The last stop on our tour of Germany was Munich. We checked into our AirBnB upon arrival to ditch our bags. Of all the places we stayed, this one was decidedly our least favorite. But there were beds for everyone and it was close to the train station, so it was okay.
We started our Munich tour at the Marienplatz, of course. The clock has a Glockenspiel from 1908, which is really neat if you see it in action. The plaza is always packed with people and there are all sorts of things to see. It has been the city’s main square since 1158! Laine befriended a “statue” as we walked through the square.
We moved on from the plaza for a bite to eat in the shadow of the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady) with its twin onion-shaped domes. It is currently undergoing maintenance, so we were not able to climb the stairs to the top. They should offer quite a view at they are 323 feet high and the tallest places in the city center.
After our meal, we did take a brief look around the inside of the church. The interior of the church had high ceilings and lots of natural light. The organ was also pretty impressive to view from down below. The construction of this building began in 1468 and it was finished in only 20 years! That’s pretty impressive for a building of this size. The towers were almost completed in 1488 but had temporary roofing which began to leak. They were finally replaced with the onion domes in 1525. The original plans called for pointed spires, but these were a less expensive alternative. As you would expect, there was severe damage to the building during World War II. The final reconstruction from that finished in 1994.
There is one other feature of note in the cathedral. Near the entrance to the building, there is a black foot-shaped mark in the floor. It is said to be the Devil’s footprint. If you step into the mark, you cannot see any of the side windows of the church. From 1622 until 1860, you also couldn’t see the window above the altar because there was a large wooden altar covering it. There are numerous legends on this, but the one inside the church says that the devil himself walked into the building before it was consecrated. Seeing that there were no windows, he stamped his foot in delight that the building would be ugly and useless. That is why the mark is there. He then took one step forward and saw all of the beautiful windows. In a furious rage, he created a great wind to try to blow the building down, but he did not succeed. The wind, however, continues to whip around the building even today. It is said that it will continue thus until the Devil himself comes to reclaim it.
That evening, we decided to go to the Augustiner BraüMünchen for dinner and drinks. Augustiner was established in 1328 and is Munich’s oldest independent brewery. More importantly for us, however, the playground was terrific! The kids got to climb all over the wooden structures and slides. They also made a few new friends with other American kids playing, as well. We introduced the kids to apfelschorle – apple juice mixed with mineral water. The Americans at the next table stopped by to ask about the kids’ “beers.”
We had a great dinner, but the kids favorite part of the meal was definitely the ginormous pretzels. Isaac is eager to return to Munich next month for another one…
We stayed out a *tiny* bit too late that night. We decided that our second day in Munich needed to be a bit tame so we could recover from our whirlwind trip. Enter: the bus tours. We took 2 of them in one day and they were just the ticket. Our first stop was Nymphenburg Palace. It was the main summer residence of the former rulers of Bavaria (southern Germany) and the House of Wittelsbach. I recommend you look at the photos in the link to get a feel for the scale of the grounds.
We walked the grounds for a while and peered in through the windows, but we didn’t do a full tour. The grounds were beautiful and there were people everywhere at work. It made me curious about the number of employees they must have on staff.
Once we finished our bus tours, we decided to head to one of the other most famous places in Munich: Hofbräuhaus. One of the things I find fascinating about German beers is their adherence to the Bavarian beer purity law. The law was enacted in Munich in 1487. It was then expanded to all of Bavaria in 1516 and still stands today. The original law allowed for only water, barley, and hops. The basic law now declares that only malted grains, hops, water and yeast are permitted.
In addition to serving great beers, Hofbräuhaus also offers an interesting look at Munich’s history. It has served many famous people throughout the years, including Mozart (who supposedly wrote an opera after his visit) and Vladimir Lenin (just before World War I he lived in Munich). It was also the first meeting place of Adolf Hitler and his National Socialists in February 1920. You can actually still see the swastikas on the ceiling if you look closely at the Bavarian flags.
Some members of our group were definitely not ready for a history lesson. She got in a nice nap before fortifying herself with an apfelschorle and a large pretzel.
The next day, we said goodbye to Todd’s parents at the airport. It was so wonderful to get to share this trip with them! We flew back to Brussels as they flew home to Maryland.