A Random Visit to Munich
This is, perhaps, my most random and spontaneous trip so far. I only realized that I’ll be flying to Munich in just a day before the flight. I didn’t have any plans. I knew nothing about this city. I knew nothing about Germany. What kind of transport is used there to move around? What are the must-visit places? I don’t know! I didn’t even have a booked hotel. Upon arrival, everything I had is just the return ticket after two days, that’s all. Needless to say, the trip was full confusions and “wtf am I doing?” moments.
Somehow got to the city from the airport. Just walked around knocking every hotel trying to find a place to stay the night. Miraculously found an affordable hotel in a quiet neighborhood for my two days in Munich. What’s next? Dunno. Don’t have time to google.
Luckily, I have a friend in Munich who provided me with priceless information about the city’s geography, told me about the cheapest all-inclusive transportation ticket for tourists, warned me about the shenanigans of the city (i.e. the shops and restaurants are closing very early, on Sunday everything is closed, etc.), and showed me how to navigate the city map. He even gave me a tour around the Altstadt (Munich Old Town), how nice from him! Sasha, if you’re reading this, just wanted to say thank you very much!
Now looking back at the trip, I wish I had spent more time wandering the streets. I ended up spending almost all of my time in the art museums and churches, so more than half of my photos are from there. It’s not a photography blog anyways.
The architecture of Munich Residenze is stunning. It represents the finest of the Baroque period, exposing all the richness and power that the Royal Family inherits. Almost everything is covered in gold. The treasury of artworks made from gold, agate, and pearl spans countless of rooms, it’s almost unimaginable how rich and influential these Royals were. Their power at its prime can be compared to those of Gods. Just take a look at the golden wine brass below — made from agate, covered with gold, decorated with a detailed sculpture of Neptune. “Just a common wine brass”, the guide says. I don’t think I’m even worth touching it, let alone drinking from it. Imagine tens of rooms filled with treasures like in the photos below.
I also had some time to visit the Alte Pinakothek, one of the oldest galleries in the world. A huge collection of masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance by Raphael, Da Vinci, Botticelli, Titian. Baroque paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens. The giant collection of Nothern Renaissance and Mannerism works by German masters were eye-opening for me — you won’t find that many of them in other museums in the world, such as the Louvre or Vatican. I never would have thought that the Tenebrism paintings by Jusepe de Ribera will have such an influence on me. The emotions from these works were so raw and so strong, yet so hard to understand with my lack of life experience.
Wandering around the Odeonsplatz, I saw this… Anonymous? What are they doing here? I’ve heard about them from the news, but it’s my first time encountering them in real life. They’ve gathered a lot of attention.
Before visiting Munich, I mostly knew this city as a European Tech hub — lots of companies (Google, Siemens, BMW, etc.) and top-tier Universities (TUM, LMU) with a huge amount of funding and cutting-edge science. I’ve always had a dangling question in my head: how the vibrant modern culture blends in with the old vibe of the city? Let’s have a walk and see for ourselves.
Beer. I always thought that the importance of beer to German people is no more than just a stereotype. I’ve never been so wrong… That stereotype is a huuuge underestimation! German people love beer! It’s literally everywhere! You can see random people walking down the street casually with a beer in their hand as if it’s just a beverage to clear down their throat. The beer here is even cheaper than bottled water! Insane! And it tastes good, really good. So I set for myself the next destination: Hofbräuhaus am Platzl.
Along my way to the beer hall, I’ve stumbled across a strange building along the street. It doesn’t seem very special, but something was telling me that I must go inside, no matter what! I was on my way finding the beer… and in the irony of fate, I found Christ!
Approaching the Marienplatz, the central square of Munich city, I saw more and more people with funny costumes drinking beer. It’s a carnival! Well, technically, it was a pre-carnival — the main carnival only starts on the next day after my return flight. That didn’t stop me to drink beer and immerse myself into the atmosphere. Love the beer! Love the funny people in funny costumes! Love the street performances!
Clearing my path through the crowd, I finally escaped the carnival and came to the ultimate destination. Here it is, the famous beer hall. Stepping into the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, the first thing you will notice is that it’s loud. Really loud! The ingenious dome-like architecture of the ceiling makes any sound echoing back and forth multiple times, making the hall filled with the voices of cheerful talks of drunk people several magnitudes louder. The hall only has large tables for ten or more people. If you are a lone visitor, you will have to sit next to other people. This atmosphere immediately makes a lone traveler like me feel warmer from the inside.
No matter who you are, a working person coming to give yourself a treat after a hard day, or a lone adventurer passing by to fill your hungry stomach. As long as you are in this hall drinking beer, we’re all friends. That’s the message of this atmosphere.
I came to Munich unprepared — without any reason, without any purpose, without any expectations. I just immersed myself into the city, and ended up absorbing all of its aspects — its gorgeous art and architecture from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, its vibrant culture, its simple and cheerful beer-centric lifestyle. Would love to visit it again.