My day started with a sweet, sweet sound. It was the sound of my alarm going off at 8 AM and not 6 AM. That’s still a little early for me, but I’ll take it. With all of the company visits and talks completed, it was finally time to take a whole day worth of cultural activities. What a better place to do that than in Germany’s third largest city and the largest city in Bavaria: Munich.
To get to Munich from Augsburg, we decided to forgo the coach bus that has been driving us around Bavaria and travel on one of Germany’s insanely fast trains. Compared to what would normally be almost an hour-long bus ride, we arrived in Munich in just about half the time. Speaking of arriving in Munich, I have to say, I was completely in awe when we began to approach the station. The Hauptbahnhof, or the station near the center of the city, only has one open side of track. In other words, the trains come in on one end, and reverse directions and leave out of the same end. Additionally, the station had to be around 20 sets of parallel train tracks, which was extremely impressive. Every train line for this system starts and ends at the same station in Munich, which probably makes travelling much more efficient. I feel very lucky that we had some of our University of Augsburg friends with us, because I would not have been able to navigate that bustling train station without them.
For our first stop in Munich, we walked about fifteen minutes from the train station to the Marienplatz, which is the town square. Both the old and new town halls reside there, and in the side of the tower of the new one lies the famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel. The Glockenspiel is a large clock consisting of 32 life-sized figures that begin to move around and animate to one of multiple tunes at 11 AM, 12 PM, and sometimes 5 PM. It was so fascinating to see these realistic figures come alive and to see their appearances, which felt very traditional German. I have heard people talking about the famous Glockenspiel before, but I never knew what it was and where it was. Thanks to this wonderful visit, I got to see it in person and take multiple videos for memories. I also got to see much more of Munich thanks to our tour guide who met up with us right after the Glockenspiel ended. She took us to numerous sites throughout the heart of Munich, including a cathedral named the Frauenkirche. Soaring about 98.57 meters, or 323 feet into the sky, the Frauenkirche is the tallest building in the heart of Munich, and since 2004, no new building is allowed to exceed that height. Our tour guide also informed us of an interesting fact. Inside the entrance of the church, there is a large footprint that legend says is the Devil’s footprint. While we unfortunately did not get to go in and see it, her fact demonstrated just how integrated the Catholic faith was in some Munich citizens’ lives. Overall, our tour guide was super kind and helpful, and I learned a lot more about Munich than I thought I would.
After the tour, for the rest of the day until our planned dinner, we were all given some free time. Naturally splitting up into smaller groups due to people wanting to do different things, my group first got lunch at an authentic Bavarian restaurant. I got the duck, which is apparently very popular in Bavaria (another fact that I did not know). After that, we walked around town and visited multiple stores and gift shops. I did buy a few gifts for some special people, and I hope that they like them!!! Throughout our walk, we experienced many different awesome things, including a busy farmer’s market, a man playing the accordion in a costume without a head, and a Pittsburgh yinzer talking to us after seeing my Pitt merch. You can find yinzers all over the world, I guess.
For dinner, we all reconvened and acutally ate at an American place. I got to try an attempt by German people at perfecting the burger, and I must say, I think they did a great job. It was funny eating American food in a foreign country, but I guess you can’t eat German food every day.
After we left Munich, on the train ride home, I began to collect my thoughts. The city was very, very busy, but that’s definitely because it was a Saturday. The food and souvenirs were quite great, even if they were a little pricy. I had an amazing time seeing and experiencing numerous cultural aspects of traditional Munich and Bavarian culture, and I cannot wait to do so in our upcoming cultural visits during our final week in Germany!
PS: After dinner and on the train ride back to Augsburg, my right ankle began to swell up for no apparent reason. I hope I had just bruised it the day before without realizing and that too much walking in Munich caused it to swell, but I’m not sure. I iced it twice and hope that it will be better in the morning!