Saturday, February 25, 2012

Long Day in Munich is Long

When we checked into the Hilton Munich Park Hotel, overlooking the English Gardens, we were surprised by a swanky, newly-renovated room on the 14th floor, and this:

We still don't know if it was complimentary because Kevin is a Gold Member, or because he told them it was our honeymoon when he made the reservation, or if it was a gift from a mysterious benefactor.  We loved it.  After so much meat and starch, our digestive tracts appreciated some fresh fruit.

Also spectacular was the Hilton Honors Lounge.  No cans of soda and stale snack mix.  Instead, there were mini-sandwiches and appetizers or desserts, depending on the time of day, and free beer, wine, cocktails, and fancy coffee.  I actually accidentally ate dinner in the lounge one night.

We stayed the most days in Munich, but ended up feeling like we never really "got" the city.  Because of the dreary weather and multiple side trips, we never quite found the charm of the city, although we know it's one of the most popular in Germany.  I think we might also not have spent enough time finding the nooks that would've endeared it to us - we caught some touristy stuff, but truly spent more time using Munich as a jumping point for other destinations than exploring it fully.

Our first day, we made sure to catch the Glockenspiel, which was cool, but let's just say that I wouldn't try to set my watch by it.  It's quite a performance, though, and if you want to see it, be aware that it doesn't "perform" every hour, so check when it's scheduled, depending on the time of year.

The Rathaus.  In the center, framed in green, is the Glockenspiel.

 We then had coffee at the bustling Cafe Glockenspiel, where I drank a Cafe Glockenspiel, and it was delicious.  We wandered around the Christmas Markets around the Marienplatz (the main square in Munich), visited some historic churches, including Asamkirche, which was pretty fantastic inside:

You can see how fantastic I thought it was.
We also went by the Viktualienmarkt, a huge outdoor food market.  So many different foods to explore!  If it had only been a nicer day, we could have made a lovely picnic lunch.  As it was, we tucked ourselves in to the nearby cozy Cafe Rischart, where I had a deliciously unhealthy pretzel stuffed with cream cheese and chives.

There was no way we could forgo the Bier and Oktoberfest Museum - once we finally found it!  I found Munich to be a horrible city to navigate.  I know many old cities have winding, crooked streets that make no sense, but I think Munich was especially challenging because it is so big.  And the Bier and Oktoberfest Museum is tucked away in an alley with a tiny sign that I couldn't even see until we were right in front of it.  I didn't even want to follow Kevin up the alley it was on, because, to me, it clearly wasn't there.

The museum itself was pretty interesting - as much as we could get from the few English-translated signs.  The first part basically traces the development of the beer industry in Germany from each pub having it's own brew to more regional and national breweries.  As you might guess, the second part does the same for the famous Oktoberfest - how it started as an agricultural fair, got a few more fun attractions to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig, and grew from there.  The museum is in a four or five level rowhouse (or whatever you call them in Germany) with stairwells seemingly in every corner.  Kevin and I got separated, and had such a hard time finding each other that he almost went back to the hotel - our agreement should either of us get so lost we couldn't find the other.

Then, we made our way to ride the ChristkindlTram , or Christmas Tram.

It's essentially just an old streetcar that's been decked out for the holidays, or, as our friend Darra put it, "It looks like Santa Claus vomited inside." We rode the ChristkindlTram on a very special day, though - December 6th - St. Nicholas Day!  Purely by accident, we rode the only day during the holiday season that St. Nicholas rode the Tram, as well.  We had a short chat with him, but I was so starstruck that I didn't ask him for a photo together.  So, here's a picture of St. Nicholas:

And here's a picture of us on the ChristkindlTram:

You'll just have to use your imagination to picture St. Nicholas there with us.  Did I mention there was gluhwein on the Tram?

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