Sorry for not publishing anything here in a few days. I have been to Munich and the Oktoberfest. I had spent a few years thinking about it, and there would always be something that prevented me from doing it. It is a lovely city that anyone can visit anytime, but I also wanted to go to the Oktoberfest, which only happens once a year. I am telling you some of the things that I saw and did there.
I was quite taken by Munich and the few facts about living standards that I gathered from Germans. Munich seemed pretty quiet for a city. I was told that it normally has one million inhabitants, plus another million on top of it during the Oktoberfest. According to the 2011 census, London has eight million people. This excludes the many people who are not registered for one reason or other. So, any other place has to feel rather quiet.
In fact, people in Munich seemed to be more relaxed than people in London. Besides the drinking, there did not seem to be as many activities. I confirmed with a friend that they lead a quieter life. I thought that actually was rather refreshing for a while.
Overall, I thought the city was more manageable in terms of distances. It only has one airport instead of 6, and the transport system, although more expensive, seemed to work really well as compared to the transport system here.
Other things that I enjoyed is the quality of the water, the fact that all professionals did not need to share accommodation and it is, generally, cheaper than London. However, this is the richest area in Germany.
It was raining during my first day, which did not stop anyone from wandering about.
As when walking around London, I enjoyed the fabulous buildings, churches and markets. I could see loads of rococo style. Munich history goes back to the 1100´s. The exact birthday of Munich is asumed to be 1158, when Henry the Lion built a bridge over the river Isar, next to a settlement of Benedictine monks. The monks presence dates back to the 8th Century, but any settlement in the area can be traced back to the Neolitic. Its name in German is said to come from `cloister of Monks´.
It is peculiar that the figure of the monk on the coat of arms of the city was somehow transformed into that of a child from the 13th Century. This transformation was apparently brought about by artists. The gender of the child is not even known.
Something curious, the name Bavaria is a translation of the German word Bayern.
The weather was actually rather nice the rest of the time. Good enough to sunbathe next to the Isar River, and see all the wonderful sites next to it on my way from the Deutsches Museum to the English Park, Residenz area (think New Bond Street) and Marien Platz to catch the train back home.
A visit to the Deutsches Museum is a must for those into science and technology.
The Oktoberfest was first held to commemorate the marriage between the then Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. It is celebrated in the so-called Theresienwiese area or Wies´n during 16 days. After the German reunification, it was extended to fall on the German Unity Day, October 3rd.
I was impressed to learn that it takes them two months to build up the tents, for they actually are tents where people sing and dance and drink the huge mass, a mug that contains a litre of beer. There are quite a few tents, plus a huge fairground. Over 7 million litres of beer are consumed. Not bad for English standards!
There is a colourful parade that marks the start of the festivities. We stood for over two hours watching people dressed up in traditional costumes from the different regions in Germany and guest countries, such as France, Italy, Hungary and Poland. Everyone was very cheerful and waved the crowd gathering around them. A curious thing is that many Germans dress up during the Oktoberfest.
Each representation had their own steel band.
They were even publicising their own local breweries.
Germans do not go to the tents in Theresienwiesen that often. There are many other beer gardens around Munich, some of them quite traditional. I went to this nice one, where we drank under old chesnut trees. It consisted of hundreds of tables and some stalls where one would order drink and food and then would pay in a separate till.
Pretzels are really tasty there, different from the ones we get here. I also had a vegetarian dish, a cheese mixture which was terribly filling, but terribly yummy too.
Look how many beer mugs are being taken away and how they do it!
The English Garden is one Munich´s green lungs. It was designed very similarly to the landscape parks we have in London. The river is still the Isar.
This tower is a mock Greek temple called the Monopteros, also built in a false hill.
There is a popular beer garden too, next to the Chinese Tower, where a band plays from time to time on the second floor.
My souvenirs from the tent area in the Oktoberfest and the Chinese Tower beer garden. Note that the ginger biscuit is normally kept as a souvernir. HB stands for Hofbräuhaus a famous brewery and chain of pubs in Munich.
Thanks for reading! I hope I have enticed you to visit Munich. I will talk about the areas around Munich next time.