This past weekend I finally was able to visit Munich, which has been highly recommended to me by several people. It’s known for everything that is quintessentially German: Oktoberfest, pretzels, bratwursts, and BMW.
Mainly, though, its known for beer, so, obviously you know this FRAT STAR was going to visit the SHIT out of Munich and get FUCKED UP on some DOPE GERMAN BEER.
Also, I fucked this trip up in a number of ways, and learned several lessons which I will graciously share with you throughout the post.
First off, Lesson One – get your shit together before you leave, and leave early. Instead of doing this, I stayed up late the night before, waited to pack until the last minute, and ended up leaving 4 hours later than I originally intended, leaving me with a kind of lingering sense of needing to make up for lost time, that never quite left for the entire trip.
On the plus side, I was lucky enough to score a straight-up Pussy Wagon as my rental vehicle: a two-door SmartCar-sized white Fiat with a pink convertible rooftop:
When I got to Munich, I found a big typical chain hostel downtown filled with a diverse multitude of foreigners from all over (aka 90% American college students), the kind that has daily free walking tours, a downstairs bar, and small packs of early-20s iPhone-wielding American girls looking no doubt for a perfect picture to show Facebook how much they love traveling (I’m right there with you, girls).
Getting to the hostel, checking in, finding parking, and getting my bearings took a solid hour, most of which I spent considering my second lesson learned: like, plan ahead, dipshit, you could have figured all this out beforehand.
Alright so I finally got a map and bounced out of the hostel to check out the sights. Munich was founded by a bunch of monks like a thousand years ago and all the coolest, oldest buildings are all in the Old Town, and are all within walking distance because when they were built, nobody had cars! Cathedrals I guess were like Starbucks in fuedal Germany, and they just kept building them literally right across the street from one another. So I got there and just started knocking shit out left and right.
I passed by the Brunnenburbl Fountain, featuring a naked boy, a spitting satyr, and the earliest known dab:
After walking around for a while, I got really hungry. Luckily, as I walked down the main pedestrian thoroughfare, Neuheuser Strasse (I’ve had to google every single one of these names so far), there were plenty of food stands. Perfect – nothing like some nice street food to hit the spot! I’m sure I can rustle up a juicy authentic Munich bratwurst at one of these bad boys. What’s that sign say? Spargel? Wonder what that is. Let’s check it out:
This guy is just selling a bunch of vegetables? Spargel is like, weird-looking white asparagus? Alright, weird, but, probably just this one stand. Let’s find another one.
As it turns out, it was the height of white asparagus season, and it was apparently all the rage in Munich. Everywhere you looked they were selling Spargel. It was advertised at food stands, restaurants, everywhere. I had thought Munich was known for bratwursts and pretzels, and all I could find was a bunch of vegetable stands with crowds of Germans clamoring for these pallid alien-legs.
Finally, at Marienplatz, (didn’t have to google that one, suckas!) I found a stand that sold pretzels. The pretzel I got tasted pretty much just like any other pretzel (I must not have found the secret local ancient pretzel bakery – should have researched it more), but it was a truly excellent tool for kitsching up photos of Munich landmarks in the most Instagram-appropriate fashion:
I went over to St. Peter’s church, the oldest parish church in Munich and the building that started the entire city, which has a high tower you can climb to the top of for some sweet panoramic views of the city. I climbed up a ton of super narrow stairs,
past several wheezing old tourists who couldn’t hang, to get to the balcony, which did indeed offer some sick views of Munich, including this well-lit, perfectly framed picture I took of Frauenkirche, probably the most famous church in the city.
Frauenkirce is one of the main landmarks of Munich, I guess because its huge, and some historical stuff. Fun fact, almost the entire church was destroyed in WW2, but the towers, which you can see from almost anywhere in the city, were untouched. Here’s some more pictures from the top of St. Peter’s:
One thing they don’t tell you about the balcony around the top of St. Peter’s Church is that its like 2 feet wide and crowded as fuck. It wraps around the tower, with a sign pointing clockwise to direct traffic. But there’s two doors to get in and out of the tower, on opposite sides, so no clear start or end point. What this means is that people are standing in a circle, all waiting for the people in front of them to move. But since they’re in a circle, they are actually in front…of themselves. So you literally stand there for like 10 minutes with the only movement being additional people coming out to further crowd the shit out of the balcony.
So I snapped what pics I could and got the hell out of there before I suffocated, bouncing jauntily back down the stairs to flaunt my youth as I passed the hollow, defeated stares of dozens of elderly wheez-bags teetering on the knife edge of heart failure, not saying a word to them about how shitty and crowded the prize that awaited them after the greatest physical effort which they had put forth in years.
After that it was early afternoon in the beer capital of Germany, so I went to get a brew at Hofbrauhaus, the most famous and most touristy beer house in Munich.
It may be touristy, but Hofbrauhaus is still a classic beer house experience that serves pretty good beer and pretty good food. I got a large beer there which improved my spirits by a considerable margin.
After draining my beer like Kobe and helping a group of old Chinese tourists take a photo, I went to Englischer Garden, which is like Central Park, except almost twice as big and with four enormous outdoor beer gardens, so, better.
I started to realize that Munich in the Summer must be the absolute best place ever. There are outdoor beer gardens like this everywhere, and spending a weekend day leisurely walking around, stopping for a beer and pretzel/brat/Spargel here and there sounds like a perfect day. I’m pretty sure that’s a huge part of why people love Munich.
After walking around some more, I got dinner at a random restaurant, and when I opened up the menu there was a special menu featuring, wouldn’t you know it, Spargel.
This Spargel thing was clearly a huge deal, so I had to see what the fuss was about. I ordered some schnitzel off the Spargelkarte and waited in eager anticipation for what was sure to be the best goddamn asparagus I had ever had.
I bit into the Spargel and it tasted like…asparagus. Regular asparagus, nothing special. To be fair, the waitress did inform me, when I ordered, that they only had the green asparagus, and the way in which she said it seemed to indicate that this ought to be a disappointment to me, so, who knows, maybe the white Spargel is the amazing stuff. The green was all I had, so I guess we’re all left to wonder, for the rest of our lives. Sorry, readers.
After meandering back to the hostel and taking a nap, I checked out Fruhlingsfest (Spring Fest). It seems like most major German cities have a Fruhlingsfest for about a month from late April-May, and its sort of a mini-Oktoberfest: a carnival with some beer tents set up. People dress in Lederhosen and Dirdnls and get hammered in a big tent and stand on tables and sing and dance to a live band. I wasn’t exactly prepared for this (Lesson 2, back for more), but I figured I might as well check it out.
Inside the beer tent the atmosphere was super energetic, and close to the stage almost everyone was standing on tables and dressed in the traditional garb; it was crowded, but not overwhelmingly so. Very cool to check out, though admittedly not a ton of fun for a lone (alpha) male.
After that I decided I would be adventurous and attempt to enjoy going to bars by myself, which led to lesson 3: don’t…do that. It was not fun. Great experience, of what its like to be a pariah, that I hope to never have again. It was like I was an Indian who had committed a terrible sin in a past life and been reincarnated as an untouchable. I mean I guess when I think about it, I’ve never been at a bar, in any situation, and thought “boy, sure wish a single dude would come up and talk to me and my friends – that would add a welcome spice to our night!” One girl I courageously spoke to worked in HR, and I asked her if she had fired anyone recently, and she said, quote, “No, but if I could, I would fire you, Stephen.” So that about sums it up. At least she remembered my name.
The next day, though, some friends from work joined me, and we went out together, and that was in some ways much better, and in other ways, much, much worse (spoiler alert, we got LIT AF). Next time, on Traveling With Steve.