Munich – Beer Capital of the World (5-7 Jan 2010)

Munich – Beer Capital of the World (5-7 Jan 2010)

I got into Munich late at night and even though the hostel was less than 200m from the train station, I still got lost getting there. But I got to walk past a local Circus in town: Krone Circus. I could tell even before I saw the signs that animals were around. The smell was very powerful. The hostel I stayed at was 4you. It wasn’t too great. The toilets were dirty, the showers terrible (hot water though), and the rooms packed full of beds. By far the worst hostel I’ve stayed in so far. But the people it hosted more than made up for it.

In the morning I got up to do the walking tour of Munich, by the same company: SANDEMAN (really advertising it, can you tell). There was even a pickup from our hostel. We met in the lobby and walked to the rathaus or townhall of Munich. There Harriet, from New Zealand, became our tour guide and we waited around learning the history of Munich for the townhall clock to go off, as it does on the hour.

The New Rathaus finished in 1908.

The Old Rathaus. Around 1392.

Bavaria on the left jousting against France on the right in red and white. France always loses.

Layout of the inner city. We hit all the big famous monuments and some of the more hidden ones as well.

The Frauenkirche. One tower of it anyway.

The inside of it. We learned that the devil even helped build it, that’s why it went so quickly. These pillars cover the windows, and so the devil walked in and saw it all dark. He made a deal with the architect that as long as no more windows were added, he would finance and send minions to help build it. The devil thought it would be dark in here and so maybe the people would be tempted to worship him and not God. But the devil was tricked and when he came to see the finished product he finally saw the windows. He stamped off and left a footprint in the ground of the church. This is the story mounted on one of the walls of the cathedral. Probably to increase tourism as Harriet says. The footprint is probably the architect’s way of signing his work.

The current living pope of the Catholic Church. I forget his name.

Of course, the organ.

The Haufbrauhaus. The oldest beer hall in Munich.

Back in the day, there were no bathrooms so people would have to use the drains in this street as toilets. But that posed problems. One could lose his seat while going outside. So the beer hall installed toilets under the table. All one had to do was open his button fly, point, and shoot into the holes underneath the table. This presented another problem: backsplash. So the customers would carry a stick. To warn their neighbors they would wack their legs, then guide the urine down the stick and into the hole to prevent backsplash. Eventually real bathrooms were added away from the seats and women were allowed to enter. But the local loyal customers still have their own tables here and if you sit there and that customer comes in, they can move you off their table. There are even private lockers which hold these customers steins. Germans take their beer drinking seriously.

Fans of Oktoberfest can thank this dude for starting the tradition. His wedding in the fall of one year was such a huge party that the people, and Ludwig, wanted an excuse for the same huge party the following year. And so Oktoberfest was born. Then they moved it back to September for better weather.

So the Australians really, really dig Oktoberfest. Almost the entire island/continent emigrates to Munich for this 16 day event. The increase in population in the city increases by more than 16 million during these days. Well, when people get drunk they often lose their way and sometimes their things. Inevitably, passports were lost. But Australia does not have an embassy here. So every Oktoberfest, they set up a temporary consulate inside the British embassy, solely for the purpose of helping drunk Australians return to Australia. That’s awesome. I wish our government would do stuff like that.

The Golden Path, as Harriet points out to us. This side street skirts around Hitler’s monument to those who fell during his beer hall putsch in 1923. Anyone who walked past the monument had to heil Hitler and so many people walked down this street instead. Eventually, the Nazis caught on and anyone walking down this street too many times was sent to the concentration camps.

A monument featuring two lions. the one on our right has its mouth closed and faces a church. This implies one cannot speak out against one’s church. The lion on the left has its mouth open and faces the palace implying one can speak out against the government. Ironically, the King of installed this monument with these reasons in mind was ousted by his people.

This is where the tour ended so I went exploring now.

Inside the church that the lion above faces.

A small organ, but probably powerful enough.

The Deutsches Museum, a science and technology museum.

It had the history of all these different technical fields: mining, tunneling, electricity, power machines, nano technology, bridges…

This is the ferry I took from Tallinn to Helsinki.

Even a real US helicopter was included in the exhibit.

The first design for the tunnel from France to England. The date is 1802. A high speed coach service.

It took almost two hundred years from this point to actually build the tunnel because threats of invasions by both countries among other wars kept stopping progress.

I was lucky to get to see an electricity demonstration. Although, I couldn’t stop laughing.

The employee in the next photo got inside the ball to prove that a closed metal container would save you from a lightning strike.

He is the reason I couldn’t stop laughing. His sunglasses, trench coat, and all serious face was too much. He thought he was the baddest dude on the planet. It was hilarious.

By this time it was getting dark so I headed back to the hostel and asked some Australian girls that were on the walking tour if they wanted to grab some dinner at a local Beer Hall. They said they were going to Chinese food but that I was welcome to join them. And so I spent the evening with Elie, Eleanor, and Emilia, and had a delicious dinner, with great company.

The next morning Elie and Eleanor decided to go to the castle while Emilia and I got on the Dachau tour, the only concentration camp to be open the entire 12 years of the Third Reich. SANDEMAN’s offered this tour and sadly, I forgot our tour guides name. And I wanted to remember it too because he said something I really respect. I’ll paraphrase: Remember, the holocaust was not antisemitic, it was antihuman.

It was a rather short ride to Dachau on the train, about 20 minutes. I didn’t know it was that close to the city center.

Dachau. The end of the train tracks that sometimes brought prisoners here.

Work sets you free.

It just looks like a barren waste land.

These trough beds were designed to fit as many prisoners as possible, with them sleeping head to toe, toe to head.

Each barracks was designed to hold 250 prisoners. This lists the number of prisoners in each barracks at the end of the third reich. Barracks 25 has over 2000 prisoners in it.

The famous 1997 memorial. It shows humans tangled in barbed wire.

A map of all the concentration camps in mainland Europe. The death camps are on the right in the east.







The following four images are somewhat graphic. Specifically: 1, 2, and 4. 3 isn’t, but it’s hard to see it without seeing the others.










I had never seen someone so weak before. With jaw bones protruding almost through the skin.

This is what the allies found when they liberated the camp: corpses assembled before taken to the crematorium.

The first crematorium.

Bodies piled high up in front of the Large (new) crematorium (Barrack X). It was called Barrack X because it also housed poison gas chambers.


Inside the “showers” or gas chamber. The poisonous gas Zyklon B was transferred in through vents behind me. Luckily, this chamber was never used to kill anyone. It had just passed it’s final examination and had permission to start showering prisoners when the allies liberated the camp.

The new crematorium.

A memorial to the unknown soldier.

Where the barracks used to stand.

Upon returning to Munich, Emilia and I hung out with two Australian guys we met on the tour today: Samuel and Ryan. Samuel started his own web site hosting business a few years back and is doing rather well now. I don’t know what Ryan does. But their both great guys, really fun to hang out with. If I had met them earlier on my trip I would have asked if I could travel the rest of the time with them. As it is though, Sam’s flying out the same day I am.

We all decided to go to the city museum. And were mildly surprised at what we found when we arrived.

City Museum of Munich. Cyclists!

There was an exhibit of Nazi photography during the war.

Nazi photography done by soldiers in the German army.

Photos captured by soldiers keeping photo albums basically. Although, there was one disturbing sequence of photos. It showed a soldier getting his leg amputated by way of saw and without pain killers. I only went through it once.

Then we jumped over to the other side of the museum to see the circus exhibit. It was a history of circuses and the exhibit had costumes of people as well as advertisement posters from each era of circus: traveling and stationary. I found it fascinating seeing when certain animals started being used in the circus and by whom. We didn’t get to see all the exhibit though because we plopped ourselves down in front of a silent movie playing in one corner: “The Circus” starring Charlie Chaplin. And it was exactly the cheering up we needed. We were all busting up laughing and ended up watching it for almost an hour. We would have watched the whole thing but the museum staff kicked us out because the museum was closing. I highly recommend that movie, maybe even over Avatar. Then we walked down the main old street deciding what to do next.

We decided to go to the Haufbrauhaus to get some dinner and so headed there.

The beers here come in liters.

My orangeaid.

After dinner, Elie and Eleanor came from the hostel to join us for dessert. They had just gotten back from the castle excursion.

A delicious dessert we all shared. Apple strudel and a sweet dumpling thing. And I’m giving out my blog on the napkin underneath.

Then we hung out, talked about random things, and had a grand ole time.

The Australian girls whom I met the day before. From left to right: Emilia, Eleanor, and Elie.

The Australian dudes I met today on the Dachau tour. On the left Samuel, and on the right Ryan.

Returning to the hostel and dead tired but determined to stay awake a bit longer, I taught everyone how to play Nertz, and we played cards for the next few hours. It switched to a game of B.S. and to finish it off a game of Ultimate Fish. We said our farewells, although I hope any of them come to visit me in the states. They were all really cool people.

I slept for a few hours and boarded the 7am train to Zurich.

The train to Zurich.

The end of my trip was approaching.

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