Monday, September 28, 2020

Visiting the Home Front: Schwabing, Munich

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) We're getting ready to wrap up this latest edition of our Grand Tour. So far, we've seen many Cold War sites...such as the Bridge of Spies, remnants of the Berlin Wall, and former border checkpoints...along with World War II Hitler's bunker, his mountaintop hidewaway, and bomb damage in Berlin...along with some great food in Poland and the beautiful but crowded capitol of the Czech Republic (you can also click the link at the top to see other Bavarian landmarks we've visited in the past such as Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau, the Munich Olympic Village and much more - Ed).

What we haven't done, yet, is to just chill out and enjoy our local neighborhood.

There's a great, accessible tram just a little over a block away from our hotel, the line ends at the Munchner Freihiet Station on Leopoldstrasse, the main thoroughfare for the Schwabing area.

A farmer's market is setting up at the station entrance, this trailer full of bread looks interesting.

Not quite ready to open yet, we head off down the street to see what we can find.

One note about Germany and...really, Europe in that ice seems to be a rare commodity. Letty wants to hit the stores for some shopping while Tim and I would just like to have a Coke with some ice in it for a change.

Don't judge us but we couldn't resist going to McDonald's for a nice, big, reasonably priced Coke that actually came with a scoop of ice in it - plus a side a great fries.

After this, a few blocks away, we come across this vintage Porsche.

It's a pretty residential neighborhood off of the main drag with a few little boutiques, cafes, and even this pretty little florist.

Elizabethmarkt, the quiet alternative to Viktulienmarkt, comes next.

We browsed the stands, looking for some snacks for later.

It's also a nice place to just sit back and watch the kids in the playground.

One last biergarten, the Wintergarden, provides us with a meal of wurst and potatoes before working our way back to Leopoldstrasse.

We find a gelateria where the owner speaks decent Spanish so we can get our order just perfect and enjoy some very delicious ice cream.

Back in the hotel, we enjoy our goodies from the day before one more night of rest. In the morning, it's back on the plane for the very long flight home.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Cocktail Hour - Beer Taste Off

For today's Cocktail Hour, I went over to Trader Joe's and raided their single serving beer shelf (yes, they have one) and today we're putting them to the test in the first World on Wheels Taste Off.

The beers we're tasting are two Mission Street varieties...the Blonde Ale and the Pale Ale...both brewed in Paso Robles, California; Great Scot, an organic pale ale from Scotland (it's even labeled Vegan...though I suppose all beer would be); and Sapporro Reserve Ale from Japan.

Here's the taste off video:

And...just like "American Idol,", here's the results video:

1 - Great Scot (Tim's Favorite)
2 - Mission St. Pale Ale
3 - Mission St. Blonde Ale (Letty's Favorite)
4 - Sapporro Reserve Ale (Darryl's Favorite)


Friday, September 25, 2020

A Day in the Garten - Navigating Munich's Englischer Garten from End to End

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) 

New York has Central Park; London has Hyde Park; Vancouver has Stanley Park; Berlin has the Tiergarten.  It seems that every big city has a grand park in it for the residents to enjoy and escape the urban life for awhile. In Munich, this would be the Englisher Garten...a huge city park that stretches over five miles along the Isar River.

It is our destination for today.

Watch the Video!

One or two stops on the U-Bahn from our Schwabing district hotel puts us within walking distance of the park's northern boundary. We make our way along the Frankfurter Ring until we get to the parking lot of Munich Tennis club which allows us to get off of the busy highway and enter the park through a quiet entrance in the back of the lot.

For a few minutes, I'm lost in the woods until I see a sign in the bushes for our first destination, the Aumeister Biergarten.

A left up the path and eventually the garden's large seating area opens up in front of us.  We're here to fortify ourselves with some dessert...including a very good auzignone...and some beer before tackling the rest of the park.

This end of the park is much more forested and quiet than the lower half. You can easily get lost in the woods.

The meadows are not mowed, in fact, shepherds still use the area to graze their flocks.

Streams gurgle under low pedestrian bridges.

As we make our way through, we encounter many bikers, hikers, dog walkers, parents with kids...all just out to enjoy the natural surroundings of the area.

A dam looms up ahead. There's a bumpy, rocky, but somewhat accessible path up to the top of the dam that allows us to cross the river. One side is a lake, the other a stream.

Swans glide across the water in the deeper areas.

Tim's chair is starting to give us problems, so we exit the park here to search for a tram to take us to the middle of the park. 

After strolling through a residential area, we come across another park where dogs cool off in the clear stream.  One of the dogs owners strikes up a little conversation with us and tells us which direction to go in to catch a tram.

Much walking later, we finally find a tram that takes us to the middle of the park.

Here, we come across the massive Chinischer Turm biergarten. In Munich, biergartens are situated at strategic points, in the Englischer Garten, there are a few to help you rejuvinate after a long walk.

This one, with it's large Chinese Pagoda, is a very popular stop.

A brass band plays in the tower while we get a little food and beer before continuing on. I do need to remember before moving on that the price of beer at this particular spot includes a deposit on the stein. I'll turn it in to get it back before I leave.

There's a handy map at the exit of the biergarten where we can figure out a) where we are and b) how to get were we want to go.

We decide to walk along the Eisbach Canal for the rest of our park adventure.
It's a hot, summer day in Munich and the canal is almost irresistible. In fact, it is too irresistible for some as park frolickers jump in and float in the cool, clear water.

Families play, dogs yap, and a few naturists tan.

It's a beautiful day in the park.

Finally, we come to the south end of the park where the rushing Eisbach enters into it's course. This spot with it's permanent wave has become one of the city's biggest, modern tourist attractions where a line of surfers patiently wait their turn on each side to have a minute to ride it.

A block away is another park in this city filled with them, the Hofgarten where we end our day listening to a lone violinist under the park's kiosk dome.

This was originally supposed to be a laid back, easy going day but a final check on Letty's fitness app shows that we walked 26,341 steps or just under 12 miles.

We'll rest up and hit the streets again tomorrow.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 21, 2020

A Palatial Adventure in Munich

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) My wife said she had two requirements on this year's European adventure, neither of which I have met yet. First, she wants to go to a German yarn shop. Second, she wants to see a palace.

We were able to meet the first goal when I found a few yarn shops near Marienplatz in Munich. The second goal requires that we go to a different platz...this time Odeonplatz, just a few blocks away from Mary's Plaza.

The trains of the Munich U-Bahn are a bit lusher than Berlin's. The newer trains even have sexy, curved, blond wood seats to stretch out on. Seems a shame to only take it a couple of stops away from our hotel to the Odeonplatz station.

Watch the Video!

A big memorial to King Ludwig dominates the plaza when we exit. Before World War II but after the Nazi's rise to power, a memorial to fallen Nazi soldiers was here and guards were there to enforce everybody walking by would have to give the Nazi salute.

Not everybody was inclined to do this.

Behind the memorial is an alley where those who found it repugnant would walk through to avoid the guards in Odeonplatz. A strip of gold cobblestones down the middle of the pavement pays tribute to those avoiders.

One more block and around the corner we arrive at the wheelchair accessible entrance to the Residenz Munich, the city palace of the royal family. There is a lot of construction going on here. In fact, we'd see a lot of construction work taking place in this area during this trip.

While we can get into the palace courtyard, there is about a half dozen steps into the gift shop that also serves as the ticket counter for tours.  Tim and Letty wait outside while I go in.

We're told that a guide will meet us outside to escort us in. Soon, a gentleman appears and takes us inside. He asks me something in German that I don't understand. I ask in German if he speaks English and get a negative answer but through some back and forth with my limited German skills and his non-existent English skills, I get that he's asking if Tim can walk a little bit.

"Nein," I answer.

I can see why he asks when we have to shoehorn Tim and his chair into a very tiny elevator. It was quite a feat to get him in and I was concerned we'd never get him back out. We managed, though.

We follow our leader through several halls where we finally find ourselves in a large room that holds part of the royal silverware collection.

A lady meets us and starts to tell us what to do in German. I explain that, while I can speak a little German, I can't follow everything she's telling us.

"In Germany, we speak German," she tells me in perfect but a bit arrogant English.

"Guten morgen dann. Ist das deustch genung für dich?" I reply, a bit annoyed (translation: "Good morning then. Is that German enough for you?"


I explain to her I'm trying to learn German as much as I can but as a non-native, English speaker I'm not up to her level yet. Finally, she relents a little bit and tells us which way we can go to navigate the palace.

On our own, now, we wander through, finding the king's outstanding collection of clocks.

Room after room, filled with priceless antiques and artworks open up to us as we go along.

Some of the artworks, especially in the ceilings, were destroyed in the war with only a blank spot to replace them.

We see several rooms where the kings, queens, and other royals would meet with subjects.

There are a few music rooms.

Bedrooms for every occasion, royal, or visitor abound.

Finally, we see the giant ballroom where the king would sit on his own balcony to survey the proceedings.

Tim sits up there today as stairs prevent him from going onto the ballroom floor itself.

Dozens of busts and statues from ancient Rome and Greece line the walls.  The king was a bit of a collector.

Tour done, we go to exit the way we came in but it is now blocked by construction work. The man working the ticket counter is not empathetic to our plight.

"Go that way."

"There's loose gravel and two steps at the end."

"You will manage it. That is your only way out," he says and walks away.

Yeah, I'm not loving the attitude of some of these palace workers.

We do get out and manage to work our way over to the Augustiner Keller biergarten where the friendly faces, giant beers, and great food do wonders to put us back in the mood again.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 18, 2020

Visiting a Couple of Old Haunts in Munich

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) Although, we're trying to concentrate on new experiences while we're in Munich on this trip, there are still a few places and experiences we want to have again. It's like visiting old friends, a comfortable and familiar feeling you want to have over and over.

Our hotel is not far from the Englischer Garten, Munich's large central park. It's a pleasant walk through the south of the park...past the families and naked Germans in the sun...along and rushing canal called the Eisbach.

Kids play along banks under the watchful eye of parents.

On this hot day, it's too inviting to just hop in and float downstream.

You know you've reached the southern end of this park when you see the surfers taking turns on the permanent wave created by the rushing water.

Keep walking and a couple of blocks later you'll be in the city's main square, Marienplatz.  Last time here, it was a magical place with great sights and wonderful sidewalk entertainment. Today, construction projects take up much of the square.

We'll double back here in a little bit but we are focused on another destination just a block away, one of Europe's best markets, the Viktulienmarkt.

On the cobblestones, under shady trees, you find fish mongers, butchers, cheese vendors, honey dealers, along with various fruits and vegetables. In the middle, there's a biergarten.

Our last trip here, this was the first German biergarten we went to. I had about the best sausage I've ever had here and didn't get the name. I wanted to see if I could find it back in the states but didn't have any luck.

Well, now we're back and I've got a few more German lessons under my belt. I ask our server what that sausage is called.

"Which one?"

"That one, the red sausage."

"We just call it 'red sausage'"

Well, that clears that up then...

After lunch, we hit up a coffee stand for a pick me up along with a few sweet fruits.  We wander back toward Marienplatz, stopping by St. Peters Kirche, a beautiful gothic church between the market and the square.

Wheelchairs enter on the side and then have pretty much free reign throughout the building. Various niches line the sides, including one with the bones of a saint, this is Saint Munditia. Munditia was martyred in the 4th century and is the patron saint of spinsters. Her slightly mummified skeleton with bright, fake eyeballs stares at us from her glass coffin.

Marienplatz starts here and we take in a glockenspiel show before heading off to dinner.

A couple of stops along the S Bahn later, we're at Augustiner Keller biergarten, one of my favorite places in the world.

This large biergarten by the Haupbahnhof is more park-like than restaurant. Although the brewery dates back to 1328, this biergarten and hall only from 1862.

We came here more for the dessert than the brew, to have that most awesome of donuts, the auszegone. About ten inches across, it's like a giant, raised donut without a hole. Instead, there's a flat bit of dough stretched across the middle. It''s deep-fried and then sprinkled with powdered sugar on top.

We get two, and they're every bit as delicious as we remember.

The schweinhocken (or pork shank) along the side is also delicious.  It's so moist, tasty, and tender in the middle yet the skin is cooked to a very hard crispness that you can break off like chips...chips that come with succulent pork fat attached.

It is just the epitome of great biergarten food, washed down with liters of helles beer from the brewery's wooden kegs.

Kind of quiet in this early evening, nevertheless, we enjoy ourselves and talk it up with a few other customers before calling it a day and heading back to the hotel.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved