no matter where you go, there you are

Friday, September 17, 2010

Munchin' in Munchen

When I got back to downtown Munich, in the Marienplatz, (city center) it was much colder and the rain drizzled away. Among all the buildings there, Marienplatz houses the famed Frauenkirche, Peterskirche as well as the old and new city halls. And since it was late November, Marienplatz was home to one of the many Christmas markets central Europe offered. Inside a small tower in the Altes Rathaus ("old city hall") is the Spiegelzmuseum. A cute toy musuem, it contains a variety of toys and dolls, old and new, from all over the world. I recognized some of the toys such as Barbie but there were many famous foreign ones too. There wasn't much by way of English information, but I spent a good deal of time soaking in all the toys' details. The elaborate train tracks were quite fascinating.

Braving the rain once again, I decided to browse the Christmas market. It was pretty busy yet not too busy that I felt claustrophobic and annoyed by all the people surrounding me. Taking my time, I browsed all the stands, taking in all the trinkets, ornaments, and decorations. Since I eventually visited at least 15 of these markets, I will save my discussion on them for it's own post. In short, they're really cute.

By the time I'd circled the market once, bought a cookie and a couple of gifts, I was freezing and ready to return to my hostel. I checked in, dropped my bag and departed one final time because I really wanted to see what the Munich "Medieval Christmas Market" was all about. Turns out, "Medieval Christmas Market" is a pretty self-explanatory title. Much smaller than the market at Marienplatz, and with much fewer people, the Medieval market seemed to be the hotspot for food. I can't read German so I have no idea what was being cooked but it was definitely meat. The non-food items for sale consisted of various Middle Ages themed products such as bow and arrows and dresses and robes all with a medieval flair. All the workers were dressed in Medeival appropriate garb which made it all the more cuter.
Though I don't think it was really worth the time I'd spent traveling to the market and walking in the rain, it was definitely interesting to see. There was nothing particularly "Christmas-y" and I felt it could have taken place anytime of year. Back at the Wombats hostel, I used my free drink on a cranberry juice (so wild, I know), took a hot shower, bundled myself for sleep since the room was freezing and passed out. I was exhausted and when you're traveling so much, sleep=heaven.

The next morning was an early one, but I'd gone to bed so early that I woke up after 10 hours of sleep. My first stop of the day was Odeonsplatz, home of Theatinkirche, Ludwigkirche, Feldernhalle, Residenz, Hofgarten and only a short walk from the Siegestor. In short, there was lots to see. The sun was still rising so the light cast on the mustard yellow of the Theatinkirche was gorgeous especially since the bright blue skies provided such a beautiful backdrop.
The Feldernhalle sits across fromt the Theatinkirche and is a monumental loggia honoring the Bavarian army. Stone lions guard the entranceways to the space under the arches were soldier statues stand.
West of the Feldernhalle is the east side of the Residenz, the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs and the largest palace in Germany. On the backside of the Residenz is the Hofgarten so though I decided not to go inside, I was able to see it's north side which was quite large.

The Hofgarten, built in the early 17th century, was quite nice and as it was still so early the only people were a few bikers and joggers passing through. Being in one of the biggest German cities, the stillness and peacefulness was much appreciated. In the center of the garden was a pavillion for the goddess Diana; inside, I really liked the fish fountains decorated entirely from mosaic.

Back at Odeonsplatz I walked north towards Ludwigkirche whose exterior architecture was very simple compared to the massive Italian churches, but nevertheless was still pretty in its own right.
Continuing north is the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and plenty of students were passing in and out of buildings. My last stop on this road was the Siegestor ("Victory Gate") at the north end of the University's main buildings. Munich's version of the Arc de Triomphe, the Siegestor is not as large but it is certainly glorious in its own right. Its carvings are just as detailed as the others I'd seen before, and the Siegestor has a chariot and horses sitting up on top. Originally built to honor the army, it is now a reminder of of peace.

Next... I head into the U-Bahn, the Munich metro which is lovely and very easy to use, and take the short train ride to Olympiapark.

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