Saturday, October 15, 2011

More to Munich than Beer and Lederhosen

In 2 days it will happen again. Huge kegs will be tapped and millions of people will gather in massive tents to sing and drink and party. Oktoberfest! I'm thinking back to last year when we were just 2 of over 6 million who celebrated the 200th anniversary of this event.

But of course there is more to Munich than just Oktoberfest. Bavaria is a stunning region with lots to see and do. We spent one day driving out to see the castles in Schloss. On the way we stopped at Wieskirche, litterally the church in the meadow. What had started out as a tiny little chapel for travelers to worship in has grown into a much larger church, but still in the middle of a meadow.

On to Schloss to see the magnificent, if somewhat crazy, castles of Hohenschwangua and Neuschwanstein. You buy your combined tour tickets, which are timed 2 hours a part. We visited Hohenschwangua, had some lunch and beers and then took the horse and buggy up the mountain to the fairy castle of Neuschwanstein. Our horses were so slow that we were late to our tour and luckily were let in to another- the last of the day. As we left the castle doors were locked behind us!

One day we took the train out to Dachau. When we got back in town we climbed to the top of St. Peter's tower where we got our first real look of Munich and how large it is. We had beers at an outdoor bar in the Marienplatz and were treated to the show that the beautiful Glockenspiel puts on. And also the show of all the tourists who jostle to see it in action.

We really loved exploring the Viktuallenmarket with it's many stalls and vendors selling fruits, meats, liquors, seafood, plants, etc.  And the area had lot's of restaurants with tables in the sun to choose from for lunch.

We visited the crypt where the royal tombs are kept in St. Michael's Church, saw the Devil's footprint outside the front of the Frauenkirche, walked up the grand Maximilianstrasse to see the theater and opera and even stopped in the Odeonsplatz where the Nazi's first gathered and demonstrated before sitting and taking in the beauty of the Royal Gardens. And then we had cocktails at the famed Schumann's Bar, not beer but delicious classic cocktails.

But on our last day the lure of Oktoberfest was too strong and we headed back to the Theresienwiese. We wandered around the rides, had beers outside at the Lowenbrau house and finally entered the Augustiner Tent.

We made friends with Otto who let us share his table, a table he has had a standing reservation at for 13 years. He explained that his wife had passed away as had many of his friends but he continued to come and enjoy the music and the beer and remember the fun of his past. Other family members joined him as the night went on and he let us stay all evening with them. And this time we ate our roast chicken early. The rest of the evening we hoisted steins and sang and danced. Prost!
More photos of Munich and the area here