Monday 7th June 2010, Munich
We have been incredibly busy relaxing over the past couple of days, eating Bavarian Kaiserschmarren – a sort of sweet omelette served with raisins, apples, sugar and cranberries, in the garden; drinking red wine whilst listening to Rossini – also in the garden; and enjoying the company of our good friends. This afternoon we gave them some respite when we took the underground train from nearby Trudering into the centre of Munich for a few hours.
Here we rediscovered places from previous visits and discovered new ones. Initially there was a slight disagreement as to whether we explored the ancient Rathaus with its famed carillon and visited the tombs of the Dukes of Bavaria in the Cathedral, or went to C&A in search of Dirndls and Lederhosen followed by Kaffee and Kuchen on the Karlsplatz. Our compromise was to do them all. Only C&A disappointed. Dirndls were only for sale before the Oktoberfest.
The coffee shop was very Bavarian and was full of Munich ladies tucking into Schwarzwälderkirschtorte while the elderly couple in the adjacent corner shared a bottle of chilled white wine and held hands under the table. The waiter even wore a white jacket and brought our coffees on a silver salver accompanied by glasses of cold water as is the custom here. Ian's choice of Kuchen today was a huge wedge of gooey chocolate mousse cake, nearly half of which I stole from him.
Around the streets were large, but friendly lions. They are the symbol of Munich and appear in odd corners, sometimes wearing football scarves. Apparently the World Cup season is starting. Also on the streets were stalls selling baskets of German asparagus, strawberries from the Bodensee, cherries and raspberries.
Also on the streets were small groups of Irish fiddlers and bodron players. Today we saw and heard more Irish music than we did during our six weeks travelling around Ireland last summer!
We chanced upon the Viktualienmarkt, a bustling quarter of stalls selling quality local produce and foodstuffs as diverse as fresh fruit and vegetables, dried flower arrangements, Bavarian cakes, breads and biscuits, hams and cheeses, pumpkin and olive oils and exotic vinegars. We will return to explore the market further tomorrow morning when it should be more active.
This afternoon we did little more than rediscover the city. Tomorrow Charlotte will be working all day so we will return to Munich to investigate further.
Tuesday 8th June 2010, Munich
Today has been hot and close while we have been on our feet almost continuously walking the streets and parks of Munich. It has been a very happy day though and we have done pretty well everything we intended, plus some.
Our hosts had disappeared before we were ready to leave so we locked the house up and walked to the U-Bahn station. Soon we were back in the centre of Munich where, after exploring more of the centre and the food and flower market we made our way to the Augustiner Bierhalle for lunch. We visited this restaurant with Anne on our last visit when we met up with Howard, another of the library school friends from Sheffield. We had been impressed with the restaurant then, with its bare boards, trestle tables and Bavarian decoration – beer tankards and stags' heads in the main, so when we chanced upon it again we determined to lunch there.
The smallest beers came in half litre tankards so we ordered one to share. That at least was wise on a hot day. The Wiener Schnitzels arrived, they were exactly what we fancied, but we had two large ones each along with potato salad and mixed green vegetables and lemon wedges. One meal would have been ample between us!
Back on the streets of Munich we felt decidedly heavy and our interest in bakers' shops and ice cream vendors had completely vanished! Seeking the shade we slowly made our way along the Maximilan Strasse, past the statue of Maximilian and across the Maximiliansbrücke to the Maximilaneum where we eventually took shelter from the hot sun along the forest paths by the shaded streams in the Englischer Garten.
Out on the various lawns in this extensive city park, there were hundreds of souls more hardy than us, lying out to sunbathe. There is a fast flowing river that sweeps through the park, passing beneath the low bridges that criss-cross it on the way. Here there were young men jumping in to cool off. As they were swept downstream they would clutch at the bridge and haul themselves out before being swept underneath. They obligingly splashed cold water over us as we watched them, for which we were grateful. There is more about Munich and the Englische Garten on 27th September 2005
Back near the Ratskeller we bought ice creams to cool down. We licked them beneath a shaded arcade as we listened to itinerant Hungarian gypsies playing their traditional music. Nearby a beggar of sorts had arrived with a huge goose in a basket fixed to his bike. While he dozed on the pavement the goose wandered around the huge square having her photo taken by tourists, many of whom then dropped money into the hat of the sleeping beggar. So that really was a goose that laid a kind of golden egg!
Having already described Munich and its atmosphere elsewhere I would prefer to go to my comfortable bed now, and lie listening to the storm that is rolling around outside. You can read earlier accounts covering the Munich Beer Festival and the palace at Nymphenburg on 22nd and 23rd September 2005. But before I can sleep I need to describe a typical evening in a Munich suburb.
We returned home on the U-Bahn and after cool showers, we drove with Charlotte and Hans to the local Truderinger Wirtshaus for a "light" supper together. This beer garden featured in the weekend review of finalists in a completion currently underway to discover the best beer house in Munich. It was raining as we arrived and we found it hot and crowded inside though the atmosphere was cheerful as everybody squashed up together at long tables, drinking huge tankards of Weissbier and consuming enormous platefuls of Eisbein. The size of the meals here beggars belief but all the plates were return empty to the kitchen. After our excessive lunch we opted for something cold and decided one meal between us was enough. Once we managed to decipher the menu, written in Bavarian dialect, we were served a large wooden board covered with five different kinds of sliced sausage, piles of sliced cheese, a heap of liver pate, another of camembert pulped together with butter and paprika and a couple of cabanas sausages. It came with a basket of pretzels and heavy rye bread with slabs of butter. All this was served with a large salad of lettuce, endives, red onions, gerkins, sweetcorn, tomatoes, cress and more. From somewhere, a dish of roasted potatoes also found space to join us. I had chilled white wine, Ian yet another large beer. Thank heavens Ian and I were sharing a meal. We regret to report we couldn't finish it and hung our heads in shame as the platter was taken away amidst gasps of astonishment from our fellow diners! Hans and I threw in the towel at this point but Ian and Charlotte went for the full Monty with glasses of grappa liquor and coffee.
We both feel exhausted by the heat, the walking and the unaccustomed amount of food we have eaten today. Unfortunately there are still several more culinary experiences we need to enjoy while we are in Germany, all of them guaranteed to be large, unhealthy and weight enhancing.