When you’re hungry in Munich the best place to go is Munich’s oldest market – Viktualienmarkt. A hodgepodge of fresh food, fresh beer, handmade crafts and shaded spots to gather it’s the kind of place where you never quite know what you’ll see!
This month’s Travel Throwback posts are dedicated to a Bavarian adventure in Munich I took late last summer. So, grab a bench in your favourite biergarten, order a pretzel the size of your head and enjoy the journey!
The Virtualienmarkt is home to Munich’s maypole which, like every maypole in Germany, is uniquely decorated with ribbons, wreaths and signs denoting the local craftsmen’s guilds and reflecting the wealth of the community. Historically, they date back to the days before the ability to read and write was widespread and allowed travellers to see at a glance both what a city offered and what they might be able to offer in return.
The market is also home to one of Munich’s many famous beer gardens but for the most atmospheric pint you’ll want to head to Hofbräuhaus am Platzl. Built in 1589 by Duke Maximilian I as an extension of a brewery it officially opened as a public beer hall in 1828.
Rumour has it that the flags on the ceiling were once swastikas. Though Adolf Hitler is known to have frequented the beer hall – even hosting the first meeting of the National Socialists in the Festival Room on the third floor in 1920 – there’s no way to know for sure. What do you think? Can you see any traces of the past?
No matter it’s history the beer hall is a tourist mecca today with servers and a lively band decked out in lederhosen, entertaining tourists and locals alike. And for their VIP patrons – the ‘regulars’ – they’ve even created lockers so that they can use their own personal stein at every visit. As long as they remember the key, of course!
Whether you’re a beer drinker or not (like me) it’s definitely worth a visit!
Another sight that I’d put on the ‘Must-See Munich’ list is the birthplace of urban river surfing – Eisbach river.
The wave is caused by a water pumping mechanism and surfers stand to each side waiting patiently for their turn to enter the water. If they don’t fall immediately they ride the wave for a couple of minutes before voluntarily dropping out (letting the tide take them) and then returning to the end of the line. The pressure of the water is so great though that they’re pushed downstream and need to use their strength not only to pull themselves out but to get to the side in the first place! The water pressure goes for quite a long way so the banks are filled with people jumping in, being caught by the tide and being swept for hundreds of meters downstream.
As you can tell, it’s the place to be on a hot August afternoon!
After watching with fascination for a long while we wandered along the river before taking the scenic route back to the Old Town Hall.
(Blonde in Grey for scale! :))
From there it was back to the hotel (The Sofitel Munich) for a fiesta before dinner – once more taking in the…colourful ‘art’ displays in the lobby…
As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Make sure you return next Thursday for even more Bavarian beauty as we hit the road and go hunting for castles.