The city of the little monks: Muenchen
I have been looking forward to getting home for a few weeks now. I’ve been looking forward to my bed, cuddles with my cat and a fully functioning oven. I’ve been looking forward to getting back to studying and the nerdy enjoyment I get from academics. I’ve even been looking forward to getting the good old British weather back, warts and all, in a desperate plea to get rid of this snow (which is back!).
I hadn’t realised just how much I had missed the companionship you get from falling asleep talking to good friends, from laughing about old times and catching up on months of missed stories. I spent this weekend with my Sophies in Munich. Having left a seemingly cold Erfurt, being blinding by sunlight on the train on the way down was a welcome change. I arrived to a sunny, warm evening and we gossiped over salads, pizza and extremely overpriced water.
On Saturday, we took a free tour of the city centre. It was a 3 hour walking tour around many of the sights within the city centre. It was a great way to get to know the city and we saw absolutely loads in that time. I suppose we must have walked a long way but the tour was interesting so we didn’t really notice. Our guide was Australian and loved Munich and his passion for the city really shone through.
After we had stopped for a currywurst for lunch we took a long walk back to the hostel. We took an hour or so to just sit around watching tele and relaxing after all the walking we had done. Just because we didn’t notice it at the time didn’t mean it wasn’t tiring! Then we headed out to the coolest landmark we had seen on our tour, the Hofbraeuhaus. This is the most famous (and of course, most commercial) beer hall in Munich. The place is always completely jampacked but we managed to squeeze ourselves onto the end of a couple of benches by hovering while people were leaving. We all weren’t really that hungry so we ordered a dish and some sides to share between ourselves and the girls each had the standard litre of beer each. The food was absolutely delicious and the beer was pretty tasty too! We spent the whole evening in there, watching the locals intermingled with tourists. There was a traditional Bavarian band there and the locals kept standing up and singing random songs at the top of their lungs. The band would stop, others would cheer and at the end of the spontaneous performance everybody would applaud the brave fellow. Hearty. That’s the only way to describe it really. It was just so Bavarian and cool.
My only complaint about the Hofbraeuhaus was the sheer amount of noise! Above the singing, the klinking of glasses, the cheers and the raucous laughter, it was pretty difficult to make yourself heard in there. We spent our time in there shouting at each other until we were hoarse (although Howells was already!) and then took a slow walk back to our hotel. Why is it that it’s always the nights when you are most tired that you can’t help talking for hours? We finally fell asleep late after midnight after a long and sunny day.
Sunday was the last day with my Sophies. We decided to head into the city again and go to the Alte Pinakothek. This was an absolutely beautiful gallery and it was only 1 euro to get in as it was Sunday. We saw some stunning paintings from lots of different European artists. My favourite was The Melon and Grapes Eaters by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. I loved how the snapshot image of these beggar children could be so decadent and inviting.
We were lucky to have saved the gallery until Sunday as it was decidedly more grey and gloomy then. We had thought we might hire bikes and cycle through Englischer Garten if the weather had been better but instead, we decided to walk back to the centre of the city, enjoyed some last views of Munich and then picked up our bags and head to the station.
After lunch there, we all had to say goodbye to each other. After such a lovely weekend together, I was quite sad to see them go. I hadn’t realised just how much I missed my friends, having not seen any of them for so long. I then started an hour long walk in search of my second hostel. As I have Mondays off, I had decided to stay over an extra night. However, the map I had been provided with by booking.com was quite frankly, terrible. I spent an hour walking around the streets and probably walked down the street paralell to my hotel 3 times. I arrived incredibly frustrated but very pleased to discover that my room was beautiful, light and deliciously cool.
I settled into the hotel and then headed out to discover more of the city. The sun was out again and I went out to the east of the city to the Isartor. From there, I took Maximillian Strasse and walked all the way down to the Bavarian Parliamentary Offices. Bavaria has such a strong identity, really unlike any other Bundesland, and it was interesting to see even more Bavarian flags floating around in the wind.
Monday was a rainy day. I got up and out early though and was able to leave my bags in the hostel for free which was nice. I went up to the north of the city to see the university where the Scholl siblings had committed acts against the regime which eventually led to them loosing their lives. On my way, I went into the church that had been recommended to us by our tour guide, the St Cajatan’s Theatine Church. It was built in response to the birth of son, an heir to the throne, and this jubilant atmosphere is reflected all around. I was there early in the morning and it was quiet, calm and peaceful.
The journey back to Erfurt was long and tiring. The massive detour which is required was frustrating too. But mostly, I was just disappointed to be leaving such a beautiful city. It kind of felt like I had gone home for a weekend and it was a relief that I had been craving. I’ve been away for a long time now. I am ever grateful for the experience I am having and the opportunities that I’ve been offered that I would never have had, had I not come. I am getting tired now though. It’s weekends like this that revitalise me entirely though and remind me of all the things I have to make the most of before it’s too late and I am back in the UK. I will miss it all then, just like I miss home now. This year abroad has been about taking every chance that comes my way and I don’t intend on changing that yet.