Here Comes The Planet 19 – Munich

We finally land in Europe! First stop, the absolutely wonderful city of Munich. We take in the sights, smells and tastes of the old town – and, of course, the beer. 🙂

Also, riveting footage of one of the most famous tourist attractions in Munich!

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Munich, Day 2.

We’re very, very sorry that we only have two days in Munich, as we’ve totally fallen in love with this clean, spacious city with fabulous food and beautiful architecture.

I forgot to write in the last post about our magic Munich moment. We recovered from our shopping and tour by heading to the Victualienmarket (literally ‘victuals market’) in the middle of the city. The weather was shining, the place was humming with people and we found a couple of seats at the beer garden. Luke bought a stein, I got a roast pork roll and a glass of wine and we sat there just soaking up the wonderful atmosphere. It isn’t often that I think ‘I could live here’ about anywhere other than Melbourne but Munich makes a great impression. Also, the pork rolls were superb (actually I bought 2). They had a giant strip of crackling in each, for god’s sake. Who could resist that?

Luke in front of the Alte Pinakothek.

Today we’ve been arting it up at two galleries here. The collections are pretty good – lots of big name works and good sized collections. To be completely honest, I find galleries the size of the Louvre pretty overwhelming but the old and modern pinakothek are good for a bit over an hour each (I walk around pretty quickly), have lots of seats and are one euro each on Sundays. The only thing they don’t have, unfortunately, is any kind of English signage. So you’re pretty much stuck with the name of the artist and maybe the name of the painting if you can read a bit of German (which I’m finding I can – three years of high school German are paying off!). There weren’t even descriptions of the paintings in German – I suppose they make their money from the audio tours.  We had to make up our own interpretations.

“You idiot! This is nowhere near as good a read as Here Comes The Planet!”

But it wasn’t art that we were really looking forward to today, it was lunch. Luke had been to Oktoberfest in Munich 10 years ago and recalled his first taste of the German dish of roast pork knuckle with great fondness so we were on the hunt for the same dish again. We stopped at a beer hall in the city and ordered. Pork knuckle isn’t actually the knee of the pig or anything like that. There’s a small bone in the middle of what is essentially and individual sized pork roast and the whole thing is wrapped in crackling then served with a dumpling and lashings of gravy.

We both enjoyed it a lot, although it didn’t quite live up to Luke’s recollections. Which simply means we’ll have to come back and look for a better one.

Nothing else to report for today except that Luke ended up climbing over 25 flights of stairs by himself because I wanted to get a picture from the church tower in the middle of town so we bought tickets then looked up the stairs and it was so narrow I had a bit of a freak out and Luke took my camera and went up by himself. What a champ! Here’s one of his photos. Totally worth it if you ask me ;).

Marvellous Munich!

Last view of Bangkok airport.

We stepped off the plane and breathed in our first taste of Germany’s cool, clean air. What a change from Bangkok!

The flight over was 11 hours of movies and reading. Surprisingly bearable and quite decent food too. The only moment of interest was when the captain asked if there was a doctor or nurse aboard and everyone peeked over their seats like a bunch of prairie dogs.

We found a bus from the airport into town and then a short cab ride from the centre of town was our hostel, the Smart Stay. We immediately warmed to the place as the foyer contains a bar and a pool table and had a lively atmosphere.

Our hostel.

We’re sharing a 6 person dorm with two young Americans, Maggie and Daniel, who we got along with straight away. We’ve already swapped FB details and they offered to be our tour guides in Budapest, where they are studying. Staying in a hostel is already paying off in terms of social interaction, which is what we’d hoped for.

This morning we put on a load of washing (there are drawbacks to not being in Asia – this is the first time we’ve had to use a washing machine ourselves), gone out for quite wonderful croissants with ham and cheese, and then walked the 20 minutes or so to the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station to meet a tour group. Now, I told myself I’d write about something other than food for at least the majority of my posts but… the food! I know it was just a train station food court but we both got excited. I’d almost forgotten about the bread and pastries and especially the pretzels in Germany- I think I ate one every day the last time I was here. And the fruit! No one I know would associate Germany with excellent fruit, but I was extremely impressed with the cherries many years ago and right now strawberries and raspberries are for sale everywhere and for a fraction of the price they are at home. One Euro for a punnet of raspberries! It is possible that I bought three and didn’t share them with Luke.

Say it with a gingerbread heart on a string!

As our first activity in the city we joined a free walking tour and proceeded around the city with our very entertaining guide, Liz. The tour company was ‘Sandeman’s’ and they just ask that you tip the guide whatever you think the tour was worth at the end.

The tour was great. Lots of information, humour and opportunities to ask questions. We also discovered that pretty much everything except the beer gardens and the art galleries are closed on Sundays, so that pretty much outlined our plans for tomorrow.

Pretzels!

As soon as the tour finished we tipped Liz then dashed off to buy some clothes, since I had only one set of winter clothes and I was wearing them. First stop was H&M, an English chain that is cheap and generally pretty good. Unfortunately it was full of people and summer clothes. There were mega sales on, which was great, but I got elbowed several times and waited ages for the registers.

Next stop was a posh department store where we found gloves, socks and the biggest array of fabulous leggings and tights I’ve seen anywhere. I have a deep love for brightly coloured wooly tights, especially stripey ones but they’re pretty much impossible to find in Australia. I spent nearly 100 euros on tights… but totally worth it, despite Luke shaking his head the whole while.

I had heard that German people wear their traditional dress (dirndls and lederhosen) casually – like, to the beer gardens on a Sunday sort of thing. In the department store was a big section of German costumes! If I’d been with someone who encouraged me to spend money there’d be a beer wench costume winging its way back to Australia via post this moment. As it was, I just took some photos. Suffice to say, I love costumes and if there was ever a costume suited to my long hair and generous proportions it’s the Bavarian one. Ah well, next time!

Click here if you’d like to see a website where the current trends in lederhosen and dirndls are discussed (pictures also). I just can’t help loving this place.

Last Night In Bangkok.

Our last day has consisted of not much due to torrential rain and blackouts. We headed out after breakfast to look for camera stuff but came home empty-handed. Three hours of high tea and endless wine made us feel better and we sat in the pool as the sun went down and then watched a movie so we could enjoy our lovely room and view for the last time. A bit sad I guess, but we need a bit of time before tomorrow’s flight to get stuff in order and finish up the Asia part of our trip.

View from Lebua.

For the most part I’ve really enjoyed our time here. The highlights have been the food (duh), the beaches, the flowers, the people we’ve met, and the sunrises and sunsets over beautiful landscapes. Oh, and how affordable most things are.

Pretty much everyone I know who has been to SE Asia raves about it. I can see what they like about the place but there’s a few things that have driven me crazy, such as the heat, the pollution and frequently feeling as though we’re being ripped off. Despite this I’d come back. Not to Saigon, mind you, but Hoi An and Bangkok definitely. Somehow I wasn’t really expecting to like Bangkok as much as I did. I like the bustle of the place, the sights and smells, the great public transport and the friendliness of the people.

I think what this stage of the trip has taught me is that just because some people – and perhaps everyone else – enjoys something, that doesn’t mean I will. It doesn’t mean I won’t, either, but I have to judge activities on what I know about myself and go from there. There are some things I’ve done that just weren’t my thing – I probably could’ve lived without the trip to Halong Bay, for example – though it did result in meeting Andrew and learning that buses are to be avoided at all costs.  And I did get to kayak and see fish… I’m starting to realise how much I like water-based activities and fish. It’s not something I’ve really thought much about before.

Lion fish at Ocean World.

Photography has also been a learning experience here. I used to think it was crazy, the way Asian tourists took photos of everything they saw, but there’s a lot of freedom for a photographer in a society with that viewpoint. It’s taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that no one here seems to mind having their photo taken and, in fact, a number of times we’ve turned around to find ourselves being photographed. I do think life should not be experienced through a lens but it’s hard to deny the power of photographs when it comes to recalling experiences and keeping memories fresh.

On to the next chapter – Europe! It’s 10 degrees and raining lightly in Munich right now and 27 degrees here. We leave here at around 2 in the afternoon and get there at about 8pm but we’ll fly for 11 hours. It’s going to be a long, 29 hour day! We have one coat, one hoodie and one pair of jeans each. Our first task in Germany will probably be buying some winter clothes.

Time to go pack!