Sunday, October 15, 2006

Munchen Part I - The City

I’ll dispense with the non-Oktoberfest related first, because it’s not quite as fun. During the occasional sober moment, we toured the city two or three afternoons. Believe it or not, Munich has more to offer than just one, great Beer Fest. I actually really enjoyed what I saw. It’s perhaps the first city I’ve walked this semester where I felt like perhaps I’d enjoy living there.

As with every other European city, it has its share of old churches near the city center. I’m a big fan of the one below, Frauenkirche, and it dates to the fifteenth century. Inside can hold about 20,000 people. The square in front, which you see the foreground of the picture, has a cool water fountain and place to hang out.

And also like most other European cities, it has a city center that makes for a tourist trap. In Munich, it's called Marienplatz, and on one side is its famous glockenspiel. At various times throughout the day, the little wooden sculptures at the top dance around and joust. I guess it’s cool, mostly because jousting is awesome.

The glockenspiel is in the central tower inside the corroded-green brass facade. The building in which it resides is the old city hall.

One afternoon, we took a brewery tour around the city and stopped at a few of the major beer houses and breweries. Beer houses are much like beer tents, just more permanent: big open spaces with picnic tables, food, and of course a ton of beer. One of the houses we stopped at was the famous Hofbrauhaus. It’s one of many beer houses owned by the major brewers in Munich, but it’s also both the largest and most notorious. It holds over 3,000 people, and it was here in February of 1920 that Hitler gave one of his first and most important speeches. "The First Hofbrauhaus Speech”, as its known, laid out a 25-point plan that formed the basis for his new party, the National Socialist German Workers Party (or Nazi, for short). Thus, the Nazi party was born right here. On a lighter note, it's freakin' sweet to drink at.

And of course, no city center would be complete without its share of street performers, but I thought this guy was rather inventive. Apparently he’s been around for awhile, because I saw postcards of him in souvenir shops. Somehow he wires himself up with tubes to form something of a fountain, and every once in awhile he sprays people with water. He also made robot noises when he moved, which was awesome.

Street artist on Marienplatz.

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