München is not all about Bier. It is one of the few cities on the planet where there is always something to do which is just as well because when Hector is away with Marg, Bier becomes an evening event only.
The tourist information given in any München write up trots out the same tired must see/ must do activities. If I read another mention of Fasching I will scream so no mention here., oops The Oktoberfest ends on the first Sunday of October, sometimes this is the first day of October, so September is the best time to go, or is it? Apart from Good Friday, there is a party atmosphere in this city everyday, as one advances in years the Oktoberfest has lost its charm, far too busy, far too young a crowd and no way of getting a seat unless one is there before 11.00. The Frühlingsfest mid-April through to May, is a smaller event, fewer tents at the same site, but far more manageable. The Bier ain’t too shabby either. Sadly, the powers that be still regard Tents as being outdoors so smoking continues, for the time being.
Every tourist brochure mentions the Viktualienmarkt a few metres from Marienplatz. It is perhaps ritualistic but on every trip with the Lady we will stand and watch the Glockenspiel perform at 11.00. The Glockenspiel Café overlooking Marienplatz is an excellent viewpoint, however the window seats tend to be occupied by the locals. What does this tell you? Having frequented this Cafe over the years one is even content to sit in the rear room which has now view at all. The food is the attraction. The Penne Arabiata is made with a Spicy Tomato Sauce that can also be had as a Soup. The Gateaux keep Marg content but if one is after a hot drink then a few metres towards the Viktualienmarkt is Cafe Piemonte (Petersplatz 9 80331) which serves White Hot Chocolate, or the ‘Hot Orgasm’ as Hector has come to call it.
The church opposite the Café has a doorway which is the entry point to one of the finest views in the city. Climbing up the stairs of the belfry one can overlook Marienplatz and take the photograph which is featured on the Header of this very website. The Viktualienmarkt does have a unique atmosphere. People do sit outside at all times of the year enjoying a Bier, it is what the locals do. However the Market sells an array of foodstuffs one would expect in any decent Delicatessen as well as enough trinkets to amuse any Lady. And just how much liquid can one Cucumber hold- buy a Gherkin to find out. The Hacker-Pschorr Haus, the splendid white building which appeared out of the blue a few years back will sell Coffee as well as Bier Direkt. At night the food served is mostly along traditional lines and cooked to perfection.
The Toy Museum at the bottom end of Marienplatz is worth a visit, though it took me thirty five years to set foot in the place. If one enjoys Teddy Bears…
The Residenz, off Odeonplatz, is another attraction that has taken more than half a lifetime to appreciate. That this Palace lay unexplored for so long by Hector is inexplicable, but one does do things differently when a Lady is in two, or is it me in tow?
The Isartor, a five minute walk down from Marienplatz leads passed Hector’s favourite Curry House, the Indien Mango. Continuing on leads to the Isar Insel on which is sited the best technology museum Hector has ever set foot in, the Deutsches Museum. With a Coal Mine (including the mining machinery) and a Salt Mine in the basement and some WW2 military hardware on the ground floor, one knows there is a treat in store. If the names Messerschmidt and Heinkel make the hairs on your neck stand up then this is the place to see the historic aircraft.
There are no Tanks. For this one has to go to Dorset, preferably in groups of Five. A WW1- U Boot is also located in this area, but if one wishes to see a good WW2 – U Boot then the Munchen Movie Museum is the place to head for; the set of Das Boot is their pride of joy. Up the main stairwell in the Deutsches Museum a V2 Rocket is housed. It is hard to believe that Howard missed this on his first visit. Maybe the Fucault Pendulum on another stairwell amused him too much? A Planetarium is housed in the upper floors, the first one I ever set foot in back in 1976.
Kenneth and Hector discussed at length why there was never any mention of the German activities between 1933 and 1939. Back in 1976 it was that that long since. Throughout the 1980s still nothing. By the late 1990s the Third Reich Tour emerged, it is a must. The Tour begins in Marienplatz and passes the Hofbrauhaus where Hector’s Distant Relative (by marriage, so the legend has it) did make some speeches. Alas the location of the Bierhalle Putsch is now occupied by the Hilton. At Odeonplatz the bullet holes where the Main Man narrowly missed premature termination are still visible. Thereafter one is escorted to the large square where the Nazis but their massive building complexes, even passed the Man’s home.
The Tour ends in one of a pair of identical buildings, one of which is now the Music College. In a certain room on the first floor, Mr Chamberlain signed his Piece of Paper. Kenneth and Hector gained access to this on our first visit, the Janitor opening the locked room which was disused. In a later visit, Howard walked in on a music recital, so beware. I fact, one may have to bluff one’s way into the building these days. Wear a long scarf.
In 1976, the Olympics were only two years since. The Olympiazentrum was a major attraction. The TV mast is still worth the ascent, and if one remembers one’s Cossie, a swim in the 50m Pool is still impressive. Across from here is the BMW Factory and Museum, one thing Hector has yet to visit.
Schloss Nymphenburg is a short S Bahn journey or tram ride. Not as famous or impressive as the Castles outside the city, it still has sufficient charm.
Outside the City
There are three non Bier related attractions that may be considered by the Traveller. Dachau is easily accessible by both S Bahn and mainline train. A Bus takes one to the nearby Concentration Camp. I believe I have been there four times now in various company. I still ask the fundamental question: why are there separate memorials to the Jews, the Roman Catholics and those of the remaining Christian persuasion? It is People who were worked to death.
On a happier and higher note, an investment in a Bayern ticket will up to five people to Garmish-Partenkirchen where one can ascend the Zugspitze by rack and pinion railway then cable car. This is the highest mountain in Deutschland. The views from the top are as one may imagine, breathtaking. Do not stand close to the edge, and do not climb over the fence and ascend the rock promontory to have one’s photograph taken at the cross. Only an idiot would contemplate this. (I will find the photograph what I took one day.) There is Bier to be had at the top, but beware of the Spag Bol.
Neuschwanstein is probably Germany’s most recognised icon after the Brandenburg Gate. Again a Bayern Ticket will take you cost efficiently to Fussen where a short bus ride will take you to the fantasy castles of King Ludwig. These days it is better to book one’s timeslot online before going. The alternative is a very expensive Bus Tour from the city itself. Travelling on one’s own, the time exists to visit Hohenschwangau too, and have a decent lunch. There is a Brewery in Fussen, had the Bier, have not been back that way since discovering its existence.
Back in The City
The Hirschgarten does not have to be about Bier. The Deer (Hirsch) will keep many a family entertained, as will the Fish. However, the latter come in a paper wrapping and have been cooked over an open flame, superb.