Ah, Munich. We weren’t really sure what to expect from Munich going into the trip (aside from plenty of beer being available, obviously). The city ended up being a wonderful stop, and we felt like we could have used another couple days there.

We arrived late in the morning and dropped our bags off at the hotel before setting out to see what the city had to offer. First things first though: food. We found a terrific outdoor cafe in the shadow of Frauenkirche Turnbesteigung (a big church), one of the few buildings in the city center that wasn’t completely destroyed during World War II (primarily because it was one of a few towers near each other that the bombers could use to pinpoint the city center when they went on bombing runs, so they had orders not to destroy it).

Afterwards, we wandered into the main plaza of the inner city and just happened to stumble into the glockenspiel without realizing we were lucky to catch one of its two operations per day. The glockenspiel is essentially a giant cuckoo clock on the New Town Hall in Munich (which is actually older than the Old Town Hall, go figure). Twice a day, it plays out-of-tune chimes (apparently the Dutch tuners messed up 5 years ago when they tried to tune it) and characters dance and spin around and there’s two knights who joust, all in imitation of a Duke who died hundreds of years ago and everyone hated. It’s also been rated the number 3 most overrated tourist attraction in all of Europe, so there’s that. I can’t upload videos from my phone to the blog, so just go check it out on Youtube.

Afterwards we tried to get into a tower in the New Town Hall but ended up getting trapped behind a bevy of locked doors. We were seriously locked into a German government building with no way out. We found a German tourist couple and followed them…..to a few more locked doors. Eventually a nice government worker walked us out. Crisis averted. And we did finally find our way to the top of the tower! Without scaling 300+ steps this time, too! But the city is built up enough that there’s not a whole lot to see, actually. So we came back down to the ground and explored on foot.

After wandering for a while and doing a bit of shopping (I got my German national team scarf, so mission accomplished) we headed to the Royal Residence. No one actually lives there anymore, but it’s been turned into a great (and huge) museum that’s still being rebuilt/renovated (it’s massive, free all, so it’s taken a long time to put all 500+ rooms back together). We were running out of time, so we just hit up the theater before they kicked us out. And boy was it worth it. The Residence was almost completely destroyed in WWII (like nearly everything else in the city) so the building itself is all a rebuilt copy of the old version, but with more concrete. However, Hitler had the presence of mind to take meticulous records of the Residence and the city in general, as well as to remove much of the artifacts inside to preserve them, since he figured he’d get around to rebuilding Munich at some point after he won the war. He didn’t win, and the plans/artifacts/pictures were unharmed to allow the allies to rebuild it properly after the war, so victory all around! The result is a breathtaking theater covered with enough gold to seemingly buy the country.

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Unfortunately they kicked us out shortly thereafter. Ah well. We headed around to the gardens behind the Residence, and found a terrific violinist playing for change in the monument at the center of the park. He attracted quite the audience by the time we left, but this one particular little boy seemed to be enjoying it more than anyone.

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We ventured further north into the Englischer Garten (English Garden) and saw all sorts of interesting sights, including a nudist park (wut?) and a bunch of kids surfing in an artificial river running through the park (way cooler than naked old guys).

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We grabbed a late dinner and retired for the evening, anticipating a busy day the following day, including more Residence exploration and a tour of the inner city.