Prost!!! Das Bier ist Wunderbar
Trip Start Apr 23, 2005
63Trip End Mar 31, 2006
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I arrived in Munich late at night after an 11hr journey from Geneva via Zurich. It didn't look that far on the map, but hey? I walked into the first hostel I saw called Wombat Hostel (and why not?). The couple in front of me were turned away - no beds in the inn - bugger! Still I tried, same response. "No, wait, I think I've stuffed up" the manager calls out as I skulk away. "Wait one minute, I've just got to shuffle some beds around.". Five minutes later, I was checking in. Sweet! I think Munich likes me.
I organised my bed in the immaculately clean dorm, got lost trying to find the shower (it was actually in the room - not some dodgy shared facility. How was I to know?). I headed down the bar for a quick pint before bed. The beer was fantastic (and the 1st one free) and the bar staff friendly and chatty. Got talking to some aussies in the bar and had a great but unexpected night. They also told me about a pub crawl happening the next night. Well I am in Munich.
Next day I headed into town. Lovely place with cool old buildings and churches. Sun was shining and I was enjoying myself. A quick trip across the river took me to the Deutsche Museum devoted to German technology. These guys really love their toys! They even had 3 rooms dedicated to machine tools (drills, lathes, mills) - not my thing, but impressive nonetheless. The first ever electicity generator is also displayed their - pretty significant to our modern society (I did an electroncs degree, so I allowed the inner geek to bask in the moment for a while before carefully stuffing it back in its box).
I stopped quickly for a bratwurst roll (about 40cm of bratwurst sausage in one of those little rolls they always give you at fancy restaraunts - I don't know why they even bother with the bread), before heading to the English garden which is a huge park - "even bigger than central park", the tourist map proudly proclaims. Inspecting the map, my eye is drawn to the surf pool. Surf pool???? I wander over and sure enough, there is a fast flowing river over an artificial reef creating a small but perfectly surfable wave. Wetsuited bavarian surfies line the shores waiting for there turn (strictly one at a time) and some of them were actually quite good!.
I wander further down the river and discover one of the pasttimes of young munichites? munichs? What do I call them? I'll just call them Munchkins! Anyway, this pasttime involves jumping in the fast flowing river and just letting the current carry you down for miles, before getting out, walking back and doing it all again. I want a go! But alas I'm not dressed for the occasion so I console myself by heading to the Chinese beer garden for a small after lunch beer. I walk up to the bar and eye up one of the half litre beers before my eye is drawn to the hefty steins next to them. I'm in Germany - Can I really go half a litre and live with myself afterwards? A stein it is. I pick it off the bar (they don't take orders, they just keep on pouring and you just select one off the bar), pay and find myself a nice table in the shade. Its a hot day, I've been walking all morning and I'm really looking forward to my first sip. I heft the heavy, oversized glass mug to my mouth and taste....
ITS A BLOODY SHANDY!!!!!!!!
Shattered, Destroyed and feeling somewhat effeminate I resign myself to finishing it. Given the hot day, it's actually quite enjoyable. I ask about and discover that its very popular to drink a "Beer with lemonade" on a hot day like this. The real beer can be found just round the corner from the shandies. Well - I know for next time.
I headed back to the hostel, showered, changed and got myself down to the hostel bar. The aussies I'd met from last night sitting with.... Tash!!! One of the girls I travelling in Ios and Athens with. Its a small world (Sorry, but sometimes cliches are appropriate. I promise I'll try to use them sparingly). We sat down had some drinks and caught up, then headed out to the pub crawl. The deal was 15euros gets you 4 pubs, and beer and shots in between. We started at a big inner city beer garden (the biggest in the world in fact). Pretty cool to walk in to 5000 people drinking and chatting away. The place is so huge that they use a small flat trayed truck to collect the empties - I'm in awe. Our guide told us that this place sold the best beer in Bavaria (as considered by the locals) so I figured that this was the place to perfect my stein ordering skills. Carefully I approached the bar, inspected the beers and identified the shandy imposters. I found the real stuff being poured directly from the barrel, checked with the pourer, took a beer, turned back and double checked with the pourer who patiently reassured me, paid and headed for the table. I sat down and with mounting excitement took my first sip...
This is the real thing and it is fan-bloody-tastic! Flavoursome, but smooth (a little too smooth - I'll have to be careful). The other punters were chatting and wearing the same happy expression as me - As the steins emptied, the chatting got louder and the expressions happier. But then it was time to go. I know its a pub crawl, but can't we please stay?
Next stop was the famous Lowenbrau brewery with a great pub on the corner. Beer, as always was excellent, but I only had a half this time - the night was still young! The group was mingling more and a definite sense of comradery had formed. We headed to the next pub where the specialty was white beer - it too was delicious. I don't know where the time went, but after finishing the beer, it was closing time. The plan was to head to a hostel bar that was playing some music, but some of us, including a German bloke we'd acquired headed to the atomic cafe and finshed the night dancing badly to some classic cheesy music. I headed home happy and tired and woke the next morning, completely hangover free and headed up to Berlin.
NB: Hangovers are rare drinking German beer in Germany. This is because its against the law to put anything but Barley, Hops, Malt and water into the beer - no preservatives, colour or any other nasties. What's even better is how this became law - Long ago Bavaria was a separate country and one of the kings decreed that the beer must be pure (Great vision - where are those types of leaders today). Back in the 1700s (I think) Bavaria and the rest of Germany decided to unite as one state. One of Bavaria's conditions of joining the union was that this law be extended to the entire state. It's never been touched since. You've got to admire the passion.
Where I stayed