(The wifi here is super janky sorry for the late upload)
The hostel we stayed at offered a free walking tour, so we jumped at the opportunity to learn the history of all the things we walked by last night. We packed up, grabbed pastries at a little bakery down the street (so delicious) and met up with the group at 9:45. We walked to the main square, Marienplatz and split up into different language groups. The English group was huge, but our tour guide Scott was awesome and we had no trouble hearing him.
We started out in front of the Glockenspiel, a gothic looking building known also known as the “New Town Hall” even though it was built in 1908. We stayed in the square to watch the clock strike eleven- there are two scenes in the clock that depict a royal marriage and then the celebration of when the Bubonic Plague was finally over in Munich. Kind of underwhelming, but still cool that it’s been there for over a hundred years. Our tour guide talked a lot about general Bavarian history, which I loved (Grandad, you would of loved it as well!) and had no idea about until today.
We walked all over the city in the morning and part of the afternoon. One of my favorite parts of the tour was the emphasis he put on discussing Nazi history in the city. I had no idea that Munich was a huge hub for the party during the end of its reign. I learned a lot more in a couple hours than I have in school. He talked about how years before Hitler came into power he tried to gain influence in Munich and was actually sentenced to jail because of a dispute in a beer hall. We even stood in a square with this funky wooden tower where Hitler sat and painted. Very strange feeling to know I was walking where Hitler once did. He also talked about how a majority of the city burned to the ground because of bombing during the war, explaining the contrast of old and new buildings I had talked about before.
He also showed us this very discreet monument in honor of those who resisted the Nazis. On Feldherrnhalle (also known as the Field Marshals’ Hall) there used to be a place where every passerby had to a knowledge their allegiance to Hitler or they would be arrested. There was an alley behind that people would take instead, to avoid having to show support for the party. Eventually the Nazis caught on and stationed Gestapo in the back alley who would then murder or arrest anyone who walked down it more than once a day. In memory of those who refused to pledge their allegiance to the party, a gold pathway is painted down the alley to the arch where the Gestapo were. It was a beautiful way to honor those that were killed on those cobblestones in order to resist the Nazis. I could talk all day about the history I learned, but I’m going to guess it’s not as interesting when you’re just reading it on my blog so I’ll stop there. If you want to know more I’ll be happy to share with you!
Our tour ended around two so Grace and I headed to the Englischer Gardens. On our way there, we stopped in St. Peter’s cathedral which was absolutely beautiful and everything was plated in gold! We also walked by a fruit stand and bought a container of fresh picked strawberries (Emily, you would have been in heaven) and they were amazing. We made it to the gardens and wandered around, enjoying all the greenery and birds singing.
One of my favorite things about Munich is the street music- every musician we passed was playing classical music. We sat in a gazebo like building for a while in the gardens listening to a man play the cello, it was incredible music and very moving. Another thing I loved about the city was how bike friendly it was. On every single sidewalk there is a designated bike lane, and there were typically more bikers than pedestrians. From men in business suits to woman with their groceries everyone rode bikes, it was fantastic!
We grabbed a snack at an outdoor cafe on the edge of the gardens. Sitting outside enjoying our Bavarian pretzels, fresh strawberries and Helles beer made for the perfect afternoon. We walked back through the city to our hostel, grabbed our packs and power walked to the station, arriving just in time to catch our train to Salzburg, Austria.
The train ride to Salzburg was beautiful, as most of our rides have been. Rolling green farmland with the Alps in the background isn’t too hard on the eyes. After finding the correct bus to our hostel from the station, we grabbed some groceries (thankfully so much cheaper than in Switzerland!) made dinner (aka a frozen pizza and some yogurt) and chatted with some people in the hostel.
I loved Munich so much more than I thought I would! Although beer is indeed a huge part of their culture and history…(side note: today in our tour I learned that they once put out a fire at the National Theater in Munich by dousing it in beer, and different cities steal other cities May Poles in exchange for beer and great tables at Oktoberfest) it isn’t everything, the city is rich in history and just had a positive, cheerful vibe about it. Cheers!