I popped up at 8:30, suspicious of the amount of sleep I was getting. I thought I slept through my alarm, but our departure was set at 9 (the latest of any day on the trip!), so Jeff and I had set our alarm to 8:40, of course. I was so well rested… it didn’t feel right. And then I remembered that today was Munich – I was so excited! We had visited amazing factories and facilities, the cutest village, seen breathtaking scenery, but this would be the first major, global city we were visiting! I scurried down, and grabbed some chocolate croissants to eat on the way to the train station – if there was one thing I learned from the German factories, it was efficiency.
As we boarded our Bayern train, I was pleasantly surprised with the train. I usually only take trains to NYC from Jersey, but these were so much nicer. They had the leather interior/seating of a nice coach bus and seats in pairs facing each other, sometimes with a table in the middle, and sometimes back to back. The format allowed commuters to choose whether they would like to conveniently work, socialize, or sleep. Needless to say, the economy-level Bayern trains reinforced my observations that Germany truly invests in it’s public transportation infrastructure — and when we got to the Munich train station, that observation was once again confirmed (see images below). On a side note, I discovered this gem on the train, when Jeff and I were scrolling through his childhood on his phone (see below as well).
We first walked down Marienplatz, which is a long road with tons of shops and buildings on both sides. It’s the biggest tourist attraction in Munich, with tons of culturally-relevant and modernized places to eat, shop, and spend time. Here are some pictures of us being total tourists:
We arrived at the city square, with the town hall right behind us, in an ancient, and gorgeous building depicted below. We met our tour guide who explained the historical context of the town hall, and the epic mechanical performance of figures at the top of the clock tower that tell a story. I was really impressed at the engineering feat of this cathedral style building. Additionally, I noticed one of the buildings next to the town hall had this beautiful image of Shawn Mendes (below). It really underscored how modernized and acculturated Munich had become by its increasing number of tourist visits and vacations.
We first visited the Market, which was one of the most amazing food-related places I’ve ever been. There were huge tents and stations set up of fresh product and foods of all types: there were cheeses, fruits, veggies, jams, breads, and literally anything else you could think of. It was huge and we learnt that every spot is reserved for a specific type of food and licensed out to a family/organization. If the holder of that spot decides they no longer want to continue selling at the market, then the government will give a new license for that specific type of food to a new person. In other words, bread can only be replaced by bread, etc. Below is the fruit station I took a picture of since, as Alex put it, I’m fruity :). The government’s regulation of the market to uphold tradition, and rebuilding of the town hall in the same way it was before the world war, made me think of Germany’s commitment to its history. It’s so interesting because America is such a young country and doesn’t have a lot of established history or tradition that we don’t usually interact with decisions/regulations like these.
We then went to the beer garden and once again learnt some interesting history associated with beer. The history of beer in the city and the importance of people related with the beer process is represented in this sign post, depicted outside of the beer garden and commonly found in the beer gardens of each city. In the beer garden, you’ll find plenty of places to eat as well as drink, since we were told people didn’t want to get drunk on an empty stomach so the beer providers added the food option. Clever.
We visited the area of Munich where the kings had resided, with their impressive palaces and a beautiful cathedral. It was a really nice section of the city and the tour guide informed us that in the olden days, the rich didn’t want to see the poor, the misery and filth that was associated with them, so there were richer neighborhoods where the rich would isolate themselves from everyone else. This made me think of how economic class differences penetrated time, history, and geography since it’s a common practice now, and was also common hundreds of years ago, around the globe.
Dr. Feick and Arielle informed us that we had 5 hours to explore the city and we were officially off program, we could do whatever we wanted! So naturally, all 20 of us on program went to the Hofbrauhaus, the most touristy but famous restaurant/beer house/place. We spent nearly two hours there because we were a large group and it was beyond crowded. We got some really good food though!
We spent the rest of the free time doing some shopping and I got some gifts for family and friends back home. We visited a Starbucks, because would we really be American college students on a study abroad program in a different country if we didn’t? After walking around and getting a little lost, we headed back to the market and bought some strawberries and cheese. Everything looked so good, and fresh, and healthy, I could spend all day there. We headed right next door to the beer garden where we ate our strawberries and other food items we got, until it was time to head back to visit the rest of the program.
When we got back to the city center, we were caught in the midst of protests and demonstrations. There was a pro-life protest followed directly by a pro-choice protest. It was exhilarating with all the police there and the noise and cameras and attention: it was literally no different from an American protest except maybe, that some of the speeches, words, and posters were in German. I know I’ve focused a lot on the differences between Germany and America, but this was another way I realized that at least the urban centers of the two countries were quite similar. Below are images from the rallies and protests.
We went to a nice burger place where the table got some fries, and I had a spicy veggie burger. I really enjoyed the food and the setting was really extraordinary, as in it was a lot. I really liked it! As we headed back to Augsburg on the train, I was very happy, with a successful day in the city. The program ends here, but it was a really fun and successful day. I’ll see you tomorrow!