When you stay out all night it means you need to sleep all morning. It is not possible to both live every night and day to the fullest. You have to sleep sometime. We crawl out of bed, inhale breakfast and return for a quick nap. By 1pm we are ready to greet the day. Dirndls are back on and we head back to the Ubahn. We needed a break from beer so we decided to take in all the other sites Oktoberfest has to offer; mainly food. They sell everything from fish sandwiches to soup to 1/2 meter hot dogs. After we hunt around the festival we find the dogs. Ketchup and mustard hang from the top of the food tent so they can easily squirt it on the dogs. I do not remember how much they cost but it was absolutely worth every euro.
After we got our taste of Oktoberfest we decided to head into Marienplatz. Going to Oktoberfest in the middle of the festival time period on a Saturday afternoon is like going to Times Square. After an hour we were done running into drunk people and tourists, a bit hypocritical I know. We make our way into town to explore the other side of Munich. As we pass 3 H&Ms I am reminded what a European city looks like. The streets are mostly for pedestrians, restaurants spill out onto the walk ways and people seem to just walking around without any direction. We grab some food at a small German pub. After popping around a couple bars we head back to the hostel. Tomorrow we have a bike tour at 1130am so no house parties tonight. We fall asleep by 1am with another German day under our belts.. or aprons in this case.
Most people visit Oktoberfest for a couple days and continue on their European tour. Since we had 6 days we could spread out the steins with some culture. We plan to take the 21 euro (hostel rate per person) bike tour with Mike’s. As the top rated bike tour on Trip Advisor I had no doubts this was going to be amazing. We trade our dirndls for real clothes and head back into Marienplatz. We meet at the statue of Julia which is right under the bell tower. From there we head over to their store which is located literally behind the Hofbrauhaus. As we break into groups we meet our tour guide; Basti. Cue swooning.
Basti is from Munich originally but moved to New Zealand for most of his life. He has now returned to live in Bavaria and give tours. As one of the only tour guides from Bavaria (especially one with a New Zealand accent) I knew we hit the tour guide jackpot. We pop on our bikes and receive some last minute instructions. Basti calls for a volunteer to help him, this person will receive bragging rights and a gift. Any guesses who’s hand shoots up first? After I introduce myself to the group I learn my new title: Butt Babe. My job is to be the last person in our trail of bikes so when he sees me he knows we have all made it to the next stopping point. Considering I used to run guided trips with LivingSocial I think I am qualified. Onward!
Our first stop is a building is the Bavarian State Theater across from the Residency. This building was built 5 times by King Max. The first three times he built it with wood and every time it burned down. The 4th time he basically tried to invite the sprinkler system. He created a large basin of cement on the roof so water could collect. When the next fire occurred it was in the dead of winter. He tried his trusty knobs but all were frozen shut so the building burned again. Finally they built it of stone and here it stands today. In Germany every building that faces west has gold on the facade. This way as the sun sets the building glows. Gold is used throughout the buildings in Germany to show this opulence.
The Residency is located next to this square. The kings and queens used to all live here. Today it has been donated to the people of Germany and holds many pieces of art and history. You are allowed to bike through it which makes it even better. We arrive in a little square before we head onto the Theatine Church and Feldherrnhalle. Basti points out all of the places that the square has not been finished. I am amazed to see that most of the buildings do not have windows and columns; they are just drawn on. He tells us when they do not have enough money to finish the building they use these drawings as placeholders. This way they can operate within budget until they have funds again. The drawings are also used as blue prints so when the work can be continued they know where they left. These Germans man…
The square is so crowded and there is so much to see. Basti says recreating it here with us will allow us to walk around at our leisure. We each become a part of the square as he speaks about each statue. Our laughs echo off the walls with fake drawn columns as people act out their parts. These are two lions in the center. One is roaring towards the Residency. This is to symbolize that you should always challenge the government. Across the Residency on the right side of the statues is the Theatine Church. The lion facing this way has his mouth shut. This is to show that you should never challenge the church. The two figures in the middle are of Ludwig and his wife. She is a proud woman symbolizing the Bavarian people. When Bavaria joined Germany they wanted to remain proud of their heritage. She is here to remind Bavarians of this. Basti says he is Bavarian first and German second. I am sure some Americans think this way about their state but the only ones that come to mind are southern…
I cannot even dive into the details regarding World War II or all the history he told us about throughout the tour. I will stick to the sites we saw for my word count’s sake. We biked through the English Gardens. This huge sprawling garden has paths that weave between fields and hills and rivers. People are enjoying picnics, flying kites and lounging. Basti tells us that the gardens are not restricted at all because most people in Munich do not have backyards. This is meant to be their playground; you can eat, drink and be naked if you please.
Our lunch destination, Chinesischer Turm, was located in the middle of the garden. We paused here to grab some lunch and a beer, naturally. A German band played in the middle of the tower. People milled about enjoying their food and drink while kids play tag. There was even a couple busers walking around clearing trays. It was amazingly clean considering how many people must eat there. We get a euro back for returning our stein glasses. Basti tells us that if you keep it and get caught without a receipt for the glass you can be arrested. Germans are strict about odd things.
One of our last stops is one I would not have guessed. We are along a river called Eisbachwelle passing under a bridge. I almost gasp as I see surfers riding this pretty decent sized wave. They turn, splash, dive and fall in this wave. The quickly grab their board and swim to the side to get back in line. It only took 5 minutes before a surfer sent a huge splash our way. Its not warm enough for this kids.
We ended our tour with a couple more larger government buildings. These buildings had been bombed during the war and reconstructed since then. It is amazing to see how identically these buildings look. We struggled picking the side that had been bombed. One of our last stops was the Angel of Peace. She is a huge golden statue atop a massive pole. 200 years after the war Germany decided to erect this monument. Again the theme of gold comes into play.
It was at this time some of the American bikers decided to go rouge. This resulted in us getting lost in the English Gardens. These stupid guys not only delayed us from following the group (remember I am the butt babe) but also caused us to get lost and delay the whole group 10 minutes. Basti found us though like I knew he would and we resumed.
We head back to the shop to return our bikes and check in. Yes, you do not check in at the beginning but at the end. Seriously Germany loves the honor system. Basti presents me with a Frisbee that says Mike’s Butt Babe, I take it proudly. We decide to spend the rest of the afternoon in Marienplatz enjoying a beer at the famous Hofbrauhaus. Cheers to another perfect day in Germany or as my new friends say; Prost!