Monday, November 21, 2016

Hello Bavaria! - Munich Day 1

As you may have seen in the previous posts about Munich, I was lucky enough to convince the company I work at to send me to Germany for five days for a design conference called Push Conference. I have been writing them slightly out of order because I wanted to get the conference posts out as soon as possible, with the tourism posts to come later. And here they are!

A small preface:
This was the first time I would be travelling completely on my own. I had travelled before in group trips where I would meet the others on the trip with me, but this was a completely solo experience from start to end. I had hoped that this would help me grow as a person, and also allow me to take a trip my way. I was able to choose everything I wanted to do myself, wake up when I wanted, go to sleep when I wanted, and be spontaneous.

For that reason, I decided that I would plan the trip in a different way from my other trips. I usually like to follow suit of the way my mother plans trips, which is to pack as much as is humanly possible into each day. While I really do appreciate this as it is extremely efficient and culture-filled, it can get exhausting and makes one feel like they haven't really taken a vacation at all. So, I limited myself to one planned activity per day. Beyond that, I would follow whim to fill the rest of the day. If I didn't feel like staying out late or waking up early, I wouldn't. But I assumed that by leaving open time, I would find ways to fill it off the cuff. And I surely did. Let's begin.

I arrived in Munich around 10:00AM local time, having slept a little bit on the plane, but knowing that I would have the challenge ahead of me to stay up as long as possible until my European bedtime in order to overcome the jet lag. I found it quite easy to buy a ticket at the airport for my transit to the AirBnB. I would be taking one aboveground train (the S-Bahn) and then transferring to an underground subway (the U-Bahn) for one stop. It was very easy to find my way. On the aboveground train, I met a lovely lady from Frankfurt and showed her how to take a time lapse video in her iPhone. Before we spoke, she thought I was German! Here's the timelapse video I took as we rode into Munich:

I got off the aboveground train at Marienplatz station, which is bright lovely orange and had a cool bakery inside. The smell of butter and sugar almost picked me up and carried me to the bakery, it smelled so good in there. It reminded me of how Bathurst station smells during baking hours, but better.

From there, I transferred to the U-Bahn to Sendlinger Tor station (where my AirBnB was). It lierally couldn't be easier. The whole process from getting off the plane to the AirBnB area took 2 hours. It was raining so I went into a drugstore to take my umbrella out of my suitcase and took a picture of a cool clock.

I must have looked crazy – walking into a pharmacy to kneel on the floor, open my suitcase (showing everyone all my clothing), taking out an umbrella, taking a picture of the clock, and leaving). After that, I had some time to kill before I would be able to get into the AirBnB, so I walked over to a park nearby to eat a snack and wait. Some church bells nearby chimed so beautifully the whole time.

A lady saw me sitting on the bench, feet up on my suitcase, holding an umbrella in one hand, eating chocolate almonds with the other hand, and said (in German first, and then in English) "You have a very nice spot there". It made me giggle. After that, I walked around the neighbourhood a bit before heading to my AirBnB.

I noticed there are no bike posts anywhere, everyone freelocks their bike (locking the frame to a wheel so it can be moved but not ridden).

The area also boasts a huge old cemetery. There were a few entrances at different edges of the cemetery, but the one I happened upon at the western side was locked. As I walked north along the side, I found the main entrance. Something to explore later, when I didn't have a suitcase in hand!

The AirBnB was very close to the cemetery and extremely easy to find, except that there was a mixup with floor numberings. They had told me they lived on the third floor, which is actually the fourth floor in North American floor numbering (in Europe, the ground floor is zero, not one).

I took a little half hour nap, and then was off to my planned activity of the day - a free Sandeman's walking tour. I had first heard of these tours when we stumbled upon one in Prague a couple years ago, which ended up being a highlight of the trip. The tour guides work solely on tips, so the price was right for me! On my way back to Marienplatz where the tour would start, I noticed a beautiful Jewish synagogue that I wanted to visit later.

The tour was just the thing to keep me awake throughout the afternoon. I must admit it was difficult to keep my attention high as I was extremely tired and it was definitely the coldest day of the trip, but I feel like I got some culture in anyway. The guide took us to the Victualsmarket, which is a big open air market kind of like St. Lawrence Market (I remembered I had been there on my last trip to Munich), and to the historical Hoffbrau Haus. There was a big sports game on that night, which might have explained all the drunk people milling about.

I hadn't really eaten much that day except for some chocolate almonds, so I got a bratwurst with some amazing mustard.

Then I explored the Hoffbrau Haus, and made some new friends:

The tour continued for about three hours. We ended in Odeonsplatz and parted ways. I went inside an ornate church to check out the interior.

After that, I bought a tea to warm up a bit, and continued my own personal tour along an artsy-looking street.

This clothing store is called Closed. Confusing.

The typical Bavarian breakfast (pretzel and weißwurst) made out of marzipan!

I wanted one of these cakes but I was too full from my sausage...

Acne Studios - one of my favourite stores! I had a nice chat with the shopkeeper who is a big fan of Toronto FC.

Selfie with a bust of this guy.

This picture turned out really nicely.

Some stained glass in a gallery adjacent to a craft shop.

Bavarian flags!

This statue is huge. Motorcycle for scale. Also note the patterned lines down his body.

This graffiti banana was just under the painting in the window above. Art everywhere!

A cool poster.

After all that, I wandered back to Marienplatz and tried some roasted chestnuts from a street vendor. I had noticed that there are a lot of chestnut trees dropping chestnuts all over the ground, so it must not be difficult to procure them there. Hot chestnuts in german is "heiße maroni" – the ß character is a sharp "s" sound.

As I ate the chestnuts, I noticed a lot of people in sports jerseys walking toward pubs and bars to watch the game. I wondered if I would be able to stay awake to watch!

Some beautiful flowers that reminded me of the gorgeous $5 bouquets in Pike's Place Market in Seattle.

I walked back through Victualsmarket and around the area between my AirBnB and the river. A friend had told me to visit a city square called Gartnerplatz, where people sometimes hang out and play guitar. It was pretty cold out so not many people were there. Definitely no guitars.

A laundromat/coffee shop combined. They know their market.

I looked around a supermarket to compare products and prices to Canada (and to see the weird chip flavours of course!), and then went to find a restaurant that a friend had recommended called Trachtenvogl. Even at 8:00 on a Wednesday night, it was packed in the restaurant. There was only one seat available (even with communal seating) and it was right beside the door. After spending the whole day in the cold and wet, I decided to try another restaurant instead.

I ended up at a restaurant called Wasserman's, where I got a beer and a thai chicken soup. It was the correct food to warm me up. I also noted that this was the first time I had ever eaten alone in a restaurant!

First beer in Munich (since the last time I was here)!

After that, the beer and soup had warmed me up enough to keep exploring some of the area. I walked down to the river and found some cool graffiti.

This was a zoomed-in shot of the schedule for some kind of creative work office. It's made out of lego! I love it.

Playmobil figures in an artist shop where they paint portraits.

Cultural German clothing. The red and blue one at the top is a dirndl (woman's version of lederhosen). As the Sandeman's tour guide told us earlier, the position of the ribbon on the hip denotes if a woman is married or single.

More interesting graffiti.

I tried to will myself to go to a bar and watch whatever sporting event was happening, but I was honestly so drained that I decided just to go back to my AirBnB and go to bed. After all, the conference would be the next day.

Tomorrow's adventures include walking around the Oktoberfest grounds, the first day of the conference, a big snail sculpture, and partying at a design firm until 2:00AM. And without giving too much away, yes I did get to visit the old graveyard - in the dark of night. Read the next post here!

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