Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 2: Munich!

Up very early this morning. Don't expect the houseboat residents appreciated our luggage clattering along the cobblestones at 5 a.m. Took the Heathrow Express from Paddington, then the quick flight to Munich.

Navigating the ring road in our hire car was fun, particularly when we started hitting cul-de-sacs courtesy of metal barriers that our sat-nav knew nothing of. [Aside: we later learned that one of the 'avoidances' we always leave on -- toll roads -- was unnecessarily complicating our routes; apparently most of the autobahns are marked as toll roads on our 2009 maps.] Eventually we made it to the hotel, though, and then took the U-Bahn to Marienplatz.

As we emerged from the subway, raised voices and music could be heard. Initially, we laughed off Tea's guess of protests, only to have it confirmed by a local shortly thereafter. Hundreds, if not thousands, of folks carrying and wearing "Atomkraft? Nein danke!" lined streets and pathways. [Now that I'm connected again, I'll let this Deutsche Welle story tell the tale:

A focus of the protest was the formation of a human chain, about 10 kilometers long, through the center of the city... Organizers said that some 50,000 people in all took part in the day's events, while police put the number at around 25,000.


Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel said that the turnout revealed the level of opposition to a planned extension to the operating lifespans of Germany's nuclear power plants...]
Tea successfully navigated around that excitement, bringing us to the decidedly more jovial bustle of the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl.

Well, I have to say, the Hofbräuhaus franchise in Las Vegas is excellent. Much as there, music, laughter and the general buzz of good cheer washed over us as we explored the many rooms of the former royal brewery.

A friendly British couple who are living in Munich invited us to sit at a Stammtisch or local table, where we enjoyed pork knuckle, cabbage rolls and schnitzel, as well as the house original and dunkel (or dark beer) and radlers (or shandies). [Funnily enough, the direct translation of radler is cyclist; h'm...]

The whole atmosphere of the Hofbräuhaus is fantastic. That such a tourist attraction still reserves over a hundred tables for locals, and lets them lock up their steins in the entryway between visits, just strikes me as so... right.

From there, we made our way to the beautiful Neues Rathaus, or New Town Hall, where they seemed to be setting up for a concert of sorts. We stayed in the plaza for the hourly Rathaus-Glockenspiel show, and then made our way to a local grocery store. An hour or so later, ladened with many tasty biscuits, peanut-butter 'cheezies', and a jug of Neuschwansteiner beer -- literally, and a beautiful vessel it is -- we headed back to our rooms at the K+K hotel on the crowded subway.

Up next: Schloss Nymphenburg and Dachau

[Also, don't forget that all these pictures and more are available in my Picasa album.]

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