Most of us think Munich means only the famous Oktoberfest whenever September rolls around. But this great German city, which I last visited in 1971, offers much more than just great beer. I spent the better part of a week here, but hardly recall much more than spending each day and evening at the enticing Oktoberfest grounds. So, here is quick shot at some Munich facts and figures, most of which you will either ignore or at a minimum, rolls your eyes into cabbage rolls.
Munich is Germany’s third largest city, after Berlin and Hamburg, with 1.3 million residents. Just so you know, the Oktoberfest started in 1812, and attracts over SIX million people in a three week period. That is more beer than Lake Tahoe (just kidding!). It is the biggest folk festival in the world, called Wiesn by locals. Oktoberfest beer is a lager or Märzenbier
brewed by Munich breweries for the festival. With an alcohol level of 6 -7 % it is slightly stronger than normal German beer. Back when I went, it was delivered in wooden barrels covered with ice by horse drawn wagons. A mere 1.8 million gallons of beer are consumed during the fest. The average price now is $13 for 34 ounces of beer.
The world’s largest pub, Hofbrauhaus, which opened its doors in Munich in 1589, can fit around 5,000 people at any one time. Among its famous guests were Lenin and Krupskaya, Hitler, Mozart, and many others. Here you’ll also find a safe where glasses of the local visitors are kept, and the chambers of which are passed on as inheritance.
I do recall lounging at the English Garden while waiting for a train to Switzerland. It is larger than London’s Hyde Park, as well as NYC’s Central Park. Munich boasts the largest museum of science and technology in the world. Deutsches Museum displays more than 28,000 objects in 50 exhibition areas and attracts about 1.5 million visitors every year.
BMW makes their home here, and even has their own museum and their own zip code (87088)!!! If you saw the movie, “Finding Forrester”, you know that Jamal gave us a brief treatise on the history of BMW. Founded in 1913, BMW started with airplanes, followed by cars in 1928. After WW2, BMW was allowed to produce only household goods and bicycles. In 1950, auto production resumed. Before moving to Clovis, I had a 2008 Z4 3.0i that our dog Buddy loved to ride in, with the top down!
Food and beer are a BIG deal here. Munich is famous for its white sausages, served only before noon, and always with sweet mustard and soft pretzels. FC Bayern is the most successful football (soccer) club in Germany. For my friend Webb, nudists love to swim and sunbathe here. He is also happy to know there is a Barbie doll here in Germany that looks like Angela Merkel.
Fortunately for me, Munich has 61 theaters, four symphony orchestras, and 36 museums. Play-Doh was invented here by a local pharmacist, Franz Kolb. Note that the great Jimi Hendrix smashed his first guitar here in 1966.
Munich is further north than any major city, except for Alaska. Yet it is located in Bavaria, basically southern Germany. On the plus side, Munich has over 60 beer gardens. Beer is considered a food here. An interesting fact for beer lovers everywhere is that there are six major breweries in Munich: Augustiner Bräu, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr Bräu, Spaten-Franziskaner Bräu, and Paulaner Brauerei. There will be a quiz later.
The major streets of the old town of Munich were pedestrianized for the Olympics in 1972 and have stayed pedestrian only ever since. I was here when they were building for those Olympics, which were marred by the terrorists. Eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage and eventually killed, by eight Palestinian terrorists. Mark Spitz was the big star of the Olympics winning seven gold medals.