I’ve been trying to start this blog post for days. I even uploaded all the photos on Monday, but every time I think about writing it just seems too much like the work I do all day, sitting in front of my laptop. I don’t think I’m cut out for a job like this!
It’s time, though. I’ll just put in all the photos and then write between them.
also, München is German for Munich.
To begin: Here is a picture of some food in a Swabian restaurant (Swabia is a “cultural, historic, and linguistic region in southwestern Germany,” according to Wikipedia. All I know is that Swabian food is pretty nice and there’s a stereotype that Swabian people are really cheap). I had soup with herb pancakes and marrow dumplings, which were exciting.
Food here is super cheap – restaurants can be pricey but I’m always amazed by how little groceries cost (more on that later).
Here is a picture of my favorite gazebo in Schlossplatz, the square in city center near the new palace (background). I’m trying to spend more time in the city, which mostly means I’ve been eating lots of delicious food in the city, like gelato, and sushi, and Indian food, and more sushi.
Aaaand… the main event. Last weekend most of the Americans in my lab went to Munich. Here is a picture of a large glockenspiel in Munich.
Here is St. Peter’s Church, seen from the top of the glockenspiel tower.
Well, not quite the top. Here are various local maxima of the glockenspiel tower.
And the city. Munich is quite nice from a distance. Much of it is nice close up too.
We started off our time in Munich at the Viktualenmarkt, where we ate a variety of foods for lunch (for example, a free pasta sample and a whole pint of strawberries). We then climbed the glockenspiel tower and toured several churches. My favorite part of the whole day was walking past a fountain in which two guys were sitting in an inflatable boat drinking beer. What a glorious moment. This wasn’t even a ground-level fountain. They were several feet up. You can just imagine it 🙂
We went to dinner at a restaurant that serves traditional Bavarian food and weissbier (which kind of seems like normal beer). We got really excited about these pretzels the waitress put on the table…
… but then she charged us a euro each for them 😦
There’s no such thing as a free pretzel, apparently. I didn’t even eat mine, but I took it along for later and it got really stale. Since I paid for it, I was determined to use it, and three days later I made a salted caramel pretzel pudding (like bread pudding) with it. This was experimental in many ways, not least because I didn’t know if the glass bowl I baked it in was ovenproof, or if our oven was actually an oven. It was pretty delicious, except for the bits that tasted like stale pretzel.
Also, the restaurant’s chandelier was some antlers attached to a mermaid.
Here’s another church, for variety.
Probably the most interesting part of Saturday was the Third Reich tour we did in the afternoon. We saw a lot of places that were significant in Hitler’s rise to power, including his office building (now a dance and music school), parade grounds, and some remaining Nazi eagles on a couple of buildings. It really made the historicity of Nazi Germany feel real in a new way, which also made me feel pretty sick.
I forgot to take any photos except this one of the parade grounds and stage.
When talking about the plaques on the side of the stage that people used to be forced to salute, our tour guide mentioned the punishment for doing a Nazi salute today: a several thousand euro fine, up to five years in prison, and being investigated and put on an Interpol watchlist for neo-Nazis.I’m really glad Germany takes their past – and its effects on the present – so seriously, and I wish the US were better at doing the same.
That said, I did get really paranoid after hearing about all this. The next day I raised my hand to catch the attention of one of my colleagues, and then I panicked, waved my hand vigorously, and then put my arm down very quickly and tried to look normal. No one noticed.
Also on Saturday, we went to the English Garden, a huge park in Munich with apparently a wave pool in a river. It was pretty fun to watch people surf back and forth across the river right here.
This photo was more or less an accident, but it’s more exciting than just another picture of the glockenspiel.
It was taken just after we left the Munich Hofbräuhaus – the huge beer hall where Oktoberfest happens and also where Hitler used to make speeches. That’s not a reason for the spinning photo though, because I decided their traditional liter steins of beer were a bit too much.
Also, incredibly, when we were wandering around the ground floor of the building trying to find somewhere to sit, the only open seats were near an American named John whom I had met at an international Bible study I went to the previous Thursday (and his cousin). Everyone was pretty amazed, though I feel like Christians are always running into each other in unexpected places. It was a fun evening.
On Sunday, most of us wandered around this festival that was happening to celebrate Munich’s birthday, and also went to an art museum. We ate lunch at a delicious restaurant with a very silly waiter. When I asked for tap water, he kindly obliged and brought me a glass of water that was basically a glorified shot glass. When he found out we were American, he freaked out and said “it is an honor to serve you” and then called his other waiter friend over and told him we were American, at which the other waiter was like “I’m Argentinean. Half of America is going to be really sad on Tuesday, because we’re going to beat you at soccer.” Quite strange, but very amusing. I also ate a whole pizza, which is a thing people do here. I don’t know how, because it was way too much pizza.
In the afternoon, after some walking to digest our lunch
we went to a cafe called Maelu that we’d seen the day before. It had an array of literally incredible cakes in the window, which one is not allowed to photograph. My friend Aditi and I split the one below:
Which, yes, had literal gold on top of the chocolate spiral that encased an ethereal shimmering bubble of macadamia mousse with hazelnut filling and a cookie on the bottom.
I also drank this tea that was very expensive for being literally ginger and mint in some hot water, but I ordered it on impulse and the waitress wouldn’t let me change my order. Gotta be careful at these places. It was delicious though.
Later, we went to this giant arch.
We also went to another arch/museum on a whim – we got there four minutes before closing time but I convinced the guy at the entrance to let us go up very briefly. I assume the museum was supposed to be free, but I don’t even know – he was just like “don’t tell anyone” and let us go. These photos are the only evident fruit of basically running around and going up and down stairs for four minutes.
After we’d wandered around all we could, we went to an excellent Japanese (mostly sushi) restaurant called Bento Ya. I gave it five stars on Yelp. If you’re ever in Munich, try the bread dumplings first and then eat at Bento Ya. On the way to the train station, I photographed this excellent party advertisement:
So, that was Munich! Just food all weekend, really. I didn’t even mention the spiral bratwurst sandwich or the wonderful hostel breakfast.
Continuing on the theme of food, here are the groceries I bought on Monday for €15.56:
- three zucchinis
- three raw chicken breast fillets
- 200g of raspberries
- a wedge of brie
- vegetable bouillon cubes
- vegetable maultaschen (a Swabian dumpling usually filled with meat, invented for Catholics to eat on Fridays because “God can’t see the meat inside”)
- some of that nice dense German bread
- dark-chocolate-covered rice cakes
- brown mushrooms
- ten eggs
- and a 10-pack of SOCCER THEMED TOILET PAPER (the second-most expensive item, behind the chicken)
I love grocery shopping because it’s such an adventure to see how much great stuff I can get for super cheap. The previous shopping trip, I got a whole box of peaches (probably 12), half a kilo of spinach (that’s A LOT of spinach), a bag of mini Babybel cheeses, a tub of spreadable Philadelphia cream cheese, some sliced Gouda, some feta cheese, two containers of yogurt with mix-in toppings, a package of bratwurst, a liter of milk, a box of orange Jaffa Cakes, a big package of sesame crispbread, a fresh berliner donut, two fresh pretzel buns, and a bottle of elderberry hand soap for €14.74. This tells you just as much about my buying habits (four kinds of cheese? Really?) as it does about stores here.
To close with a food-unrelated story, today after work a few of us went to a waterfall that also had a subway escape tunnel nearby:
which we found fascinating. Ten minutes before we found the tunnel, we could smell the smell of train station, which was also curious. I wonder what makes trains smell like trains. And with that, I leave you.
Wishing you lots of cheese and cured meats,