Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Munich - Day 3 - Bus Tour and Tollwood Festival

Thursday, 18th December, 2008

We woke up to a fresh snowfall, which was the first amount of real snow that we had seen since leaving NZ.

I popped outside to the ledge outside our room and made a little snowman which wasn't there when we got home later. I'm not sure where he went - probably shopping down the Marienplatz.

Mr Snowman

Close up

Go that way

Hop on/Hop Off Bus

After breakfast, we went for a ride on the hop on/hop off bus, which was quite interesting. We have become fans of the hop on/hop off bus tours as they really give you an easy way to see everything and you can cover a lot of ground. We've done one in LA, Munich and a few weeks ago Oxford (more about that in a future post) and we intend to do one in London shortly. Of course, you don't get the breadth of information as you would by visiting everything individually, but when pressed for time, they're great.

The bus was a double decker, as seems to be the standard for these tours. While the day was cold and wet, with the snow giving way to rain, the bus tour was still a lot of fun. After reviewing the photos from the tour, I'm afraid they aren't that clear, so will post the best ones. Hard to get good photos when it's wet, the bus is moving and you're behind glass.

Wow, looks pretty cool

Notice the rapidly melting snow

Another impressive building


A column

That's a lot of windows!

The other thing about this bus is that played a song about München. Constantly. It seemed to play it about every 15 minutes - usually when we stopped to let people on or off. It's quite catchy. We probably heard it four or five times. I'm humming it to myself now. Damn.

The München Song (Video)

Sha buttoned up warm

Here is a nun store...

...or maybe, nah, I don't have a clue.

We actually saw quite a lot of nuns in Munich, all going about their nunnish business

Clock store

Regretfully, we didn't have the time to pop back and check it out

Some more landmarks

A giant ship propeller

German houses lined up straight

I love the colour contrast here

A bridge

Another clock tower

There's a cool mural in the centre of this picture (click to see closer)

A perilous position!

We came across some girls sitting on the window sills of a department store. Not to worry, they weren't real!

And one more clock...

Hmm, Germans do seem to like clocks!

The skating rink

Here is the skating rink I mentioned in my last post And that is more or less the end of the bus tour. After the tour, we took some time to head back to Wombats to take a breather. Sha popped into a couple of stores looking for things to keep her warm.

Tollwood winter festival

Late afternoon, we headed to the Tollwood festival, which was an alternative winter festival held in the same place as Oktoberfest. Of course Oktoberfest was in October, so we had well and truly missed that. Good to see the grounds being used for more than just the most well known beer swilling event on the planet. It appears they also have a Tollwood summer festival as well (wasn't aware of that until googling it).

Tollwood festival

Doesn't it look impressive!

The Tollwood festival was amazing. When we arrived, the first thing we were greeted by was the smell of mulled wine. We had been advised to try the
Feuerzangenbowle (fire tongs punch) which we quickly did.

Sha enjoying some Feuerzangenbowle

The Feuerzangenbowle is basically a type of mulled wine served in a mug with a lip. To the lip a sugar cube is added, soaked in rum and then set on fire. It looks spectacular and tastes twice as good. In the photo above, the sugar cube has fallen into Sha's mug. And if you get a hankering for making this at home, here's a recipe.

Throughout Tollwood, there are giant tents (absolutely huge), each holding a variety of different things of interest. I'm guessing the tents are also used for Oktoberfest as each one could hold many thousands of drunken revellers.

One tent was full of 'Food of the World' and had various types of food from all over the globe. We saw African, Ethiopian, Mexican, Caribbean, Indian, Malaysian, Thai, Japanese, Greek, Italian - pretty much anything you could imagine and it was an amazing sight to behold. It also made us hungry but we had to hold out as we were planning on going to a beer hall a bit later on.

A second tent was a giant craft market with different things from artists far and wide. You name it - it was there. There were wax figures in the shapes of different African animals (with some being made on the spot), hats, coats, shoes, paintings, writing paper, crystals, wooden toys, games, electronic toys, drinking glasses, chainmail armour (yes, for real). They were all being sold ferociously in the lead up to Christmas.

Tollwood also had various bars and different bands played each evening for free. We didn't stick around to see any but it looked like a fun place to be.

It wasn't all about food, booze and crafts though. Oh no, there were also other tents dedicated to art, health and environmental issues. Not reading German made it fascinating wandering around trying to work out what was going on.


I think this was an art installation...

More Mannequins

...or another Auton invasion? (ask a Doctor Who geek!)

As dinner started to beckon, we left Tollwood, passed the church below which I thought was quite striking, and headed to a beer hall.

The church

The Beer Hall

This was another experience altogether! We went to the
Augustiner-Bräustuben beer hall. Here's some more info.

We didn't really know what to expect, as despite having been through one on our walking tour, the one we headed to was far less commercial and felt a lot more authentic. We had been advised that it was less tourist focussed and consequently better. We went to the counter and approached a waitress dressed in a little black and white tunic. Very cute but it looked like she had been doing the job for 40 years! However, she was very helpful and found a seat for us at an already bulging table - there was no way we were going fit into. We managed to squeeze in and were placed slap bang in the middle of everyone.

It's interesting when you are sharing a table with a bunch of people who you haven't met before and who are all speaking German. We were asked what we would like to drink and Sha put up two fingers up and said "two minutes" and the waitress wandered off (hey, we had to decide which beer to drink!). A couple of minutes later the waitress returned with a stein of beer for each of us. Oh well, it still tasted pretty good. We joined in the practice of lifting our glass and saying "prost" (cheers) when the rest of the table did. We then ordered our meal - I can't remember exactly what I had, but Sha seemed to have three kinds of meat, a large dumpling and a LOT of potato. She couldn't finish it. While she is a big fan of dumplings, in this instance the dumpling out dumplinged her.
I really wish we had managed to get some photos of our meal and our surroundings, but it wasn't to be.

After our meal, we waddled back to Wombats (luckily we had a decent walk ahead of us) and reflected on things. We had an enjoyable experience but it's not necessarily something we would rush to repeat. I think it's more of a social thing and one that works better when you are sitting with people that you know or at the very least are drinking and conversing with. It is certainly something different to be placed at a table with eight strangers - I guess if we could speak German, we wouldn't have had any issues! The Augustiner-Bräustuben also has a restaurant area at the beer hall, but that would negate the whole experience.

Overall, we were happy we had done it, but the food wasn't anything to write home about. Last year, when we were living in New Zealand, we had a German boarder for a couple of months (hi Gabriel!) and he mentioned that the Germans are known as 'potatoes' due to the type of food they eat.
This certainly did seem to be the case at the beer hall.

Well, that's it for today. Next post - castles and snow...a lot of snow.


Anonymous said...

i LOVE the picture of sha talking to her mannequin :o) we miss you guys x d&s-touchins (foreheads still attached....)

C&G said...

What you considered to be the nun shop is something slightly different. The sign in the window says: "WIR WUNSCHEN EINE BESINNLICHE & FROHE WEIHNACHTSZEIT" "IHRE KLOSTER APOTHEKE"; meaning "We wish you a sensorial & merry christmas period" "your nunnery pharmacy" However, looking at the picture of the nun and the tiny feathers.....

Keep up the good work, Stu. Hugs to you both.


Ness and Dave said...

Love the video - good to see Sha getting into the spirit (mulled wine) and singing along!