Leaving the rental car at the Madrid airport, and working out our itinerary on the fly, we hopped a plane to Germany! Traveling with an open plan is a daunting yet freeing experience and we are so glad to have had the time and energy to go down this path.

IMG_6957

IMG_6948

We arrived in Munich with a few preloaded screenshots of maps but little else. By soliciting help from friendly travelers we managed to purchase a train ticket and find our way to the center of town where we then had to catch a bus to our hotel. Once on the bus, we were at a loss as to how to pay. Observing other passengers we didn’t see an exchange of money or a bus pass. It was not the first nor would it be the last time we worried about ending up in a European jail. When we got to the hotel it was explained that for 11 Euro we could purchase a pass to ride public transportation for the entire day. What a bargain! And, it made using the buses and trains much more efficient. Definitely a good system, but how, we wondered, would it work back in the busy U.S. cities?

One of many screen shots we used to navigate. We didn't have wifi so we needed to anticipate what we would need

One of many screen shots we used to navigate. We didn’t have wifi so we learned to anticipate what we would need

With a rich history and an eclectic mix of new and old, Munich is the third largest city in Germany after Berlin and Hamburg.

IMG_6978

IMG_6989

It was a quiet Sunday morning when we boarded the train for Marienplatz Square at the center of the city. Named after a Marian Column dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the square was built to celebrate the end of the Swedish occupation. Finding the metro station at the square closed we bypassed it and disembarked at the next stop. By this time we had become accustomed to finding things in Europe temporarily closed for holidays, siestas, or sudden strikes, and, at first, we didn’t take much notice. Wading our way through throngs of people and tight security peaked our interest, albeit with a slight note of concern. The square was rocking to capacity and the crowd was electric, chanting and cheering in waves. Beer was flowing and the sausage and pretzels were plentiful. Suddenly it all made sense. What else could it be to cause the citizens to unite in jovial frivolity ….. but SOCCER and a public celebration of the local club’s win of the German Championship Title, the Bundesliga!! Pushing our way to the front, we scored some cool hats as a memento.

IMG_6973

IMG_6983

Amongst the madness, we sought out the marionette figures that dance in the tower above the square, which at first we thought might be the reason for the similar name. We did get to see the marionette show which lasts about ten or fifteen minutes, but noted it would have been a bust on its own.

IMG_2322

Spurred on by the camaraderie of the square, we made our way to the famous Hofbrauhaus. Open daily at 9 am it was already hopping when we arrived midmorning. Dating back to the 16th century you will find the suds flow freely at the beer hall, along with communal tables, live music and traditional German food. By pointing to other patrons’ mugs we ordered and enjoyed a couple of large brews and we consumed a huge pretzel that was delivered by the ladies in traditional Bavarian garb. Good times!

IMG_2337

IMG_6994

IMG_6995

We took to walking back through the city and found ourselves at the English Garden. Covering an area of 3.7 km and larger than New York’s Central Park, we watched locals surf in one of the man made streams. Notice the “no swimming” sign!

IMG_7006

IMG_7003

IMG_2348

IMG_7005

At a Japanese teahouse and garden we happened upon yet another outdoor beer garden. Full of families drinking and conversing, nary an obvious cell phone in sight, we observed that Münchens really know how to enjoy themselves!

IMG_7007

Visited May 2015

Next Up: Salzburg