June 20th, 21st 2010
If there is one thing you have to absolutely do when in Munich, it’s visiting a beer hall. My hostel was right across the Augustiner brewery, which had its own beer hall, and I was not disappointed by the experience. Roast chicken and pork roasting over open fires, staff dressed in traditional German clothes serving a packed hall, traditional German music being played by a band with trumpets and tubas…It was fast paced, lively, and a fantastic atmosphere for drinking and eating.
I couldn’t get a table so I decided to just eat at the bar. The bartender is constantly filling up pint glasses with Augustiner beer straight from the barrel (it’s the only beer served here, being the brewery and all). First night, I go with a pint of beer and half a roast chicken. No one comes to serve me so I made my order through the bartender who passed on the word to the waitstaff. It’s an organized chaos here. And the food/beer as superb. I knew I was going to visit this place again the next night. Screw going to the world famous (but super touristy) Hofbrafhaus (Hitler gave Nazi speeches here apparently), I am happy with this place. And it’s right across the street from my hostel for goodness sake, what more could one ask for?!
I did the Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour of course. It’s never “free”, I always tip €5-10 each time, €5 only if the tour is really poor but most of the time, it’s €10. Apparently each guide has to give €3 to the Sandeman company for each person in the group, so whatever extra is what they actually earn. I wish more people on the tours knew that, I see lots of people tipping €5 or so. And there are people who leave mid-tour without tipping or anything so I don’t imagine the guides get very much if a group of 20 becomes a group of 12 at the end. They still owe the company for 20 people!
My guide was from Houston so that was neat. He came to Munich to live and improve his German. Munich itself is a nice looking city, rich in history. We got to see places where the Nazis headquartered themselves, also the place where Hitler almost got killed in the 1920s, but was only saved by his bodyguard who took 12 bullets for him. Imagine how history would’ve changed if Hitler died here. If you think about it, there have been so many times Hitler almost died but he didn’t…sometimes you wonder if it was fate that everything happened.
I subsisted on doner kebabs during the day. I love the Turks. They bring cheap, delicious, easy food to the masses. At night, what else…Augustiner beer and schweinhaxe (roast pork knee, see picture). Roast pork knee is something everyone should have, what a fantastic dish. The band decided to play several national anthems for the crowds, including America, Canada, Australia, England. Get a little buzzed, walk right across the street to the hostel, watch the World Cup. That is the life…
I forgot to mention that I was supposed to be in a 12-person hostel room but got upgraded to a 6-person room. Here’s what happened : I went up to the room, tried to find an open bed, couldn’t. Went back downstairs to reception, someone came to help me find a bed. We found what we thought was an open bed…but when I came back later, my stuff was on the floor. Some Korean guy (who I saw check in before me) apparently had claimed the bed already. So back downstairs I went…reception decided to give me a 6-person room at no extra charge. Score! But it wasn’t all that great…
At night, around 3 am, the British trio in my room decided to come back drunk and loud. Banged the door so loud against someone’s bed, came in laughing and talking very loud, throwing water on each other, spilling water all over the floor, running around in their underwear, getting warned by the hostel a few times…not easy to get sleep when all this is happening. I was more amused than mad though. Drunk people are hilarious. Reminded me of the drunk Irish back in Krakow.
I did go to a museum, the Deutsches Museum. I had to, I’m an engineer, and that place is the world’s largest museum of technology and science. But when most explanations are in German, one can get very bored after a while. And long long long captions in English don’t help, I didn’t come to read a novel.
Anyway, that’s it for Munich. I wish I could say more about the architectures, museums, history etc but I came for the beer halls, beer, and food. Oktoberfest is held here annually and I bet it’s a blast.