 and is the first colossal statue since Classical Antiquity to consist entirely of cast bronze. It was and is up to the present day considered a technological masterpiece. Because of its size it had to be produced in several parts; it is 18.52 metres (60 ft. 9 in.) high and weighs about 87.36 tons. It rests on a stone base which is 8.92 (28 ft.) metres high.

 Quick Oktoberfest History Lesson 

Oktoberfest started in 1810, the original Fest was the celebration of a Bavarian royal wedding. Princess Teresa (Therese) of Bavaria (1792-1854) had married crown prince Ludwig I (later king of Bavaria) on the evening of October 12, 1810. The next day, the city began celebrating the wedding with various activities, including concerts, parties, balls, and even a horse race on the 17th. It all went so well that the Bavarian royal family decided to hold another race a year later, beginning the Oktoberfest tradition. In fact, this is why the area where the Oktoberfest is held is called "Theresienwiese". Prince Teresa and Prince Ludwig were actually married at the Theresienwiese.

Each year there are 14 large beer tents with indoor seating between 700 to 8,400 persons, and only the breweries located in Munich (Spaten, Paulaner, Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Franziskaner, Spaten, Löwenbräu and Augustiner) are allowed to setup tents at the Oktoberfest.

The tents are non-permanent structures which are set up each year anew starting as early as July. For more information regarding Oktoberfest tents, click here to read the Wikipedia article.

In addition to the large tents, there are also the smaller tents, which are mainly the rotisserie chicken stands like Wienerwald, Cafe Kaiserschmarrn (Rischart), Vinzenz Murr, Poschners, Heimer, Cafe Mohrenkopf, Bodos café tent, the Inn in Schichtl and the Ammer chicken and canard rotisserie that since 2000, only sells organic products. These smaller tents seat 60 to 450 persons each.

See History of Oktoberfest for further reading.

The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

BMW Museum

Our next stop, was the BMW museum next door to the 1972 Olympic Center area. This is a fascinating museum, and it contains a number of BMW cars (including the Mini Cooper) and motorcycles.
That building on the left is the BMW museum, and the building on the right, is the BMW headquarters building.
It is simple to travel to the BMW Museum, for example from Marienplatz take the U3 subway. Taxi and/or uBer is a brief ride, or you could easily walk as it is only 3.4 miles. No matter how you arrive, the museum is an interesting visit, and then the Olympic Park is right next door.

BMW Museum Day Dreaming

This is the BMW K-1300-S (found in the BMW Museum) which I initially thought was going to be my next motorcycle. Instead, I wound up with a Harley-Davidson VROD (another story). This BMW has tremendous power and gets amazing reviews, so only time will tell if I made the right choice.
As you can see, Celeste and I were trying out the "riding comfort" of the BMW.

Munich's Olympic Park

After our BMW museum tour, we walked across the autobahn on the pedestrian walkway to the Olympic Park. We rode up to the top of the Olympic Tower (right center of picture) so that we could show Jeremy the amazing view of Munich from that height.
You can see the BMW Headquarters building in the right side of this picture, gives you a good idea of the proximity of the Olympic Center to the BMW complex. Not a huge walk, Google Maps indicates approximately 500 meters if you use the footbridge across the Georg-Brauchle-Ring freeway.
NOTE: This image is the property of Taxiarchos228 via WikiMedia Commons

 Quick History Lesson 

The Olympiapark München is an Olympic Park which was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Located in the Oberwiesenfeld neighborhood of Munich, the Park continues to serve as a venue for cultural, social, and religious events, such as events of worship. It includes a contemporary carillon. The Park is administered by Olympiapark München GmbH, a holding company fully owned by the state capital of Munich.

The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

Olympic Soccer Stadium

As seen from the top of the tower. For those of you who watched the 2013 World Cup Final, this stadium was completely full of soccer fans, watching the final on several jumbo-tron monitors erected for the fans to watch the finals.
DIRECTIONS: As I previously mentioned, our good friend dropped us off at the BMW Museum, and then we walked across the footbridge to the park. If however you are at Marienplatz, you have the choice of riding either an S-Bahn or a U-Bahn to get to the Olympia-Einkaufszentrum Station which is the closest subway station to the park. In fact, we rode the U-Bahn (U-3) back to Marienplatz after our park exploration was completed.

Metro back to Marienplatz

We walked back to the Olympia-zentrum U-Bahn Station and rode the U3 back to Marienplatz Station. This is a large 4 level station, where the S-Bahn (S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S7 and S8) lines intersect with the U-Bahn (U3 and U6).
We exited the station and strolled through Marienplatz (pedestrian area) to watch the glockenspiel march when the hour ticked over.
Not sure that you can tell from this picture, that it had just stopped raining. Which, given the heat wave that was still over Europe, cooled things off nicely.
Strolling along in Marienplatz in central Munich, and you can see how crowded it is? This is typical for a summer day.
We were looking for a place to purchase an afternoon snack and an iced coffee - and fortunately for us, we found one quickly.

Munich Rathaus Glockenspiel

Every day at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. ( as well as 5 p.m. in the summer) it chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th century to the amusement of mass crowds of tourists and locals. It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. The top half of the Glockenspiel tells the story of the marriage of the local Duke Wilhelm V (who also founded the world famous Hofbräuhaus) to Renata of Lorraine. In honour of the happy couple there is a joust with life-sized knights on horseback representing Bavaria (in white and blue) and Lothringen (in red and white).

Rest Stop

We were "forced" to find various ways to deal with the heat, and discovered that ice cream worked very well to reduce the heat effects !
We found a great little ice cream shop, in an alley that led to a shopping area, just off Marienplatz (sorry we did not record the name of this shop). As we needed some afternoon "motivation", the ice cream was accompanied by a cappuccino and we were ready to keep on walking!

Hike to Karlsplatz

We walked to the far western end of Marienplatz to Karlsplatz to catch the bus back to our apartment, and the fountains there always attract a crowd. Of course, some of the crowd here is because Karlsplatz is a major transportation intersection point; buses, tram cars and the subway all converge here.
For those of you familiar with Munich, this is a nice stroll through the center of the city, lined with shops, restaurants and other types of stores. In fact, there is a large shopping center underneath Karlsplatz ("Stachus Passagen").

A view of Karlsplatz

This is a great picture of Karlsplatz from the western side of the square, you can see the fountains and bus stops. You might not be able to see the U-Bahn sign (to the right of the stairs in the lower right corner of the picture) but the station is just below the square.
NOTE: This image is the property of Robb via Wikipedia
NOTE: The Stachus Passagen – Europe’s largest underground shopping centre is directly below the Karlsplatz square.

Frauenkirche

The twin spires church is the "Frauenkirche" which is a church that serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising and seat of its Archbishop. More importantly, in the background are the Bavarian Alps. Beautiful isn't it?
NOTE: This image is the property of etour.ua
DIRECTIONS: This is an easy walk from Marienplatz, click here to view a Google walking map.

Feldherrnhalle

The Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshals' Hall) is a monumental loggia on the Odeonsplatz in Munich, Germany. Modelled after the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, it was commissioned in 1841 by King Ludwig I of Bavaria to honour the tradition of the Bavarian Army.
In 1923, it was the site of the brief battle that ended Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch. During the Nazi era, it served as a monument commemorating the death of 16 members of the Nazi party.
NOTE: This image is the property of Thomas Wolf via Wikipedia.
DIRECTIONS: This is an easy walk from Marienplatz, click here to view a Google walking map.

Hofbräuhaus am Platzl

This is perhaps one of the most widely known beer halls in Munich, Germany, originally built in 1589 by Bavarian Duke Maximilian I as an extension of the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München brewery. The general public was admitted in 1828 by Ludwig I. The building was completely remodeled in 1897 by Max Littmann when the brewery moved to the suburbs. All of the rooms except the historic beer hall ("Schwemme") were destroyed in the World War II bombings. The reopening of the Festival Hall in 1958 marked the end of the post-war restoration work.
NOTE: This image is the property of Kiban via Wikipedia.

DIRECTIONS: This is an easy walk from Marienplatz, click here to view a Google walking map.

Englischer Garten

This is a picture of the Chinese Tower in the English Gardens, a large public park in the centre of Munich, Bavaria, stretching from the city centre to the northeastern city limits. It was created in 1789 by Sir Benjamin Thompson (1753–1814), later Count Rumford (Reichsgraf von Rumford), for Prince Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria. Thompson's successors, Reinhard von Werneck (1757–1842) and Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell (1750–1823), advisers on the project from its beginning, both extended and improved the park.

With an area of 3.7 km2 (1.4 sq mi) (370 ha or 910 acres), the Englischer Garten is one of the world's largest urban public parks. The name refers to its English garden form of informal landscape, a style popular in England from the mid-18th century to the early 19th century and particularly associated with Capability Brown (real name "Lancelot Brown" an English landscape architect).

The Chinesischer Turm ("Chinese Tower") is a 25 metre high wooden structure, first constructed in 1789 to 1790, from a design by the Mannheimer military architect Joseph Frey (1758–1819). It was modelled on the "Great Pagoda" in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. The Pagoda, twice as high as the tower, was supposed to resemble a porcelain pagoda in the gardens of a Chinese emperor. The Munich tower has five storeys: the ground storey roof has a diameter of 19 meters, the top-most story of 6 meters

On July 13, 1944, the original tower burned down after heavy bombing; but a society aiming to rebuild it was formed in 1951 and the new tower, copied accurately from the original by consulting photographs and old drawings, was completed in September, 1952.

The Englischer Garten offers numerous leisure time activities; Cyclists and joggers train on the 78-kilometer-long (48.5 miles) network of paths, and amateur soccer players meet on the fields for recreational games.

NOTE: This image is the property of Jev55 via Flickr.

DIRECTIONS: This is an easy walk from Marienplatz, click here to view a Google walking map.
Click here to visit the Wiki Page for the park.

  • The European Driving Adventure Overview & Guide We started in Paris, drove through France and ended in Germany, click here to read more.

  • Paris, France We started in Paris because it is just so darn fun to explore, click here to read more.

  • Bordeaux, France We took a train to Bordeaux and wound up having more adventure than we had planned, click here to read more.

  • Carcassonne & Rustiques area of France Our base camp was a house we rented in Rustiques, click here to read more.

  • Cathar Country Rustique area is close to the last strongholds of the Cathars, click here to read more.

  • Canal du Midi, France The Canal du Midi was just a few kilometers from Rustique, click here to read more.

  • Lake Annecy, France This was another base camp area we had selected, click here to read more.

  • Munich, Germany Munich was the next & final base camp area, click here to read more.

  • Rothenburg, Germany Continuation of the drive back to Munich from Nuremberg, Click here to read more.

  • Nuremberg, Germany We day tripped from Munich to visit the Nazi Documentation Center, Click here to read more.

  • Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany Day trip drive from Munich to see the famous castle, click here to read more.

  • Salzburg, Autstria Day trip drive from Munich to visit Salzburg. Click here to read more.


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