Beer. hall. nice.

Trip Start Dec 30, 2006
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Trip End Jul 27, 2007


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Friday, April 6, 2007

The Europe portion of my trip, sadly, is coming to an end rather quickly. One of the reasons I had chosen Star Alliance for my round the world ticket was the $0 date change fee, which I figured I would be taking advantage of a few times. I had originally booked my flight out of Europe for March 27th but during my trip I had already extended that flight twice until April 13th...adding just over two weeks to the trip in the process.

Even with the extra two weeks I still had to cut out some places I had originally wanted to see due to time constraints. Munich was a place where three nights wasn't enough to see and is another place I would like to visit again. But, since I had booked a separate non-refundable ticket from Dubai to Kuwait I couldn't keep extending Europe. Plus, the reality is I only have so much money and parts of Western Europe can be a tad expensive...to say the least.

One of the best things in Munich - that isn't talked about in the tourist guides I read - is the Munich Olympic Park...I spent most of one day there when my plan had been to just see the Olympic Stadium and a memorial I had read about near the stadium to the Israeli athletes murdered in 1972.

Munich Olympic Park is huge...not only are the main stadium and diving/swimming facilities still very much in use, they also have a huge park, active lake, aquarium, concert venue, observation tower, a soon to be opened BMW museum, restaurants and a beer garden. A temporary BMW museum was open across the street from the construction site. Did I mention a beer garden? I thought so.

The temporary BMW museum was small but cheap, and interesting. Unlike the VW museum in Wolfsburg, the BMW one didn't try to gloss over its early history and involvement in both the first and second world wars. Across the street is the BMW world headquarters and one of their main car factories. In addition to the BMW museum, which is under construction, they are also going to have a factory tour and car delivery system in place...it sounded a lot like they where trying to copy the VW Autostadt in Wolfsburg. Sadly no off-road course yet though.

It was easter weekend (I think Sunday) when I was wandering around the park. I find it easier to lose track of days as the trip progresses but I figured it was Sunday since I saw a few easter displays and a truck full of huge (chocolate?) easter eggs.

The hostel I was staying at was like a hotel. In fact, I'm pretty sure it used to be a hotel and they just put dorm beds in each room. Because of its huge size I ended up getting a room to myself for all three nights. Very nice. That was the first time I've had a hostel room to myself so far on the trip. In San Francisco I only had one roommate but that was the only other time there hasn't been at least two or three other people in the room. It was nice except I couldn't blame the smell on anyone else.

I tried to have a conversation at the hostel about Cricket with a couple guys from New Zealand but my limited cricket knowledge wasn't helping me much. Thankfully, apparently, New Zealand has two ice hockey clubs and they where fans because, in hockey, you can fight a guy and not get kicked out of the game or suspended. Brilliant. They think its gonna be a bit hit in New Zealand.

I ended up taking a food and beverage tour of Munich with the same company that did the tour to Dachau.  The tour was very good value.  For 20€ it included five different beers and a full dinner of traditional Bavarian food.  Tasty.  Plus a guided tour of Munich bars, the Oktoberfest museum, history of the Bavarian Purity laws of 1516 and VIP entrance to the most famous beer hall in the world - the Hofbrauhaus.

On the tour I had been chatting with this girl from the UK who had recognized me from the hostel.  Unfortunately though, over dinner, the conversation turned to age and I found out she had just graduated...high school and was just 18.  And she found out I was almost 30 years old.  Awkward.  I guess shaving my beard in Rome must have made me look younger than I am.  At least the food was great and the beer tasted delicious.

We ended up at the historic Hofbrauhaus beer hall, which is almost exactly as I had imagined a Munich beer hall to be like.  This was the rare time that TV shows and movies have got it right.  Woman in traditional Bavarian dress serving monster sized glasses of beer...carrying 8 glasses at a time, oompa bands playing and literally thousands of people drinking and eating and carrying on.  Amazing.  Why this hasn't been picked up and caught on around the world boggles my mind.
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