We arrived in Munich in the late afternoon and checked into our hotel, the Eurostars Grand Central. We highly recommend this hotel for a trip to Munich. Although it is located near an office park just west of central Munich, it is right around the corner from an S-bahn stop (Munich's metro system). This meant we could get from our hotel room to the center of Munich in 10-15 minutes. It also had one of the best free breakfasts we've experienced so far - complete with two violinists as entertainment. The rooms were spacious, wifi was fast and the beds were really comfortable which was a nice change from the lumpy Italian beds. We could park for free on the street next to the hotel, and best of all, it was very reasonably priced for the area.
Beer as Big as Your Head
On our first night in town, we decided we needed to check out the famous Hofbräuhaus, the huge state-owned beer hall that goes back hundreds of years. They say that here, Oktoberfest lasts all year long. The place was absolutely mobbed, hot and loud, but lots of fun! Interestingly, the crowd was a mix of tourists and locals, and many of the locals were clad in their best lederhosen. We ordered a couple of plates - Sauerbraten (basically pot roast) and a bunch of sausages, and washed it all down with the obligatory giant beers.
The next day, we booked a Mike's Bike Tour at 4:30 pm. Since the weatherman was forecasting temperatures in the upper 90's, we chose the later tour to miss the hottest part of the day. We spent the early afternoon checking out some of the sites around the center of Munich, then met up with our tour, which brought us through some historical spots in central Munich and through the Englischer Garten, the city's main park. Here are a few things we saw along the way:
White Rose Society
This was a pretty fascinating story. When the Nazis were in power, there was a secret non-violent society of brave students at the University of Munich. Their mission was to anonymously distribute leaflets that encourage opposition to Hitler and his regime. Some of their leaflets were smuggled into the UK, copied and then dropped all over Germany by Allied planes under the title The Manifesto of the Students of Munich. One day a gardener saw White Rose member, Sophie Scholl, dropping leaflets out a window at the university and reported her to the gestapo. She and five more members (including her brother Hans) were arrested by the gestapo and were subsequently beheaded via guillotine. Today, there is memorial for these brave students and they are considered among Germany's greatest heroes.
Marienplatz is the biggest plaza in central Munich, home to many shops, outdoor markets, and the New Rathaus (City Hall). We had a lot of fun wandering through this bustling area.
Team Tanda Tula Reunited!
During our safari in the South African Timbavati reserve, we became friends with a really nice German couple, Thomas and Sabine.