Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 1 of Munchen

What do you know about the city of Munich other than that it is the place where Oktoberfest happens? Probably not much. I know alot about this particular city now, and guess what reader? Its my new favorite place in the world. Were I to come back to Europe, I think you'll find me in Munchen.

My first day in Munich was spent on a bike. Caah and I got up bright and early and got ourselves ready for a day of sightseeing, tourist fun. Our group met outside our hostel and we took a short walk into the center of town for our first stop on our tour of Munich. The famous Glockenspeil clocktower is one of Munich's main attractions. We walked through the amazing "old town" of Munich, arriving in a square, with, what else, a giant palace. Medival, thank god. To see a palace that wasn't Renaissance blew my mind a little bit. I stood there for a minute or two and let a reality I'd long forgotten sink in: there are places in the world that the Renaissance hasn't taken over. Thank God for that. Anyway, the Glockenspeil tower is particularly exciting at certain intervals in the day. Our tour guide told us that at exactly 12 the clock was going to "Come to life", and it was then that I noticed about halfway up the tower is this cage. Inside the cage are all these little puppets in odd positions, with trumpets and funny outfits. Totally medieval looking :) My anticipation was definitely on the rise and at 12 exactly I heard a bell toll. Then another. I'm really excited now. I got out my camera and started to take a video. Literally, a solid two minutes passed of me taping two bells tolling. Thats it, two bells. Then the puppets started to move. The little trumpet guys started to move in a circle, ever so slowly. There is no more bell-tolling, now, either. The trumpeteers made way for two guys on horses, a red and a blue. It was a jousting match. They went around once (it felt exactly as annoying as waiting for dial-up) and when they passed each other I thought it was over. Yes, I was relieved. But no, it wasn't over. They went around a second time and ten minutes later the horses were back. This time it seemed one of the riders actually was supposed to knock the other of his horse. Okay, kind of cool, I guess. They met, lances raised, and the red rider lost. This is what it looked like: the blue rider remained the same and the red rider leaned back on his horse at perhaps an 110 degree angle. Whew! Finally over. WRONG! The oddly positioned puppets started to rotate, and another ten minutes passed of these creepy little puppets (desperately in need of a paint job) rotating. I think it was supposed to look like they were dancing? Then, and really this time, that half an hour show ended.

We met our bike-tour guides at a fountain. It was actually an interesting fountain. It was really kind of abstract and instead of perfectly formed naked men surrounded by cherubs spouting water, it was a sculpture of fish. Our tour-guides beckoned at our dazed group, many of us still suffering a sort of horrible tourist entertainment hangover. One was a cute little American girl, one was a tall, buffed out Aussie, and the last was this pale, skinny Irish bloke. I loved all of their accents, but the Irish guy's accent made me realize that if I have a soul-mate, he is in Northern Ireland somewhere. We were split into groups and I prayed and prayed that we would be in the Irish guy's tour-group. I almost whooped for joy when we were. We got on our bikes (mine was so tall that when stopped riding I needed to lean to the side to avoid having a metal bar in my crotch) and made our way through the town. First stop: the Hofbrauhaus, Munich's most famous beer-drinking hall. The most important thing I learned here was that if you live in Munich, you can literally rent a locker there for the safe-keeping of your own personal beer stein. And, by the way, beer steins hold one full liter of beer. We left the Hofbrauhaus and made our way past some important statues and buildings, learning about Munich's kings (who were pussies), their generals (who weren't good in battle), and their citizens (who were really quite smart). They told some really great stories about the citizens. My favorite was about how one of their buildings was burning down and so to put out the flames the citizens made a chain from a beerhall to the fire and put it out with buckets of beer. Nice, Munich! FTW!

Halfway through our bike tour, the guide brings us to this fabulous park. Why, Florence, can't you have a place like this? It was incredible. Fields, river, gardens, pathways, trees, and all sorts of little structures dispersed with people sitting underneath or inside reading books and drinking beer. Then my Irish tour-guide hit me with another fun fact. The "English Garden" was nudist. People, if they so chose, could take their pants off and run around in a park and not be arrested for it. They could walk their dog naked, if they felt like it. I watched a guy drop trau and sit in the grass. Irishman explained that there is a particularly fun tourist attraction who roams around the nudist park named "Robocock". I couldn't make that up if I tried. We wound our way around the nudist section and into the world's second largest beer-garden. When he told us beer garden I'm thinking of a garden, with flowers and maybe a beer fountain. It wasn't like that at all. Park benches and a restaurant constitute a beer garden, I guess. It was really awesome and it was here that I enjoyed my very first beer stein. Before drinking, Irishman explained that when you "Prost", cheers in Germany, you absolutely have to look the person you're prosting with directly in the eyes. If you don't, you'll have bad sex for seven years. Since Germans prost to everything, its like a never-ending staring contest because no one wants to have bad sex for seven years. Thats worse than no sex for seven years. I complemented my liter of beer with rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes. For the first time since I've been in Europe, there wasn't a pasta dish on the menu! WOOOOOOO! It may have been the greatest meal of my life.

After drinking my full liter of beer in under an hour, I got back on my bike. I operated a moving vehicle under the influence in Europe. I suppose I can safely check that off my list of "Things not to do in Europe". We rode for a couple minutes before coming across the single most astoundingly awesome thing I've ever seen. River-surfing. I watched a group of Germans surf in a river. This river made waves, in one area, and people surfed in them. Thats on the level of in-door snowboarding! We rode around Munich for another hour after that, coming across more nudists along the way, before finally making our way back to the Glockenspiel with our group. My four hour long tour of Munich had convinced me already that it was the greatest place in the world: no Renaissance, cool art work, beautiful weather, beer steins, people who replace water with beer, a park, a nude park, surfing, and I hadn't even been to beerfest yet. God, I love you, Munich.

Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby

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