May 11th – Munich

Day 7:

Today wasn’t as early as previous days, only needing to leave the hotel at 9:00am (when it was announced we didn’t need to leave until then we all applauded). I got up, ate breakfast, and we left for the train station. The walk was about twenty minutes, and we got there a little early for the train so we waited for it to arrive before walking to the platform. We boarded the train, found a seat, and waited for the ride to Munich. I really enjoyed the trip because I have never really ridden a train before in the United States, and the last time I had ridden a train was in Italy with my family a few years ago. There weren’t as many scenic views as we have had on the bus because a lot of them were blocked. Germany is big on sound pollution, so there were a lot of sound barriers around the train tracks that prevented you from seeing the countryside.

The train platform in Augsburg and the train we rode to Munich

Once we arrived in Munich, you could immediately tell how much larger it was than Augsburg. Just the train station itself was enormous. There were a ton of platforms in either direction, shops everywhere you looked, and huge crowds of people. We walked through the station and used the restroom at one of the nicest and well-kept bathrooms I have ever used, which I was expecting because it cost 1 Euro to use. I have heard about having to pay to use the restrooms here, but that was the first time I actually needed to pay. It was very from the cleanliness of it all that you got what you paid for.

The bust Munich train station. You can even see some of our group!

After finding our way through the train station we made it out onto the streets of Munich. The city was stunning and bustling, with packed streets full of all kinds of different buildings, cars, and people. The whole center of the city has buildings no taller than the tallest church there, called the Fraunkirche (church of our lady). There were 3 modern towers built at the outskirts taller than the Fraunkirche cathedral, and the backlash from the people of Munich was so strong and so negative that the city that passed a law requiring any new buildings to be less than 100 meters tall (the height of the Fraunkirche).

The Fraunkirche

We made it to the town center around 11:00am, directly in front of the town hall, where we met with our tour guide for the next two hours, Dorothia. We started with talking about the town hall itself, which was incredibly intricate. It started construction in the late 1800s and finished in the early 1900s, replacing the old town hall as it had become too small for all of the city’s officials.

A view of the New Town Hall from Peterskirche (St. Peter’s Church). You can just barely see the two platforms from which the Glockenspiel was performed directly underneath the lower portion of the Hall. In the skyline in the far distance to the left, you can see the Olympic Tower (the spire), as well as the BMW headquarters (the next tallest, cylindrical building in the skyline).

Starting right at 11:00 was a tradition called Glockenspiel, which takes place at 11:00am, 12:00pm, and 5:00pm every day. It consists of a rotating platform of different figurines, as well as many ringing bells. There are two platforms that are part of the “performance”, one on top of the other. The top one represents a famous wedding of the founder of the original Hofbräuhaus, a world-famous brewery in Munich. During its display, there are 18 figurines that rotate around the central display, as well as two knights riding horses that are jousting. They rotate around two times, and nothing happens until the second run when the golden knight wins against the knight in silver. Below this on the second platform, the “Cooper’s Dance” takes place, consisting of a rotating platform of spinning Coopers, who were barrel makers historically.

I took a video of Glockenspiel on my phone but it was extremely difficult to see anything as the figurines were very far away. This YouTube video is the exact same thing I was able to see, just zoomed in.

Following the Glockenspiel, we started our walking tour of Munich. We were able to go through a ton of different things and got a ton of interesting information as our tour guide was fantastic – and don’t even get me started on the cars. We started by walking through the Viktualienmarkt, which is a giant traditional outdoor market in Munich. It only has fresh food that was grown without the use of any pesticides of any sort. Additionally, if one of the stand’s families decides to leave the business, the City of Munich ensures that the next family to take over remains selling the same product as the original family so that the traditionality is maintained.

A fruit stand at Viktualienmarkt. Later in the day a group of us ended up coming back and splitting a little bin of strawberries, and they were amazing.
A flower stand at Viktualienmarkt.

After the Viktualienmarkt, we continued walking through the streets of Munich. The next stop was the Hofbräuhaus, a world-famous brewery in Munich. It was enormous, reaching three floors upwards, with each floor being giant. We later came back to the Hofbräuhaus during our free time for lunch, and I ordered a traditional German meal: bratwurst (which is really good sausage).

The ceiling of the first floor of the Hofbräuhaus.
The court yard at the Hofbräuhaus.
The third floor at the Hofbräuhaus, which is where we ate lunch.

After walking through the Hofbräuhaus, we walked down the Maximilianstraße in Munich, which was the main street and had all the expensive shops on it, meaning that the wealthy citizens of Munich had their expensive cars parked all over it. I saw more exotic cars that day than I ever have ever seen besides being at a car show.

An AMG GT 4-Türer Coupé parked in front of a Rolls Royce Cullinan

Right after that, we walked past the Munich Opera House and the statue of King Maximilian Joseph, a former King of Bavaria. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to see the interior of the Opera House, as it was said to be stunning. The Max-Joeseph Platz (the plaza in front of the Opera House) was a huge open area at the end of the Maximilianstraße, where you were able to see the exotic cars circling around.

The statue of King Maximilian Joseph, and the Munich Opera House

We were also able to see the Theatinerkirche, which was stunning from the outside, and just as stunning from the inside. I also, unfortunately, did not have enough time to tour inside during our free time, but we were able to see some other really neat things. There were a couple of members from our group that made it inside and their pictures were amazing.

The exterior of the Theatierkirche. The Feldherrnhalle is to the left, an old military monument representing the Bavarian Army, complete with two giant statues of male lions.

After the tour was over, we had our free time, where like I said before, we went to the Hofbräuhaus for lunch, and also climbed the Peterskirche, which required us walking up 306 steps. The view from the top of the Peterskirche was amazing, and you could clearly see why the citizens of Munich wanted to maintain the low-slung skyline.

The Peterskirche viewed from the ground. The church is 91 meters (298.5 feet) tall.
Another view from the Peterskirche. In the distance you can see the three buildings taller than 100 meters that were built before the ordinance was passed.

We also went to the Eisbach, which is a man-made river that flows through Munich at a fast pace. At one point, there is a standing wave that is an extremely popular destination for people that wouldn’t usually be attracted to large, urbanized city centers: surfers. At the Eisbach, surfers are here year-round to ride the wave that is created, even on Christmas!

Surfers waiting their turn at the Eisbach. It is an unwritten rule that you should not ride the wave for more than a minute so that everyone is able to ride.

We finished the day eating at an awesome burger restaurant filled with tree branches to make it look like a forest before taking the train back to Augsburg and getting to bed early after a long day of walking throughout Munich. We later checked our phones and found that we had walked at the very least 10 miles through Munich, and likely many more that were not registered.

Takeaways of the day:
Because German cities are so old, they expanded before they had the need or the technology to build tall buildings, unlike cities in the United States. Because of this, Munich is extremely low and easily walkable. Additionally, the German citizens take pride in this part of their city, which was apparent when they pushed hard enough to get a law put in place after the newest skyscraper “ruined the skyline”, as our tour guide told us.

Also, nearly everyone here in Germany abides by all of the pedestrian walk/don’t walk signs, very much unlike the University of Pittsburgh. I have found myself needing to stop myself and others in my group from crossing even if there are no cars because we want to hold ourselves to the same standards that the Germans do here.

Car of the Day: Mercedes G500 4×4 Squared

The Mercedes G500 4×4 Squared (yes that’s the full name) is an enourmous vehicle at nearly 8 feet tall.

The 4×4 Squared is just massive. It is excessive in every way. With this $225,000 beast you get a twin-turbocharged V8. If you so pleased, you could drive this straight through one meter of water with no problems at all. Weighing in at 6,700 pounds, it still has a respectable 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds.

Runner up: Mercedes AMG E63

I really liked this car because of its extremely picturesque setting, being parked in a small street filled with parked bicycles and also in the shadow of the Fraunkirche.

While this specific AMG did not have any badges, I am pretty sure it is an E63 as it was too large to be a C-Class but too small to be an S-Class. We stumbled upon it in a side alley parked very near to the Fraunkirche while we were on the tour. These cars are also powered by twin-turbocharged V8’s producing just about 600 horsepower and moving from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds.

Second Runner up: Lamborghini Urus

The Lamborghini Urus is Lamborghini’s second SUV (behind the LM002) and was a real surprise in this back alleyway.

I’ve decided to have a second runner up because I couldn’t go without mentioning the Lamborghini Urus our group saw while walking to the Eisbach surfing river. The Urus is a new offering by Lamborghini, and rides on the same platform as the Audi Q8 and Bentley Bentayga. This, believe it or not, is also powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 producing 641 horsepower, and there have been reports of this SUV getting to 60 mph in as little as 3.0 seconds.

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