Last week we departed for a long weekend trip to Munich. Having three day weekends, every weekend definitely has its benefits!
I won't bore you with every detail of our trip, but I do have a few thoughts and some recommendations if you find yourself in Munich in the near future.
First of all, go to Munich! I went to Berlin in college for spring break (a missions trip, not exactly what you might think of when you hear "spring break," and almost the entire time was spent in the former Soviet block portion of the city), but I don't think I realized how very beautiful Germany is. Then again, I wasn't in Bavaria in the fall with a cute guy, either. (Also, the former Soviet block isn't what you might call "pretty.") Munich was, in a word, lovely. It is a very large city, but it's easily navigable (thank you, German engineering and efficiency) with a mostly pristine above- and below-ground train system (U-Bahn and S-Bahn). The trees were changing, leaves were falling, and we thoroughly enjoyed walking the clean streets and admiring the gorgeous buildings, all of which seemed to have been paid immaculate attention in terms of architectural detail.
The food and drink were wonderful. We tried Wienerschnitzel, Schweinebraten with Semmelknodel (pork roast with bread dumplings), a German variation on chicken Cordon Bleu, potato cucumber salad, bratwurst, pretzels, delicious pastries and big (BIG!) cups of coffee, and my very favorite, Kaiserschmarrn (a chopped up pancake with sugar on top, with a side of apple sauce for you to dip it in--see the photo below). Of course, the German beer was delicious and we joined the masses in a beer garden or two; Germans enjoy their libations long before the evening rolls around. With all the bread and wheat, I was really thankful that I'm not gluten free at the moment. (How could you be German and gluten free, I wonder?)
We obviously enjoyed some good food, but we also did a lot of walking and exploring. Things we saw and enjoyed most were going to Dachau, the concentration camp that existed during WWII (and before), the Viktualienmarkt, a large open-air food and crafts market downtown, walking through the English Garden (especially sitting and eating raspberries by the river), and getting some food and drink at Chinesischer Turm (the Chinese beer garden) that lies within the English Garden. We also completely stumbled upon an all-English, second hand bookstore; it was like a dream come true. Run by a New Yorker, The Munich Readery is somewhere you should go if you are aching for a good book and want an excellent selection of literature, non-fiction, etc. Of course, we stocked up on some good reads.
Why Dachau, you might ask? That doesn't sound fun or exciting, right? I wouldn't call it fun, but I would say that it was powerful. I've taken and taught some history classes, and enjoy reading about the WWII era. This past year I taught a book called The Boy Who Dared about a German youth who stood up to the Nazi regime because he knew they were lying to the German people and were committing atrocities (a true story). While there is much sadness in that time period in the world's history, it is still valuable to study so that we know what happened and don't do the same things again. It's important, too, to put faces on the masses of people who were murdered and to honor the memory of their lives, even decades after their deaths. I'm able to better understand another person's perspective if I stand in their shoes and walk around in them, and that was our goal by going to visit the longest operating concentration camp. The rainy weather matched the mood, but I was so thankful that we went and that I have a better, clearer perspective on part of that piece of history.