Coming into Munich, it was apparent that this was a modern city with a bubbling underground and a long history. The graffiti that was visible on the way in suggested that there was a generation of people wanting to be heard, contrasted with mix of architecture from ultra modern through the last few hundred years intrigued me. When we arrived at the wombats hostel I had made a plan that I would relax for the afternoon, maybe go for a walk, then the following day go on a bike tour in the morning, visit Dachau the following day and brighten up a sombre occasion with a pub crawl in the evening. The first thing I needed to do though was to get a hair cut. I was starting to look like a hippy.
I took a stroll down the main street and found a barber. To my surprise and appreciation they first guy at the counter spoke English. He soon sat me down and another guy came over to do my hair. He was Macedonian and English was his second language. At the very least it appeared that he knew what I meant by short back and sides. He began to work his magic with the clippers then he began to speak…
“You speak English?” I replied in the affirmative and then he went through his usual gamut of questions, where are you from, where are you going did you know that Greek history is actually Macedonian history… What the?
He then started telling me that Alexander the great and Cleopatra were Macedonian. The Greeks just took on the history as their own when they acquired land from Macedonia. After he was talking for a while he became excited because I made for an attentive audience that he didn’t have too often… I don’t expect that he usually tells these tales while having a razor to someone’s temple and in this case, mine… I definitely made for an agreeable audience. He had obviously finished cutting my hair, but continued to flit about with a pair of scissors trying to look busy as he recounted the Macedonian history taken on by the Greeks. He even compared Barack Obama to Alexander the great. He said “Alexander the great was a good man who wanted a world-wide Macedonia in the same way that Obama wants a world-wide America” I was in no position to argue.
I asked him to trim my beard with the clippers before saying that I had better be on my way, there was a lot to this city that I had to see and I had a short time to do it in. I got away with a decent hair cut, both my ears still on and no attentive cuts to my temples.
I got back to the hostel and I was about to find all my earlier plans were going to be thrown into disarray. I got out of the elevator to the level my room was on and I bumped into a girl named Ashleigh who was on my bus earlier. She was in Munich for that night only and was going to leave in the morning. She asked if I had any plans for the night and if I would be interested in going on the pub crawl… Sure I’ll go on the pub crawl, I didn’t have anything else planned for tonight any way. (plans thwarted)
I had about a half hour to get ready and made my way down stairs to the hostel bar which was the meeting point for the crawl. For a while we were short of numbers and it was looking like it was going to be called off. I got my first beer… Before I got to the end of it the pub crawl guide said that we now had the numbers and we would begin shortly. I downed what was left of my beer ready to go. Then he said he was coming around with shots… Also he gave us vouchers for the hostel bar for three half litre beers. since he was going to come around with the shots I used my first voucher. I just started the second beer and the shots came. That’s when he said that we were leaving in 5 minutes… Crap… It’s been less than 20 minutes and I have already had to skull one beer and I was now going to have to do the same with my second. Done and done. We walked for a while, this group of 11 people, until we came to a small beer garden the name of which eludes me. There were a couple hundred people there and they had the important things… One litre Masses of beer and giant pretzels! Heaven much? I think so… Everyone in the group had a litre beer and a pretzel, the beers got finished but the pretzels were a bit much.
Then off to beer garden number two, The Augustina Keller, Aka the Augustine gardens. This is the beer garden you would go to of you died in heaven and went to heaven’s heaven. This is exactly what I was expecting as a beer garden. Five thousand people eating, drinking and talking, live music, and a group of 11 pleasantly ‘on’ Aussies. I only got a 300 ml beer, but hit the dance floor. After playing some traditional Bavarian music, the band kicked off some rock… What an incredible event. I wish we had stayed here.
We were just settling in with the music and talking to the locals when we were again whisked away to the next stop which was a far more subdued beer hall. Being a Thursday night, there went too many people here and most of us would have liked to have stayed in the Augustine garden. Another 300 ml beer for me and surprisingly another one litre for Ashleigh and a few of the others meant that I was among the better off of the group. We then returned to the hostel bar and hello… They had karaoke. To sum up, although I may have started there among the better of the group, I had a swift and sudden decline. I had two more free shots from the pub crawl, I followed each of those with a half litre of beer, then I hit the karaoke, free shot after every song. Three songs, three shots and I then stumbled my way to bed. Needless to say I had an awesome night, I wonder how Ashleigh ended up since she had to be on a bus at 8am.
I slept in until mid day. I stumbled my way down to the main street and had a kebab. There was another bike tour at four and I figured that I could sleep till 3:30 then walk over to the bus tour.
I woke again still feeling the effects of the night before but the kebab definitely helped. Knowing that I had left it a little late to get there, I made a direct route for the meeting point under the old tower in Kaizerplats… At least that’s what I think it was called, I’ll have to check the details of that later. The part of the city that I was running through is set up with a linked subway system that seems to be connected by an underground shopping centre… I thought that was pretty cool. Turns out that i got there in time and the tour guide was about 15 mins late. He made up for it by being really informative, on top of that the sights were gorgeous.
High lights of the tour included the endless wave, the English Gardens were amazing and the Mullet Game where we spot the mullet and accordingly yell out “Mullet!”.
I am sure that I, at some point the night before, vowed not to drink for a few nights but once I got back from the bike ride I met up with some people who I’d met in previous stops and couldn’t help but to some more of that wonderful German Beer. Although it wasn’t a big night, I still stayed up till around midnight. Once I was in bed though there were a couple of Americans that were trying get a dorm party started in their bedroom. To do this they figured that yelling out the window of their room was a smart way to make friends… After 20 minutes of these guys yelling random comments over the court yard I decided to pipe up. I opened the window and calmly called out to them and said Thst I didn’t care if they have a party, but there are people who have to get up in the morning and if no one had come to the party yet then perhaps they should try a different tactic that does not include yelling across the court yard. They were quite cool about it and said “Yeah it’s cool man… Wait went you the guy singing karaoke last night?” “Man you rocked!”
I admitted that it was me and just told them to enjoy their stay. They actually closed their window and kept the noise down.
A tour of The Dachau concentration camp was on the agenda. I won’t elaborate on this too much but I will simply say that it felt like I was walking through a grave yard. The main processing building is still in tact, the insides have been gutted, with just remnants of its former operation.
We walked through one of the camps and made our way through to the gas chambers. It was a long day, we took in a lot of information but I never really had an emotional response like my experience at the Berlin wall, but I respect the aim of the facility in its current guise. It’s a memorial to the people who were held in the camp and those like it.
That afternoon I went to the English gardens with some friends and we shared a bottle of wine while people watching… The funny part was that the wine has a cork and none of us had a bottle opener. After about fifteen minutes we were able to push the cork into the bottle and suddenly the sunshine seemed a lot easier to bare. We went to dinner at the Haufbrau beer garden, rolled roast pork with gravy and chips…OMG! After dinner it was back to the hostel, more beer and some much needed sleep.