May 13, 2015

The European Adventure Begins

Welcome to Munich, the cultural center of Bavarian Germany! This means an abundance of beer, wood-roofed houses, blue-and-white checkered maypoles, and bratwurst. My hostel in Germering is a 20-minute train ride from the city, plus a 45-minute walk into the forest. It is one of the most beautiful walks I have ever taken – you can see the dome of the blue sky, fields of yellow flowers, and the green forest on all sides. Germering is near several lakes; this, combined with the familiarity of the trees and climate, reminds me a lot of Michigan's natural landscape.
Maypole in Germering

Tulips in Germering
At the end of the S8 train line, you can walk onto the pier over Ammersee lake. On a sunny day you can see the Alps on the horizon, blue and and majestic with bright white snow caps. The actual, real Alps! I was in awe... seeing them for the first time with my own eyes made them real.

Just south of this scenic spot on a steep hill is the Kloster Andechs Monastery where monks have been brewing beer for hundreds of years. A group of us from the hostel grabbed seats next to the live band in lederhosen, and with full liter beers (yes, liters) we said cheers with a hearty “Prost!

Kloster Andechs Biergarten
Bavarian Food
View from Kloster Andechs

In Munich's city center, most buildings had to be restored after the war, but the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall) has survived from the late 1860s. The chiming clock tower, or glockenspiel, has dancing figures and jousting knights that come to life at certain hours.

Neues Rathaus

At the Englisch Gardens, there’s a permanent wave where Munich’s surfers come out to practice their skills. You can't go far even in these scenic gardens without finding yourself at an overflowing, open-air biergarten.

Wave at the Englisch Gardens
The Englisch Gardens
The National Bavarian Museum
I also spent a half-day at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. It is very difficult to describe the visit… I feel it's an important trip to make, and worth going to.

When I returned to the hostel in the evening, a dozen guys were watching the Munich vs. Barcelona football game. Several had on their team jerseys.

I feel I'm in a whole new world.


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