Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day Trip to Munich

Yesterday, we went to Munich (or München in German) for the day.  We got on a train a little after 8AM and were there by 10:30AM.  We were on a different kind of train than when we went to Switzerland, so we were able to get a parent and child compartment.  This allowed us to contain Brady and he had more freedom to run around without disrupting anyone else.  This is something we will miss very much when we leave and I'm sure getting on the plane to come home will be difficult because Brady will be so used to the freedom he has on trains.

Munich is the capital of the German state of Bavaria, a little north of the German Alps. It's the third largest city in German, behind Berlin and Hamburg.  Above you can see the city's coat of arms and it boasts a monk, as München means "by the monks' place."

Below are some pictures as we walked from the Hauptbahnhof through the downtown area. 

Munich, like Stuttgart has a downtown area that contains roads that are for pedestrians only.  Munich's downtown area is of course larger than Stuttgart's, but the feel of even large European cities is far more relaxed and comfortable than those we have in the United States.

We hurriedly walked from the Hauptbahnhof through most of the downtown area to reach Marienplatz, where the world famous Glockenspiel is located.

The reason for the rush was because at 11AM each day, the 32 life-sized figures re-enact two stories from the 16th century.  

The top half of the Glockenspiel tells the story of the marriage of the local Duke Wilhelm V to Renatta of Lorraine.  In honor 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).  The Bavarian knight wins every time of course.  This is followed by the bottom half and second story: Schafflertanz (the coopers' dance).  According to myth, 1517 was a year of plague in Munich.  The coopers are said to have danced through the streets to, "bring fresh vitality to fearful dispositions."  The coopers remained loyal to the duke, and their dance came to symbolize perseverance and loyalty to authority through difficult times.

The tower of the toy museum, which we went to during the afternoon (separate post).

One of my friends here had lived in Munich, so she recommended a few good places to eat.  One of them had traditional German food and I was lucky enough to get a bread dumpling, which is something that I was raised on with my Oma's cooking.  It wasn't as good as hers, but it was great to have a taste of "home."  Brady and I also shared an apple strudel, another of my staples growing up.

Speaking of Oma, I had to snap this picture when I saw the sign.  Growing up, no one I ever knew outside of my family had an Oma.  Here it's very common place, since Oma is the German word for grandmother.  My Oma was very excited when she found out we'd be living in Germany, and I can't wait to regale her of all our travels when we get home.

 This is a pic of the Viktualienmarkt  which is is a daily food market, in a square in Munich's city center.  We browsed a few of the stalls and got a bag of dried fruit that was an Aloha mix, so it contained pineapple, kiwi, apple, coconut, banana, and few other tasty fruits.

 Munich is much more geared for tourism than Stuttgart is, so there were souvenir shops everywhere!  I couldn't resist, so while I poked in and out of stores, Andy took some pics.

We had all day, so we decided to just walk down some random streets and explore the city away from the main drag.  This was so cool to see built along other houses.

 There were so many of these cool archways that we encountered.

 We were in a store that specialized in traditional German outfits, and couldn't resist snapping a pic of Brady with the hat.  My brothers and I used to wear plastic ones when we went to Oktoberfest in Pittsburgh every year growing up.  I can't wait to take Brady to his first Oktoberfest this fall (even if it's in Pittsburgh rather than Germany).

I took this picture for my dad.  When we went to Vegas when we were kids and there were lots of tour groups, where the leader held up a flag so the group could stay with them.  After that, it became somewhat of a joke.  When we went to Vegas, when I was 21, my dad would hold up his hat like he was one of those tour guides.  Seeing this guy leading his tour group by holding up an umbrella brought back some fun memories.

 This pic is also for my dad.  He's constantly in Germany for business and every time he goes, he asks my mom and I what we'd like him to bring back.  The answer was always the same, Hummels.  He would always come back with something else, saying it was impossible to find Hummels.  Several of those times he was in Munich.  There were Hummels in almost every store, and most of them advertised that they had them, so you didn't even have to go in stores and search.  He's so busted!  This particular store had several of the ones my mom has (she has one to represent all of her kids), and although I have one to represent Brady, there was one I really wanted, but they were very expensive there.

 Inside the new Rathaus (city hall).

 More inside the Rathaus.

 A different angle on the Marienplatz and Glockenspiel.

The world famous Hofbräuhaus.  It has since become a chain and there's on in Pittsburgh.  Andy and I will have to go there when we miss the tastes of Germany.

Our train heading back to Stuttgart was set for 7:30PM and we wanted to be at dinner at 5:30PM.  Around 2PM, we'd seen everything we wanted to see downtown and decided to explore some other options, so we headed to the tourist office to see what else we could see.  We decided that we had plenty of time and it would be smart to take a U-bahn to see both the BMW Museum and Olympic Park, which were at the same stop. 

 This is a pic of the BMW factory.  We walked through the showroom and Andy was taken aback that they actually had people buying and picking up their BMWs there.  The museum will be discussed in a separate post since there are so many pictures.

 The only hiccup we had during the day was right at the end of our tour of the BMW Museum.  I was using the restroom and when I came out, I found Andy desperately trying to clean up Brady, as he'd been sick.  We were fortunate to be right next to the bathrooms and that I'd bought him a souvenir shirt.  The unfortunate part was that since it was later in the afternoon and he was tired, we had just given him his puppy blankie.  We attribute Brady getting sick from eating three pretzels and ice cream.  He was exhausted after that and took a 20 minute power nap while we walked.  You can see his sweatshirt tucked around his legs instead of pants.

The tennis courts from the 1972 Munich summer Olympics as we walked through Olympic park.


 The Olympic Stadium was a bit run-down and gated off, so this is an aerial shot of it.

We had quite the adventure getting back to the Munich city center.  Instead of walking back to the U-bahn station we'd gotten off on, we followed the signs in Olympic park.  This took us 3km out of the way, and by the time we got to the station, we were exhausted and hurting from a long day walking.

It was all worth it when we finally made it to our dinner destination, the Hard Rock.  The familiar smell hit us the moment we walked in the door and I rewarded myself with a margarita.  We got the nachos and Andy got a big American burger, while I rejoiced in an entree chicken salad with real ranch dressing (something you can't find in Germany).  Brady was great the whole time and shared our food.  He even made us all laugh when he scoped out the waitress from head to toe (she laughed too).  Usually we tend to get shirts at the Hard Rocks we've been too and it just so happens that Brady already has one.  When he was 24 hours old, my dad made a business trip to Munich and got a shirt for Brady.  It says "My first Hard Rock tee," and it was the smallest size they had so it doesn't even fit him yet.  Back then, we would've never dreamed he'd be in Munich only two short years later.

I come from a very strong German and Austrian heritage as my paternal grandparents were immigrants.  I consider myself lucky that I have such a strong connection to my culture and I want to pass that on to Brady as well.  So when I found out we'd be coming to Germany, I knew I had to get Brady some authentic lederhosen.  It's been hard to find here in Stuttgart, but I found a specialty lederhosen shop for children in Munich.  I was able to piece it together myself.  He's pictured below trying it on this morning.  I also got him the knee-high socks to go with it.  

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